Maybe Bruce Boudreau was tired and cranky after his Minnesota Wild team concluded a five-game, 10-day road trip earlier in the week. But after his star goalie Devan Dubnyk, denied the Toronto Maple Leafs again and again in a 3-2 Wild win on Wednesday, Boudreau couldn’t resist a subtle shot at the Canadian hockey media.
“If (Dubnyk) was in Toronto there would be no Carey Price,” Boudreau said, nodding to the notion that players on Canadian teams get more attention than their American team counterparts. “I’m just saying, media-wise.”
Dubnyk has been Mr. Everything for the Wild all season, but especially recently, as the Wild went 2-2-1 on the long trip, and now come home to face an Edmonton team that may be getting a bit road weary as well. The Oilers lost in overtime to the Wild in Edmonton less than a week ago, and lost Thursday night in Philadelphia 6-5, after leading 5-3 in the third period and seeing it slip away.
“We had a number of leads in the game,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Thursday night, before his team boarded a late-night flight to the Twin Cities. “One of the things we didn’t want to do is put them on the power play, and we put them on the power play continually.”
For the Edmonton players, the come-from-ahead losses are characteristics of a youthful team with talent, but still seeking ways to close.
“I think it’s a group, and we’re still trying to learn how to win games,” said Oilers star forward Connor McDavid. “We were doing a good job at it early. There’s definitely a certain talent to be able to win games and close them out. I think we’re still trying to figure that part out.”
The Oilers are concluding a three-game road trip of their own with back-to-back games, and come to Minnesota on a 0-1-2 streak, scoring plenty of goals, but not enough to keep up with opponents when the defense fails.
“We knew what we were getting into with a very good offensive team and for fractions of the game we played it properly,” McLellan said, of the run-and-gun Flyers. “For the rest of the game we tried to open it up and they got the best of us.”
That’s in stark contrast to how Boudreau has been running things with the Wild, if the win in Toronto is any evidence. Minnesota is getting just enough offense from players like Charlie Coyle and Eric Staal, getting leads, then turning things over to Dubnyk. On Wednesday, the Wild were out-shot 17-3 in the final 20 minutes, but managed to push that one-goal lead over the finish line and get home after a long, long time on the road.
“We held on,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t do anything in the third period, but at the end of an 11-day trip, to win in a tough building is good. There wasn’t a lot of celebrating in the room. They were just tired.”
Sounds like no matter the result on Friday, the Wild will be happy at home, and the Oilers will be happy to head home.
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