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Pre-game reading: Bruce Boudreau has some thoughts on the ‘Die Hard’ franchise

— Up top, relive last night’s overtime between the Capitals and Sabres. That was a pretty long shift by Marcus Johansson, but good thing for Washington he didn’t change.

— Bruce Boudreau knows his movies, and he’s got some opinions. “The first ‘Die Hard’ was great. After that, they became phonier and phonier. By the fifth one, when they’re going up a ramp in a car and it’s hitting a helicopter, Yeah, right. I can understand kids loving that, but I look more for the story now that I’m older.” The Wild’s new head coach recently saw “Hell or High Water,” which is really good, by the way. (StarTribune)

— Dispatch columnist Michael Arace on the hottest team in hockey: “This is a new storyline for the Blue Jackets. They have had small sips of success in the past — the distant past, it seems now. Forever, the problem has been summarized as having to do with the culture. There is a sizeable enough sample through 24 games to say they may be in the throes of change.” (Columbus Dispatch)

Henrik Zetterberg is leading the Detroit Red Wings with 19 points in 26 games, and he’s doing it at 36 years old. “Z has been real good all year,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He is one of those funny players that, the more ice time he gets, the more juice he has in his legs.” (Detroit Free Press)

— The Maple Leafs have been piling up the shots this season. “After their young offense pumped 40 shots at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, Toronto moved up to third in the NHL in shots per game at 32.6.” Too bad for the Leafs that they’re also allowing 32.6 shots per game. Only the Arizona Coyotes (35.4) have allowed more on average. Toronto is sure fun to watch, though. (Postmedia)

— A Q&A with Jack Eichel, who will play against Connor McDavid and the Oilers tonight in Buffalo. Here’s a good bit of advice that Eichel has for young players: “Just make sure you enjoy the game. Don’t get caught up in being stressed over what you’re going to do. I’ve seen so many kids who kind of overthought it. Hockey’s a game. Go to practice every day and try to get better. I’m a big believer that if you want success, it’s up to you. Your own success is all in your own hands.” (ESPN)

Enjoy the games!

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    Boudreau: Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

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    Calgary will face Minnesota tonight, for the first time since losing Johnny Gaudreau to a broken finger in a 1-0 win over the Wild on Nov. 15.

    Much has transpired since.

    The Flames were pretty upset about all the slashes Gaudreau took that night, and spoke candidly (and often!) about it. That, in turn, led to Bruce Boudreau offering up the following on Friday:

    According to Calgary GM Brad Treliving, a third-period slash by Eric Staal was the one that did the damage, breaking Gaudreau’s finger and leading to corrective surgery, which sidelined him for six weeks.

    The Slashgate conversation lasted for a while. Treliving acknowledged he later spoke with NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom about the club’s frustration regarding the incident.

    “When you look at that game, it wasn’t the first one,” he said, per the Calgary Sun. “This wasn’t a unicorn that popped up in the middle of a period. By our count there were 11 chops on (Gaudreau) in the game.

    “Two, three, four, I got it, but maybe at nine we dial it in a bit.”

    In related news, the Wild have recalled 6-foot-4, 211-pound tough guy Kurtis Gabriel for tonight’s game, and it looks as though he could be making his season debut.

    Boudreau left fuming after Wild blow 2-0 lead in Vancouver

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    The Minnesota Wild were playing well, and they had a 2-0 lead in the second period.

    But all it took was a careless interference penalty by Matt Dumba and the Vancouver Canucks had life again. The Canucks would score on the power play, then tie the game after another Wild penalty. Minnesota would go on to lose, 5-4, not even getting a point out of a game it once led by two goals.

    Per the StarTribune, an irritated head coach, Bruce Boudreau, told reporters that the Wild “don’t have any right to play like that. We’re not leading the league by 20 points or anything like that.”

