Good evening from Edmonton, where I’ll get to watch Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks tonight.
In an anomaly, for the second time on this crazily lengthy road trip that has two days between St. Louis and Vancouver, two days between Vancouver and Calgary and two days between Edmonton and Toronto, we’re in a city where the team the Wild eventually plays is hosting another team while we’re in town.
In Calgary, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now in Edmonton, the Ducks are here.
It’s kind of awkward for Bruce Boudreau considering the Ducks let him go in late April after a Game 7 loss to Nashville.
Luckily for him, the Wild and Ducks are not staying at the same hotel.
But, with the Ducks playing tonight and residing in the NHL visitors’ room at the sparkling, new Rogers Place, the Wild had the Western Hockey League visitors’ room, which is nicer than many visitor rooms in the NHL.
So, Boudreau’s Wild media backdrop was just around the corner from the Ducks room and the Ducks backdrop.
“It is a little weird,” Boudreau said. “Walking in here, I was a little nervous whether I saw players or coaches, but it was nice that four or five players all came up and were really nice to me.”
Boudreau decided not to attend the game as not to be a distraction.”
Shooting the breeze with him later, Boudreau said, “It’s like running into an ex-girlfriend. You’re wondering if you’re still friends.”
Boudreau will watch the game on TV. He was toying with the idea of going, but it’s an 8 p.m. local start, and that’s too late for the coach. Plus, he doesn’t want to be a distraction.
By the way, and most Wild fans know, I loved the old Rexall Place. Best press box sightlines in the NHL, so I’ll miss that.
But this new Oilers arena is gorgeous and I’m looking forward to taking in tonight’s game, although I hear the press box is high and back. Plus, there’s a casino attached to the arena!
Don't even have to walk out of the arena to get to the attached casino �� pic.twitter.com/PA3EDdhlwJ— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) December 3, 2016
Today, the Wild had a very optional practice at the practice rink attached to the arena (like Columbus and New Jersey have).
Most the big-minute players didn’t practice. Those guys either had the day off, had meetings, got treatment or just worked out off the ice.
One day after saying he planned to talk to the trainers to make sure Zach Parise is healthy, Boudreau said Parise is “fine.”
Boudreau, who called Parise’s skating sluggish and methodical after a shootout loss to Calgary, said Parise was probably laboring after blocking a first-period shot.
The Parise-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle line followed a tough game in Vancouver with an even tougher game in Calgary. The line combined for no points and two even-strength shots, although Chris Stewart scored while extending his shift into Staal’s and Coyle’s early in the game.
Boudreau met with Parise and Coyle for almost an hour Saturday afternoon, and he planned to meet with Staal on Saturday night (Staal's brother-in-law is in town, so Boudreau gave him the day off).
The coach went over their shifts on video to “see what we can do better, what we can do in different situations, where it’s not working, where it’s working. … There were two factors we found that I won’t get into that if they do [Sunday], I think it’ll be much better,” Boudreau said.
Boudreau said when he watched the video, it’s not as bad as he thought watching it live. He also likes to get the players’ point of views because they’re always trying to do the right thing even when wrong things happen, he said.
Parise’s a prideful guy, so I asked if he talked to Parise why he didn’t use him in overtime or the shootout. He didn’t, although Boudreau feels he explained his reasons in his postgame with us.
He says he wasn’t punishing Parise or Mikko Koivu, saying he would have used Koivu next if Coyle had tied the shootout and he was saving Koivu for the win. He said if the Wild had shot first, Koivu probably would have been in Round 3. As for using Nino Niederreiter to open the shootout, he said when Mikael Granlund went fourth in St. Louis, it was between Granlund and Niederreiter, so that’s why he decided to try Niederreiter to start.
As for the 0-1-2 trip so far (0-1-1 this week), Boudreau, who you know goes in week to week segments, said, “If we win [Sunday], then we would have lost one game in regulation in the last seven, and I think most teams would take that percentage. If we win, we tie the week and we’ve got a chance to win the five-game road trip with a win in Toronto.”
Talk in the morning, although you know my Twitter happy fingers will probably be tweeting away from the Ducks-Oilers game.
Ohhhhhhhhhhh, I have a real colorful story on Boudreau in the works for Tuesday’s paper, so make sure to check out that feature.