With only four games remaining on the schedule, it won’t be long before the Wild finalizes its future.
But whether or not defenseman Ryan Suter participates in this final push to the playoffs is unclear after Suter suffered a lower-body injury in the 4-1 loss to the Stars Saturday at American Airlines Center.
“We all care about each other in here,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “You never want to see anybody go off hurt. When it’s one of your top defenseman, if not your top defenseman, it’s going to hurt a little bit more. We just keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s not too serious. He’s as tough as they come so you know he’ll be out for as short as he possibly can be.”
Suter was injured late in the second period after his right foot slammed awkwardly into the boards following a hit from Stars winger Remi Elie. He had to be helped off the ice, as he appeared to be putting no weight on his right foot.
“No matter what team you are anytime you lose a player like Sutes it's going to be damaging to your lineup,” defenseman Ryan Murphy said. “He's a phenomenal player, and he plays a lot of minutes for us. That being said, there are some steady defensemen in the organization and guys that will step up and fill those minutes.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t have an update on Suter after the game. The Wild is off Sunday and will be back on the ice Monday for its final home game of the season against the Oilers.
It wasn’t too long ago the team was in a similar position, as its other top-pairing defenseman Jared Spurgeon went down with a partially torn hamstring March 13. The Wild has been able to stay afloat without Spurgeon, who was expected to be out a minimum of a month, but having both blue liners sidelined for any period of time is a challenging setback – one, though, the Wild doesn’t want to derail it if that's the reality it faces.
“If you feel sorry for yourself, then you're in trouble anyways,” Boudreau said. “Look how many other teams have many injuries. Those are the things you have to overcome to be successful.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s loss to the Stars:
-This was the sixth straight game the Wild surrendered the first goal and although it had been successful in climbing out of those early deficits in the previous five games, going 2-0-3, it couldn’t persevere against the Stars Saturday.
“You can't keep giving up leads and letting the other team score the first goal and expect to win every time,” Boudreau said. “That was six games in a row now that the other team has scored first and it's hard to keep chasing the game.”
-Winger Zach Parise’s goal extended his point streak to six games, which ties his season high. Parise has 15 points in the last 18 games and one point in 18 of the last 26 games.
“He is making an impact,” Boudreau said. “He's getting points and competing. He almost had a couple more. That's the Zach we remember. If Sutes goes out, we're going to need him to be good.”
-Special-teams play continued to be a factor.
While a power-play goal chipped into the Wild’s deficit, it came after the Stars scored shorthanded.
“It just hopped over my stick and from there it was just panic mode,” Murphy said of the shorthanded tally. “In this league I can't make mistakes like that or it's going to end up in our net.”