The Wild held a rather long, fairly comprehensive, upbeat practice Tuesday. Take a look at the team’s coming schedule and you get the feeling there won’t be a whole lot of those types of practices over the next two-plus weeks, at least in terms of length and intensity.
(In the middle of that practice the league announced the selections for the All Star Game, which included Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk and defenseman Ryan Suter. Bruce Boudreau will be the coach. That story is here.)
Why? The Wild just finished a road trip with three games in four nights, coming home with five out of six points. After a three-day lull, the team will start another stretch of three games in four nights with a game against Montreal at Xcel Energy Center Thursday.
In fact, that game will start a string in which the Wild plays nine games in 15 nights into the All Star Break. During a stretch like that rest is the best reward.
“Tomorrow we’ll probably have five or six guys not practice,” Boudreau said. “I know, starting Thursday, we have nine games in 15 nights before the break. And then we’ve also got 20 games in 35 days starting March first. So we’re going to have to, at some point, really be conscientious of how much practice time everybody needs and now much rest everybody needs. Rest is a weapon as well.’’
The practice lines today: Eric Staal with Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle; Mikko Koivu with Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker; Erik Haula with Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville. Jordan Schroeder, Tyler Graovac, Chris Stewart and Kurtis Gabriel all worked on the same line.
Parise is finally feeling healthy, and the numbers prove it. He had two goals and five points in the team’s three-game swing west.
“I made a couple adjustments here and there to things I wasn’t doing very well offensively,’’ said Parise, who has battled both injury and illness this season. “But, most of all, physically, I feel better.’’
Said Boudreau: “Those were his best three games of the year. If we can sustain him, injury-free and playing like he did over the weekend, I think it really makes our team that much better.’’