PITTSBURGH — The Minnesota Wild’s problems on Tuesday night went far beyond Sidney Crosby‘s return to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup. Those problems started before the game even began.
A lineup card mistake by coach Bruce Boudreau forced the team to play the entire game — a 7-3 loss — with only five defensemen. They were going to have their hands full with the Penguins’ offense anyway, but playing without a full lineup of defensemen only made things worse.
Here’s how it all happened: Boudreau and the Wild had intended to make forward Ryan Donato a healthy scratch for the game.
But for some reason, Boudreau put Donato’s name on the lineup card and omitted defenseman Greg Pateryn, who was supposed to be one of the team’s six defensemen. Pateryn took part in pre-game warmups and was dressed and ready to go on the team’s bench when they took ice for the start of the game. But before the puck was even dropped, the on-ice officials noticed the problem and forced Pateryn to leave the bench because he was not eligible to play.
Donato, who did not take part in warmups, was not dressed, was not expecting to play, and had already grabbed a burger (seriously) was able to get dressed and join the team on the bench because he was originally listed on the card.
That meant the Wild ended up playing the game with the unconventional lineup of 13 forwards and five defensemen. Making things even more maddening for the Wild is the fact they are currently carrying eight active defensemen on their roster, and only made five eligible for Tuesday’s game.
After not taking a shift in the first period, Donato logged 4:57 of ice-time during the game.
“It was a mistake I made,” said Boudreau after the game. “It was all my fault. I do the lineups first thing in the morning, and the first thing that goes down is the lowest number. I put Donato on and forgot Pateryn. When I looked and saw [the lineup card] was full, I figured I did it right. It was a dumb mistake. Never done that before. Just hard to do the game with five D. I take full blame for that.”
While this type of mistake is not exactly common, it has happened before. Perhaps the most famous incident involved the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Pat Quinn mistakenly put Mikael Renberg on the card instead of Robert Reichel.
As Boudreau pointed out, this mistake usually gets caught after the ineligible player takes a shift during the game. In this case, Pateryn never even got that chance.
“Usually the player that’s not eligible plays a shift, and then they call it over,” said Boudreau. “But they called it over before the game started which was a little surprising.”
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk said Boudreau apologized to the team for the mistake during the first intermission.
Boudreau was asked what sort of impact the lineup had on the five defensemen that were in the lineup, and whether or not it tired them out as the game went on. He pointed out that their inability to stay out of the penalty box also probably contributed to their fatigue.
“It’s really hard to say,” said Boudreau. “These guys have all played with five defense before. Somebody gets hurt you play with five D. It looked like they were probably tiring. But the tiring part is when you take five minors and you only have five D. Then when your D are involved in those penalties, you are only using four D.”