Boudreau's line changes seem to be clicking
ST. PAUL--A master of pushing the right buttons night in and night out, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has made a habit of flip flopping right wingers Jordan Schroeder and Jason Pominville as of late.
ST. PAUL-A master of pushing the right buttons night in and night out, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has made a habit of flip flopping right wingers Jordan Schroeder and Jason Pominville as of late.
Pominville has started each of the past three games on the first line with Eric Staal and Zach Parise, only to finish the night on the fourth line with Tyler Graovac and Chris Stewart.
Schroeder has done the opposite.
Boudreau apparently had seen enough to justify switching those lines for good - or at least for now - as he promoted Schroeder and demoted Pominville during Tuesday's practice.
Those changes come as the Wild prep for a three-game road trip to the West Coast that features games against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night and the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.
"I figured if we were going to start him against San Jose, then we should get a couple good practices under out belt with him," Boudreau said of Schroeder. "And maybe the lines of communication will be a little bit better."
As for Pominville moving down, Boudreau explained that he likes the fit.
"Sometimes that line could use more speed," Boudreau said. "That (also) balances that line out a lot better because he's so responsible."
It makes sense to elevate Schroeder as he has five points in five games since being called up from the minors. Pominville, on the other hand, has one point in that span and has four points since turning 34 on Nov. 30, 2016. He has gone 14 games without a goal.
"I feel like I'm definitely snakebitten a bit," Pominville said, emphasizing that he's had good looks. "I could easily be at 10 or so goals. ... You keep working hard, and eventually they'll come."
Schroeder, meanwhile, has had no problem finding the stat sheet, forcing Boudreau to give him more playing time.
"It's big on the confidence," Schroeder said. "You feel more free out there playing. You're not thinking so much. And I think that's when I'm playing my best."
Still, he knows he has hardly earned a permanent spot in the lineup.
"You can't think about that," he said. "I have to go out there and keep doing what I've been doing - getting in on the forecheck, getting to pucks first. Regardless of where I am in the lineup, I have to keep doing what I've been doing. ... I know nothing is set in stone. I can't be satisfied with anything."
Even though Pominville isn't satisfied at the moment either, he is trying not to get caught up in the politics of it.
"Things happen," he said. "It's a long season. ... These lines don't always stay the same. I need to keep worrying about my game."
THIRD STAR OF THE MONTH
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk was named the NHL's third star for the month of December.
Dubnyk finished the month 10-1-1 with a 1.88 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. He was instrumental, as the Wild compiled a franchise-record 12-game winning streak.
Dubnyk leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.75), save percentage (.941), and shutouts (5).
Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin were the first and second stars, respectively.
In preparation for a three-game road trip to the West Coast, the Wild recalled Kurtis Gabriel from minors. Gabriel has played in 10 games for Minnesota this season, providing toughness toward the bottom half of the lineup.