ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild are not ready to start their summer vacation. Yet, the Wild know if they don't find a way to win their next two games, the ugly specter of almost four months without meaningful hockey will become a reality.
The task starts Tuesday with Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center in this entertaining Western Conference Second Round series (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2). Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can book passage to a second straight Western Conference Final with a victory Tuesday, or Thursday in Game 7 if it becomes necessary.
It is a tough position to be in, but one which the Wild are intimately familiar. In the first round, against the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota dropped the first two games on the road, won the following two home games and then was relegated to the brink of elimination after losing Game 5 on the road. It has been the same path to a do-or-die Game 6 against the Blackhawks.
Can the Wild fashion a Game 6 victory at Xcel Energy Center against the defending Stanley Cup champions to force a winner-take-all Game 7 like they did against the Avalanche?
That question will be answered Tuesday night, but Minnesota's best chance for a positive outcome -- and another Stanley Cup Playoffs game on Thursday -- will only happen if they accomplish these five things: