Obviously, a very disappointing 2-1 loss by the Wild tonight to the Edmonton Oilers. Judging from my Twitter mentions, holy geez, did one loss make much of the Wild population forget about the 11-1-1 streak and leap off the bandwagon.
My goodness, the anger and nastiness and downright meanness and, well, what you’d expect on Twitter.
Bad loss for the Wild, no doubt, and it’s something coach Mike Yeo said afterward was “what we were afraid of.”
Jason Pominville, who has no points and 11 shots on goal in the past six games after scoring goals in three straight, said Yeo warned the team not to let down after getting into the top-8 and this could be a classic trap game after the Oilers said they were embarrassed by the Wild last Friday and were booed by their fans and even had one knucklehead throw HIS KID’S jersey onto the ice.
So the Oilers were bound to be motivated Tuesday, and Wild players didn’t help matters by playing as bad as we’ve seen them in some time, particularly at home, where they had won six in a row.
The Wild had one shot in the first 11 ½ minutes.
To the Oilers, a defensively-poor team (albeit much better defensively under quality coach Todd Nelson) that had four wins all season in 36 games against the West.
Benoit Pouliot, whom the Wild swung and missed on at fourth overall in 2005, scored twice, including 32 seconds after Jordan Schroeder set up Thomas Vanek for the tying goal.
The Wild recovered from the bad first period by controlling the final two periods, but the Wild aggravatingly couldn’t finish (Ben Scrivens stopped all 28 of Minnesota’s shots in the last two periods) or had shots blocked (24 in all, including 18 in the final 40 minutes).
The Wild came so close so many times to scoring, but either had it stopped by Scrivens, had it blocked or had pucks bounce off sticks or get shanked.
Yeo mixed up his first two lines to create a spark and it definitely led to pressure. But no goals.
Some guys like Coyle at least worked hard. But despite so many battles and chances with the puck in front of the net, he ended up with one assist and two shots. Just no production like everyone else.
Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin were all minus-2. Vanek scored a goal but exasperated the crowd a couple times by passing up shots or a feeble attempt on a breakaway with a chance to tie.
The power play also failed twice in the third with a chance to tie.
“Some guys were able to find their game, some guys couldn’t recover,” Yeo said. “The last couple periods, we had good pressure. We had good zone time, but we didn’t finish. We put ourselves in a hole that we shouldn’t have been in.”
Erik Haula, who hit the post on a first-period shorthanded breakaway, only played six minutes tonight and one shift in the third. My guess is he’s in the doghouse again, although to be honest, because I was writing the Sean Bergenheim story for the first two periods, I missed many of shifts. But second goal, largely his fault and he showed his frustration bigtime after.
But perhaps Kyle Brodziak moves to the middle in Nashville and Haula comes out for Bergenheim.
Bergenheim was flying from Chicago to Florida on Wednesday, then onto Nashville, where he’ll meet the team and maybe debut Thursday. He’ll wear No. 23.
Yeo, whom I don’t think knows a ton about Bergenheim because he called him a “big body,” said he’s a “playoff-type hockey player” (which he absolutely has been) who plays the game responsibly and hounds puck on the forecheck. Maybe Yeo just thinks he’s a big body because he is indeed a straight-line, forechecking, go-to-the-net speedster.
Rachel Blount is covering Wednesday’s practice and will also be on the Bergenheim conference call, so she’ll blog afterward and you can follow her on Twitter at @blountstrib.
As I wrote in my Sunday column, the two forwards I knew it inquired about was Bergenheim and Antoine Vermette. It would still love to get Vermette, but right now I’m told the price is way more than GM Chuck Fletcher is willing to pay. But Vermette is a guy with skill who can play the third line and win draws (he’s seventh in the league) on one of the more average faceoff teams in the NHL beyond Mikko Koivu. Although, like last year, Mikael Granlund is improving as the season goes along in that department.
But Bergenheim makes sense because the price came down from a second and a third and he is the classic depth rental guy Fletcher had been hinting at the past few days. Similarly, before Monday, look for Fletcher to acquire a depth defenseman.
You can read more on Bergenheim on the below blog, but Koivu has played with him in the world championships.
“Good speed. His work ethic, he’s an honest player,” Koivu said. “Had lots of success in this league earlier on good teams. He has some playoff experience. He’s been on winning teams, and that’s always an important thing. Good two-way player. He can help in a lot of areas.”
Parise didn’t buy that this was a classic letdown game. He just said the Wild had a bad first period.
“We’re going to lose. We’re going to lose before the season ends,” he said. “Unfortunately tonight was a game that one not good period cost us the game. That’s the reality. Their goalie was good. But, we’ll be fine.”
Vanek felt the Wild deserved better because it outplayed Edmonton in the final two periods, which the Oilers agreed with wholeheartedly after the game.
“End of the year you hope those games even out that you earn the other of one of those games,” Vanek said. “At the stage, where we’re at in the standings, it’s a tough to two points to lose.
“Once they got the lead, they sat back. We made enough good plays to get around those five guys there in the middle and [Scrivens] made some great saves.
“As much as this one hurts and it’s frustrating, we’ve got good character in here. We’ll forget about this one and have a good day of practice and just get ready. This is a team that doesn’t take anyone lightly even though we lost to one of the worst teams in the league. We played hard, we played well, had chances. Could have been 5-, 6-1. But we lost 2-1.”
The Wild, still clinging to eighth but four back of Winnipeg (which beat Dallas) now heads to Nashville and Denver. The Preds are the NHL’s best team and have lost three games in regulation all year. The Wild doesn’t have a lot of success in that arena either (2-4-2 in its past eight there).
“Big road trip ahead of us,” Koivu said. “You can’t think about this too long. We’ve got to learn from it. But we’ve got to face the best team in the league in their building, so we have to put everything we have on that one.”
Rachel’s on Wednesday as I travel. I’ll be next with you Thursday from Nashville.
I’ll also be doing another live podcast with columnist Jim Souhan at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at souhanunfiltered.com. I’ll be coming from the Alive&Social Network studio, Jim from spring training in Ft. Myers.