By Michael Russo
First of all, the news of the day, but I’ve confirmed through different avenues that left wing Andrew Brunette is playing on at least a partially torn right ACL and maybe a fully torn ACL.
Neither Brunette, nor GM Doug Risebrough, would confirm the exact injury, but both confirmed that Brunette has a major decision to make after the season regarding surgery. You can read the story in Monday’s paper or on the Star Tribune Wild page in a few minutes.
Brunette said he’ll “probably” have it, especially if it’s going to be like this again next season.
You would not believe the things I’m seeing daily from the gutsy Brunette. It is taking a lot to get him to play. When he gets off the buses or moves through the hotels, he can barely walk. It’s taking lots and lots of treatment to get him on the ice, and yet he’s still producing and playing well.
If the Wild goes belly-up here, you just have to wonder if he’s going to shut it down.
And let’s be honest: The Wild’s season is slowly dying.
You can couch it anyway you’d like – and yes, the Wild’s still only a point back from the playoffs – but really, is there any reason to believe the Wild’s suddenly going to discover how to reel off a winning streak?
Not at all, and coach Jacques Lemaire said after tonight’s game that in his mind, Marian Gaborik is not close to returning. We’ll see this week.
Again we can use funny numbers to blur the record, but the reality is, the Wild is facing must-wins every single night and has dropped nine of the past 11 games (2-5-4).
And even though nobody in this playoff bubble has been able to go on a run yet, trust me, it’ll eventually take a winning streak by the Wild to make the playoffs. And like I’ve said ad nauseum, the Wild barely can win these days, let alone win more than two in a row (something it hasn’t accomplished since the middle of November).
The Wild tripped down to 11th, meaning there’s a traffic jam to jump over now.
The players know, too. You can see it on their disappointed faces after the game. So does Lemaire. He looked defeated after the game. And so much for all those games in hand the Wild had the past few months. Funny thing about games in hand, but you’ve got to WIN THEM to matter.
In yet another game, the Wild fell behind 3-0, then 4-1, again tonight. Yet, it showed desperation late like it always does and tried to complete the comeback, but after trimming it to 4-3, it paid for its undisciplined play early in the game.
The Wild gave up three power-play goals to tie a team record (two 5-on-3’s, one 4-on-3). You can read the gamer for details on Cal Clutterbuck and Marek Zidlicky’s costly penalties, but there were ill-timed penalties all night. Even in the first after David Backes scored, the Wild had a glorious chance to tie. But 10 seconds after Brandon Crombeen took a penalty, Marc-Andre Bergeron two-handed Jay McClement to negate the power play.
Just a momentum killer. Then, the parade to the box began in the second. Niklas Backstrom should have stormed off the ice during the whole thing. It was bordering on abuse. When he was yanked, the Wild was being outshot 29-11. At one point, the Wild was being outshot 26-7. The final shot count was 36-22, which shows how the Wild became desperate too late again. Backstrom’s faced more tap-ins recently than I’ve seen all season.
OK, that’s it for me. Papa Stensaas on the Wild for practice Monday as I take a nap.