So that’s not how you want to clinch a playoff berth.
Ideally, you’d like to do it with a win at home. Fans cheering madly as the clock winds down. Your team simply passing the puck around in its own zone, melting away the remaining seconds as your opponents just wait for it all to end. The mob of hugs and roar from the stands when it finally happens.
The Minnesota Wild experienced the exact opposite of that on Saturday.
Down 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks, of all teams, the Wild desperately tried to tie the game late as their home crowd rolled their eyes at another opportunity missed. When the Wild finally did clinch their playoff berth, they were stuck watching the Kings lose to the Rangers from their couches.
No wonder coach Bruce Boudreau went off:
"That was embarrassing. I'm embarrassed," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "To me, if I were the fans I would be booing even more because they pay good money for this, and to see an effort like that. …I've been here when we've been losing and I haven't said anything too negative about the team, but I mean, if you can't compete 1-on-1, if you don't have the emotion to want to get out there and do the right things, let alone the things the coaches are telling you, I'm telling you, if this was earlier in the year, changes would be made."
What he said. That’s nine losses in 11 games for the Wild. Not exactly comforting as the postseason looms.
Canucks 4, Wild 2
Rangers 3, Kings 0
Three things we learned
1. Time to worry about the Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row, but it’s the way they lost the sixth that has us worried.
Nashville utterly demolished San Jose with seven goals, driving the Sharks to a new low and further out from the Pacific Division lead. For what it’s worth, coach Peter DeBoer is staying positive:
"We're giving up some goals," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's a combination of things, I think. Obviously it's not good enough to win games, so we've got to figure it out and I don't have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I've ever coached has a tough part of the season, and this is obviously ours."
Contrast that statement with Boudreau’s above.
2. The Eastern Conference wild card race is still a mess
Boston unseated the Islanders with a win in Brooklyn on Sunday. Toss in a Leafs loss and the surging Lightning, and you get a volatile mix of playoff scenarios.
The Islanders are still the ... well, the wild card in all of this. The Leafs are losing more consistently than any of the four, and the Bruins and Lightning are only getting stronger. New York lacks a clear trend. When it finds one, it’ll help clarify how this race will play out.
3. Ottawa can’t figure out the Canadiens
The Senators played the Habs for the third time in eight days. They lost to the Canadiens for the third time in eight days.
That’s nine valuable points and a real shot at winning the division wasted away.
- Finishes his college career on Friday.
- Signs his first NHL contract on Saturday morning.
- Scores his first NHL goal hours later.