Even when the Wild is in the midst of battle, vying for two more crucial points, coach Bruce Boudreau will take a glance at the out-of-town scoreboard.
He keeps the updates to himself, not saying a word to anyone else when he focuses back on the action playing out directly in front of him.
“You look at it,” he said, “and then you get back to your game.”
And while the most significant boost the Wild received Tuesday was the 3-2 win over the Rangers it pocketed at Xcel Energy Center, the scores Boudreau studied from elsewhere in the league helped, too.
Los Angeles and Anaheim, the two teams directly below the Wild in the Western Conference wild-card race, both lost – all this while the team the Wild is chasing for the first wild-card spot, Dallas, was idle to shrink the distance between the two to just two points.
“That’s always nice when that happens,” Boudreau said.
As much as this time of the season is about each team taking care of its own business, February and March are also synonymous with scoreboard watching. And the Wild isn’t immune.
Checking the pecking order isn’t always fun, not when a team isn’t helping its own cause, but the Wild has done its part to take advantage lately with a 2-0-1 start to a five-game homestand that continues Thursday against the Capitals.
“We all are watching the standings very closely, and this is the fun time of year where you’re watching the standings and check the games and all the scores right after you get off the ice,” veteran Matt Cullen said. “The playoffs are kind of within view, so we know where we sit. So these are huge games. We have to pile up these points at home while you have them. We’ve got a lot tough ones coming up, but it’s important to take advantage of the ones while you can, especially when you’re fresh and rested and not dealing with a lot of travel and back-to-back stuff.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Rangers.
- Winger Zach Parise extended his point streak to four games with his first-period tally – a quintessential Parise goal in that it was Parise’s tenacity that created it.
With the Rangers’ Rick Nash eyeing an outlet pass, Parise was close enough on the forecheck to jab his stick ahead to interrupt Nash’s attempt and the puck had enough momentum to roll right by goalie Henrik Lundqvist and the near post.
“I miss some breakaways and some really great chances and some two-on-ones, and then you get a stupid goal like that,” Parise said. “It's funny how the game works like that. I feel like individually, my game is going in the right direction, so I'll take that."
- The Wild received contributions from three different lines, and a fast start seems to help get everyone involved.
All three goals came in the first period, separated by just 3 minutes, 8 seconds.
“When we're spreading the offense amongst the four lines, it gives a lot of threats to the other team of who to watch,” said winger Marcus Foligno, who tallied the third and game-deciding goal. “We have a really good balance right now, so we have to keep it going.”
- Defenseman Nick Seeler logged 10:41 in his NHL debut, finishing a plus-1 and earning a positive review from his coach.
“I thought he was good,” Boudreau said. “I thought he had one turnover, but it wasn’t his fault. Our forward sort of took off on him, and he got sort of cornered. But I thought he had a lot of poise. I thought he made the safe plays and the smart plays. I was pleased with him.”