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Rink Report: Wild Hopes to Tighten Up Against Ducks

Boudreau takes advantage rare of mid-February practice day to work on defensive zone

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk admitted that if the team had played better on Sunday in a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings, it likely wouldn't have been at Xcel Energy Center for practice on Monday.

While Minnesota will gladly take the two points in the standings, it knows it didn't play its best. Naturally, parts of its game have been slipping again recently. 

"If you hit the ice with Bruce [Boudreau], you know you're going to work hard," Dubnyk said. 

With that in mind, Boudreau wanted to get his team back on the ice in an effort to clean things up as it preps for the fourth game of an eight-game homestand on Tuesday when Minnesota hosts the Anaheim Ducks.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Practice

"We just haven't practiced or had a real good practice," Boudreau said. "You just want to sort of tighten things up, from our forechecking to our board work, things of that nature. We're playing a pretty big team tomorrow, so we have to box out and when pucks go to the point, we have to be good at it."

It also allowed the Wild to mix in some fresh faces from Iowa, as it recalled forwards Alex Tuch and Zack Mitchell from its American Hockey League affiliate on Monday while placing Tyler Graovac on waivers, with the intention of sending him to Iowa.

To make room on the roster for the extra call-up, the Wild placed defenseman Jonas Brodin on injured reserve. Nothing has changed regarding Brodin's timeline as he continues to work back from a fractured finger and because the move is retroactive to Jan. 18, Brodin is still available to return sometime in the next week or so.

Both Tuch and Mitchell provide the Wild with much needed size against a bigger opponent like Anaheim.

Tuch practiced on a line with Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal and is expected to play there on Tuesday. Mitchell, who has played center in Iowa, could slide to right wing on the fourth line and play with Chris Stewart and Erik Haula.

Video: Wild Practice in St. Paul

"I played with Staal before and Nino is a really good player, really hot right now and scoring a lot of goals," Tuch said. "They are two really easy players to play with and it should be good. We'll be playing fast and hopefully down low a lot."

Center of attention

The decision to place Graovac on waivers means Boudreau will keep Charlie Coyle at center for the time being.

Coyle, who has waffled between center and the wing in the past, had spent a vast majority of this season on the wing until the past week or so. After going through a lengthy slump in late January that lasted into early February, Boudreau moved Coyle to center prior to the game in Winnipeg last Tuesday and he responded, dishing out three assists.

Back at wing the past couple of games, Boudreau didn't like what he was seeing from Coyle after one period against the Red Wings on Sunday and moved him back to center for the final two periods. Coyle responded with a goal and an assist over the final 40 minutes of play.

"He played good on wing last year and good at center last year," Boudreau said. "I don't know what the real reason is [for his recent struggles at wing], but he does handle the puck more when he's in the middle, and if that makes him better, then that's good."

Dumba likely out

Defenseman Matt Dumba did not practice on Monday and likely won't play against the Ducks.

Dumba was hurt late in the first period against Tampa Bay on Friday on a hit by Lightning forward Ondrej Palat. Dumba lost his balance and crashed awkwardly into the boards.

He finished out the game against Tampa Bay but sat out against the Red Wings on Sunday with a lower-body injury.

Boudreau classified Dumba as day-to-day.

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