Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — With a puck trickling toward the red line in overtime Saturday, Oct. 20, at Xcel Energy Center, goaltender Alex Stalock very easily could've let it pass for an icing call — and a Wild faceoff in the offensive zone. Instead, the Wild's backup goaltender played the puck, banking it off the boards to ignite an odd-man rush the other way. "If we can get an odd-man rush, we have to do it," Stalock said. "I'd take an odd-man rush over an offensive zone faceoff any day, and that's what we had. It worked out." Indeed.
ST. PAUL—For the first time in Bruce Boudreau's three seasons as Wild coach, he decided to give his team two consecutive days off. As far as he was concerned, finishing a four-game week comprised of two back-to-backs with a 3-1-0 record was reason enough for a break. The back-to-back sweep over the weekend against Dallas and Tampa Bay put everyone in a better mood. It sure didn't look like anyone was getting time off early Saturday, Oct. 20, when the Wild slogged their way through a dreadful start against the Lightning at Xcel Energy Center.
ST. PAUL — You'd never know Wild winger Marcus Foligno was sick as a dog a couple of days ago. After waking up and barely being able to get out of bed before Thursday's practice, Foligno made it on the team charter a few hours later. He went straight to bed when the Wild arrived in Dallas, and while his status for Friday's game against the Stars was in question even a few hours before puck drop, he showed no ill effects, pouring arguably his best effort of the season in a 3-1 win.
DALLAS — A routine play along the boards last season nearly ended Ryan Suter's career. Almost seven months later, after countless hours of rehab, Suter returned to the scene of the crime with the Wild playing the Dallas Stars on Friday night at the American Airlines Center. "I didn't really think about that until (head equipment manager) Tony (DaCosta) came and grabbed me and said (the reporters) wanted to talk," Suter said. "I figured that's what it was about."
ST. PAUL — Matt Read was surprised to say the least when he walked into the Wild locker room Thursday, Oct. 18. After being called up from the minors a day earlier, Read figured he would join the NHL team and fill a role near the bottom of the lineup. But that's not what the 32-year-old veteran winger is here to do. He will be skating on the top line alongside Eric Staal and opposite Jason Zucker. That's quite the promotion for someone practicing with the Iowa Wild earlier this week.
ST. PAUL—Anyone who knows Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk knows he never thinks about carrying the team on his back. "I don't do that," he said. "I just go out there and focus on the things I need to do." Whether Dubnyk sees it or not, that has translated to carrying the team on his back. While the Wild have been slow out of the starting blocks, Dubnyk is in midseason form.
ST. PAUL — Seven months removed from reconstructive surgery on his left knee, top prospect Luke Kunin is holding his own with the Iowa Wild down on the farm. He played 20 minutes in the 4-3 shootout victory over the Texas Stars on Friday, Oct. 12, according Iowa coach Tim Army, and flashed some of the potential that made him a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft.
EAGAN, Minn. — To the shock of most of his teammates, Kirk Cousins barreled into the pregame huddle a couple of weeks ago with the Vikings ready to run onto the field for kickoff against the Philadelphia Eagles. "I'm changing it up today!" Cousins screamed. "I've got it, guys!" With everyone's eyes fixated on him, the 30-year-old quarterback ripped off his helmet, fixed his hair, and dove headfirst into a passionate 30-second sermon. The son of a preacher, he mixed fire and fury with a few choice words (sorry, Dad) following his grand entrance.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was careful with his words following Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks. While the coach emphatically agreed when asked whether he thought it was the best that star defenseman Ryan Suter has looked since returning from a broken right ankle, he jokingly backtracked a few seconds after giving his initial answer. "Well, I don't want to say by far, because then he'll get mad at me," Boudreau said with a laugh. "It was his best game."
ST. PAUL — Never afraid to tinker with his line combinations whether it's during a practice on during a game, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau swears there's a method to the madness, though he sometimes struggles to explain himself "I don't know," the 63-year-old coach said with a smile. "Everything is about feel when we're on the bench."