By Scott Taylor
January 26, 2018
After the Minnesota Wild were whipped 6-3 in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t hide his frustration.
Boudreau was clearly disappointed in his team and during his televised post-game news conference, he made no excuses for a game in which his Wild fell behind 6-0 and scored three late goals to make the score look closer than it was.
In fact, the Wild was outshot 39-23 by the defending Stanley Cup champions and at no time was actually in the game.
Boudreau knew it, too.
“We got killed,” the coach said bluntly. “We got outplayed in every facet of the game. When you score three goals late it makes it look a little bit better. They stopped playing a little and we got some breaks and scored three goals, but when they turned it on, we had no answer for them.”
With Thursday night’s loss, the Wild fell to 26-18-5 this season. Minnesota has 33 games remaining on the schedule and, obviously, they still have a chance to make the playoffs. They are currently 10th in the West, but have the same number of points as eighth-place Colorado, although the Avs have one game in hand.
But that was hardly the point for Boudreau on Thursday night. This Minnesota team that plays so well at Xcel Energy Center (17-4-4) is not very good on the road and Boudreau is worried about it.
He’s also worried about the fact his team was horrendous on Thursday night in one of the toughest NHL buildings in which to play.
“It was obvious that we didn’t bring our work boots,” said Boudreau with a glare. “I was hoping to get out of the (first) period 1-0 and was happy to get out of the period 2-0 quite frankly. But it didn’t manifest into anything because they got four and then six.”
So what was the problem? And what did he tell his team between periods?
“You gotta have some pride in this game,” he said. “No matter what.
“That’s the same thing I said in between periods. We might not win this game, but you gotta get back to the way you’re supposed to play. The basics. They (Pittsburgh) were having odd-man rushes of four-on-two, three-on-two almost every shift. When you get into those bad habits it’s really difficult to get out of them and we haven’t had those bad habits in a while. But I said to them, ‘Just play with pride. It’s 6-0 now, but just start doing things right and it might work out that it makes it better for the next game.’”
Someone in the scrum asked the coach about “bad bounces.” It was cringe worthy question, but to Boudreau’s credit, he answered forthrightly and without taking offense.
“Good bounces come to teams that outwork other teams,” he said calmly. “In reality it’s all about work. If you really outwork the other team you’ll get good bounces. If you don’t work, it’s “Oh, crap we got bad bounces.’ Then it’s ‘Woe is me. We got bad bounces,’ We got ‘em because we weren’t outworking them.”
With 33 games to play, the Wild play 16 games at home and 17 on the road. The Wild is 9-14-1 on the road, one of the worst road records in the NHL. Especially among teams that still have a shot at the playoffs. Boudreau knows that the remainder of the season is no walk in the park.
“Considering we got more road games than home games we better turn it around quickly,” he said. “We better find the reason it’s not happening or we’ll be on the outside looking in. We’re one of the best teams at home and we’re one of the worst teams on the road. We want to keep the home thing what it is, but we’ve gotta get the road thing turned around. We’ve got some tough road buildings to go to and we can’t afford to play like this.”
The Wild were awful on Thursday. As Boudreau pointed out, there are no excuses for that type of play.
The All-Star break starts today. The Wild don’t play again until next Tuesday night when they face the Blue Jackets in Columbus. It’s another road game. Another important road game.
The Wild will have four days to think about how stinky they were heading into the break. Bruce Boudreau hopes that loss to Pittsburgh will register. If it doesn’t, the final 10 weeks of hockey in St. Paul won’t be a lot of fun.