Real solid effort by the Nashville Predators … and not a real solid effort by the Wild on Saturday during a 3-0 Minnesota loss here at Bridgestone Arena.
Tight-checking game was destroyed in 10 seconds late in the second period, but there were clear signs the Wild’s game was breaking down for much of the second part of the second when players were losing battles and were late to pucks consistently.
Other than a buzzing first 10 minutes, the Wild looked complacent after the Thursday win against Ottawa.
It’s not like the team was lousy, but if the players expect to play like this in the playoffs, it’ll be an early offseason.
Bottom line: The Wild was shut out for the fifth time this season – first not by a 1-0 score, interestingly enough. Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for his 43rd career shutout and fourth against the Wild.
The Wild finished the season series against Nashville 3-2, and the Predators certainly looked like a team that would much prefer to play the Wild in the first round than the Chicago Blackhawks, who clinched the Central and home ice throughout the Western Conference playoff today thanks to the Wild losing.
Minnesota hosts Colorado on Sunday with Devan Dubnyk expected to get the nod.
St. Louis plays host to Nashville. If the Preds win, it’s suddenly a battle for who plays Minnesota – St. Louis or Nashville. If the Blues win, it strengthens the chances of a Blues-Wild first round.
Right now according to sportsclubstats.com, the Wild has a 77 percent chance of playing the Blues, a 23-percent chance of playing the Preds.
Jason Zucker didn’t play today with a lower body injury. Late scratch, and Bruce Boudreau said he just felt there was no point in playing Zucker since he was sore and he didn’t want Zucker to make it worse. He’s questionable to play Sunday. I think Erik Haula was the odd man out if Zucker played.
Zach Parise did return.
Too many forwards looked to not have their legs today, and it led to Boudreau shuffling lines again to start the second period and third.
The Wild drew one power play in the game and gave up 36 shots.
Alex Stalock got the nod to give Dubnyk an extra day of rest and also because Boudreau felt the Ottawa game was pretty easy and he wanted to see him under difficult conditions. He was outstanding with a number of robberies. He made 33 saves but still blamed himself for the second goal.
I think he was just being a good teammate because defenseman Jonas Brodin, who had a real good first period, was in la-la land and Christian Folin covered up poorly.
At the 17:21 mark of the second, a 0-0 game became 2-0 Nashville 10 seconds apart.
The first goal came on a Filip Forsberg deflection of a P.K. Subban shot after an icing following a terrible shift by the Eriksson Ek-Koivu-Granlund line and Suter and Spurgeon.
Boudreau called time and was hoping to escape the period scoreless. Seconds later, it was 1-0. Ten seconds after that, it was 2-0.
Boudreau on the game: “Well, the first 10 minutes we were good. I think after that, we lost battles, we didn’t do the things, you know you don’t get power plays because you don’t make them pull you down or do anything wrong. I thought our goalie was really good today. I think he saved our bacon in the second period when it could have been probably a score of a little bit worse than it was. But we’ve got to come to play. We can’t be satisfied with a 5-1 victory once a week here. We’ll get back to the drawing board tomorrow and see how it goes.”
On the play in the Wild’s own zone, Boudreau said, “They outworked us. In the second period, you could tell that they were the hungrier team. That’s why I called the timeout, to try to say ok, listen, let’s get out of this period, which was the goal, 0-0, and then hopefully in the third period I could say something in here that could light a fire under them. Obviously they scored five seconds after the timeout and then they scored 10 seconds later.”
Boudreau on the breakdown of the second goal: “Nino was trying to kick it back to Brods, but Brods I don’t know what he was thinking of getting right into the play. Folin should have come across and at least taken him out instead of letting him get to the middle of the ice. It was a mistake by a few people in that play.”
On the Avs on Sunday: “We can’t take anybody lightly. They’re coming in off a win off St. Louis, so they’re pretty hungry and pretty excited, and we’ve got to come to play. We have four games left. We’ve got to play them all hard and then hopefully we can be consistent come two weeks from now.”
Stalock on the Calle Jarnkrok robbery 43 seconds in: “You've got to be prepared at all times. You know they're going to get chances like that throughout the night. Tonight it just happened to be the first one. I wanted to be sharp and not let the club fall behind early.
On the Kevin Fiala goal 10 seconds after Forsberg: “It's a save I've got to make at that time of the game. It's something you talk about when you're young, not giving up consecutive goals, so for it to be that quick ... It was really a one-one-one play with me and a player and I lost the battle. It's one I'd like to have back.”
Stalock said, “I saw the puck again which is a big thing. From the American League to the NHL the big thing's traffic. Our guys are doing a great job of blocking out and allowing me to see the original shot. And from there it's my job.
Stalock said of these two games, “Little sleep. A lot of adrenaline. Getting the call early afternoon. Obviously it was a little bit of a surprise with the way things were going in Iowa. We were driving to a playoff spot as well. To get a chance to come up here you don't know what's going to happen. You get a chance to play right away and you go out and make the most of it. Like I said two nights ago, every time you get a chance to start in this league it's an honor.”
Also, as of now, Wild prospect Jordan Greenway plans to finish up his sophomore academic semester at Boston University and decide this summer whether to turn pro. I think his decision will be based on the Wild’s offseason moves and whether he sees a spot available for him to try to earn on Minnesota next season.
That’s it for now. Boring game, boring blog. That’s what you get!
Rachel Blount is covering Sunday’s game, although I’ll be there to do Fox Sports North and to … tweet.