Wild's defensive depth pushes Olofsson to the press box despite solid week
ST. PAUL—After two solid games this week, Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson was relegated to watching the team's Saturday, Nov. 4, game against the rival Chicago Blackhawks from the press box.
Such is life for the extra blue liner on a team filled with depth.
Olofsson has officially played in six games this season, though the past two were by far his best.
"I thought I played simple and worried about defense and built a strong foundation to start on since I haven't been playing for a little bit," Olofsson said. "I want to build on that."
Still, the 22-year-old Olofsson is buried on the depth chart behind veteran Kyle Quincey and up-and-comer Mike Reilly.
That means playing time for Olofsson could be sporadic, as it has been about a month into this season.
"It's tough because I tend to get in my head a little bit," Olofsson said. "I try to stay focused and not worry and not think too much."
"I think for me it's important to stay out of my own head and try to think about it like everyone's been through it," Olofsson added. "It's part of the process. I think everybody is going to be needed throughout the season so I think having the mentality to tell myself to be ready when I get back in is the biggest thing."
That could come sooner rather than later as it seems Olofsson played well enough enough to earn more playing time.
"I mean, he's a young guy and he's getting better every game," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think he gets better being around and practicing with the NHL guys. He is going to be in and out of the lineup for a lot of the year. He's a good skater. He's got a good stick. He does good gaps. He is very similar to a young (Jonas) Brodin."
Olofsson appreciated being compared to Brodin, though he wasn't focused on mimicking the game of his fellow Swede.
"I think he's a great player and does a lot of things right," Olofsson said. "It's very nice to be compared to him. He's a very good player. I feel like even though we bring different things to the table, he's a great guy to learn from and look at."
Boudreau said at the end of the day he doesn't want Olofsson to read too much into the fact that he's not playing night in and night out.
"When we have seven D we have to move them around," Boudreau said. "Especially when we have young guys like (Reilly) and (Olofsson), we can't have them sitting too long."
In the meantime, Olofsson is going to focus on building on the success he had in two solid games earlier this week.
"I think consistency and getting out there regularly helps me build and continue to get better," Olofsson said. "Now that I'm back out, I'll just try to stay ready and do what I can when I get back in."
Consistency is key
While he undoubtedly wanted a win over the rival Blackhawks, entering Saturday's game Boudreau was more focused on the process.
"I think the biggest thing is to make sure we're consistently doing the right stuff," Boudreau said. "I mean the first two periods (in Thursday's 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens) we did a lot of really good things.
"This whole season has been doing great one day and not so great one day. I think consistency is the way we're going to move up in the standings. We have to be consistent if we want to move up."
Asked before Saturday's game what's remained constant for the Blackhawks amid seemingly constant changes, Boudreau had a relatively simple answer.
"(Patrick) Kane, (Jonathan) Toews, (Brent) Seabrook, (Duncan) Keith, (Corey) Crawford," Boudreau said. "That doesn't change."
"They got the core of great players. They got championship blood in them, so when the going gets tough down there they know how hard they have to play to bring it back up and they've done it for years. That's why they're great players."