The Wild left Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night without getting a postgame lecture from its head coach after giving up a two-goal lead and losing for the fifth time in eight games. Bruce Boudreau, instead, saved his frustration for the group until Sunday morning.
“I didn’t talk to them [Saturday] night. I let my feelings be known a little bit [Sunday morning],” Boudreau said. “Sometimes you don’t always like to hear what you’re going to hear, but at the same time, true, good athletes, and good team guys, they take it and they go out there and work hard.”
The first-year coach also enforced his first major shakeup of line combinations and said he was pleased with how the team responded to the change during Sunday’s practice at the X in front of hundreds of Kids Club members and their families.
Boudreau split up Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu and reunited Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jason Pominville, the Wild’s most productive line in the second half last season.
Granlund moved up to the first line with Zach Parise, centered by Eric Staal. Koivu centered a line with Tyler Graovac and Charlie Coyle. Jason Zucker, Zack Mitchell and Chris Stewart filled out the final line.
“We can’t win a lot of games if we only score two goals,” Boudreau said. “I just think maybe some guys are getting stale with some other linemates … I’m a pretty patient guy when it comes to making lines, but I thought we could give this a try.”
The Wild has scored more than two goals only once and been held below two goals four times in November. Boudreau said Saturday he needs a lot more from all of his players and he’s hoping the Niederreiter-Haula-Pominville line will help jump-start the offense.
The trio combined for 22 goals, 55 points and plus-37 in 23 games last season.
“They scored a lot of goals and they had good chemistry,” Boudreau said. “They played well, so let’s see if it can happen again.”
Haula led the group with nine goals, 12 assists and a plus-14. He said Sunday he is looking forward to reuniting with two linemates he is very comfortable skating with.
“I just hope we can get some success, right away, and we get back to where we had been last year,” Haula said. “At the right time, change is always good. It just gives us some kind of freshness in [the lineup] and so we’re not just beating a dead horse. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and if you need to change it, you see if it works and go from there.
“It’s early in the season, so you want to keep trying different things.”
Niederreiter said it will require a lot of communication with his former linemates to recreate with they produced last season.
“We have to find a way,” he added, “to get all the lines going.”
Parise back on the ice
Parise returned to practice Sunday after strep throat kept him out of Saturday’s game.
“[It] kind of knocked me out for a couple of days, but hopefully everything is on the way up now. [I’m] a lot better,” Parise said. “Hopefully [Monday] will be better and we can just move past it.”
The winger has only two goals this season after missing two weeks because of a lower-body injury, then played only two games before strep throat sidelined him again.
“It’s been a tough start to the year,” he said Sunday. “But I’m hoping that [Monday I] just kind of start the season over and go from there. Just for me personally, I’m hoping that all that stuff is just going to be in the past.”
• Defenseman Marco Scandella practiced with the team Sunday and could back in the lineup as early as Wednesday after missing nine games because of a high ankle sprain. He also skated in Friday’s optional practice.
“It’s really good that he’s been able to get a few practices,” Boudreau said. “He’ll get a good skate [Monday] and get a good skate Tuesday and hopefully he’ll be ready for Wednesday.”
• The Wild recalled winger Christoph Bertschy from Iowa.