Head coach Bruce Boudreau insists that fatigue is the main factor behind his team’s current slump.
He thought skipping a morning practice before Thursday’s game against Carolina would help his team find the win column. That, unfortunately, didn’t work. Maybe it’s time to switch up something else entirely.
Enter center Erik Haula…on defence.
“Bruce came to me before practice and we talked about who would play [defense],” Haula said. “I guess [assistant coach Scott Stevens] thinks I can play defense. So [Boudreau] was like, ‘OK, you can play [defense] today.’
Apparently, this was assistant coach and NHL Hall of Famer Scott Stevens’ idea. And the former New Jersey Devil’s captain may be on to something, because by all reports Haula fit in great on the defensive line with Nate Prosser.
Stevens has told Boudreau all year that Haula would make a good D because he’s such a skilled backwards skater.
While Haula didn’t exactly express delight at the idea of switching to the Blueline full-time, it’s an intriguing way to switch up the usual grind of practice. Break up a player’s routine, shake things up a bit.
Haula said, laughing, “I was telling [Boudreau] after practice, ‘Just make sure [Stevens] doesn’t recruit me to that side [of the bench].’ ”
The Wild have a busy schedule to close out the regular season, with 20 games in the last 35 days of the season. With twelve games left, the Wild have dropped three straight, and six of the last ten games.
Boudreau needs to find a way to turn the ship back around.
Fatigue is one thing, but the Wild have been sitting comfortably atop the Western Conference standings all season. The Wild are a team capable of playing much better than they have recently, but there isn’t all that much time to get back to playing their best hockey.
There won’t be much rest for the wicked before the playoffs begin, and nobody knows this better than Boudreau. He needs to find a get his team back on the right foot, before the real test of endurance begins in April.