John Shipley / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL -- For most of the Wild’s season-ending news conference at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday, April 9, coach Bruce Boudreau sat quietly while reporters fired questions at general manager Paul Fenton. Boudreau got a couple of softballs thrown at him early but was engrossed in his boss’s answers. When attention turned back to him — specifically how he felt about entering next season with one year on his contract — Boudreau seemed surprised. “I really liked it when you were asking Paul all the questions,” he said. At least Boudreau knows he still has a job.
ST. PAUL -- To make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the Wild need to win their final three regular-season games and, essentially, hope Colorado and Arizona lose out. That won’t stop general manager Paul Fenton from playing a college free agent, if he can.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Torii Hunter wouldn’t agree that this is a big season for Byron Buxton. “Every season’s a big season,” the former Minnesota Twins center fielder said Wednesday. OK, let’s put it this way then. Byron Buxton’s 2019 season is a big one for the Minnesota Twins. It starts on Thursday afternoon against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. If the Twins are going to bounce back from a disappointing 78-84 finish in 2018, they need Buxton to play every day and probably to hit better than he has at the major league level.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Miguel Sano was spotted briefly at the Minnesota Twins’ afternoon workout at Target Field on Wednesday, March 27, dancing in the dugout to the music blaring over the public-address system. But he won’t be ready to play baseball for at least another couple of weeks. The Twins third baseman is with the big-league club despite missing all of spring training because of a serious cut near his right Achilles tendon. He had stitches removed on Tuesday and is starting off-field workouts, Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild have been historically bad at Xcel Energy Center since December; the question is why? The easy answer is clear to anyone who has watched Minnesota this season: The Wild can’t bury good chances, making 8.4 percent of their shots as a team this season. Only three NHL teams have had worse aim, and only one of those is, like Minnesota, still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
ST. PAUL -- Desperate to create more offense, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has moved one of his most consistent forwards to the third line for Friday’s 6 p.m. puck drop at Washington. Jason Zucker, who leads the Wild with 46 shots on goal in the past 15 games, will play left wing with center Victor Rask and wing Pontus Aberg, who have two goals and three assists between them since joining the Wild before the NHL trade deadline.
ST. PAUL -- After going scoreless in three power-play chances in a March 11 loss to San Jose last week at the Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau promised to spend serious time on special teams. Since then, the Wild have scored four goals on 11 power-play chances. “We’re shooting the puck,” Boudreau explained. “Possession is nice, but you’ve got to shoot the puck.”
ST. PAUL -- Ryan Donato’s initial concern was that there wouldn’t be a place for him in Minnesota. Donato was playing for Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, R.I., when he learned he had been traded to the Wild for Charlie Coyle five days ahead of the NHL trade deadline. “I literally thought of their lineup right away and was like, 'Where do I fit in?'” he said. “I think that’s something that every guy that wants to play does.” No worries now.
ST. PAUL -- With the Minnesota Wild in the stretch run and fighting for every point it can get, coach Bruce Boudreau is trying to balance rest and practice. With new players in key roles, that balance is proving a delicate one. “With our team, rest is probably more useful than grinding the motor at this stage,” Boudreau said. “On the other hand, we have a lot of new guys in the lineup from the last month, so we have to get something out of every practice.”
ST. PAUL -- It’s been an inauspicious Minnesota start for Victor Rask, a goal and assist in 10 games with the Wild after being acquired from Carolina for Nino Niederreiter, then a lower-body injury that sidelined him for the next 12 games. At least the time off hasn’t dropped the center in the depth chart. Coach Bruce Boudreau has inserted Rask between veteran left wing Zach Parise and newly acquired winger Kevin Fiala for Monday, March 11’s puck drop against San Jose at Xcel Energy Center.