Not that we endorse sports betting, but Bovada's updated odds reflected the Wild's 12-1-1 month of December in a big way.
The three favorites to win the Cup? Columbus 7/1, Chicago 15/2 and your Wild at 8/1 -- on par with the defending Cup champs, who possess a couple dudes named Crosby and Malkin.
On Dec. 1, Jackets' odds were 28/1 and Wild's were 20/1.
The Wild has gone from 10/1 to 4/1 to win the West (Hawks are 11/4) and 5/1 to 6/5 to win the Central (Hawks are 1/1).
Devan Dubnyk, named the NHL's Third Star of the Month today behind Sergei Bobrovsky and Evgeni Malkin (10-1-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average, .934 save percentage), has gone from off the board Dec. 1 to having the third-best odds to win the Hart as MVP (5/1). He has gone 9/2 to 10/11 favorite to win the Vezina and Ryan Suter has gone 10/1 to 9/1 to win the Norris (sixth-best odds behind Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber).
No Selke, Jack Adams, Lady Byng or Masterton odds, which are awards the Wild could have contenders in my always humble opinion.
Long practice today down at Xcel Energy Center, made longer by the fact Bruce Boudreau had meetings before availability and Kevin Gorg and Dan Myers kept yapping away about everything. Did you know sideline work is the toughest job in television and today's the anniversary of the state of Alaska?
I wrote a feature on Dubnyk for tomorrow's paper. Very fun read thanks to his wife, Jenn, and a crazy injury he sustained during last spring's postseason that still affects him.
Also, the Wild needed an extra forward for the road trip, so Kurtis Gabriel gets the recall just in time for the Wild's three-game California swing.
In practice today, Jason Pominville was on the fourth line with Chris Stewart and Tyler Graovac and Jordan Schroeder was up top with Zach Parise and Eric Staal. This move has been made in-game the past three games, so Bruce Boudreau figured he'd start it that way Thursday in San Jose.
Not because Pominville has no goals in 14 games, actually (the fourth-longest drought of his career).
Boudreau admitted it's because he hasn't found the right mix for Parise and Staal. Remember, Staal did seem to have the right mix when Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle were there, so this is more trying to find the right mix for Parise.
"That’s the only real line that we’re still trying to find the right combinations for Zach and Eric, so I figured maybe if we’re going to start [Schroeder] there Thursday in San Jose that we could get a couple good practices under our belt with him there," Boudreau said. "Maybe the lines of communication would be a little bit better."
As for Pominville, who has five goals and nine assists in 36 games, Boudreau said, "More balance and more speed. I think sometimes that line needs more speed. If it’s a good game, everybody's playing the same except for penalty killing and power play, so that balances that line out a lot better because [Pominville's] pretty responsible defensively."
Pominville said, "I feel I'm definitely snakebit a bit. That's the frustrating part. Besides maybe the last two games, previously I was getting a lot of great looks. I could easily be at 10 or so goals without really being on the power play. Keep working hard and eventually it will come. I just have to keep shooting and try to get myself in those quality scoring opportunities."
On being on the fourth line, Pominville said, "Sometimes it's just to create a spark, and it actually worked [against the Islanders] where we went out as a line and scored right away and Schroeds scored, too, pretty much back-to-back shifts, Schroeds is playing well, so if he's playing well, put him out there. He got rewarded. It's just a [practice] jersey color. It's a long season. Things will change. Lines won't stay the same. I've just got to keep worrying about my game, and that's it."
He said his 21-game drought last year to start the season felt way worse than this one "because I probably wasn't getting as many looks as I have [this slump]. This year it's been tough because I feel I have been getting looks and have been unfortunate. I haven't found a way to score. But if you keep getting those looks, your scoring percentage will go up and you'll get back on the good side of things and start getting your confidence back to where it needs to be."
Today's practice was all about the neutral zone and defending the middle of the ice better. The Wild has allowed four goals in three of the past four games.
"It’s understandable," Boudreau said. "When you're winning a lot of games in a row and we’re scoring goals, you start cheating to score goals because you like reading, 'I’ve got 10 points in 11 games,' and stuff like this instead of getting back to what you're supposed to be doing and letting it all come naturally. I think we’ve started to do that the last couple games.
"We've got to get back to what makes us a really good team and that’s defending and then let everything else happen for itself."
Big road trip coming up. The Wild has won six in a row on the road and has points in 10 of the past 11 road games.
Six-game segment is at San Jose, LA, Anaheim, home Montreal, at Dallas and at Chicago back-to-back. That's a tough upcoming schedule, so it's incumbent on the Wild to get back on the horse, Boudreau says.
The Wild still hasn't seen the Sharks, his old Ducks and the Blackhawks, so big tests coming up.
"Let's see what we’re made of after a game that we lose," Boudreau said.
World junior championship update:
In the semis, three Wild prospects will go up against each other when the U.S. faces Russia on Wednesday. Sweden faces Canada.
Big days Monday by all four Wild prospects:
Karill Kaprizov scored two goals on four shots
Joel Eriksson Ek scored two goals on six shots.
Jordan Greenway scored the game-winning goal and an assist.
Luke Kunin scored a goal.
Kaprizov leads the tournament with five power-play goals and seven goals and is second with 10 points. He's tied for second with 22 shots.
Eriksson Ek is tied for second in the tournament with five goals. He is tied for 12th with 16 shots
Greenway is tied for 11th with six points and he's tied for eighth with three goals. He is tied for fifth with 18 shots.
Kunin is tied for seventh with seven shots and has a goal, two assists and 25 penalty minutes. Last I looked, he was also winning close to 68 percent of his draws.
That's it for now. Kent Youngblood is covering Wednesday's practice. I'll be at San Jose's practice.
I'll be on Fox Sports North before and during Thursday's game. Here's the latest Russo-Souhan Show