So the Minnesota Wild got blown’d up good by the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night after the team looked good to start the game. The Wild lit the lamp twice in the opening 10 minutes, then the wheels came off. The Flyers put up seven goals in response and the Wild looked like lost puppies out there.
It's another head-scratcher loss for Wild fans as when you look at this stretch of games it would appear these are all very winnable games. For a team that owner Craig Leipold felt was a tweak away, this version of the Wild feels miles away from that vision. After being spanked 5-2 by the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at home they travel to Philadelphia to face another struggling team and just crap the bed, again.
Thing 1: Discipline
Things really turned south for the Wild when the whistles came out. While the Wild killed 4 of 5 penalties in the game, The Flyers really took control of the game when the Wild took three penalties in the last 10 minutes of the first period. The Flyers would score on their first PP, and immediately granted a second one when Bruce Boudreau challenged for offsides on the first goal and lost. The Flyers would tie the game just after Mikael Granlund would get out of the box with just over a minute remaining in the period.
From then on the Wild struggled to get anything going. They caught a few breaks, even retaking the lead briefly early in the second period. But the damage was done. The Flyers found the weakness and exploited it. Whether it was 5 on 5 or with the man advantage. The Flyers used their speed, and the Wild couldn’t keep up.
Thing 2: The Coaches Challenge, both of them
That's right puck fans! Last night we were treated to a rarity when Bruce Boudreau challenged a call on the ice not once, but twice. The TV crew seemed a bit confused by this notion, believing perhaps that the NHL challenge rules mimicked the NFL's where if you lose your challenge you don't get a second one. As per the highlighted note in Rule 78.7 below, coaches are seemingly permitted no limit to how many times they can challenge, the lone exception being you get one per stoppage.
Given the limited scope of what can be challenged (scoring plays only) it's no wonder we haven't seen multiple challenges in a single game. In tonight's game both challenges figured into the outcome.
Boudreau lost his first challenge for offsides on the Flyers first goal, which was already a PP goal. This automatically triggered a delay of game penalty and effectively extended the original power play. The second challenge overturned a no goal call and had the Wild in striking distance with a glimmer of hope in the third period. That hope was quickly squashed however.
Thing 3: Consistency
Volumes have been written about the Wild this season and their inconsistent efforts not only from one game to the next, but inconsistencies within a single game. There's no doubt losing Matt Dumba has really messed this team up. The Wild were already a middle of the road team and have really struggled adjusting to life without their biggest threat from the blue line.
But you would see it, even with Dumba in the lineup. The team definitely played better, but there were moments when everything would just sort of fall apart. They’d forget their defensive structure, they would be losing battles for the puck in the corners, and for the love of god can I get a little pressure on the forecheck once in awhile? The Wild are at their best when they are on their forecheck game.
It still feels like forever since this team has put together anything resembling a complete game. They’re out there, if you want to sift through all the junk. We're enough games into the season now to know that without a big time trade that likely sells out the future, this is the team we get. Another season, another bubble team, a dwindling prospect pool, and all the glorious mid-late round draft picks that come with it.