| Pierre-Marc Bouchard may have a trick up his sleeve the next time he takes a penalty or shootout shot. |
Minnesota Wild fans have seen Pierre-Marc Bouchard
make some amazing plays with the puck during his four years with the team. If only they could see him practice.
Take Tuesday’s practice at Parade Ice Garden for example.
During a three-on-two drill, Bouchard skated up the middle with Brian Rolston and Todd White on each side. As Bouchard entered the slot, he faked a pass to cause the defensemen to split, then brought the puck through his own legs and whistled a shot past Niklas Backstrom. The goal was met by a chorus of cheers from his teammates and coaches.
Fear not Wild fans. Bouchard refuses to eliminate the possibility of using such a move in a game situation.
“For sure,” he said when asked if his practice moves transfer over to game situations. “When I try stuff in practice and it’s working, I will.”
Bouchard showcased one of his many tricks in the Wild’s second game against Nashville, skating down the right side, cutting towards the middle and then spinning around to unleash a backhand. Only a shoulder save by Tomas Vokoun kept that from reaching ESPN’s Top Ten.
“Sometimes it’s a little bit too much risk in a game,” he admitted. “But if I see a game and my confidence is high and the game is going my way, I might try a move like that.”
One might think an old school head coach like Jacques Lemaire would be against such a play, but creativity is encouraged for the Wild’s offensive players. No one is more creative than Bouchard.
On numerous penalty shot contests during practice, Bouchard pulls out his patented move. Curling to the right, cutting in front of the net and then spinning around and stuffing the puck into a vacated spot by the goaltender.
Some have viewed this as quasi-legal, considering a player’s momentum cannot move backwards. Anaheim’s Ryan Shannon tried the same move on Dallas’ Marty Turco this season, and only a miraculous paddle save by Turco kept the puck out of the net.
“I think it’s legal,” said Bouchard, but when asked if he’ll use it if he’s ever called upon in a shootout, he just smiled.
With the absence of Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis, Lemaire has tinkered with the Wild lines in practice. On Tuesday, he kept Brent Burns at forward, inserting him on a line with Mikko Koivu and Stephane Veilleux. Mark Parrish joined Pavol Demitra and Branko Radivojevic. Mattias Weinhandl skated with Wes Walz and Derek Boogaard.