The Wild spent more than an hour on the ice Wednesday inside Xcel Energy Center chasing the puck and each other in an intense session that capped off with even more skating.
And that was exactly the rigorous tone coach Bruce Boudreau wanted, with the team in the midst of a four-day lull before its next game Saturday at home against the Predators.
“I wanted to make it a little harder,” Boudreau said. “We’ve only got pretty well one more practice left before the end of the season. When you have a day off and some guys are getting tomorrow off, as well, that if you don’t have a good skate come playing the best team in the league, you might be a little behind the pace here. I thought the practice had to be a little more difficult. It’s the first time we’ve had a really good skate since maybe Christmas.”
Everyone participated in the session except defenseman Ryan Suter, who had a family situation, Boudreau said.
“He’ll be here tomorrow with the optional [practice],” Boudreau said.
And while the focus during practice is on getting the team ready to finish the remaining nine games on a high note, there’s an opportunity away from the rink to unplug mentally.
“I do,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “I’m sure it’s a little bit different with the guys with kids and things like that. But I think you want to use that time with your family and kind of stay away from the game and recharge, and mentally you want to just kind of reset.”
One person who is staying informed on what’s happening in the league while the Wild is idle is Boudreau.
A point from the 4-3 overtime loss to the Kings Monday ensured the Wild wouldn’t be knocked from its perch as the third seed in the Central Division during this layoff, but Boudreau is keeping an eye on how everyone else is faring while the Wild is having some downtime.
“I don’t have any comfort,” he said. “I go through the lists 20 times a game and who they play and the ramifications of last night. I’m either getting ticked off or giving a big cheer. But that’s what this time of year is all about, and that’s what makes sports so exciting.”