Blame the NHL for making the Wild play too many games in too few days after an ill-timed bye week.
Blame a lack of practice time. Blame Martin Hanzal for getting sick. Blame the special teams for going 1-for-15 on the power play on the current road trip. Clearly, there's plenty of blame to go around as the Wild grind their way through the final full month of the regular season while playing their worst hockey.
Gone is the Wild's lead in the Western Conference and Central Division, now resting in the hands of the surging Chicago Blackhawks, who moved one point ahead of Minnesota with a 3-2 win in Montreal Tuesday night.
“The first two periods, we were so passive,” Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said after losing 4-2 to the Capitals Tuesday. “I mean, we didn’t show any emotion."
Time to panic?
“I’m not concerned about how good our team is and how good we’re going to be," Boudreau said. "This has been a pretty rough stretch. We’re not playing our best, but at the same time, this stretch of games on every second night is a little bit of wear and tear on them. They’ll get through it, and we’ll be better for it come April, May and June hopefully.”
The Wild get to rest today before playing Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Next week, they play Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Copy and paste that four-game week for the following week and it's pretty clear that the wear and tear isn't going change between now and the end of March.
It might not be time to panic, but nobody seems capable of slowing down Chicago, who have more rest days than Minnesota down the stretch.
"We know how good we are in here and we don’t have to think about changing anything," Devan Dubnyk said Tuesday, according to the Star Tribune. "We just have to sharpen up a little bit."
Minnesota wraps up its longest road trip (five games) of the season Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes.