Wild is listless in 4-1 loss, crowd restless

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 8, 2013 - 6:26 AM

On a night when the Wild should have had plenty of motivation, it drew the ire of the home fans with a lackadaisical start and a loss to a hated rival.

 

The Wild might need another lockout so fans can hear how good the team has a chance to be again.

Sinking alarmingly fast and with tension high after offseason expectations soared, the Wild -- a team that had every reason to be desperate Thursday night -- showed a lack of fire in the early part of a 4-1 loss to the detested Vancouver Canucks.

A smattering of boos after the Wild trailed 2-0 following a listless first period turned into a piercing chorus once the Canucks' lead stretched to 4-zip after two.

"It's not fun to have a game like that on home ice," coach Mike Yeo said.

The Wild did show some life in the second period. It even generated sustained shift-and-shift pressure for a change. But the offensively challenged team, one Yeo called "mentally fragile," couldn't score despite trying its mightiest during two power plays.

That popped the Wild's balloon. The Canucks struck two more times quickly late in the second, and the Wild (4-5-1) lost for a third consecutive game.

The Wild has scored 21 goals in 10 games despite the acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. "We just didn't show up. Pretty simple," Parise said.

Parise said he didn't know why, and Suter said an energized start "was the whole talk before. Yeosie, everybody, we were all saying, 'It's a playoff game, we've got to come out [hard].' And we came out dead. There's no excuse for that."

The Wild was outshot 9-3 in the first, its best chance coming when Mikko Koivu set up a Parise goalmouth stab after rookie Charlie Coyle's hard hit created a turnover.

But in between, Daniel Sedin scored after Niklas Backstrom served up a tasty rebound, and Chris Higgins redirected Maxim Lapierre's shot.

"When we got certain situations, we tried to make an extra play," Yeo said. "And when they got in certain situations, they threw the puck to the net."

That changed in the second period when the fourth line of Mike Rupp, Zenon Konopka and Devin Setoguchi created some momentum. That filtered to the first line, but Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider robbed Koivu and Parise on his way to a 22-save evening.

The buzzing Wild had a 10-2 advantage in shots at one point in the second. It drew two power plays and a handful of icings. Setoguchi, who has yet to score this season, was robbed twice and missed the net once. Coyle also was denied.

"When you shoot the puck, when you get the puck to the net and forecheck and play the right way, you create chances," Koivu said. "But we have to realize that it's not enough to do that in the second period."

In the past week, the Wild's brass made a series of roster and lineup changes designed to produce urgency in a shortened season where losing streaks must be avoided and points accumulated.

The Wild has lost two games since, and anxiety is mounting.

"It's not fun right now. Things aren't going well," Suter said. "It's easy to play on a team when goals come easy and you win. Once we get out of this thing, hopefully we can look back and say these games made us better."

Yeo went from a week of sending messages to underperforming players to playing psychologist after Thursday's loss. Kyle Brodziak and Setoguchi haven't scored. Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck have one goal each, Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard two.

"This is a group that I have full confidence in that will pull out of this," Yeo said. "We have guys that are struggling. ... Confidence is down. To me, it's like, 'OK, 10 games, no training camp, no exhibition games, it's a clean slate for those guys right now.'"

  • VANCOUVER 4, WILD 1 Up next: 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Nashville • Xcel Center • TV: FSN (100.3-FM)

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