Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL—After yet another good-not-great campaign, the Minnesota Wild were mercifully laid to rest Friday night, April 20, at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, following an embarrassing 5-0 loss to the rival Winnipeg Jets.
ST. PAUL — Trailing 3-1 in a best-of-seven playoff series with the Winnipeg Jets, the Wild have found comfort in the familiar rally cry of the nearly defeated. "If we look at beating them three times in a row, we're looking at it like, 'Wow. That's a pretty daunting task,'" coach Bruce Boudreau said Thursday, April 19. "You've got to look at it as playing one game at a time."
WINNIPEG, Man. — Jason Zucker isn't making any excuses. After racking up 33 goals and 31 assists amid a breakout regular season, the 26-year-old speedster hasn't scored a point in the first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets, which the Wild trail 3-1 heading into Game 5 Friday, April 20, in Winnipeg. "All that means nothing if I'm not performing in the playoffs," Zucker said. "And right now I'm not."
ST. PAUL — Whenever polarizing Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is feeling beaten down by the haters on Twitter, he remembers a Foot Locker commercial from a few years back. In the 45-clip, former NBA great Charles Barkley drops some wisdom on Houston Rockets star James Harden about how to flourish in the league. "You just need a short memory," Barkley says. "All the greats have short memories." The punchline comes when Harden brings up some negatives from Barkley's past, which the hall of famer seems to have forgotten ever happened.
Eight months ago, Daniel Winnik wasn't even sure he would be playing hockey this season. After he had been passed over by 30 teams last offseason, the Wild invited him to training camp on a professional tryout, essentially his last shot at playing in the NHL this season. "It was a very stressful summer," Winnik said, adding that he looked at the possibility of going to Europe to continue his playing career.
ST. PAUL — Wild winger Marcus Foligno understands the optics of the play that knocked Jets defenseman Tyler Myers out of Game 3. Foligno, whose clumsy skating has fittingly earned him the nickname "Moose" over the years, slipped as he was gearing up to block a shot in the second period of the Wild's 6-2 victory Sunday, April 15, at Xcel Energy Center and appeared to clip Myers on the way down.
ST. PAUL — Nick Seeler can trace a lifetime of his best hockey memories to Xcel Energy Center. He watched countless Wild home games there as a kid. He won two Class 2A high school state championships in the building with Eden Prairie. And on Sunday, April 15, he suited up for the Wild in a playoff game with his family watching in the stands. "It was pretty incredible coming out when they introduced the Minnesota Wild and the flags are going," said Seeler, a 24-year-old rookie defenseman with his home-state team. "You kind of get chills. You've got to pinch yourself."
ST. PAUL—Tyler Ennis has been waiting for the better part of a decade to make it back to postseason, so yes, he's a little upset that he remained a healthy scratch for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series with the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night, April 15, at the Xcel Energy Center. "It's frustrating," said Ennis, who hasn't played in a postseason game since the 2010-11 season when he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres. "I want to be out there. Everyone wants to be out there. I think I can help the team."
ST. PAUL—Wild coach Bruce Boudreau huddled his team together upon the conclusion of a brief 30-minute practice on Saturday afternoon, April 14, at the Xcel Energy Center. With the Wild trailing 0-2 in a best-of-seven series against the rival Winnipeg Jets, the 63-year-old coach tried to keep his players positive, quietly reminding them that they were the second-best home team in the entire league during the regular season.
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Wild rookie Joel Eriksson Ek never saw it coming. Engaged in a one-on-one battle in his own zone in the second period of Game 1 against the Winnipeg Jets, the 21-year-old dropped his head as he tried to rim the puck around the boards. And just like that, Eriksson Ek was flat on his back after taking a bone-crushing hit from Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Eriksson Ek briefly retreated to the locker room after the play, but was back on the ice within a few minutes.