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All-Star Game

Bruce Boudreau unfamiliar with All-Star Game setting

Wild coach cherishes opportunity with Central Division despite poor outcome

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

LOS ANGELES -- The goaltenders in all-star competitions are always painted as sympathetic heroes, worthy of our admiration because of the burdens they face in trying to counter the most explosive players in the world in a wide-open format.

But, what of the coaches, the men who have dedicated so much of their lives to trying to impose structure on what is inherently a chaotic exercise?

What of Bruce Boudreau, the coach of the Central Division All-Star team at the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Staples Center on Sunday, after he was eliminated from the competition with a 10-3 loss to the Pacific Division in the semifinal?

Boudreau spent the first half turning the Minnesota Wild into the Cinderella story of this season. The Wild are first in the Western Conference with 69 points (32-11-5) and are three behind the Washington Capitals, one of Boudreau's former teams, for the League's best record.

His reward was to lead the Central Division during a star-studded All-Star Weekend, culminated by the game Sunday.

Yet, his team never got in gear Sunday. And, he watched helplessly as the Pacific Division took a 5-1 lead at halftime and finished with nine different goal scorers. The aforementioned goaltenders deserved some sympathy when Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks and Devan Dubnyk of the Wild each allowed five goals on 11 shots.

Video: CEN@PAC: Subban walks around Kesler, finishes up high

"I'm not used to these kind of games," Boudreau said. "You just have to take them with a grain of salt."

In his first decision of the afternoon, Boudreau honored the rival Blackhawks by allowing all four of its representatives to start the game -- forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, defenseman Duncan Keith and Crawford -- but not much went right after that.

"It was cool until we got our first minus," Keith said when asked of the all-Blackhawks combo.

Defenseman Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks, whom Boudreau coached from 2011-16 before being fired after losing in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, scored first. He finished with four points. Anaheim center Ryan Kesler had a goal and an assist.

The Pacific Division, which won the inaugural 3-on-3 tournament at the All-Star Game last year in Nashville, led 2-0, 5-1 and 7-2.

Boudreau was at a loss when it all unraveled.

Video: CEN@PAC: Toews goes top shelf to beat Smith

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said he looked at Boudreau once on a return to the bench and didn't recognize the man who stands stoically behind the Wild bench during games. Boudreau was biting his lip, in a fit of pique perhaps, something he hasn't done often this season.

"I said a couple things, but then I shut up in a hurry," Boudreau said when asked if he felt the urge to coach Sunday. "I said there is no chance, no use."

There were a couple of highlights for the Central Division. Dubnyk opened the second half with four straight saves, three qualifying as spectacular. Vladimir Tarasenko also scored perhaps the prettiest of the 13 goals in the game.

In the end, unlike during the season, Boudreau let this stinker of a game go quickly. After the game, he was laughing and joking. At 62 and a decade into the grist mill that can be coaching at the NHL level, Boudreau realized it was important to savor everything he experienced during the magical 72 hours that comprised the 2017 Honda All-Star Weekend.

Things will get serious enough again Tuesday when the Wild travel to face the Edmonton Oilers.

"The weekend was great," Boudreau said. "If you had asked me 10 years ago about coaching in an All-Star Game, I would have said you are ludicrous; there is no chance. Good things happen sometimes."

Video: CEN@PAC: Tarasenko snipes top shelf from the circle

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