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Plummeting Wild push Bruce Boudreau over the edge

Bruce Boudreau doesn't look happy on bench in game against Winnipeg Sunday. USA Today Sports photo

ST. PAUL—Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has finally cracked.

All it took was a red-eye flight to Canada, a putrid effort against the Winnipeg Jets, and now what stands as the lone five-game losing streak of his 10-year coaching career.

Less than 24 hours after managing to keep his cool after his team's uninspired 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers, the 62-year-old Boudreau blew a gasket Sunday, hitting his boiling point after an embarrassing 5-4 loss to the Jets.

In the most recent loss, the Wild (43-22-6, 92 points) sleep-walked through the first period and quickly found themselves down 4-0 to the Jets, a team for all intents and purposes eliminated from playoff contention. The Wild tied the score with a desperate effort in the second period before conceding the game-winning goal midway through the third period.

Wild players reportedly held a lengthy players-only meeting following their seventh loss in eight games.

Meanwhile, Boudreau succinctly dictated his postgame thoughts in a 52-word, 32-second tirade before storming out—a couple of hours after he publicly tore into his team on the bench during a timeout.

"You know, this isn't a good day because I'm going to say something stupid," Boudreau started when initially asked about the loss. "So, I don't want to answer that question."

After a follow-up question about the Wild's second-period effort in tying the score, Boudreau cut it short.

"Hey, listen," Boudreau barked. "We stunk in the first; we'd better come back in the second. Holy crap. It's not resiliency. You're making it sound like we're good. That's (it), I'm done."

The Wild play host to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center. Puck drop on the nationally televised game is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Wild seem to go through a stretch like this season after season. It was known as the January Swoon under former coach Mike Yeo, although the Wild are starting to prove that maybe the person behind the bench was never the problem.

After an alarming 2-8-0 stretch over the past 10 games—same story, different coach—the Wild suddenly find themselves trailing the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks by seven points. That deficit astounding considering the Wild led the the Blackhawks by nine points on Feb. 18.

"It's hard to pinpoint one thing," winger Charlie Coyle said when asked what's gone wrong. "We have to get back to what made us successful."

That, above anything else, comes down to being stingy in their own end. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk, among the NHL's best all season, has been shaky of late.

In the 12 games since the league-mandated bye week, Feb. 22-26, the Wild have allowed 3.33 goals a game. They are 4-8-0 in that span, which makes sense considering they're essentially giving up a goal more than they were before the break (2.34).

Dubnyk is 2-7-0 in 10 starts this month—including once being pulled in favor of struggling backup Darcy Kuemper—with a 2.92 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. Not exactly Vezina Trophy numbers.

Boudreau has tried to remain positive, emphasizing that once the Wild snap out of it, they're going to be better for it. But that needs to happen soon. After the Sharks, the Wild have only 10 regular-season games to figure things out for the playoffs.

"It stings," winger Chris Stewart said. "It's a little too late in the year for moral victories."

Bruce Boudreau couldn't have said it better himself.

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