The playoff chances of the Minnesota Wild hit 'the Rock' tonight. With a somewhat predictable result.
The New Jersey Devils turned an ill-advised Marek Zidlicky turnover and a classic 'Skoula night' into a 4-0 rout of the Wild Friday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, as the Wild lost their seventh game in March and the 10th in their last 14 games overall. Their 3-7-4 record since defeating Chicago at United Center Feb. 22 is hardly indicative of a team making a playoff push. And, tonight, they played like that.
Martin Skoula, a -3 on the evening, led the Wild down the path to defeat as he was frequently caught with his back to the play, as the Atlantic Division leading Devils came in waves at both Niklas Backstrom and, after Johnny Oduya drove Backstrom out at 11:02 of the second period, Josh Harding for the rest of the evening.
Patrik Elias netted his 29th and 30th goals of the season, as Skoula was caught flat-footed for both goals with his back to the developing play again. The offensively challenged Wild looked like a team which was planning a spring outing. For golf. At one point in the third period, both Zidlicky and Skoula were benched by head coach Jacques Lemaire, as the Wild were unable to score even though they were handed a 50-second 5-on-3 advantage, due to the previous defensive lapses by the two central European defensemen.
Fortunately for many Wild fans, the lack of local TV in Minnesota, due to the WCHA Final Five Hockey Tournament and the Minnesota State HS Basketball Tournament, meant that most Wild fans missed Martin Brodeur's 101st career shutout, now 2 behind all-time SO leader Terry Sawchuk. They also did not have to suffer the Wild TV broadcast team of Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay, who some refer to as 'Dumb and Dumber'.
You really missed watching the game? REALLY?
I didn't think so.
Chicken Little: Some disasters just naturally happen. Tornadoes occur in Oklahoma, buzzards return to Hinckley, Ohio, and Martin Skoula returns to his true form. And now, Zidlicky is 'learning' from him, as well.
Pollyanna: Get 'em home and they'll be better.
Bottom Line: Wild fans knew this was going to be bad. I don't think anyone thought it would get this bad, however. Brodeur and the Devils took the Wild to school tonight. And Skoula and Zidlicky get to wear the 'Dunce' hats and sit in the corner, feeling shame...
Stud: Lou Lamiorello, for having the fortitude to put together a Devils team this good.
Dud: Doug Risebrough, for putting together a Wild team this bad. No heart whatsoever tonight. Where is the drive, the desire in this bunch? It sure wasn't there this evening, at all. Also Skoula and Zidlicky for their glaring errors. Dud-ism reigns supreme tonight in Wild world.
Next: vs. Edmonton, Sunday, March 22, 2:00 PM Central (1 PM Mountain) Time, Xcel Energy Center. (TV: FSNorth (including FSWisconsin) in HD, Rogers SportsNet-West; XM Ch. 208)