By Craig D Schroepfer (CDSWCCO)
On Thursday the Minnesota Wild had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win over Philadelphia. They came out with a performance best described as flat, losing 3-1 to the Flyers.
Less than 48 hours later the same scenario presented itself once again with Vancouver in town. The best way to describe this effort against the Canucks, embarrassing.
A four goal second period was all it took for Vancouver to skate out of Xcel with a 4-2 win over Minnesota, leaving the Wild with its ninth loss in 11 games.
“It’s was embarrassing. I’m embarrassed,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. “If I were the fans I’d be booing even more. They pay good money and to see an effort like that when you don’t win any battles or compete one on one, if this was earlier in the year changes would be made.”
The scoring started only 19 seconds into the second period when Reid Boucher battled for a puck in the low slot and slid it past Kuemper to make it 1-0. 5:20 later in the period Boucher would score again, snapping a shot off the post and in to make it 2-0 Canucks.
Goals by Brock Boeser, his first in the NHL, and Jack Skille would finish out the scoring in the period for Vancouver, giving them a 4-0 lead and leaving Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper looking for answers.
“We had stretches where we were good and then we had some breakdowns where they (Vancouver) capitalized on their chances,” Kuemper said when describing what went wrong in the period. “Things just snowballed and we couldn’t get to the intermission fast enough.”
Minnesota did get two goals late in the third period but by then time had run out, leaving the Wild searching for answers once again.
“We’re not sharp and everyone seems to be fighting it right now,” forward Jason Zucker said. “It all starts with winning battles, playing to your strengths, not turning pucks over and just playing the right way. You just can’t turn it on and off.”
Minnesota doesn’t have a lot of time to dwell on their latest setback as they are in Detroit to play the Red Wings Sunday afternoon. That may be a good thing right now as Boudreau is clearly irritated by the lack of effort his team has shown over the last couple games.
“There are a lot of guys I’m disappointed in right now,” Boudreau said. “We aren’t going to use fatigue as an excuse anymore. I don’t care if we play four nights in a row, we are going to be practicing hard when we start practicing again. Talking to them and being nice isn’t the way right now.”
Judging by Boudreau’s comments it sounds like a bag skate may be in order if the Wild doesn’t start competing soon enough. Being that it is March it’s too late in the season to shake up the roster. It’s up to the 23 guys on the team to figure out their problems and how bad they want it.