Wild emerge from NHL All-Star Weekend 'totally recharged'
ST. PAUL--While Bruce Boudreau, Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Suter were busy representing the Wild at NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, teammates used the break as an opportunity to recharge their batteries for the stretch run.
ST. PAUL-While Bruce Boudreau, Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Suter were busy representing the Wild at NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, teammates used the break as an opportunity to recharge their batteries for the stretch run.
Eric Staal and his wife, Tanya, spent two relaxing two days in Wisconsin before returning home to spend a day with sons Parker, 7, and Levi, 5.
"You know, whenever there's a chance for a break, it's good to take advantage of it," he said.
Zach Parise stuck around the Twin Cities with his wife, Alisha, staying busy chasing 3-year-old twins Jaxson and Emelia around the house.
It was much the same for Chris Stewart, a family man who used his time away from the rink to simply relax.
"It was nice to get some time to put the feet up a little bit," Stewart said before adding with a chuckle that he also tuned in Sunday as the Central Division took a 10-3 spanking to the Pacific Division. "It was fun watching Duby and Sutes out there taking some minuses."
Parise had no desire to tune in to any part of All-Star Weekend.
"I feel like everyone was looking forward to a little break," Parise said. "Now, I feel like everyone is excited to come back."
That excitement was evident as the Wild capped practice Monday afternoon before boarding a plane to Edmonton, where they'll start a weeklong trek through Western Canada with a game against the Oilers on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. There was a noticeable exuberance surrounding the team during the 45-minute practice, as well as in the locker room afterward.
That exuberance was boosted, no doubt, by the team's play. The Wild, 21-3-2 since Dec. 2, lead the Western Conference with 69 points, a franchise record for the all-star break.
Boudreau was smack dab in the middle of the All-Star Weekend festivities and never really got a chance to relax after a stretch of nine games in 15 days. Now, the Wild close the season with 20 games in 35 days.
"It's a really compressed schedule," Boudreau said. "It's tough for everybody. I feel like managing rest and work is going to be a really difficult thing for us. We were talking about it, and this month we have maybe three practices. So we have to make the most of it."
While there will come a time when the Wild are ready for another break, as of right now they're ready to get back to playing.
"It came at a good time," Stewart said of the break. "Now, we're itching to get back."
SCORING IN BUNCHES
As of Monday afternoon, the Wild led the NHL with seven players with at least 30 points. They also lead the league with eight players with 10 or more goals and lead the Western Conference with 160 goals total.
"It makes everybody come to the rink and think they can contribute," Boudreau said. "We are a 20-man team as much as any team in the league, because everyone contributes."
It has been a pleasant surprise of sorts for Boudreau, who admitted that he wasn't sure what to expect when he took the job with the Wild.
"I was going to come here and do the best I could and hopefully we were good enough to compete with the rest of the league, and so far we have been," he said.
"It's tough to play against teams with that type of scoring," Parise added. "We hope that we can keep that up."
Boudreau said perhaps the best part of All-Star Weekend was the fact he got to spend it with his his 18-year-old son, Brady. As part of its 100th anniversary, the NHL unveiled its top 100 players of all time on Friday night in Los Angeles.
"My son being there and seeing guys that he idolized was really cool," Boudreau said. "We got close to 50 (autographs), and Brady got to take a picture with everybody there. It's going to be good to have with the autographs and the pictures."