It's been a controversial two-day break for the Minnesota Wild, who head into Sunday afternoon's game with the Montreal Canadiens at Saint Paul, Minn., with just one victory and two points, fewest in the NHL.
Frustration boiled over after the Wild's latest loss, a 4-0 blanking by the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday night that saw Minnesota allow three first-period goals in less than six minutes. The team held a 10-minute players-only meeting afterward, and forward Jason Zucker didn't hold back.
"I think more than [a meeting is] going to have to jumpstart us to be honest with you," Zucker told reporters. "It's going to be each individual from Bruce on down. Bruce has got to be better. We've got to be better. Everybody's got to be better. That's it."
Bruce would be fourth-year Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau, who some pegged as already being on the hot seat before a dreadful start to the season. Minnesota, which has played six of its seven games on the road, has a minus-15 goal differential, worst in the league.
Calling it "a poor use of words," Zucker made a point to apologize for his comments about Boudreau at practice Saturday.
"I'll start by first apologizing to Bruce," Zucker said. "There was no reason for me to use his name in that quote any way, so that's completely on me. My intention with the quote was to state that everybody needs to be better and needs to do more and pull more weight.
"I mean, 99.9 percent of that is on the players, so there is no reason I should have used Bruce's name. It's completely my fault, and I apologized to Bruce after the game about it when I first saw it."
Boudreau low-keyed Zucker's comments to reporters.
"As you know, his whole thing is that everybody has to be better," Boudreau said. "He didn't intend or want to center me out."
"We all have to take a look in the mirror and kind of take some onus on our game and helping each other," Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said. "We aren't going to get far if we don't come together here, and it's going to be miserable like it is right now."
A win over the Canadiens to start a brief two-game homestand that also includes a Tuesday night game with the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers would be a start in the right direction for Minnesota.
Montreal, which has won three of its last four games, will be playing the back end of a back-to-back that started with an impressive 5-2 victory at defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis on Saturday afternoon, completing a two-game season sweep of the Blues during which they finished with a 11-5 advantage in goals.
Brendan Gallagher started off a three-goal second period with his fourth goal of the season just six seconds in, two seconds shy of the fastest score to begin any period in NHL history. Goaltender Carey Price had 32 saves while picking up his 325th career victory, breaking a tie with Sean Burke for 27th place in NHL history.
"It seems the older I get, the more it happens," Price said of moving up the all-time wins list. "Just thankful to have played with a lot of good teams that helped me win those games."
--Field Level Media