Where to begin?
Would you believe me if I said the Wild actually came out with good energy the first few minutes? It's true, but two goals 1:56 apart starting at 7:07 into the game, and it was downhill from there.
In the offensive zone, the Wild passed up shots, had like three or four good cycles the whole game, lost every battle after dump-ins and then had to regroup. In the first, a 10-minute span without a shot. In the second, the first 13 1/2 minutes without a shot. In the third, the first 9 1/2 minutes without a shot.
Consistent, at least.
I'm done with the "how's it possible that they can show up like this in such a huge game" baloney? Playoff teams don't play like this in must-wins. Playoff teams don't have 11 wins in 36 road games.
The Wild hasn't solved this multiple personality stuff between home and away all season, and they'll probably have several months to ponder what the problems were between St. Paul and everywhere else this summer.
-- If you watched the game, you saw Harding looking really bad on the third goal -- Jason Arnott's. He shot into an open net after Harding stopped a Colin Wilson shot on the top of the right side of the crease. Harding just never skated left.
"I don't know what Harding was doing," said Arnott. "I just looked up for a second and I really don't what he was doing. I saw that he wasn't in the net, so I just fired it on the net and it went in. When I came to the bench, I saw on the replay that he was trying to get something off the ice. Good for is, bad for them."
I got Harding after the game and asked him what happened. As I suspected on Twitter, he thought he punched Wilson's shot into the stands, but his entire chest protector broke and moved over to the left side of his body. The thing in the crease that looked to me like a mouth guard at the time that he was trying to shovel away? One of the buckles.
"Mental lapse," Harding said.
-- Andrew Brunette on the defeat: “When we lose games, chances are we’re making poor decisions. We just made some of our recurring mistakes that kill us. We’re just not working smart.”
-- Warrior Greg Zanon, who could barely walk this morning on his sprained or broken right ankle (who knows with this guy?) blocked another shot on the right foot by Jordin Tootoo. I don't know if this is the reason, but he didn't play another shift after 6:09 of the third period, so his status for Friday in Columbus is unknown. But I saw him limping around, and not good. For most mortals. He'll probably play.
"He’s trying to play through an injury. He blocks a shot. He finishes [Jordin] Tootoo in the neutral zone. That’s more of what we need," said coach Todd Richards.
-- As I joked on twitter, I didn't see Casey Wellman in the press box, so he was probably downstairs stretching for Columbus. Indeed, after this calamity tonight, Richards said he's "leaning towards" playing Wellman for the first time in Columbus.
-- Who's in goal? Niklas Backstrom is still limping, so I'd think it'll be Josh Harding again. Wade Dubielewicz? Doubtful.
-- Nate Prosser, really nice kid. Here's the note on him in case it gets trimmed in the paper:
Wearing a green Wild T-shirt, Nate Prosser emerged from the visitors’ dressing room at 5:45 p.m. Thursday smiling. Prosser, a native of Elk River and now former defenseman at Colorado College, had just experienced his first NHL pregame scouting meeting on an opponent.
“That was a crazy experience seeing how they go about their business. It was an eye opener,” Prosser, 23, second in WCHA defensemen scoring with 28 points. “This is going to be unbelievable experience to … learn from them.”
Prosser likely won’t play. He’s not eligible to go to Houston, so he’ll practice and shadow the Wild the rest of the season.
“He can shoot the puck, but I don’t see him getting big offensive numbers,” said assistant GM Brent Flahr, who’s scouted Prosser since his days captaining Sioux Falls of the USHL. “He’s 6-2, he’s mobile, he’s competitive. He’s not a finished product. He’s got things to work on.
“But with his physical tools, he can step into the AHL [next season] and hopefully blossom with coaching and pro experience.”
Prosser signed a mandatory one-year contract, but the Wild will re-sign him.
Prosser said it was a “shocker” when Minnesota pursued him.
“I mean, you dream about it as a little kid growing up in Minnesota playing for the hometown team in front of hometown fans and friends and family,” he said.
Couple other quotes: “I’m looking forward to getting on the ice to see where I need to develop and where I need to improve,” Prosser said. “This will be a huge summer.”
“I’ll cherish this.”
Prosser called himself “a good passer, smart and someone who can break the team out of the defensive zone. I’ll get involved in the offensive zone when the time is right, but I enjoy shutting down team’s opposing lines.”
He’ll be able to use Wild facilities this summer: “That would be a big benefit. It’s a huge summer just being here and practicing with them and just learning and seeing where I need to develop as a player and a person will benefit me tremendously.”
His dad, Chris, played at Anoka High and West Point.
My favorite quote, and this is dedicated to a friend of mine, Keith, a Gophers diehard who emailed me to ask Prosser what was his problem with the Gophers' Tony Lucia this season:
"I liked beating those guys. They have a bunch of guys I like getting after and getting underneath their skin, and he’s one of those guys," Prosser said, laughing.
Biggest game of the year Friday night in Columbus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Talk to you after the morning skates if I make it. 6 a.m. flight through Cincinnati because I am the subject of "Up in the Air," only with Delta.