Myers: After dominating March, Wild 'got what we deserved' against STL
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Wasn't March fun? Especially if you're a Minnesota Wild fan, the third month of the year was a blast. There was a seven-game win streak, and a seemingly unstoppable run at home, and 11 wins in the month, which tied a franchise record while putting the Wild on the brink of clinching a playoff spot for the first time in five years.
But all of that was so last month.
In what those same fans were likely hoping was an elaborate April Fool's prank of questionable humor, many bad habits the Wild had gotten away with in March came back to haunt them on the first day of the fourth month.
"We were flat. We got what we deserved. We didn't play well at all," said Wild forward Zach Parise, after his team's lifeless 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues brought back unpleasant memories of the team's January and February struggles. "It was pretty similar to the team that we started the season, that's the type of game we played tonight. Not competitive, too many turnovers, and we got away from that for a while and that's when we started to win. Tonight, it's kind of crept into our game. I think the last few games we've gotten away with it. Tonight, against a team like that, you're not going to."
The "team like that" from the Show-Me State is a Blues club that's been on the cusp of a long playoff run for a few years now (they made it to the second round last season, falling to the Los Angeles Kings) but is fighting just to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff race. The visitors' determination, and the home team's lack of same, we readily apparent in the effort, and in the end result.
"We're a desperate team right now, needing points as bad as anyone," said Blues captain David Backes, the one-time Spring Lake Park and Minnesota State star. "They've got a great team that comes hard. We stuck together for a great 60-minute win and had some great timely goaltending."
For the Wild, the game began with some anger and frustration, and ended with disappointment and uncertainty. The Blues lost starting goalie Jaroslav Halak late in the first period, not long after Wild captain Mikko Koivu had gotten high stick to the face that went uncalled. Instead it was the Wild taking the only penalty of the first 20 minutes, on a shaky unsportsmanlike conduct call.
The Wild got five power plays later in the game, and scored on none of them. All of that bad news leaving a very sour taste in the mouth of Wild coach Mike Yeo.
"It's hard not to be frustrated," Yeo said. "This is four games in a row where we've had goals scored against us and double minors that haven't been called. Four games in a row where guys have gotten high (sticked) right in the face. It's hard not to be frustrated, but whatever We have to deal with it."
As they head on the road for games in San Jose, Los Angeles and Columbus, the Wild may also be dealing with a significant injury. Second line forward Matt Cullen left the game late in the second period and did not return due to what looked like a groin pull. His status is in doubt.
There's little doubt that the playoffs await the Wild with just 13 games left in the regular season. Although they have not officially clinched he numbers-crunchers say that the Wild have a 99 percent chance of being one of the top eight in the West on April 27 when the abbreviated regular season ends. But this blue Monday was a reminder that reputation and past accomplishments, even at home, get you nowhere.
"We got a good reminder tonight that both defensively and offensively, things are not going to go your way if you play that way," Yeo said.
Maybe somewhere down the line, that lesson will be as valuable as the two points the Wild let slip away.