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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.

Boudreau’s already a breath of fresh air for Wild

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Bruce Boudreau era has begun for the Minnesota Wild.

For the players, the demands will be many. The expectations will be as straightforward as can be. The experience also promises to be a lot of fun.

“Sometimes he doesn’t even know what’s coming out of his mouth when he’s talking,” forward Charlie Coyle said.

The rotund new head coach, well-regarded for his regular-season success, well-known for his profane rants and well-liked for his down-to-earth and self-deprecating manner, formally took over Friday for the first two practices of training camp. The squad split into two groups and, in addition to plenty of time with the white board picking up Boudreau’s defensive scheme, went through a grueling conditioning test during which skaters had to complete several laps around the rink under certain times.

The drills were no joke, but Boudreau made sure to keep the mood light even while barking encouragement to the participants.

“We’re huffing and puffing,” Coyle said, “and he’s still making us laugh.”

NHL training camps began about a week later than usual because of the World Cup of Hockey, and six Wild players were given a break for the first three days in their transition back home from competition: forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter from Team USA, forwards Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula of Team Finland and forward Nino Niederreiter of Team Europe. Only Niederreiter’s team is still alive in the tournament, so he could be delayed further.

The learning process won’t wait, though.

“We want to ramp it up as quick as we can. We want to have a lot of pace in our practice. It’s a real mixture, because we have to teach at the same time. It’s not going to be like a practice in December,” Boudreau said. “At the same time, we don’t want anything slow. We want a lot of moving parts.”

The first exhibition game is on Monday against Buffalo in State College, Pennsylvania, and the season opener is Oct. 13 at St. Louis. That’s less than three weeks away. Hence the hard work on the first day, even though players train year-round these days and don’t typically need to get back into shape.

“Everyone’s just excited to get this thing going and start playing some real hockey,” defenseman Matt Dumba said.

There will be differences in style, for sure.

“I think they’re still trying to figure me out. `What’s this guy like? He seems to be smiling a little too much.’ Or, `He’s joking around with me. Is he really joking or is he sarcastic?”‘ Boudreau said. “I think it takes a little bit of time for guys to get to know me.”

Impressions are there to be made for the players, most of whom have never played for Boudreau before.

“Everyone’s here to get a job and knock people out of their jobs, so everyone came prepared,” Coyle said. “It’s good to see that intensity and that competition right away.”

Bruce Boudreau’s Stanley Cup search continues in Minnesota

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This post is part of Wild Day on PHT…

Since he became an NHL head coach in 2007-08, Bruce Boudreau has had plenty of regular season success. The former coach of the Capitals and Ducks has an impressive record of 409-192-80.

During his nine years behind the bench in Washington and Anaheim, Boudreau’s teams have won 46 games or more six times. Unfortunately for Boudreau, that hasn’t translated into any championships.

Not only is Boudreau still searching for his first Stanley Cup title, he’s also searching for his first conference championship.

Now in Minnesota, Boudreau knows that time is of the essence. The 61-year-old, who’s now on his third team, won’t have many more cracks at the cup.

“I think they’re a really good team, and I think they can win,” Boudreau said in May, per NHL.com. “At my age, I think they can win in the next two years. I know they’re in the toughest division in hockey, which in itself is a great challenge. But I think they can win and I’m hoping I can be a little bit of a help and assistance there.”

Two years might be all the Wild have to be legitimate cup contenders. With Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter all over 30, it appears as though the window for Minnesota to hoist Lord Stanley is closing.

With the lack of consistency they showed in 2015-16, some might even believe that the team’s time has come and gone already. But if Boudreau can bring that winning mentality he had in Washington and Anaheim, anything is possible come playoff time.

To get the Wild back on track, Boudreau will need to find a way to get production from players that have struggled of late. Eric Staal, Chris Stewart, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin will need to deliver more than they did last season for the Wild to be serious contenders.

“I hope I can bring a Stanley Cup to this state,” Boudreau told NHL.com. “It’s something that I’ve looked forward to, for a hockey market like this, to come in with, I think, a team that has always been a tough opponent for any team that I’ve ever coached. Going forward I think we’re going to be even better.”

Bruce Boudreau’s attitude should be a boon for Eric Staal, Wild

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By handing Eric Staal a three-year contract, the Minnesota Wild made it pretty clear that they believe that the former Carolina Hurricanes captain can bounce back.

Even with that in mind, new Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau seems like he can make a difference as a positive force, and that might be seen with Staal in particular.

Staal seems to think that Boudreau is a proponent of what he brings to the table, as he told the Pioneer Press.

“Bruce is someone that I believe, through the phone conversations I’ve had with him, believes in my game and believes in me,” Staal said. “He will give me every opportunity to try to rekindle some of that offensive flair I’ve had over the years and haven’t had in the last couple.”

Chris Stewart called Boudreau being in Minnesota “a bonus” after spending one season with the bench boss. Boudreau described himself as a “positive communicator.”

Hockey is a brutally physical sport, and many of the game’s best coaches are known to “bark” at players.

(OK, so Mike Babcock leans more toward a scowl, but you get the point.)

Still, with how highly trained professional athletes can be, a kinder and gentler approach might succeed in its own way. If you ask profoundly successful NFL head coach Pete Carroll, teamwork inspires people to “work harder.”

If you can get past the playoff disappointments for a moment, one factor that distinguishes Boudreau from others is his willingness to be flexible. He found a way to adapt when the Ducks weren’t scoring, molding them into a more defensive-minded group.

Now, let’s not pretend Boudreau is totally averse to screaming fits. HBO’s 24/7 series caught plenty of profanity-laced tirades during the tail end of his Capitals days.

The moments that cameras don’t capture are simply more likely to make a difference, both for Staal and for the Wild overall.

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