DETROIT – Erik Haula bit his tongue the best he could after Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings when asked how he’s handling being downgraded to the fourth line since the Feb. 26 acquisition of Martin Hanzal.
“I don’t really know how to answer that. I honestly don’t, really,” Haula said before referring to the Wild’s 11 losses in 14 games in March (3-10-1). “Overall picture, it’s just unfortunate how things are going. It’d be less frustrating if we were winning.”
Haula had a chance to provide the Wild with a victory Sunday on a 2-on-1 with Zach Parise in overtime. Leading a rush down the left side, Haula was stopped by Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard instants before the Red Wings won.
It was Haula’s first shift after not playing the final 12 minutes, 32 seconds of the third period once coach Bruce Boudreau cut down to using nine forwards.
“It’s tough when I didn’t play for the last [12 ½] minutes and you get a chance in overtime and get that look,” Haula said. “I can’t really be complaining if I can’t put that in.”
Haula noted he hasn’t scored since a goal he thought should have counted at Columbus on March 2 was disallowed. He has no goals and one assist in the past 14 games.
Boudreau said he liked Haula’s game Sunday, but when he cut his bench down, “I’m not going to switch lines up in a 2-2 game.” Since the fourth line got hemmed in during its last shift, Boudreau said he didn’t “want them to get caught out against [Henrik] Zetterberg.”
He went back with Haula in OT because of his skating.
Haula centered a fourth line with Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White. Veteran Chris Stewart, who has two goals in the past 25 games, was scratched for the first time this season.
“I don’t think he’s played as well as he’s capable of playing,” Boudreau said.
Defenseman Christian Folin also was scratched.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher reached out to Jordan Greenway’s adviser about turning pro Sunday after the Wild draft pick and Boston University power forward’s sophomore season ended in the Terriers’ 3-2 overtime loss to Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA West Regional final Saturday.
It will be up to Greenway, but with the contract likely not to start until next year and an amateur tryout in the offering to start immediately in Iowa, Greenway will need to decide if it’s worth ending his semester early for a few weeks in the American Hockey League.
Harding lends an ear
Bryan Bickell, the former Chicago Blackhawks forward now in Carolina’s system, was diagnosed earlier this season with multiple sclerosis. Before Bickell continued his path with the Charlotte Checkers, retired Wild goalie Josh Harding, who also has MS, talked to Bickell to offer encouragement.
“I was trying to give him hope that whatever he wants to do, if he wants to keep playing, that it’s possible for sure,” Harding said. “Unfortunately with every situation with MS, everybody’s different. It’s not like there’s a guide that you can go step by step by step and it’s going to tell you how to do deal with everything that’s going to come your way. Since there is no cure, there is no book.
“It’s a very, very complicated thing to deal with, but the one thing that I just want him to know, don’t stop believing and leave it all out there and try your best.”
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