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Updated: March 10th, 2011 10:26pm
Wild trampled in Tennessee, loses 4-0

Wild trampled in Tennessee, loses 4-0

by Jess Myers
1500ESPN.com
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Needless to say, if you're serious about making the playoffs, you can't leave points on the table in the water-tight mess that is the Western Conference standings. In other words, what transpired on a hockey rink in Middle Tennessee on Thursday night is unacceptable if the Minnesota Wild has any realistic shot of playing games past Tax Day.

The Wild fell behind early and played lifeless hockey throughout, managing just 19 shots on goal (and just six in the first half of the game) in a 4-0 loss to the Nashville Predators. And as is to be expected in the standings where an overtime loss or two can mean the difference between home ice in the playoffs and missing them altogether, the loss dropped the Wild from a tie for 8th place (in) all the way to 11th (out).

Most alarming for those hoping for relief to come in the form of Mikko Koivu and/or Cal Clutterbuck returning from injury, the coach says what you saw on Thursday is what he's got, for the time being.

"There's not a lot that we can do to change things up right now," said Wild coach Todd Richards. "Mikko as of right now and Cal as of right now, I'm not expecting them to play. These are the guys that we have and we have to figure out a way."

The first step in figuring out a way, is to look at the game tape from Thursday, and do not replicate any of it. The Wild trailed 2-0 less than five minutes into the game, and despite plenty of time to rally, mounted little effort in that direction.

"It was a bad first period. Three-nothing and didn't generate a lot," Richards said. "We didn't have an answer for it. We didn't have a lot of push-back tonight."

And from here, the climb gets even steeper. A late-night charter flight takes the Wild from Nashville to Dallas - a place where they have not won in a long, long time, and have not even had a lead since 2007.

Again, if you're serious about the playoffs, this is no way to pursue them.

Jess Myers covers the Wild and college hockey for 1500ESPN.com. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for USA Hockey Magazine.
Email Jess | @JessRMyers
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