Able, as ever, to make a quick joke, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau came to his meeting with the media Wednesday unshaven and quickly blamed the Anaheim Ducks.
“I’m growing a beard so they won’t know who I am,’’ he joked.
The Wild’s three-game West Coast swing starts tomorrow in San Jose, but also includes stops in Los Angeles Saturday and at Anaheim – the team that fired him after last season – Sunday.
But seriously, folks…
This is always a difficult road trip for the Wild. And it should be this time, too. The Sharks and Ducks are the top two teams in the Pacific Division and Los Angeles is 5-3-2 in its last 10.
This will be the Wild’s first games against San Jose and Anaheim this season. The Wild last played L.A. in October.
“Those California teams are always tough,’’ Zach Parise said. “It’s always a hard road trip. And, just looking at the standings, they’ve been playing well, winning a lot of games. You don’t go out there expecting any easy games. Tough teams, tough buildings.’’
Buildings Boudreau knows well.
“I’ve been all three of those buildings a lot,” he said. “And I know exactly what I think San Jose is going to do, and the way L.A. is going to come out, and Anaheim. The preparation – I’m not going to tell you what we’ll be doing – but I think we’ll be ready for them.’’
Boudreau reiterated his desire that the team return to its defensive style that took them on their 12-game winning streak that ended against Columbus.
But he also said the four-day break the team had after losing 4-2 to Columbus at home New Year’s eve was much-needed.
“I think so, because of the length of the streak,” he said. “I’m glad we had the days off. If it was two games we had lost, I’d want to go right back and play again. But when you have something going like that, you get pretty exhausted after you lose. You don’t realize how much stress it is, and you’ll find the same thing in Columbus; If they lose it’s going to be difficult to duplicate what they have going. But with four days and three practices, I think it was valuable for us.’’
Here are a couple other notes:
--Boudreau said Darcy Kuemper will get a game in the upcoming trip. Bet on Los Angeles. Boudreau isn’t going to try to beat his old team in Anaheim with his backup goaltender. And Kuemper is 3-1-1 all-time vs. the Kings, with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
--With a new year, Boudreau said he looked at the stretch between games as a chance to reset.
“That’s what we want it to be, a reset,’’ he said. “And Hopefully we worked on some things the last few days that will get us back to playing the way we were before the Columbus game. And, actually, before the New York Ranger game. I thought, before that, we were pretty solid. That’s what we want to get back to.’’