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Boudreau's Eleven

While 2016 has not been good if you are a celebrity, the year’s final month has been crazy-good for the Minnesota Wild. To this point, the Wild has accumulated 23 out of a possible 24 points. That’s just plain nuts. A lot has happened since the beginning of the streak on December Fourth. Let’s take a quick game-by-game look back, noting each game’s Three Stars as chosen by the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo, at what has become a December to remember in the State of Hockey.
Image courtesy of © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Winning streaks are cool. They just are. Even cooler than that is when the word extended can be put in front of ‘winning streak,’ and not in a hyperbolic way. One of my favorite parts of an extended winning streak is when a team gets contributions from different guys on an almost nightly basis. That seems to be the case with this current Wild roll.

#1 12/4 Wild 3, @ Edmonton 2
After sleep-walking through most of the first period, the Wild tied the game in the last minute of the first on a Charlie Coyle goal. Kurtis Gabriel was lauded by Boudreau and his teammates for ‘turning the game around’ after a fight with Edmonton’s Zack Kassian. Mikko Koivu scored 3:11 into overtime to win it for the Wild.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Charlie Coyle G,A
2 Jonas Gustavsson 31 saves
1 Devan Dubnyk 28 saves

#2 12/7 Wild 3, @ Toronto 2
Duby makes 17 third period saves as the Wild holds on. Wild finishes weird 12 day roadie at 2-2-1.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Eric Staal G
2 Mikael Granlund A
1 Duby

#3 12/9 Wild 3, Edmonton 2 (SO)
Wild overcomes allowing game-tying goal with less than five minute to play, then wins six-round shootout. In an unusual plot twist, Chris Stewart was not only chosen to take the Wild’s fifth attempt, he scored.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Tyler Graovac
2 Duby 25 saves
1 Cam Talbot 34 saves

Something is happening here…

#4 12/11 Wild 3, St. Louis 1
Matt Dumba, Nino Niederreiter, and Granlund score as the Wild spoil Mike Yeo’s homecoming. Duby stops 22 of 23 shots. Staal records his 800th career point. Obadiah steals the show:

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Jake Allen 22 saves
2 Marco Scandella
1 Duby 22 saves

#5 12/13 Wild 5, Florida 1
Wild chase Roberto Luongo again, this time after scoring 5 goals on 17 shots. Shots favor Florida 30-22, but most of those 30 were from the perimeter and mostly harmless. Zach Parise, Erik Haula (2), Koivu, and Zucker score for the Wild.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Jason Pominville 2 assists
2 Duby 29 saves
1 Parise G, 6 shots, 5 takeaways

#6 12/15 Wild 5, @ Nashville 2
Two empty-net goals by the Wild skewed the final score as the Wild held on for dear life. Coyle and Staal scored goals 29 seconds apart. Duby won this one for the Wild, while Pekka Rinne was not good for the Perds.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Staal 2G
2 Nino 2A
1 Duby 34 saves

#7 12/17 Wild 4, Arizona 1
Darcy Kuemper spells Duby and puts in a solid 27-save effort for the win. Ryan Suter, Graovac, Stewart, and Staal tally for the Wild.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Suter PPG, ) +3
2 Kuemper
1 Graovac GWG, career high 18:45 TOI after Haula left with injury. Next man up.

#8 12/20 Wild 2, Colorado 0
Wild systematically dismantles Avs in one of the most lopsided 2-0 games you’ll ever see. With a daunting two-game trip to Montreal and the New York Rangers on the horizon, this was a dangerous potential ‘Look Ahead’ game for the Wild. Boudreau didn’t let that happen. Two more points in a game that historically has given the Wild trouble. Shutout number five on the season for Duby while recording 18 easy saves. When a goalie is not one of the Three Stars after recording a shutout, you know it was a real team effort.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Semyon Varlamov
2 Dumba 2A
1 Koivu G

#9 12/22 Wild 4, @ Montreal 2
Go into the Bell Centre, beat the team with the NHL’s best home record, and put up three goals on the best goalie in the world? We call that a ‘statement’ game. Schroeder, Spurgeon, Staal (SH), and Zucker with the ENG for the Wild.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Suter A, 4 blocked shots, +3
2 Duby 32 saves, wins duel with Carey Price in Montreal
1 Zucker G,A, 6 shots

#10 12/23 Wild 7, @ New York Rangers 4
Second game of a tough back-to-back, third game in four nights, last game before the Christmas break. No matter. Granlund, Koivu, Nino, Scandella, Zucker, Dumba, Coyle all score as the Wild chase King Henrik in their most-recent most-impressive win of the season.

Russo’s Three Stars
3 Chris Kreider
2 Zucker G, 2A
1 Coyle G, 3A

#11 12/27 Wild 3, @ Nashville 2 OT
Spurgeon scores an OT beauty off an assist from Schroeder for the Wild. Schroeder? On the ice in OT? What the? No, that’s not a misprint. Boudreau has shown he doesn’t care about the past. He will be playing guys whose ‘games are going’ on a particular night. And he and Assistant Coach Scott Stevens are pushing all the right buttons now.

Russo’s Three Stars:
3 Parise G
2 Rinne
1 Schroeder 2A

Okay, we all know George Clooney is no Bruce Boudreau. But Bruce's eleven has been an awful lotta fun to watch unfold. This streak won't last forever, obviously. But here's to hoping the Wild stays on their game well into 2017. If the last month of 2016 is any indication at all, Wild fans could be in for a fun ride in the coming year ahead.

Let’s wrap this up with some wisdom from Bull Durham’s Nuke LaLoosh. Yeah, it’s baseball again, but it fits pretty well with what the Wild is doing right now.(NSFW)

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Real good breakdown here. I like that the Wild arguably had a couple trap games in this stretch and they overcame them all. 


Not saying they'll do it again tonight, but they seem to have bought into Bruce's system and are listening to his message. 

    • Doubles likes this

I think Boudreau & Stevens have been yuuuuuge.  As Bergy mentioned, avoiding those 'trap' pratfalls has been big.  The Isles could be viewed as another trap tonight, but I don't think Bruce will let it happen.  Remember, the Isles are the only team that has beaten the Wild by more than one goal this season.  I'm pretty sure Bruce is aware.


Also, the exercise of including Russo's Three Stars after every game was to point out that aside from the goaltender, no one player is carrying the load for the Wild on a nightly basis.