|Wild ready for Senators|
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has been preaching faith in his system while his team went through an up-and-down first half of the season marred by injuries and inconsistency. Heading into Monday night's home showdown with the Ottawa Senators, there are signs that the Wild players' faith in Boudreau's system might be paying off.
To start with, there's the natural optimism the Wild have from playing at home. After their 5-2 takedown of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in Minnesota, the Wild now have gone 6-0-2 in their last eight games at Xcel Energy Center.
With the rest of the Central Division teams winning games while the Wild had five days off last week, they know there's no breathing room in the playoff race.
"Every time we look, a Central team is winning," Boudreau said. "It's pretty hard when you come to the game and three of the Central teams have already won, it's pretty hard not to put your best foot forward knowing this is going to be pretty crazy down the stretch."
The additional good news for Minnesota is that they're getting healthier at the right time. Forward Nino Niederreiter is still missing and will be until after the All-Star break, but left winger Zach Parise got his first goal of the season after missing several months due to back surgery.
"It was kind of a lucky one, I guess," a humble Parise said. "As a line, we've been doing some good thing. Individually, I thought I was doing some good things. It's always nice to get rewarded."
In Ottawa, rewards have been rare for a Senators team that has lost three of four and is drifting out of the playoff picture. Reports surfaced this week that general manager Pierre Dorion is meeting privately with players in anticipation that the Senators will be sellers at the trade deadline, although coach Guy Boucher would not elaborate on those conversations.
"What we do inside is not something I talk about outside," Boucher said after Saturday's 4-3 home loss to Toronto. "Whether we talk to a few guys or whether we decide to ... that's internal stuff."
Boucher gave his players a day off practice on Sunday before the trip to Minnesota, not because he wanted to but because the Senators are such a mess of injuries that he wanted them to have as much rest as possible.
"We've got quite a few guys who are banged up. We've got to look at what we're going to do for the trip," Boucher said. "We'll save some energy because a lot of guys are going to have to play more."
He admitted there's frustration growing for him and his players, as the bad news seems to keep coming in Canada's capital city.
"It's been tough because every time we get a bit of traction we get injuries and we get something happening," Boucher said. "So it's been very mentally tough, but we've got to battle through it."