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Wild's Dumba scratched; 'he's trying to do too much,' coach says

ST. PAUL--Bruce Boudreau knows Matt Dumba has the talent to be a top-tier blueliner in the NHL. He spoke highly of the hard-shooting defenseman throughout the preseason. A few games into the regular season, though, Boudreau finds himself having t...

Oct 2, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) during a preseason hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Hurricanes 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) during a preseason hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Hurricanes 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL-Bruce Boudreau knows Matt Dumba has the talent to be a top-tier blueliner in the NHL. He spoke highly of the hard-shooting defenseman throughout the preseason. A few games into the regular season, though, Boudreau finds himself having to convince Dumba that less can be more.

"Sometimes players try so hard (to) do too much rather than just do their job and make plays," the Minnesota Wild coach said.

To get his message across, Boudreau surprisingly scratched Dumba for Thursday night's home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dumba, 22, played in 81 of 82 games last season, producing 10 goals and 16 assists.

Boudreau said that lineup decision was not only because of Dumba's play. The Wild have a couple of other young defensemen vying for playing time-Mike Reilly and Christian Folin-and Boudreau doesn't want them sitting too long.

Reilly was called up from the minors on Wednesday, a move Boudreau said would have been pointless if he wasn't going to insert Reilly into the lineup. Folin, meanwhile, is a big-bodied defenseman who has played well over the past two games, wins over Winnipeg and the Los Angeles Kings.

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It looks as if Reilly and Folin will play together against the Maple Leafs based on Wednesday's practice pairings. Boudreau paired Ryan Suter with Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella with Jonas Brodin, and Reilly with Folin.

Dumba was the odd man out, though he likely won't be benched for long. He boasts perhaps the hardest shot on the team-a lethal weapon from the point that led to a goal in the home opener against the Jets.

Couple that with his creativity through the neutral zone, and his ability to step up and win one-on-one battles, and it's not hard to see why Boudreau thinks so highly of Dumba.

"(He) is going to be a really good player," Boudreau said. "He's a good player right now. He's just trying to do too much right now. We just want him to calm it down and play his game."

Some friendly chirping

Reilly and and blossoming Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner are Twin Cities natives who go way back. The two were childhood friends who grew up near each other in the west metro and still train together during the offseason.

Reilly, 23, played at Holy Angels and Shattuck-St. Mary's before a stellar run at the University of Minnesota; Gardiner, 26, is a former Minnetonka High School star who played at Wisconsin.

So, naturally, both players have had this game circled on the calendar since NHL schedules were released. Reilly said both players will have family and friends in attendance for the game on Thursday night.

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"We talked a lot about this game," Reilly said. "He is obviously excited every time he gets to come into town and see everybody and especially play against me, too. It kind of makes it even more special that we're so close. ... There will definitely be a lot for people excited to watch. They have been looking forward to this game for awhile."

Reilly said while he and Gardiner will be competing hard, he also noted, "It's Wild versus Leafs, not me against him."

Reilly also knows he might be fighting for the right to stay with the big team. As the only blueliner who doesn't require waivers, Reilly could be making frequent trips between St. Paul and the Wild's American Hockey League team in Des Moines, Iowa, unless he proves himself too valuable to send down.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on myself," he said. "Just (had) a tough game against St. Louis (in the opener). Not going to let that get me down. I'm confident in what I can do each night."

Zucker good to go

Boudreau confirmed that Jason Zucker will play against the Maple Leafs after missing practice Wednesday.

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