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Old Habits Die Hard for Wild

Time and reps the only fixes as players continue adjusting to new systems

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

Wild Practice in Boston

Wild Practice in Boston

Coyle, Staal and Head Coach Bruce Boudreau talk about refocusing and some new line combinations after practice at TD Garden in Boston

  • 01:28 •

BOSTON -- Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau hinted before Sunday's game against the New York Islanders that lineup changes could be coming, something he followed through on later that night.

Minnesota lost 6-3 in Brooklyn on Sunday, but Boudreau stuck with the same lines at pracice on Monday, hoping the groups can continue to build chemistry while avoiding reverting to old habits.

The Wild plays the third game of a four-game road trip on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

There were times on Sunday -- and in each game so far -- where the Wild has gotten away from the things Boudreau has preached and fallen into old habits and old systems.

It's understandable, considering much of the current roster played several seasons under the old way of doing things.

"If you don't practice the same thing over and over early, you sometimes forget, and you start playing the game like shinny," Boudreau said. "We had to go over some points that I think were starting to get away from us and bring everything back into focus."

Video: Charlie Coyle Practice in Boston

The struggle to break old habits and begin new ones wasn't entirely unexpected. Boudreau said he thought there would be several weeks of trial and error as players adjust. 

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to make things happen quicker.

"Just keep practicing your stuff day in and day out," Boudreau said. "I thought it would be until Christmas until they finally forgot everything [from the prior system] and knew the stuff that we'd like them to accomplish. But that's why you keep coming back."

Boudreau said the Wild has spent too much time battling in its own zone through the early portion of the season, allowing at least 30 shots on goal in five of the six games so far.

That is simply too many for the coach's liking; about 410 too many over the course of a season than Boudreau would like to see.

"We need to get that down to 25 and if we get that down to 25, that means you're playing pretty solid defensively," Boudreau said. "When you lead the League in goals against the previous year ... I don't think we allowed six goals scored on us at all last year [in Anaheim]. You hate for it to happen, but these are growing pains."

Spurgeon, Haula progressing

Defenseman Jared Spurgeon (upper body) and forward Erik Haula (lower body) did not practice with the team on Monday, but Spurgeon was on the ice prior to practice to skate on his own. 

Boudreau said Spurgeon felt good after the skate and will try again tomorrow before the team decides he is ready to re-join the lineup.

Haula remains in a walking boot but Boudreau said Haula's foot felt "a lot better than it was," and that he might try to skate on Tuesday. 

Both players remain day-to-day.

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