This very maddening season of one of the most maddening teams in the world continued Thursday with a 4-1 home loss to the Dallas Stars, a team that Minnesota had been dogfighting with for playoff positioning all season. With the win, Dallas has all but put itself out of reach of the Wild in the standings, and actually jumped over St. Louis for the all-important third spot in the Central. It was a momentous victory for the bad guys, and a colossal disappointment for the good guys, who have now lost three in a row since a 6-0-2 streak, and have dipped below .500 at home for the season.
Ouch. That stings a bit.
Oh, and by the way, the Coyotes won again on Thursday, meaning the Green ‘n’ Wheats are now three points out of a playoff spot, with eleven games left to play.
Ok, it stings a bit more now!
As the Wild continue to stomp on their own playoff hopes, let’s discuss what we learned from Thursday’s embarrassing defeat.
Thing 1: You Can’t Play Flat to Start a Period… Any Period
It’s not unusual to see one team come out of the gate to start a game looking much more ready to play than the opposing squad. There’s a whole process to mentally preparing oneself to go into battle on the ice, and sometimes for whatever reason—although you always want to be ready to play—it’s just hard to get yourself into the mindset needed to outperform the opposition. The same story applies when you finish a period of hockey, then go to the dressing room for twenty minutes. It’s easy to settle down during that time and lose whatever fire you created in the previous 20 minutes of play.
Well, when the second period started on Thursday, the Wild players looked like they all decided to take a nap during the intermission, and were still waking up. Dallas came out flying, and Minnesota just had no answers for anybody in white and “victory green,” which coincidentally was the same color as my puke from watching Thursday’s game.
After the second goal, there was a video review to confirm if Roope Hintz had actually gotten the puck all the way over the goal line after sneaking it through Dubnyk. During that delay, Bruce Boudreau had a calm conversation with his troops to gently express his displeasure.
Sadly, the level-headed conversation didn’t work, and by the time Joel L’Esperance deflected home his first career NHL goal six minutes into the frame, the Stars had already beaten Devan Dubnyk three times. The puck hardly exited Minnesota’s zone during that span.
Thing 2: Got a Shutout Streak Going? Visit the X! Or… Don’t?
Ben Bishop was riding a three-game shutout streak into Thursday’s contest, and was fast approaching Ed Belfour’s franchise record of 219 minutes, 26 seconds. Minnesota did little to test the big netminder in the early going, allowing him to breeze into the Dallas record books with a clean sheet in the first period. But then, six minutes into the second, Bishop was confusingly replaced by Anton Khudobin due to what turned out to be a lower body injury.
So, there you go. The very good, but also very injury-prone goaltender ends the official shutout streak in the only way a very injury-prone goaltender knows how… by getting injured.
Bishop’s streak is at 230 minutes, 53 seconds, but by official record keeping, that is where he will max out due to the early departure from Thursday’s game.
Thing 3: Scoring On An Empty Net Isn’t THAT Easy
Late in the game, with Dubnyk out for the extra attacker, a bit of hilarity ensued. Entering Minnesota’s zone on a two-on-one, Tyler Seguin dished to Alex Radulov, setting the Russian star up for a no-doubter. But the linesman blew the play dead, ruling Radulov offside, as both Stars’ players looked dumbfounded. Then just seconds later, Seguin found himself in alone on the empty net and—from about six feet away—launched it over the crossbar and out of play.
Tyler Seguin with probably the worst empty net miss of all time pic.twitter.com/wl1MX0VQj6— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 15, 2019
While CJ Fogler calls it “probably the worst empty net miss of all time” in his above tweet, still nothing tops this gem from the same franchise:
Dallas eventually got the last laugh, as Radulov scored on his next opportunity, and the Stars got their most important win of the season.