ST. PAUL -- About to begin a stretch of 10 games in 17 days, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau wanted to put his team through one final rigorous practice session.
After playing one game in a span of eight days, the Wild begin the 10 in 17 when it heads to Pittsburgh to kick off a three-game trip on Thursday.
Knowing that the schedule will not allow for a practice like the Wild had on Monday, Boudreau worked the club on cycle and power-play drills before an exhausting conditioning session at the end.
It was the most conditioning the team has done since training camp. Players began with eight sprints from the goal line to the far blue line, followed by short burst sprints from the red line to the faceoff circle and from blue line to blue line.
By the end, players were grunting and expending nearly everything they had, but kept a positive outlook. When they were finished, the group gathered at center ice for an impromptu celebration.
"You look for the reaction that I think we got today," Boudreau said. "It's hard work, it's a lot of skating but it was enthusiastic and ended the way I wanted it to end."
The conditioning drill, which Boudreau simply calls "Speed and Quickness," is four parts and took nearly 20 minutes to complete.
At the end, the team is divided in half, with each standing on a blue line. One player from one side bursts to the other blue line, which triggers someone from that line to skate back. Once he reaches the line, the next person goes.
"You're just starting to make fun with it," Boudreau said. "Going as fast as you can in short bursts."
After one round, players start from their knees, then from their backs, then from their stomachs. It was a drill Boudreau did for the first time in 1991 when he was a player in Fort Wayne of the IHL.
"That's a little bit old school," said Wild defenseman Nate Prosser. "I remember doing some of that in peewees and bantams, but never in the NHL. But it's just another skate drill and you do it with a smile on your face."
With a day off on Tuesday, coaches wanted to make sure players were building on Sunday's practice, when Boudreau was harping on his players being harder to play against in front of the net.
After scoring just one goal in the past two games, the Wild will need to do a better job of creating offense. That's where Monday's practice could pay dividends. After working net-front on Sunday, the Wild worked the cycle on Monday in an attempt to keep possession of the puck.
"That's the way you score in this league," Boudreau said. "Pretty goals are few and far between. If you don't get dirty goals, you're not going to win the game."
Forwards Erik Haula and Zach Parise are getting closer to returning, but it may come after the upcoming road trip.
Haula skated on his own before practice and said he felt "good."
"I don't know what that means. I don't know, for a timetable, what that means," Boudreau said.
Parise is about 70 percent healed from his lower-body injury.
Although he wouldn't rule them out for the trip, Boudreau classified the likelihood of Haula and Parise returning as "slim."
Defenseman Marco Scandella has not returned to the ice and is still a ways off from his return.
The Wild reassigned forwards Jordan Schroeder and Christoph Bertschy to Iowa after practice on Monday.
The moves are believed to be salary cap related and each could be a candidate to return for the trip. If Parise and Haula are out, Minnesota will need two forwards by Thursday night.