Ryan Suter

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‘That was embarrassing,’ says Boudreau after Wild lose to Canucks

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The Wild continue to struggle and fans on Saturday expressed their frustration.

Think about this: The visiting Canucks are terrible at scoring goals, ranked 29th in the league in that category. Yet they managed to score four goals in the second period against the Wild. So bad was Minnesota’s performance to that point that there was a Bronx cheer directed at goalie Darcy Kuemper after he made a save on a harmless shot and fans later booed the Wild off the ice into the intermission.

It’s bad when the Canucks, 27th in the overall standings, embarrass an opposing team.

The Wild failed once again to clinch a playoff spot after a 4-2 loss. That score flattered the home team, which got late goals from Ryan Suter and Eric Staal. Too little, too late. Afterward, coach Bruce Boudreau lit into his team.

“That was embarrassing. I’m embarrassed,” Boudreau told reporters. “To me, if I was the fans, I’d be booing even more because they pay good money for this.”

As far as the playoffs are concerned, the Wild are in, even if they haven’t yet officially secured a spot. Sports Club Stats is giving them a 100 per cent chance of qualifying for the post-season.

But prior to this month, Minnesota looked like a team that could do some serious damage in the playoffs. That’s not to suggest they are suddenly incapable of going on any prolonged run but they very clearly have some issues that need to be addressed over the next few of weeks.

“Yeah, it wasn’t good enough,” Jason Zucker told the Pioneer Press.

“We are leaving guys open. We aren’t winning battles. We are hanging our goalies out to dry. … I don’t think we’re prepared enough to start some periods and they score and we’re not being resilient enough to come back.”

Meanwhile, for the Canucks, this game should provide at least a glimmer of optimism for their fans. Less than 24 hours after his college season ended with a double overtime loss to Boston University, Brock Boeser signed an entry-level deal and made his NHL debut versus the Wild.

What a debut it was.

Boeser, a first-round pick of the Canucks in 2015, scored the winning goal and was tied for the team-lead in shots on goal with four alongside Reid Boucher, who also scored twice.

The unfortunate news? Jack Skille left the game with an ankle injury and didn’t return. The outlook doesn’t look good, as Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said afterward, “I wouldn’t expect to see Skille in the line-up for a while.”

Only eight games remain in Vancouver’s season.

Video: Suter shaken up on Postma boarding major

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Some anxious moments for the Wild in the first period of tonight’s game in Winnipeg.

All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter was visibly shaken up and briefly left the ice after getting crunched into the end boards by Jets blueline Paul Postma:

Postma was given a five-minute boarding major on the play, but wasn’t ejected.

Suter was able to return to action (and was met with a chorus of boos from Jets fans), but appeared to be in discomfort. It appears as though he may have hurt his left leg.

With Postma in the box, Erik Haula scored his 13th goal of the year to give the Wild a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission. No word yet if Suter would continue — on that note, it’s worth pointing out Minnesota came into this game undermanned, as both Zach Parise and Jason Pominville are sidelined with the mumps.

Mumps hit Wild as Parise, Pominville will not play vs. Kings

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Add the Minnesota Wild to the unsettling pattern of teams affected by mumps this season.

In their case, two significant players will at least miss Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings (on NBCSN, by the way): Zach Parise and Jason Pominville have been sidelined with that condition.

It’s not clear how much time they might miss nor is it clear if anyone else on the team is dealing with symptoms. Here’s a release via the Wild:

Members of the organization that have symptoms are being tested immediately and placed in isolation for a five-day period. Team doctors recently provided players and staff an MMR vaccination and the organization will continue to work closely with the NHL, NHLPA and the Minnesota Department of Health to help prevent further infection. 

Uh oh.

Martin Hanzal and Ryan White are set to make their debuts tonight. Their presence could be especially welcome if this becomes a more widespread issue for Minnesota. (You may remember the Wild dealing with an outbreak in 2014, too.)

Tyler Graovac and Jordan Schroeder are expected to be in Minnesota’s lineup tonight, according to the Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo. Russo indicates that assistant coach Scott Stevens may also be dealing with mumps.

Frustration reaching peak levels for Stars and their coach

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The Dallas Stars are one frustrated hockey team.

Last night’s 3-1 loss to the Wild was just their latest setback. Afterwards, the comments were telling.

“I don’t know if I have ever been through a stretch like this,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning News. “That first period was puck possession, and we did a good job in all areas, and we come away with nothing again. The bounces aren’t going our way.”

“I’m kind of at a loss for words right now,” forward Patrick Eaves told reporters. “I thought we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey and not getting results. It’s just the way it’s going, but we’ll work our way out of it.”

The Wild opened the scoring with just one second left in the first period on a power-play goal by Ryan Suter. The Stars had dominated early on, but couldn’t beat Minnesota’s backup, Darcy Kuemper.

Dallas has now dropped six of its last seven and sits seven points back of Calgary for the second wild-card spot. With the March 1 trade deadline looming, it appears GM Jim Nill will be a seller. Eaves and Patrick Sharp are both pending UFAs who could be auctioned off.

It has been an extremely disappointing season for the Stars, last year’s Central Division champs. There was frustration even before the games started, with Valeri Nichushkin bolting for the KHL. Then came all the injuries, and the goaltending never improved either.

For Nill, it’s going to be a challenging offseason. He has to fix the goaltending somehow, but first he has to decide if Lindy Ruff is the right coach.

How quickly things can change in the NHL. Ruff was a Jack Adams finalist in 2016. Now he’s on an expiring contract, with no guarantee of a job next season.

Niederreiter ejected as Wild hand Stars another crushing loss

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Thanks to their 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night the Dallas Stars were losers for the third game in a row and the seventh time in the past eight games.

This recent stretch leaves the Stars seven points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 23 games to play on the schedule, and puts their playoff chances in serious jeopardy.

The Stars fell behind with less than one second to play in the first period when Ryan Suter scored a buzzer-beating goal off of a slick set face off play. The Stars were never able to tie the game after that.

Along with another loss, the Stars were also on the receiving end of some physical play late in the game.

After Charlie Coyle was penalized for taking out goaltender Kari Lehtonen behind the net (see it here), Wild forward Nino Niederreiter was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for interference for this hit on forward Patrick Sharp.

No word yet from the NHL if Niederreiter will face a hearing for the play.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked about the play after the game.

“I just saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp. That is what I saw,” said Ruff. “You know, cut the guy’s knees out. Pretty tough.”

While the Stars are in trouble when it comes to making the playoffs, the win helps the Wild extend their lead in the Central Division to seven points over the Chicago Blackhawks.