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Wild Continues Adding Pieces to New System

Neutral zone work, special teams installation the highlights on day two of camp

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- On the ice for the second day of training camp, the Minnesota Wild worked more on its neutral zone play in an effort to understand and execute the system new coach Bruce Boudreau is installing.

The morning session took place in front of a couple hundred fans who wandered into Xcel Energy Center for a first glimpse of Boudreau on the ice in a Wild cap. 

Fans that showed up got to see the Wild again work through a fast-paced practice. Despite it being early in camp, players said they are starting to catch on to the nuances of Boudreau's system.

"You come to realize why he's had success. Everything he says makes a lot of sense," said Wild forward Jason Pominville. "He goes out of his way to make sure you understand it, explains why we're doing it and what can happen if we do it and do it right. It's nice to have that early in camp."

Day 2 also allowed some of the younger players in camp to take a breath and see the game slow down. With six lineup regulars not due to practice until Monday, everyone in camp is getting plenty of repetitions, even when working on special teams.

"They get to see the NHL game, what that's like," said Wild forward Ryan Carter. "When I was younger, too, you get to camp and you're mixed with some of the older guys and I remember being as nervous as could be. I think there was some of that yesterday. Even as a veteran, I was probably more nervous than I have been in other camps."

Despite it being early in camp, Carter said he was pleased to see the Wild already getting work on both the power play and penalty kill.

"It's very important to get the practice in early," Carter said. "The fact that we're practicing this stuff on day one and two of camp says a lot. I think everyone is going to get a shot, whether it's killing penalties or on the power play. Everyone is practicing so we're going to have a good understanding of it. Hopefully it pays dividends."

The systems work done Saturday was more group-oriented. While many players were pulled aside on Friday to address small tweaks and fix mistakes, players were expected to begin combining the information gleaned Friday with Saturday's additions.

"Yesterday, we worked on D-zone. Today, we worked on neutral zone and D-zone," Boudreau said. "If we progress that more, it will be forecheck, offensive zone play, neutral zone and D-zone, so at least we have the concepts of what we're playing like."

Boudreau said some guys pick that up faster than others. The Wild, which opens the preseason on Monday against the Buffalo Sabres at Penn State University in State College, Penn., will have the benefit of seeing its work on tape early in camp so the players can make corrections in meetings.

"We'll have some actual video on us that we can show for teaching rather than the limited video I have to show the systems," Boudreau said.

When it comes to the lineup the Wild will bring to State College, Boudreau said it could resemble the skaters in Group A during training camp.

"Maybe a player or two different than that, but we [constructed the groups] on purpose when we put the groups together," Boudreau said. "It think it's going to be your average, first-game lineup."

Stevens making his presence felt

Assistant coach Scott Stevens was an imposing player during his Hall-of-Fame career. While he isn't dishing out punishment as a coach, he is making sure players know when something needs to be corrected.

"He's been really active. He's talking to everyone," said Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin. "If you do something wrong, he lets you know and if you do something good, he lets you know. It's been good."

Fleischmann will not attend camp

Veteran forward Tomas Fleischmann, who agreed to a professional tryout earlier this week, will not take part in training camp after failing to pass his physical.

Fleischmann is free to secure offers from other teams, of which he had several before settling on the Wild.

"He's such a good person, it's unfortunate," Boudreau said. "I hope he catches on somewhere else. It's just a disappointment, but I like him enough that I want to see him succeed somewhere."

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