Well, Todd Richards called it. Yes, the Wild had many opportunities to win this game, especially late and during a last-minute overtime 4-on-3 power play, but the Wild deserved less than it got tonight, and that's a point for a shootout defeat to a team that won four times in the previous 31 games.
Owen Nolan said the Wild played down to their competition. Problem is most teams play down to the Oilers and still come away with the victory. Yeah, they got 1 point and 3 of 4 on the trip, but sorry, unacceptable to not show up against the worst team in the league when you're allegedly fighting for a playoff spot.
The Wild registered one shot in the first 10 minutes, showed little emotion, had trouble catching passes cleanly on sticks, turned pucks over and barely could generate consistent forechecks in the Oilers' zone.
And this was against a team that has given up the most goals in the NHL.
To make matters worse, Detroit and Calgary -- two of the six teams going for the eighth and final playoff spot -- won, so the Wild remains in 13th place and fell from four points back to five.
Teams that want to make playoffs can't play this way against the worst team in the NHL. Period.
The game started bizarrely from the start, like when the Oilers congratulated Slovaks Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky for their play in the Olympics. Yes, Slovaks. Not Czechs. Slovaks. We're lucky we didn't have an international incident afterward.
The game turned chippy after Derek Boogaard says he was going for a check and Ryan Jones tried to slip out of the way. How will NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell evaluate it is the real question? Replays seemed to show Boogaard sticking out his knee, and there was an injury. Even though the former Wild draft pick came back to play, he was eventually pulled with a sprained knee. Jones will go for an MRI today (Saturday). And last year Boogaard got nailed for five game, coincidentally when the team was in Edmonton, after his elbow in Calgary on Brandon Prust the night before.
This game got nasty afterward in what was one of the worst officiating performances I've seen by Dennis LaRue and Kelly Sutherland. The things they ignored from both sides were unacceptable and this game got dangerous because of it.
The worst was when Theo Peckham committed an almost identical infraction to what Montreal's Maxim Lapierre did to San Jose's Scott Nichol on Thursday night that got him a five-game suspension. After a James Sheppard shot, Peckham blatantly -- with LaRue watching -- checked Sheppard across the arms just like Lapierre did. Just like Nichol, Sheppard crashed hard into the boards.
LaRue just skates off, then after the whistle watches Peckham skate right after Sheppard, who was still dazed, and bump him. LaRue just ignored it. This is the same ref who way out of position blew a play dead moments before after a puck just fell in the blue. This was in the same game LaRue and Kelly Sutherland somehow didn't see an obvious shot hit the netting, which allowed Cal Clutterbuck to get in a lick in on I believe Ryan Potulny, which almost triggered a riot. The refs allowed face plants into the glass from behind, slashes, face washes, constant skirmishes.
It was beyond belief.
Regardless, the Wild's play was beyond belief, too. Read the gamer. There was also a pair of highlight-reel plays, one goal by Guillaume Latendresse, one save by Niklas Backstrom. Take a look at the video on nhl.com to see those. Scintillating stuff.
As for the Wild, they'll practice here in Edmonton on Saturday morning before flying back home to host Calgary and Florida before hitting the road again. So the team's spending the night, which could make for some funny moments because the Devils are on their way in from Calgary and are staying at the same hotel.
I might get to see Jacques Lemaire and Mario Tremblay in the hotel lobby smoking their stogies, and the great Brian Rolston and Martin Skoula and Rob Niedermayer in a few minutes.
OK, I'm covering practice and will be in the air most of the day, so unless there's news, no soup for you.