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Wild need a win, but Boudreau cautions: ‘If we’re not ready to play, we’re in trouble’

The Minnesota Wild play the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

Facing the worst team in the NHL would seem, at least on paper anyway, to be the perfect remedy to the Wild’s recent struggles — just four wins since the beginning of March and a fall from first in the Central Division.

As the losses have piled up in Minnesota, so, too has coach Bruce Boudreau’s frustration with the way his team has been playing, the latest evidence of this occurring during a media availability with reporters prior to Sunday’s game.

He didn’t say much. But that should speak volumes.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Q: The team showed little drive against an opponent it might face in the playoffs. How disappointing was that? A: You’re going to have to talk to them about it, not me. Because I can’t get inside their drive.

Q: What’s the message to players today? A: We’ve got to go out there and win a game. That’s what we’ve got to do. If we’re not ready to play, then we’re in trouble.

Devan Dubnyk starts in goal for the Wild.

First place in the Central is no longer a possibility for the Wild, but with four games remaining on their schedule, including today’s contest, they can use that time to try to rediscover themselves heading into the playoffs.

More frustration for Bruce Boudreau as Wild lose again

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Another loss for the Minnesota Wild meant more frustration for head coach Bruce Boudreau.

Last weekend, he called his team’s performance “embarrassing” following a loss to the lowly Canucks.

On Saturday, he took issue with his team’s work ethic after a 3-0 loss to the Nashville Predators. Filip Forsberg scored his 31st goal of the season, while Kevin Fiala added another goal just 10 seconds later, and suddenly the Wild were in the hole. P.K. Subban added the insurance marker late in the third period.

That’s a big win for the Predators, who need only a single point tomorrow to secure a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, the Wild continue to struggle. This has been a prolonged period of losing and tumult for a team that was challenging for top spot in the league at the beginning of last month.

Back then, Chicago was five points back of Minnesota.

Now? The Wild are officially out of contention for first in the Central Division.

“First ten minutes we were good, after that we lost battles…they outworked us,” said Boudreau, per the Wild. “We’ve got to come to play every game. We can’t be satisfied with a 5-1 victory once a week.”

That victory Boudreau is referring to came Thursday against the Ottawa Senators. That is one of only four wins for the Wild since the beginning of March.

The Wild have a relatively light schedule to end the season. They play the Colorado Avalanche twice, beginning Sunday, and the Arizona Coyotes to close out the regular season. Their toughest opponent figures to be Carolina, which is 7-0-3 in its last 10 games and still clinging to the slimmest of hopes for a playoff spot in the East.

“We can’t take anybody lightly,” said Boudreau. “We’ve got four games left. We’ve got to play them all hard and hopefully we can be consistent come two weeks from now.”

‘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.

Bruce Boudreau: ‘We stunk in the first, we better come back in the second — holy crap’

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Those thinking that perhaps Bruce Boudreau would wax poetic about his team’s second period comeback against Winnipeg would be mistaken.

The Minnesota Wild were down 4-0 early in the second period to the Jets before coming all the way back to tie the game before the middle period was up, thanks to four goals in just over 10 minutes.

In the end, the Wild still lost after giving up a third-period goal to Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey and not being able to beat goalie Michael Hutchinson for the equalizer in the final seconds.

Boudreau met with reporters post-game and, well, he wasn’t in any way happy or positive about the developments Sunday. Minnesota has now lost five in a row and eight of 10 games this month, falling out of first place in the Central Division.

Asked about his team’s resiliency, the coach offered this response: “Hey, listen: We stunk in the first period. We better come back in the second. Holy crap. It’s not resiliency. You’re making it sound like we’re good. That’s — I’m done.”

The Wild host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Related: Bruce Boudreau is ‘concerned’ about the way the Wild are playing

Bruce Boudreau is ‘concerned’ about the way the Wild are playing

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The Minnesota Wild have been one of the top teams in the NHL since the start of the year. They’ve been pretty consistent and haven’t really dropped off much…until now!

They’ve lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing three in a row between Nov. 26-Dec. 2 (two of those games were lost in overtime/shootout).

Last night’s 4-1 loss to Tampa was also their third defeat in their last four contests and head coach Bruce Boudreau is starting to get worried.

“I’m concerned,” Boudreau told the Star Tribune after his team’s latest loss. “We haven’t played very well. … After 65 games, this is our first really little bit of adversity that we’ve seen, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we handle it on the rest of this trip.”

The rest of this five-game road trip won’t be easy either. Minnesota will now travel to Florida, Chicago, Washington and Carolina before returning home to face the Rangers next Saturday.

Boudreau has had his line blender going for well over a week now. He’s tried to fit newly acquired forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White into the lineup, but he’s done it by mixing up his lines frequently. As you can imagine, some of the players don’t really appreciate that approach.

“You’d wish that right now we’d be able to find some consistency with [the line changes] and build a little familiarity right now,” Parise said. “But that’s not happening. So we’ve got to do the best that we can with whatever’s on the board and try to make it work.”

Every team goes through a slump at some point during an 82-game season, but this probably isn’t the ideal time to hit your first major bump in the road. But the Wild still have 17 games to figure things out before the playoffs.

There’s just one problem though! The Chicago Blackhawks are one point behind them for top spot in the Central.

No pressure!

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