Loss puts Wild on playoff precipice

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 19, 2012 - 12:55 AM

Tops in the NHL a month ago, coach Mike Yeo's team lost for the 14th time in 16 games and is close to being out of the top eight in the West.


Minnesota's Matt Cullen reaches for the puck after knocking down Philadelphia's Claude Giroux.

Photo: Matt Slocum, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

PHILADELPHIA - One calendar month.

In a colossal and completely unexpected collapse, it's taken that long for the Wild to free fall from the No. 1 spot in the NHL to so-so close to being outside the top eight of the Western Conference.

It was Dec. 17 when the Wild last resided at the tippy top of the standings. It's Jan. 18, and the Wild clings by a fingernail in eighth with four playoff outsiders within two points after Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

"We had such a great start. We were in a perfect spot," defenseman Nick Schultz said. "We were playing hard, we were playing consistent. We've gotten away from that and for whatever reason, we haven't been able to get it back. It's got to come from all the guys in here."

The Wild's second-longest road winless streak in history hit 10 (0-8-2) and it lost for the 14th time in 16 games (2-10-4).

What's more, there has been no evidence that would give any suffering Wild fan reason to believe "the guys in here" can turn this nosedive around.

Captain Mikko Koivu is out for at least a month. Scorers Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are out indefinitely.

Minor-leaguers litter the ice. Goal-scorers Dany Heatley (no shots Tuesday) and Devin Setoguchi aren't scoring, Matt Cullen and Kyle Brodziak have dried up, Cal Clutterbuck has become undisciplined (four minor penalties Tuesday), the blue line is erratic and the goaltending is cracking.

From a battle standpoint, you never know what you're going to get. Fragility has become the Wild's most consistent feature.

One bad thing happens -- Tuesday being a Sean Couturier short-handed goal to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead -- and disaster ensues.

"It felt like our game was there early, and ... all it takes is one, two bad things to happen, and we get completely away from what we're supposed to be doing," Brodziak said. "I don't know if it's a mind thing, a confidence thing. ... But we have to emotionally control ourselves better."

Coach Mike Yeo agreed with Brodziak but called it "ridiculous."

"I'm sorry, but is that what we got right now?" Yeo, more and more exasperated after each loss, said. "We have to fix that and fix that in a hurry. Bad things happened when we were in first place, but we overcame them. Right now, we let those affect us in a very negative way."

The Wild and Flyers played an even first period, but Kimmo Timonen scored a power-play goal on Philly's first shot.

In the second, the Wild drew a power play, and the game turned. Alleged offensive defenseman Marek Zidlicky (zero goals, minus-3 Tuesday) sailed a shot wide. Nick Johnson was beat on the wall, Cullen got caught flat-footed, made a wrong move and suddenly Couturier finished off Matt Read's 2-on-1 feed.

"Backbreaker," Yeo called it.

Yeo was more displeased how the Wild responded after Darroll Powe cut a 2-0 deficit in half. Breakdowns quickly turned the game to 4-1.

"It seems like we get scored on now, we get so down," Schultz said.

Yeo is sounding like a broken record lately, saying the Wild has to play "the right way," a "certain way," has to play "our game."

The Wild's game has been missing for a month, and the season is unraveling before our very eyes with critical pieces not close to returning.

"It's not fun. It stinks having those guys out," Schultz said. "But that's what we have to deal with."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question