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Hockey Half Hour Notebook: Wild’s sleepy stretch, future Gopher, Eaves’ odd jobs

One of the things that drives Patrick Reusse crazy about hockey coaches is they never get beat by a better team. At the NHL level especially, when a team loses, the coach always criticizes his own team’s effort, and rarely says, “They were just better than us tonight.”

For the Wild, after a come-from-ahead loss to the Devils this week, coach Bruce Boudreau’s self-critical comments were spot-on. The Wild’s second regulation loss since Dec. 1 was fueled in huge part to a five-minute stretch to start the third period where they simply fell asleep. The collapse, which ended in a 4-3 loss to a Devils team that’s not even really sniffing the playoffs in the east these days, came after the Wild completely dominated the opening 30 minutes, but only emerged up 2-0.

“That’s what usually happens if you don’t capitalize on the opportunities when you out play a team in a period,” Boudreau said afterward. “You are supposed to do that. I blame myself for putting some of the wrong guys out and the wrong time…Hopefully we learn from it.”

Odd jobs abound in Eaves’ new job

It’s Gopher-Badger weekend with the men’s college hockey teams playing in Madison, the men’s basketball teams playing in Minneapolis and a hockey alumni game happening as a part of Hockey Day Minnesota in Stillwater.

Less than a year removed from his run as the coach of the Badgers, new St. Olaf coach Mike Eaves admitted that there’s so much on his new plate, that his former team’s biggest rivalry is barely on his radar. Eaves noted on Wednesday that on the Division I level, coaches have plenty of staff to handle the minutiae of the job, while at the D-III level with the Oles, he finds himself overseeing tasks like laundry and skate sharpening much more often than he’s used to.

St. Olaf is coming off a win and tie versus St. John’s last weekend, and faces Gustavus Adolphus in a home-and-home series this weekend.

Stripes a-plenty in Roseau this weekend

While the real Hockey Day Minnesota is in Stillwater, one of northern Minnesota’s renowned hockey towns will have a celebration of its own this weekend. When Roseau hosts Duluth East on Saturday, the Rams will wear replica sweaters patterned after those worn in 1946 when the school won its first Minnesota state title. Based on the amount of green and white striping on the sleeves, a few of the home fans are at risk of getting their team confused with the referees.

Kick saves:

–With defenseman Jonas Brodin out for a month with a broken finger, the Wild did the expected and called up former Gopher Mike Reilly from Iowa on Thursday. Reilly is an offensive defenseman, so not a true replacement for Brodin, but the combination of Reilly and Nate Prosser will do in a pinch.

–The woeful Colorado Avalanche are widely expected to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches, and offensive assets like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and even Jarome Iginla may be available. But the Avs reportedly want a top-end defenseman and a first-round draft pick in return, so count the Wild out. Although, with the sudden thinning of the Wild defensive ranks, how about a trade to bring Erik Johnson back home?

–Congrats to the Koivu family, as Wild captain Mikko’s older brother Saku has been named to the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. Saku played more than a decade in the NHL with Montreal and Anaheim, retiring in 2014.

–The Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, now home to the New York Islanders, was not built for hockey, and features thousands of obstructed view seats on one end, leading to grumbling (already) that the Isles will pursue their own building in Queens near LaGuardia Airport and the Mets’ ballpark. When the Isles abruptly fired coach Jack Capuano earlier this week and replaced him with Doug Weight, the cheap joke we made was that thousands of Islanders fans in that one end of the rink never saw it coming.

–Next season, Eden Prairie High School star Casey Middlestadt may be the biggest attraction to wear a Gophers sweater in more than a decade when he gets to campus next fall. The recently-released ranking of North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting had Middlestadt ranked 5th overall, making him a good bet to go in the top 10 of the June NHL draft.


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