Niederreiter out to build on late season success
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Bruce Boudreau admits he's still getting to know Nino Niederreiter. "I can spell his first name," the Wild coach joked. "That's what I know about him." While all other Wild players were learning Boudreau's systems through the o...
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Bruce Boudreau admits he's still getting to know Nino Niederreiter.
"I can spell his first name," the Wild coach joked. "That's what I know about him."
While all other Wild players were learning Boudreau's systems through the opening week of training camp, Niederreiter was competing for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey. He returned last week, after a loss to Team Canada in the finals, and practiced under Boudreau for the first time Monday afternoon.
While there was a lot to learn, Niederreiter noted, he got some help from old linemates Erik Haula and Jason Pominville.
Boudreau intentionally reunited them Monday based on the success the trio had toward the end of last season. As the Wild's third line, the Niederreiter-Haula-Pominville combo was arguably the team's best line down the stretch last season.
"We had some success," Haula said. "So, we'll see what the coaching staff decides."
It appears Boudreau is going to give them every opportunity to continue playing together.
"You'd certainly like it to happen again," Boudreau said. "We know if we can get the third line scoring at the rate they were scoring, and the first two lines continue with what we expect from them, then we become a tough team to play against. And that's what we're hoping we become."
The Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle line figures to be the team's No. 1, with Mikko Koivu presumably centering Mikael Granlund and either Chris Stewart or Jason Zucker on the second line.
Boudreau said he'll continue to experiment with his second line in the days leading up to the Oct. 13 season opener at St. Louis. After Sunday night's preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes, he briefly mentioned the idea of moving Niederreiter to the second line.
Still, at this point, it makes the most sense to play Niederreiter where he feels most comfortable.
"We played the whole second half of the season together," he said. "Even today in practice we made some good plays. It's been good being back with those guys again."
Boudreau noticed the chemistry, too.
"He was like part of a glove fitting in with that line," he said. "They look very comfortable out there."
Niederreiter also is hoping that his World Cup of Hockey success carries over. He had an assist and finished plus-1 in six games.
"The biggest things is learning how to win hockey games. I feel like that's what we did with Team Europe," he said. "We were the underdogs the whole tournament. Nobody really expected us to do great. I think those things, the way we played, and the way we won hockey games, that's something I have a chance to take into the season."
The fact that Niederreiter was in Toronto with the world's best players "has to say something," Boudreau said.
"He is a good player. He was taken high in the draft and I think we did a great job in acquiring him and he is what he is," the coach added.
Boudreau seems to like what he's seen of Niederreiter so far, although he's still working on that last name.
"I know there's an 'N' in there somewhere," he said with a laugh before walking out of the room.