By Scott Taylor
November 27, 2017
Everybody is entitled to a stinker
So the Minnesota Wild stepped onto the ice in Winnipeg on Monday night and jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the 14-minute mark of the first period.
Jason Zucker scored his 13th of the season and Chris Stewart scored his seventh and the Wild were rolling.
Fact is, it could have been 3-0, but a big rebound goal was overturned because Charlie Coyle was a skate-blade offside.
Still, at this stage of the hockey game, the Wild were completely dominating a very good Winnipeg Jets team and looked as if they could be on their way to their 12th win of the season.
Then, the Jets’ Joel Armia scored on a rebound and big-time NHL star, Mark Scheifele, scored his 12th of the year on a wicked shot that Alex Stalock will get to see for the first time in the post-game video. Suddenly, it was 2-2, and the Wild simply disappeared.
From the opening faceoff of the second period to the final buzzer, the Jets scored five more unanswered goals – Jacob Trouba, Mathieu Perreault, Kyle Connor, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler scored to make it 7-2. By the end, it looked like a beer league game.
It was the second straight big loss suffered by the Wild against divisional rivals. They lost 6-3 on Saturday in St. Louis and now 7-2 to the Jets. After shutting out Montreal and then Philadelphia twice in five nights, the Wild have had trouble keeping the puck out of their own net. They have allowed 30 goals in their last seven games (they’re 3-3-1 in that stretch), and their head coach has developed a migraine over it.
“We sure have to play different than we have the last two games if we want to turn this around,” Boudreau replied during the post-game scrum. “It’s frustrating all the way around. We’ve given up 30 goals in seven games. That’s 4 ½-goals a game. If you want to do that, you can’t win in the NHL. It’s impossible for me to even think that you get three shutouts in a row and then, seven games later, you’ve allowed 30 goals. After those shutouts, we were third in the league defensively. Now, I don’t know.”
On Monday night, the Wild were either tired, bored or uninterested. After jumping out to the early lead, they proceeded to muster only 13 more shots on goal, six of them late – when the two teams had started playing beer league shinny.
Boudreau was confused.
“From about the 13-minute mark of the first period, we just quit playing,” he said. “I don’t know. It takes a lot of soul searching. It’s easy to say we’re going to watch the video, but I mean it’s just a compete level, once (the Jets) started to play a little bit better, we were just ‘woe is me,’ you know. We didn’t compete again.”
“I don’t want to ‘woe is me,’ anything. We started out tonight, we were ahead of the game. And we should have been pretty excited about the way things were, even after the first period when they got two goals. I thought ‘OK, we’re right in this thing,’ and then I don’t think we got a shot in the first 10 minutes of the second period.”
“They get two goals and it’s like, ‘Wow….’… I don’t know what to say.”
Fortunately, the coach did have more to say and his answer to the question, “How does this happen?” was rather blunt.
“It’s people not doing their jobs,” he said. “You can see that there is a disconnect somewhere. But it’s a reason why you need a practice. We haven’t practiced in two weeks and we have to get back to square one when we do.”
“If tomorrow (Tuesday) wasn’t a scheduled day off, we’d be working.”
The Wild get the day off Tuesday, and then they’ll get back to square one on Wednesday. Thursday night, the surprising red-hot Vegas Golden Knights come to town, and it won’t be an easy assignment for the suddenly slumping Wild.
However, to be fair, the Wild lost to the No. 1 team in the NHL on their home ice on Saturday, and they lost to the No. 3 team in the NHL on their home ice on Monday. That’s allowed during an 82-game schedule.
The Wild laid an egg in Winnipeg on Monday. A big, hard-boiled egg, right on the dot at centre ice of the Bell MTS Place. But they are still 11-10-3, still above .500 and they have two home games coming up before meeting the slowest team in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings, in L.A. on Tuesday. This is a stretch in which the Wild can get back on track and be right in the hunt in December.
Everybody is entitled to a stinker. The Wild stunk it out on Monday. But with Wednesday’s practice and a better effort at home on Thursday, all will be forgotten.
Then again, if they lay another egg on Thursday … well, you know the drill.