Boudreau says missed cross-check call cost Wild game

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With their 2-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night the Minnesota Wild are now facing elimination and are without two of their top players — Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — for the remainder of the series. It is not a great position to be in as the series shifts back to Winnipeg later this week where the Jets can end it on home ice.

Adding insult to the loss on Tuesday is the fact the Wild feel they were robbed by the way the on-ice officials allowed Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey to get away with a vicious cross-check to the head of forward Eric Staal late in the first period.

Morrissey was not only allowed to stay in the game, he was not even penalized and then recorded an assist on the eventual game-winning goal in the final minute of the first period.

With the Jets clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the third period, they added an empty net goal to put the game away. An empty-net goal that never would have been scored had the game still been scoreless, as the Wild thought it should have been had the on-ice officials correctly called the cross-check.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

“My take is the same take as everybody in the building that saw it,” said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau after the game (video here). “The refs looked at it and they decided not to call it because we were already on the power play. Cost us the game.”

It wasn’t just the fact that it cost the Wild an extended two-man advantage or that Morrissey helped set up the winner that had Boudreau fuming after the game, but also the fact that Morrissey broke up a breakaway by Wild forward Nino Neiderreiter in the second period.

“We had chances in the second period,” said Boudreau. “Dumba had a great chance and Hellebuyck made great some save on a couple. Nino has a breakaway and it’s Morrissey that breaks it up. He should be out of the game. I can’t believe … still a little heated about it. Got to watch what I say. They were looking right at it and they told us they didn’t see it.”

Morrissey said after the game he never intended to get his stick up that high and it was simply a “complete accident as he was trying to box out on the penalty kill.

Staal was not buying it, or, more accurately, simply did not care about the excuse.

“He cross-check me,” said Staal. “I’m the tallest guy on the ice, he cross-checked me in the neck. There’s not much more you can say. Everyone saw it. I don’t know no one with straws saw it, but that’s beside itself. It is what it is. We go from possibly, should be a 5-on-3 to a goal against eventually and that’s the game-winner.”

The Wild are absolutely correct to to argue that Morrissey should have been thrown out of the game (and he should be suspended) and that the missed call played a huge role in the outcome. Morrissey not only assisted on the game-winning goal, he also played a strong game defensively.

Did that cost them the game, as Boudreau argued? Well, it would also be correct to argue that they had 58 minutes the rest of the game to make something happen or get on the scoreboard and they did not do it.

“It’s pretty obvious that somebody has to step up,” added Boudreau later in his press conference. “This was a 1-0 game that should have been a 0-0 game going to overtime at this stage. Our guys worked their butts off and they didn’t get rewarded for it. Winnipeg played well and they got a goal.”

More: Josh Morrissey cross-checks Eric Staal in the head; should he be suspended?

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Boudreau hoping for bounce back season from Ennis

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One of the Minnesota Wild’s big moves this offseason was to try and strengthen their forward depth by acquiring Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for defenseman Marco Scandella and forward Jason Pominville.

Foligno has already set some pretty high expectations for himself by aiming for 20 goals this season.

Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau seems to have some pretty high expectatinos for Ennis, telling Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press this week that he thinks if Ennis can stay healthy he could see a resurgence in Minnesota similar to the one Eric Staal experienced this past season.

Via the Pioneer Press:

Tyler Ennis, I’ve seen and talked to and met. I don’t want to put pressure on him, but three years ago, he was a great player in this league. He’s missed 90 games in the last two years due to injury. If we can keep him healthy, I think he’s going to have a rebound year like Eric Staal had. I’m very excited about having him. In our top-9 forwards, I think we’re as strong as anybody in the league.

When the Wild signed Staal as a free agent a year ago he was coming off of his worst season as a pro and there was an expectation that he was washed up as an elite player. He rebounded in his first year with the Wild by scoring 28 goals and being one of their absolute best forwards.

Ennis, of course, was never the type of player that Staal was at his peak but he was still better than the player we saw in Buffalo the past two seasons. Injuries were obviously a major factor for Ennis (as Boudrea noted, he was limited to just 74 games the past years … total) but even when he was on the ice his production plummeted.

Having better luck when it comes to health will certainly help, but so to will playing on a better team. The Wild were one of the best teams in the league for the first three quarters of the 2016-17 season and have a pretty solid collection of forwards. He is going to have more talent around him and should at least be in a better position to succeed.

Boudreau predicts the Caps will get it done tonight

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Game 7 may be the most exciting phrase in sports to a lot of people. Probably not for the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks.

The Capitals have lost six of nine Game 7s in the Alex Ovechkin era, and the Ducks have lost five in a row with stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, including a heartbreaker in each of the last four years. Wednesday night is the chance for each team to confront its Game 7 demons as Washington hosts the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim hosts the Edmonton Oilers with spots in the conference finals at stake.

“I don’t know whether from coaching or playing whether you get into a mental block or not,” said Bruce Boudreau, who coached in Game 7 four times with the Capitals and four times with the Ducks. “I think Washington for sure is due to win. I’ve said it for four years in Anaheim we’re due to win, but in the end your best players have got to be your best players.”

