I forgot from his days coaching the Atlanta Thrashers that John Anderson is the master of the one-liner.
The Wild assistant coach reminded us of that fact today during his little four-minute press scrum after practice. Anderson, Bruce Boudreau’s long-time confidant, was filling in for the veteran coach, who apparently has finally caught the head cold that has plagued anybody around the team the past month.
“What did Winston Churchill say? I’m not the lion, but it’s up to me to give the lion’s roar, but he can’t even roar this morning because his throat’s a little clogged up,” Anderson said.
Well, he almost nailed the quote. I looked it up.
“I was not the lion, but it fell to me to give the lion’s roar.”
– Winston Churchill
Boudreau was joined by Chris Stewart, who’s either sick or is a little banged up.
Anderson called it a maintenance day, adding that Stewart “is getting a little older.”
Anderson said he’s almost positive Stewart will play against the one and only Florida Panthers (the team that once drafted Chris Stewart’s brother, Anthony, in the first round) Tuesday night.
As a placeholder during Monday’s practice, defenseman Nate Prosser took Stewart’s spot on the fourth line and defenseman Christian Folin, who has missed seven games with a knee injury, was paired with Marco Scandella.
Anderson didn’t say if this means Folin was just a placeholder for Prosser or Folin may return against the Panthers. Remember, Prosser has played terrifically and, as even Anderson noted, assistant coach Scott Stevens has tremendous faith in Prosser as evidenced by the fact it’s been Prosser on the ice defended empty nets the past two victories in the waning seconds/minutes.
Another decision would be the starting netminder. If you were to give Darcy Kuemper a spot start, Tuesday may be it. Personally, I think the Wild’s on a roll and it should keep banking points and not mess with a good thing, but if you don’t play Kuemper at some point, his next start could be one of the back-to-back games at Montreal or the Rangers before the holiday break.
Previous coaches wouldn’t think of changing it now, but Boudreau has shown that he’s willing to play Kuemper in games in the past we wouldn’t have expected him to play.
So, we shall see.
Speaking of goalies, great scene at practice today when the Wild had a shootout drill. When Anderson pronounced that the goalies were the winners, Kuemper and Dubnyk sprinted to the red line and jumped in each other’s arms.
As you can tell, very loose practiced from a team with wins in four straight and points in nine of 10 (and with the boss home sick).
With us having the chance to talk to Anderson today, I took the opportunity to ask him about the ailing power play, which he’s technically in charge of.
The power play is 0 for 17 the past seven games after going 3 for 4 against Pittsburgh to end the previous homestand.
“Well, I haven’t cut my wrists yet,” quipped Anderson. “It’s frustrating because we are getting chances. We’re just not scoring. You go through droughts like that. I think stick-to-itiveness is a big part of it and showing confidence in the guys. You try to tweak it in a few little ways, but for the most part we just need a break to get us going. You saw what happened in the Pittsburgh game where we scored three, so we need a game like that to break out again and get our confidence back.”
Zach Parise hasn’t scored in seven games (one assist). Anderson was asked what they do for him, and he joked, “Give him lots of hugs.”
Anderson then said something interesting. He said they show him lots of video, but “he had been hurt off and on the last couple years,” which really hurts his consistency. So the coaches need to put him in spots to put the puck at the net a little more, and they’re “looking into doing it.”
That’s it for now.
I’ll be on KFAN at 9 a.m. Tuesday and I’m filling in from 9-noon on KFAN before my flight Wednesday.
Tonight at 6, please join us at Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis for the latest Russo-Souhan Show.