    He’s right. The Wild finished the month of November with a record of 5-6-2, and an overall record of 11-8-3. They’re still in a playoff spot, but Nashville is on their heels for third place in the Central Division, and they wouldn’t have far to fall out of a wild-card spot.

    Darcy Kuemper made a rare start against the Canucks and fell victim to some tough bounces, shoddy defending and adept tips. Vancouver’s winning goal was a crazy one, with Troy Stecher‘s point shot going way wide, before it hit Sven Baertschi‘s skate and ricocheted in.

    Expect Devan Dubnyk to start Friday in Calgary and Sunday in Edmonton. The Wild finish their road trip Wednesday in Toronto. Dubnyk will probably start that one too, barring anything unexpected.

    But whenever Kuemper (2-2-1, .897) gets the nod again, a bounce-back would be reassuring, from both him and his teammates. Dubnyk can’t win them all for the Wild, and he can’t play them all either.

    Boudreau: ‘We can’t win a lot of games if we only score two goals’

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    Remember back in October when the Minnesota Wild were winning a bunch of games with a really high shooting percentage?

    Well, that’s not happening anymore. In fact, just once in their eight games this month have they scored more than two goals. Saturday against Colorado, they put 43 shots on Calvin Pickard and still lost, 3-2.

    The Wild actually led Saturday’s game 2-0 lead after two periods, only for the Avs to score three times in the first 10 minutes of the final frame.

    “We stopped playing,” goalie Devan Dubnyk told reporters. “I don’t know what happened. That’s not like us. Things are going to happen, and they might get one or two, but we just stopped playing in our end. I don’t know if we thought it was going to be an easy third with the way the game was going, but we had a pretty good game going and that’s a waste of a game.”

    And so, tonight in Dallas, the Wild will have some new lines. Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise, and Eric Staal will form a first line; Mikko Koivu will center a second line between Tyler Graovac and Charlie Coyle; the trio of Jason Zucker Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jason Pominville will be back together as a third line; and Jason Zucker, Zack Mitchell and Chris Stewart will round things out on the fourth line.

    “We can’t win a lot of games if we only score two goals,” coach Bruce Boudreau said, per the Star Tribune. “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 have a tough week, schedule-wise. After tonight’s game in Dallas, they return home to host Winnipeg and Pittsburgh, and then it’s back on the road again for games in St. Louis and western Canada.

    The Wild’s 3-5-0 record in November has already cost them in the standings. No longer in the top three of the Central Division, they’re barely in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, with San Jose, Dallas and Nashville lurking.

    Wild are ‘nowhere near as physical’ as Bruce Boudreau wants them to be

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    The Minnesota Wild have never been one of those teams that play a nasty, physical style of hockey, but that may change under new head coach Bruce Boudreau.

    Boudreau, who was hired by the Wild this summer, likes for his players to play with an edge to their game.

    He had his share of physical players in both Washington and Anaheim and it sounds like he’s going to demand that his new group of players play in a similar way.

    On Friday, the 61-year-old put his team through an ‘exhausting’ practice, according to the Minneapolis StarTribune.

    “We’re going to have an awful lot of practices like that,” Boudreau said, per the Tribune. “We went over a lot of video [Friday] morning, more than I like to do, but it shows that you can’t play the game without making contact with people. You just can’t do it.

    “But what is taking time to get used to a little bit is we’re nowhere near as physical as the teams I’ve coached. So I’m trying to find sort of a halfway medium that they become more physical but don’t get out of what they’re good at. Like, I can’t make them into a bunch of Alex Ovechkins hitting everything that moves.”

    Finding that balance will be key because asking his team to change their style of play will be difficult given the roster he has at his disposal.

    He’s also concerned about the lack of depth he has up front. He’s comfortable with his top three lines, but he’d like to add to his fourth line. Being able to roll four lines is key in Boudreau’s eyes.

    Now that teams will be making cuts, it’ll be interesting to see if the Wild feel the need to pick up a player or two on waivers.

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