For the Capitals, that means more production from Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and strong goaltending from Braden Holtby when the puck drops for Game 7 against the Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). In those nine Game 7s, Ovechkin has three goals and three assists, and at the moment he is earning praise from teammates and coach Barry Trotz in this series for accepting a demotion to the third line.

Getzlaf and Perry have combined for only seven points in six chances in Game 7 going into another one at home against Edmonton (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Goaltender John Gibson was pulled from his only Game 7 start in 2014 after allowing four goals on 18 shots, and he’s coming off another hook after three goals on six shots in a 7-1 drubbing in Game 6 on Sunday.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle didn’t blame Gibson and said it’s about the entire team being better.

“Obviously there’s more at stake when it’s the final game,” said Carlyle, who won the Cup in 2007 but hasn’t won a Game 7 since 2006. “Now it boils down to one. … I’m sure that you could poll 100 people, and 99 of them would say they’d rather play at home. It’s our turn to serve, and holding serve means that we go on. If we don’t hold serve, then it’s not what we’re looking for.”

Boudreau, who is 1-7 in his NHL coaching career in Game 7 after success in that spot in the minors, thinks goaltending will be the difference. Trotz doesn’t think it’ll have anything to do with history.

“I don’t know if there’s any hump to get over,” said Trotz, who is 1-1 with the Capitals in two Game 7 opportunities in 2015. “I just think with this group that I’ve been with, our Game 7s have been pretty solid. You’re not going to win every one. But I thought our game was really, really quite good in both those Game 7s.”

Whether it was Marc-Andre Fleury stopping Ovechkin on a breakaway in 2009, Jaroslav Halak stopping 41 of 42 shots in 2010, losing by one goal to the New York Rangers in 2012, getting shut out by the Rangers in 2013 or losing in overtime at the Rangers in 2015, Game 7 just hasn’t been kind to the Capitals.

“At the end of the day they’re a different team,” said Adam Oates, who coached the Capitals’ 5-0 Game 7 loss in 2013. “I think they’re the better team right now, so hopefully they play that way. Based on (Monday) night I don’t see any reason why they won’t.”

Beating the Penguins emphatically 5-2 in Game 6 in Pittsburgh is why Boudreau believes the Capitals will win Game 7. Their last Game 7 victory at home came in the first round in 2009 with Boudreau behind the bench when Sergei Fedorov scored the OT winner to knock off the Rangers.

“I’ve got to believe that (the momentum from Game 6 is) going to roll over, that they’re finally sick and tired of hearing that they haven’t gone to the third round and will break through,” Boudreau said.

 

Bruce Boudreau speaks for us all after confusing goalie interference review

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Bruce Boudreau’s frequently one of the most colorful coaches to watch during a big game … sometimes literally.*

He’s provided some entertaining moments of frustration, with his … frank reaction to a Mathew Dumba penalty ranking among the highlights of Game 5.

Whether you feel that Nino Niederreiter should have been called for goalie interference on a would-be goal or not, the Twitter consensus is that the call is becoming about as clear as what constitutes a catch in an NFL game.

With that in mind, Boudreau’s gesture spoke for us all after the tally was not allowed on Saturday:

Check out video above. It’s been a hectic third period, as the Blues aren’t out of the woods even after a nice Paul Stastny goal where he squeezed the puck through an unlikely window.

Here’s a shot of the interference in GIF form, too.

Even Kerry Fraser didn’t know which way to call the review, by the way. A bit of a mess for the NHL, eh.

(Oh, and the game is now tied 3-3, so check it out on NBC.)

* – Seriously, it gets a little worrisome when his face goes red. It’s not unlike Barry Trotz’s nervous eyebrow(s).

Boudreau rips Pietrangelo’s ‘cheap’ hit on Parise

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Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau was happy, quite obviously, with his team’s 2-0 win over the Blues on Wednesday night — the Wild’s first victory of the series.

But he wasn’t happy with the way it ended.

On Thursday, Boudreau sounded off on St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo for a hit on Zach Parise with time expiring.

“It was cheap,” Boudreau said, per Wild radio host Kevin Falness. “It was cheap. They knew the game was over, there was one second left.

“If this was 1984 or ’78, that guy would’ve had a stick right in his face. But they don’t do that anymore.”

Pietrangelo wasn’t penalized for the hit, which set off a fairly large scrum to end the contest.

Today’s remarks could be seen as further gamesmanship from Boudreau, who’s desperate to keep his team alive after it fell into a three-games-to-none series deficit. The veteran bench boss began pulling out the stops prior to Game 4.

From the Star-Tribune:

In a ruse to throw the Blues off his scent, Boudreau deployed four forward lines in pregame warmups that were different from the ones he used in the game.

The cunning coach, who was visibly and audibly uptight earlier in the day, scrambled everything and went with the publicized lines from Tuesday’s practice.

“When you’re down 3-nothing, it’s ‘all the tricks are out of the bag’ type thing,” Boudreau said.

Game 5 of the series goes on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, from Minnesota (on NBC).