Dan Myers sat down Wednesday with Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau to check in on his team and his new life in Minnesota in the first edition of Bruce Bites.
Dan Myers: How has the adjustment been for you and your wife, Crystal, moving to Minnesota?
Bruce Boudreau: "It's been great. We love it here. We had more people on Halloween come to our house than we did in the five years in Anaheim and the five years in Washington combined. I thought it was really exciting, and we really enjoyed that. We like the four seasons. My wife actually just got a job, so she's really excited. And it's doing what she loves, she's teaching cooking. She's really happy. And Brady (Bruce's son) is doing well down in New Ulm (where he is a goaltender for the New Ulm Steel, a NA3HL team). But everything is predicated, wherever you live, on whether you win or lose. So, as long as we're successful, life will be good."
DM: You're 10 games into the schedule. If you were a teacher giving your team a progress report, what letter grade would you give right now?
BB: "We're a 'C' right now. I think we're doing some things really good. We're leading the League in penalty killing. I think we're in the top 5 in defense. We were, before [Tuesday] night, in the top 5 for most goals. So, those things, and our power play is picking up, those things are good. But I think, as a group, you take statistics out of play and everything, from the coaching staff to the players, we see that we can be better. And quite frankly, it's my job to find a way to coax the absolute best out of everybody. And it's always a challenge, but it's still new to a lot of guys. We're 10 games deep and 21 practices deep, and it's a lot of guys I've never worked with or they've worked for me, are still having an adjustment period, and old habits die hard."
DM: It happens to every team, but how frustrating are these spells for coaches, where it's not just one injury, it's a bunch that seem to happen all at once?
BB: "It makes sense why that happens though. When guys get injured, then you use other players more. And so they get fatigued quicker and they become susceptible to injuries. It's really a cycle. The good thing about right now is, our schedule really isn't that tough. So I'm hoping by the Pittsburgh game (Nov. 10) that we'll have some of these guys back."
DM: You've talked about the lulls in certain games, where the team looks great one period and maybe struggles a bit in others. How have you remedied trying to even those out in the past?
BB: "I think it's every day, you're trying to teach; every day you're preaching about it, win or lose, about the same things. Eventually, it takes hold. And when it takes hold and you're playing for 60 minutes, it's great."
DM: You've mentioned Christmas as a time when you hope guys are simply playing your systems and no longer thinking about them. Do you still think that is a realistic time frame?
BB: "I don't know what the reasonable timeline is. I'd like it to be now. For example, when I took over Washington, it was immediately. It took two to three weeks in Anaheim. Now, this is a group that's been together for a lot of years doing things different ways, so it might be a little longer than that. Hopefully, it's not, hopefully, we bounce back in Colorado and have a great game, then we have three more on the road that are in tough buildings, hopefully we can get better there."