September 12, 2018
Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter has a broken right ankle that will require surgery and end his season Andre Reed Jersey , right before the start of the playoffs.
The Wild announced the diagnosis on Monday before they beat Edmonton 3-0, when Suter’s streak of 242 consecutive regular-season games ended. That’s the third-longest in franchise history.
”Sure it is a blow, but it’s a chance for other people to step up and for leaders to take the team on their back and show you can play through adversity,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”The greatest feeling of success is when people say you can’t do something and you do it. So that’s where we’re at.”
Suter was hurt on Saturday at Dallas when he crashed leg-first into the end wall and needed help off the ice, and according to his teammates he was downcast on the bus afterward. An MRI on Monday confirmed the fear that an operation would be needed to fix the fracture.
”That’s tough news, but that’s where we’re at,” left wing Zach Parise said before the game. ”We’re all going to have to play better, and we’re going to have to play simple and smart and all get together and see what we can do.”
Suter already set a career high this season with 45 assists, which also beat his own franchise record for defensemen. Almost half of those assists came on a power play. Suter is also second in the NHL with an average ice time per game of 26:46. No player in the league has been on the ice more since 2012, when Suter and Parise signed matching 13-year, $98 million contracts with Minnesota.
The 2014-15 season was the only other one out of six with the Wild during which Suter didn’t play a full schedule, but those absences weren’t even due to injury. He missed two games with the mumps virus, served a two-game suspension for elbowing and sat out the finale to rest for the playoffs.
”He brings a lot of calm and poise back there, and he moves the puck well,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. ”That’s one thing that makes a great defenseman Mike Evans Jersey , moving pucks out of the zone, putting pucks in the forwards’ hands, and it’s going to be important for our guys to continue to do that.”
The Wild are also currently missing Jared Spurgeon, their second-best defenseman, because of a partially torn hamstring. He skated on Monday for the third straight day, though, and Boudreau said he’ll be ready for the playoffs. Against the Oilers, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba formed an under-25 first pair, rookie Nick Seeler played with Ryan Murphy and Carson Soucy made his NHL debut next to Nate Prosser. Gustav Oloffson is also out, missing his second straight game with an upper body injury. The Wild were plenty confident in the ability of Brodin and Dumba to elevate their performance with the higher profile and increased responsibility.
”That’s a one-two defenseman on almost any team in the league the way they’ve played this year,” Dubnyk said.
The Wild have played without several of their best performers for long stretches this season, and two years ago they entered the playoffs without Parise, who was bothered by a back injury. So while Suter’s absence is unmistakable, playing without key players is nothing new to them or any of their opponents for that matter.
”When you compete, things happen like this Jake Ryan Jersey , and they happen because you compete,” Boudreau said. ”It’s the nature of the beast, and we’ll just move on.”
The ending was weird.
The postgame was weird.
At least Game 1 of what was supposed to be a lopsided NBA Finals was anything but boring. It had a little of everything: A player stumbled and buckled Klay Thompson’s knee to send the Warriors’ sharp-shooter limping to the locker room in the opening minutes; let Stephen Curry get loose for a 30-footer at the halftime buzzer; grabbed a rebound in the final seconds of regulation with the score tied and inexplicably ran toward midcourt as if he thought the game was over.
And all that was just J.R. Smith.
The opener of this Cleveland-Golden State series should have been memorable for other reasons – LeBron James scoring a playoff career-high 51 points, the Warriors having three players score at least 24 and Draymond Green nearly getting a triple-double. Instead, this game’s legacy is an overturned charge call late in regulation, Smith’s gaffes, contradictory explanations from Cleveland and hot tempers in the final seconds.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s assessment? ”Lucky.”
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue’s assessment? ”Robbed.”
Warriors 124, Cavaliers 114, overtime. That’s what the box score says and will forever say, and the defending champions are now one step closer to winning their third title in four years. Golden State left Oracle Arena relieved. Cleveland left angered. Those emotions will likely remain in place all the way until Game 2 tips off on Sunday night.
James wants the Cavs to put it behind them.
”We’ve got to move on,” James said. ”This game is over and done with.”
Easier said than done, particularly with two full off days to now deal with, two full off days to replay everything over and over and over and over and over again.
Let’s be clear: The Warriors aren’t here because of luck. They have a coach who has won 80 percent of his career games. They have four All-Stars in the same lineup. They have two NBA MVPs.
But they got every break in Game 1. Every break.
Start in the beginning, when Smith slipped and stumbled into Thompson’s knee. It had all the makings of some sort of knee structural disaster – the hit came from the side, Thompson twisted awkwardly Dwayne Harris Jersey , went down in a heap and was obviously in immediate, intense pain. Thompson limped away to the Warriors’ locker room for evaluation.
He was back in a few minutes. Big break No. 1.
”I’m happy it’s just a muscle that got strained,” Thompson said.
Then came the final seconds of the first half, when Smith went for a steal and wound up leaving Curry wide open. Curry turned, coolly buried a 35-footer as Smith slumped over with his hands on his knees and the teams went into intermission tied. Big break No. 2.
”The Finals, man, anything is liable to happen,” Curry said.
From his perspective, good things.
From Cleveland’s perspective, bad things.
Cleveland led by two in the final minute, poised to steal Game 1, when James stepped up and tried to take a charge against Kevin Durant. Referee Ken Mauer called an offensive foul, but it was overturned after replay review.
”We had doubt as to whether or not James was in the restricted area,” Mauer said.
James was well outside the area, and the Cavs didn’t buy the explanation.
”I read that play just as well as I’ve read any play in my career Adolphus Washington Jersey , maybe in my life,” James said.
Durant tied the game with a couple of free throws awarded on the call reversal. Big break No. 3.
And with about 4 seconds left in the fourth, George Hill went to the line with Cleveland down by one for two shots. Made the first. Missed the second. Smith got the rebound, and ran away from the basket. Overtime. Big break No. 4.
”He thought we were up one,” Lue said.
”I knew it was tied,” Smith insisted.
The extra session was all Golden State. The home team left happy. The fans that packed Oracle Arena went home happy. James went back to his hotel to deal with blurred vision (courtesy of what appeared to be an unintentional first-half eye poke by Green), and the Cavaliers were further angered by Shaun Livingston following Golden State policy by taking a shot in the final seconds of a decided game instead of just getting charged with a shot-clock turnover.
”Tonight we played as well as we’ve played all postseason, and we gave ourselves a chance possession after possession after possession,” James said. ”There were just some plays that were kind of taken away from us. Simple as that.”
Many onlookers thought this series would be a rout, a Golden State coronation.
If the Warriors keep getting every break, they’ll certainly be right.
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org
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