The scheduling quirk that gave the Wild four days between games was a blessing, coach Bruce Boudeau said — because of what happened in the last game, and what lies ahead on a three-game road trip that starts on Thursday in San Jose.
The Wild lost at home to Columbus on New Year’s Eve in a battle between teams on long winning streaks (Wild 12, Blue Jackets then-14). Given how draining such streaks can be, the rest was best, Boudreau said.
“Because of the length of the streak, I’m glad we had the days off,’’ Boudreau said. “If this was two games we’d lost, I’d want to get right back and play again. When you have something going like we had, 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’ve got going. But, with the four days, and three practices, I think it makes it valuable for us.’’
With three practices to get back to the defensive style that fueled that winning streak, the Wild prepared for a difficult stretch that also will include games at Los Angeles on Saturday and Anaheim on Sunday in what will be Boudreau’s return to the team that fired him after last season.
San Jose and Anaheim are the top two teams in the Pacific Division and the Kings are 5-3-2 in their past 10 games. The Wild played the Kings at home Oct. 18. This will be the first games of the season against the Sharks and Ducks.
“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.’’
Nobody knows that better than Boudreau.
“I’ve been in 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 has said he wants to see how his team responds to its first loss in 13 games.
“We feel we have a great team in here,” Charlie Coyle said. “Through the streak we’d win, then we’d forget about the last one and focus on the next one. We just lost? Same thing. Throw it behind us and focus on the next game.’’
Asked about his return to Anaheim, where he coached for most of the past five seasons, Boudreau — who was sporting a day’s growth — was quick with a joke.
“I’m growing a beard so they won’t know who I am,’’ he said.
But what he said next showed that Boudreau is keeping tabs on his old team.
“I was reading an article today that they had 55 shots on them the other night, and they were blaming me for it. So I go, ‘OK, that’s a little overblown.’ ”
Actually, the Ducks weren’t saying that. In an article describing an intense practice after having allowed 55 shots, the reporter referred to defensive breakdowns that dated to Boudreau’s time.
But, still, put it on the bulletin board.
“It will be interesting to get back there,’’ Boudreau said.
• Boudreau said Darcy Kuemper will play on the three-game trip. That most likely means he’ll be in nets in Los Angeles. With the break, a rested Devan Dubnyk will play in San Jose, and Boudreau will want his No. 1 goalie in the nets in Anaheim.
Kuemper holds a career 3-1-1 record vs. L.A., with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. In his four games in Los Angeles, he has stopped 117 of 121 shots.
• The Wild-Columbus game on Saturday was the team’s highest-rated telecast on Fox Sports North with an 8.10 rating (138,000 households) in the Twin Cities. Wild viewership on Fox Sports North is up 9 percent, the team reported.