My guess is the Wild will have the day off Thursday in Vancouver to recuperate after back-to-back games and Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames to end its franchise-record 14-game road point streak.
The Wild’s work ethic was terrific the first 2 ½ periods, but the execution wasn’t there and coach Bruce Boudreau said he’s not using it as an excuse, but back-to-back games against a fresh team coming off the break isn’t easy and the Wild was tired after playing the night before in Edmonton.
My gut: There could be news Thursday with 20-year-old rookie Alex Tuch, the Wild’s 2014 first-round pick, being recalled to make his NHL debut Saturday against the Canucks.
Boudreau is very frustrated by Charlie Coyle’s play the last several games and Boudreau told me after the game he plans to meet with Coyle Thursday to try to get him “straightened out” and that it’s not easy carrying only 12 forwards because there’s no fear factor of somebody coming in and taking a spot.
I asked point-blank if it’s time for Tuch, and Boudreau told me he’ll be here “sooner than later.” Remember, last week I reported that GM Chuck Fletcher told me he wanted to give Tuch and defenseman Gustav Olofsson looks before the trade deadline.
Well, this could be Tuch’s time because since coming back from a shoulder injury, he has three goals in two Iowa games and scored twice in the AHL All-Star Game on Monday.
I’m not sure Boudreau would go as far as scratching Coyle – interestingly he’s two games from tying the Wild’s Ironman record of 283 consecutive games, but I could see Coyle bumped to the fourth line like he was for much of the second and third periods tonight.
Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal have been dried up lately, so maybe they’d play Tuch on that line.
Coyle has one goal, 10 assists and 23 shots in the past 17 games. I talked to Coyle after the game, quotes I’m holding until Friday’s paper. I was originally writing a cool feature for Friday’s paper, but with practice perhaps scrapped Thursday and the potential news of Tuch, I’ll hold the Coyle stuff for Friday and hold the feature for a later date.
As for the game, the Wild suffered its most lopsided loss of the season and lost by more than a goal for only the fourth time in 50 games.
The Wild fell behind 2-zip, but Jason Zucker scored his 10th goal in 19 games (16th goal this season to tie Staal for the team lead) off a beautiful Mikael Granlund pass in the second pass. That assist extended Granlund’s point streak to 11 games, a new franchise record and tied for the longest point streak in the NHL this season.
But in the third, a frustrating period in which the Wild felt it got the short end of the calls from the same two refs that called the Edmonton game, the Flames scored three times. Sean Monahan scored his second power-play goal of the game to make it 3-1 and the Wild seemed to run on empty from there, Boudreau said.
It was the first time since the Wild’s last regulation road loss Nov. 29 that it surrendered two power-play goals.
Just a sloppy, uncharacteristic loss by the Wild, and it’s amazing it took this long for the team to just get beat. It was a heck of a run and now it’ll look to rebound in Vancouver. Remember, it hasn’t lost consecutive games in regulation since Nov. 1 and 5.
Maybe hope the Wild doesn't play Calgary in the playoffs. The Flames swept the season season with the Wild going 0-2-1 with three goals scored. The Flames played a solid game, especially in the offensive zone, where it continually popped pucks to the point, fired through traffic and crashed the net.
That’s it for me. I have a flight to Vancouver in the morning. If I’m in the air when news breaks, Chris Miller will toss it on the blog. If something happens before or after my flight, I’ll take care of it. Have a good night.