UPDATED: Alex Tuch was reassigned to Iowa this morning. Good signs, lots to learn away from the puck. If the Wild doesn't recall somebody later in the day, I'd think the lines go mostly back to normal Friday vs. Tampa Bay with Charlie Coyle back to wing and the top-four centers being Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu, Erik Haula and Tyler Graovac.
Hesitant to say this because I didn’t hear anything that was said about the Wild on NBC Sports Network, but I did see the tweets from Jeremy Roenick criticizing the Wild’s decision to start Darcy Kuemper and saw all over Twitter that Mike Milbury apparently called the Wild “cocky” for starting Kuemper against Chicago.
Here’s a novel concept.
You’re analysts for the national rights holder about to telecast three consecutive Wild games. If you have a question about the Wild, read some newspaper articles, blogs or call a beat writer (I get calls or texts from national broadcasters preparing to work Wild games or talk about the Wild weekly) instead of guessing or ripping away without any background.
Heck, you’re the national rights holder. Call the coach, an assistant coach, the GM. They’ll answer and undoubtedly provide some insight into why certain decisions are made.
ESPECIALLY BOUDREAU, who’s the most candid coach I’ve covered in 22 seasons.
After tonight’s game, I asked him point-blank if he executed three line changes against the Blackhawks solely because he felt he needed to break apart Zach Parise and Eric Staal after a tough game in Winnipeg.
He answered, “Yes.” You could tell he didn’t exactly love telling me the truth, but he did. And I’m glad he did because fans wanted to know why he would change three lines, and I guessed that it was a preemptive strike because if Parise and Staal looked tired the night before, what would they look like tonight?
And, Boudreau said, he felt both reacted positively and played solid games.
But that’s how it’s done. If you ask Boudreau, Boudreau answers. And in my opinion, if you’ve got a national audience that’s listening to your every word and expecting insight, you owe it to them to do some homework, prep on the two teams and find out reasons for decisions rather than to just slice and dice with no information.
I respect Roenick and Milbury. But the Wild’s one of the most surprisingly good teams in the NHL this season. Boudreau has a pretty good pulse for his team and his rationale for starting Devan Dubnyk in Winnipeg instead of tonight was spelled out and well-publicized for two days.
Agree or disagree, that’s perfectly fine. Many Wild fans seemed to choose the latter. But at least find out why rather than flippantly insinuating that the Wild wasn’t respecting its opponent.
I, too, said publicly before Tuesday that I thought Kuemper would have started against Winnipeg and Dubnyk would have started against the team he was 8-0 against in the regular season.
But Boudreau gave his rationale (I’m not going to rehash it for a third day in a row), it worked, Dubnyk bailed the Wild out in Winnipeg and the Wild came home with two points.
As for tonight, 4-3 overtime loss to the mighty Hawks. Jonathan Toews scored a 4-on-3 winner 3:09 into overtime on a rebound after Ryan Suter, who played 29-plus minutes in Winnipeg and looked gassed at times tonight, ended a long shift in overtime with a holding penalty on Marian Hossa.
The Wild wasn’t happy with the call because it felt Hossa could have been called for an interference penalty moments before, but such is life. A star-studded cast of Toews, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Duncan Keith hit the ice and ended it to snap an eight-game losing streak to Minnesota dating to that shellacking in Chicago on Jan. 11, 2015 – two games before the Dubnyk trade.
Corey Crawford was stellar tonight. Boudreau felt the turning point came in the second when the Wild actually rallied from 2-0 down on goals by Jared Spurgeon and Parise. The Wild was buzzing and he noted that normally when it plays like that, the Wild seem to be a quick-strike team that gets three or four goals quickly.
This time, Crawford was great, as he was in overtime when he made three saves, including one on a Suter breakaway.
He was certainly a battler tonight.
Richard Panik made it 3-2 late in the second, but after the Blackhawks really clogged things up in the first 10 minutes of the third, Nino Niederreiter made a great play to get a rush going and Marco Scandella skated the length of the ice with the puck to set up Erik Haula with 3:03 left.
So, playing a team on four days rest and having played the night before and barely having time to see families and significant others in the short time they’ve been back from a nine-day trip, players mustered at least a point. Chicago’s now five points back.
Taking this passage from the gamer, but for the second game in a row, a Charlie Coyle-centered line was surging from the outset. Parise could have had a couple goals in the first period. But after Spurgeon cut the deficit to 2-1 37 seconds after a Nick Schmaltz goal, Coyle set up Parise for a tying goal.
But, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville challenged the entry was offside. The review, featuring linesmen Ryan Daisy and Brian Mach, not only took 6 minutes, 10 seconds, there was a technical malfunction and Daisy had to borrow a press-box attendant’s iPhone to talk to the NHL Situation Room in Toronto.
The linesmen ultimately ruled that it was inconclusive whether Parise tagged up at the instant the puck touched Coyle’s stick at the blue line. Good goal.
It certainly looked offside, BUT I can tell you, Parise was told that he was offside originally, but since that call was missed, when he tagged up and became onside, that basically reset everything and that’s all the linesmen could look at on the challenge.
That actually makes some sense. Then, on that tag-up, the linesmen couldn’t determine if he tagged up at the instant the puck touched Coyle’s stick, so they ruled inconclusive.
“I didn’t think it was going to count to be honest. We’ve got that TV behind our bench,” Parise said.
Boudreau told players they deserved Thursday’s planned day off.
“It’d be like getting blood out of a stone if we were to practice them tomorrow,” Boudreau said. “I think they left it all on the ice as I think Chicago did. I think that’s what makes it a great game is two good teams going at it and it ends up in overtime.”
That’s it for me. Please read the gamer and the game notebook.
The Wild has Thursday off. I’m writing a cool feature on Jason Zucker for Friday, so please give that a read. I’ve also got a Sunday column in the works that will hopefully answer a lot of the questions I’ve been receiving lately about the Wild’s upcoming plans.
Thursday, Russo-Souhan Show is being recorded, so please pay attention for Twitter in the afternoon when Jim seeks questions.
4 p.m. Friday, Sports From Hell video podcast will be at Hell’s Kitchen, so please come on down.
I am not covering Friday’s game, by the way. Kent Youngbood is. I’ll be on Barreiro’s show on KFAN at 5:30 p.m.ish