Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL—Contrary to the misconception that seemed to become the narrative over the past month, Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk is not broken. He never was. Yes, the 30-year-old Dubnyk struggled from the beginning of March till the end, finishing with a 3-8-2 record. His overall body of work speaks for itself, though, and despite his slump he remains fifth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.23), tied for third in save percentage (.924) and fourth in wins (38). Dubnyk insists he never lost confidence in himself despite his tough times.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Eric Staal was essentially left for dead. He was on the wrong side of 30, according to the critics, and his best playing days were in the rearview mirror. So when the 32-year-old Staal signed with the Wild last offseason, he might as well, at least to the critics, have been a horse being taken out to pasture so his career could die peacefully. Staal has proved the critics wrong time and time again this season. He leads the Wild with 27 goals, has chipped in with 33 assists, and his 60 points trail only creative winger Mikael Granlund for the team lead.
ST. PAUL -- Any concerns about the Minnesota Wild’s Zach Parise missing extended time were put to rest Thursday when the 32-year-old winger returned to the ice. Parise, sporting a black-and-blue shiner around his right eye, participated in Thursday’s morning skate, and stayed afterwards to shoot pucks at backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper. His presence surprised coach Bruce Boudreau. “I’m waiting for him to come in and ask me to play tonight,” Boudreau joked.
ST. PAUL — Top prospect Joel Eriksson Ek seems like the same guy he was when he left the Twin Cities and the Minnesota Wild five months ago. "Still a man of few words," Wild forward Chris Stewart said with a laugh. But the 20-year-old center from Sweden has gone through some noticeable changes. He showed that during Wednesday's practice, taking line rushes as the center on the fourth line, playing alongside Nino Niederreiter on his left wing and a combination of Ryan White and Jordan Schroeder on his right.
St. PAUL—Zach Parise still has his vision, and that's the most important thing to the Minnesota Wild. That was somewhat of a concern after Parise, a former University of North Dakota standout, took a high stick to the face in the first period of Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at Xcel Energy Center. Parise was skating alone through the neutral zone when Capitals winger Tom Wilson clobbered him with the blade of his stick. Then, as Parise was falling to the ice, Capitals center Jay Beagle nailed him with an accidental hip check to the head.
ST. PAUL—In no time flat the Minnesota Wild have gone from a potent offensive and stingy defensive team to a snakebitten bunch that couldn't stop a nosebleed. Leading the Western Conference by nine points a little more than a month ago, the Wild now trail the Chicago Blackhawks by seven points, as dreams of hanging another banner in the lonely rafters of the Xcel Energy Center have all but slipped away. That is the least of the concerns, though.
ST. PAUL — Don't expect Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to channel his inner Gregg Popovich anytime soon. Popovich, the longtime NBA coach who has overseen the San Antonio Spurs dynasty the past two decades, essentially patented the concept of resting star players over the course of an 82-game regular season. His rationale was simple: It gave his players, particularly his veterans, a chance to recharge rather than playing in fairly inconsequential regular-season games. Popovich rarely has brought along his best lineup to Minnesota to play the Timberwolves for awhile now.
ST. PAUL — Luke Kunin's phone was "blowing up" for the much of Thursday afternoon, understandable considering the prized prospect agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild. "It's been a pretty crazy day," Kunin told the Pioneer Press. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. I'm excited to get going."
ST. PAUL — Apparently veteran center Martin Hanzal was waiting for the perfect moment to score his first goal as a member of the Wild. Hanzal had been separated from his family since coming to Minnesota in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes about a month ago. While he ventured to the Twin Cities to settle in with his new team, his wife Lenka, 5-year-old son Martin and 2½-year-old daughter Natalie returned to the Czech Republic, waiting for the logistics of their new home to be sorted out.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has finally cracked. All it took was a red-eye flight to Canada, a putrid effort against the Winnipeg Jets, and now what stands as the lone five-game losing streak of his 10-year coaching career. Less than 24 hours after managing to keep his cool after his team's uninspired 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers, the 62-year-old Boudreau blew a gasket Sunday, hitting his boiling point after an embarrassing 5-4 loss to the Jets.