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Boudreau Offers Glimpse at Potential New Lines for Game 4

Power play also tweaked as Wild faces must-win scenario on Wednesday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- While Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn't admit he's thinking of tinkering with his lineup ahead of Game 4 on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues, his line assignments at practice on Tuesday would suggest there could be plenty of movement amongst his forwards.

The Wild has scored three goals in three games, so no move, at least at this point, is likely off the table. Minnesota faces a must-win proposition against the Blues, who advance to the second round with one more victory in the best-of-seven series.

"I'd try anything right now," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "You don't have to look any further than the amount of goals that we've scored. We've got to try something different."

Video: Wild Tries to Find Its Footing in Game 4

In what may be a first this season, Boudreau moved Mikael Granlund off Mikko Koivu's wing. The two Finns were put together in training camp, and even though the left wing has been different at varying points this season, one of the few constants has been the pairing of Koivu and Granlund.

Granlund was moved to Eric Staal's line along with Charlie Coyle, while Koivu centered a line of Parise and Nino Niederreiter.

"Sometimes the coaches, they do those decisions and it's for the good and whatever they think can help us. Us players, we know each other. It's been a long year, even if you haven't played with [guys]," Koivu said. "I've played with Zach before, I've played with Nino before. He's definitely played with Charlie before and the other lines, too, so we all know, we know the system that we play, so now it's just a matter of playing the right way and everyone is on the same rope. We just gotta do the right things and it doesn't matter who you play with."

The top-six group mirrored the new-look power play groups. Minnesota is 0-for-9 in the series 5-on-4, and Boudreau hinted on Monday that he may tinker there as well.

During the power play portion of practice, Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin were paired with the Koivu group while Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon worked on the back end of the Staal line.

In addition, the Wild worked extensively on getting bodies in front of the net in an effort to make life more difficult for Blues goaltender Jake Allen.

Generating shots on goal in the series hasn't been a problem; the Wild is averaging nearly 40 shots per game. Allen has had a clear view of far too many of them, however, a point of emphasis for Minnesota heading into Game 4.

The Wild, the NHL's No. 2 scoring offense during the regular season, was outstanding at getting bodies to the front of the net and cashing in on loose change around the crease. St. Louis' big defensemen have made it a challenge this series, but expect Minnesota to make a concerted effort to get back to it on Wednesday.

"[Allen is] stopping everything. It's important," Boudreau said. "He can't stop what he can't see, so we're trying to reinforce that."

Video: Boudreau After Tuesday's Practice

Haula 'questionable' for Game 4

Wild forward Erik Haula was not on the ice for practice on Tuesday. Boudreau said it was a maintenance day and that his status for Game 4 remains questionable.

If Haula can't play, Joel Eriksson Ek would likely slide back into the lineup as the fourth-line centerman.

Parity party

The Wild aren't the only higher seed facing an uphill climb as the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue.

On Tuesday, Nashville capped a two-goal third-period comeback with an overtime goal in a 3-2 win over the West's top team, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators have the Hawks in a 3-0 hole.

Toronto also finished a two-goal comeback in a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals. As the club with the NHL's best regular season record, the winners of the President's Trophy trail that series 2-1.

"That's exactly what the League has wanted, and that's why, for years now, the 16 teams that make it, anybody can win the Cup," Boudreau said. "I mean, [Los Angeles] won it as a 16th seed, 8th seed in the West, and it's not impossible. There's no easy games in the NHL no matter who you play."

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