MINNEAPOLIS -- For the second time in four days, the Minnesota Wild took to the ice for a spirited, physical practice, this time at Ridder Arena on the the University of Minnesota campus.
Following a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues last Thursday, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau felt his team needed to mix it up a bit more in practice on Friday.
The result was a much better performance in the home opener on Saturday, a 4-3 victory against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets and Wild engaged in a pretty even first period, other than the final 90 seconds, in which Winnipeg scored a pair of goals to take a two-goal lead into the locker room.
After that, Minnesota dominated the shots and the scoring chances, limiting the Jets to just eight shots on goal over the final 40 minutes.
Spurgeon was quick to credit Friday's physical practice as a big reason why the Wild's play didn't drop off later in the game.
"It's a bit different than past years, but going into games, it helps out a lot," said Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon. "I think you could see it last game, we started to wear them down. Especially with four lines going, and the [defensemen] we have going, we just want to be a team that keeps coming at you."
Video: Jared Spurgeon - Practice at Ridder
After a full off day on Sunday, Boudreau is hoping a similar strategy will pay dividends against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
"After a day off and we're playing probably the most physical team in the league tomorrow," Boudreau said. "We better get ready for them."
It was the kind of practice that Wild forward Charlie Coyle said he enjoys. One of Minnesota's more physical players, Coyle said the physical practices put the team in the right frame of mind.
"It's that old saying, 'You play how you practice,'" Coyle said. "When you have a lackadaisical practice, you go through the motions, that's probably how you play."
After further review
Boudreau said that when he watches a game back, the actual result is usually "not as bad as you think and not as good as you think."
But after taking a look at the Winnipeg game, Boudreau said he was very pleased with the results.
"I know I was ticked off after the first period, but they only had one scoring chance up to [the final 90 seconds]. We were shutting them down pretty good," Boudreau said. "We gave them seven scoring chances for the game. Any time you can give a team seven scoring chances and keep them under 20 shots, you're going to win a lot of hockey games."
The two goals Winnipeg scored in the final moments of the period both came as a result of turnovers on breakouts.
Boudreau used the opportunity as a teaching point, showing video of the errors while also using other examples of what happens when the Wild are able to move the puck up the rink effectively.
"We showed breakouts today and when you're doing good breakouts, how few shots you get against, how much zone time the other team has, all of those things," Boudreau said. "We did two other things on those goals; we went backwards with the puck.
"When you go backwards with the puck, often times you have to go back through the same five guys all over again and it makes it difficult."