The Wild returns from a nine-day break Saturday to host the Bruins at Xcel Energy Center, and it’ll use the same lineup it relied on before going into that layoff – the one that notched its third win in four games in the team’s last appearance.
“The last four games we played pretty well,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s pretty tough to make changes for the sake of changes. … Our goal is to win, right? If we need to make changes for the Chicago game, we will. But right now, this is the lineup that last won a game and it’s the lineup that we’re starting with.”
This is the Wild’s first game since a 4-2 win Jan.22 at home vs. the Red Wings. That performance moved the team five points within a playoff spot, but as it gets back to business Saturday the gap is at six.
Boudreau has already chatted with players about what to watch for as it settles back into game mode, reminding them of the importance of puck management.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a quicker pace than we practiced at yesterday,” he said.
Boston was in the same spot just last night, returning from its break in Winnipeg where the Bruins pulled out a 2-1 victory.
“To beat a team like Boston, you have to have everything going right,” Boudreau said. “You gotta stay out of the penalty box, and you gotta play like them. In other words, you gotta pressure the puck everywhere, give no time and space to anybody, protect your net and you gotta get the big save when you need it. It’s a simple solution on what to do. It’s just hard to do it.”
Before the game, defenseman Matt Dumba will wear a “Bryant” nameplate on his jersey during warm-ups in homage to Kobe Bryant and the eight others who died in a helicopter crash last Sunday in California.
“It’s just such a tragedy,” Dumba said. “I think it hits home for everyone really who was touched by him and what he did in basketball and for sports.”
Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Jason Zucker-Victor Rask-Kevin Fiala
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Jordan Greenway-Mikko Koivu-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Greg Pateryn
5: Power play goals for the Wild in its last three games.
5: Points for center Eric Staal during a four-game point streak.
398: Career assists for winger Zach Parise.
2: Assists for winger Mats Zuccarello vs. the Bruins earlier this season.
4-5-3: Record for the Wild in its last 12 matchups with Boston.
About the Bruins:
Boston is three points behind Washington for the top spot in the NHL, sitting with 30 wins and 72 points. The team has a five-point lead over Tampa for the No.1 seed in the Atlantic Division. Overall, the Bruins are 6-2-1 in their last nine games. Winger David Pastrnak is tied with the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in the NHL at 37. Pastrnak was recently voted MVP of the All-Star Game last week.