Following Wild games, Manager of Digital Content Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-1 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the First Round:
The Minnesota Wild took care of business on home ice today, punching a ticket into Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is the first time in franchise history the Wild clinched a series victory on home ice.
Wild forward Zach Parise led the way with a pair of goals. The wing got the team on the board and gave it a two-goal cushion in the third period, scoring in typical fashion by crashing the net and putting home a Jason Pominville rebound. The 30-year-old leads the team in playoff scoring with seven points (3-4=7).
Yesterday, goaltender Devan Dubnyk said that the club wanted to treat today like it was Game 7 because it didn’t want to return to St. Louis for a winner-take-all finale. The netminder came up with another clutch performance, making 30 saves. The Legend of Devan Dubnyk continues to grow in the State of Hockey.
Up next: the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild gets a chance to exorcise past playoff demons, as the Hawks have ousted Minnesota in the past three postseason.
The Wild scored four shorthanded goals during the regular season. Today, the club opened the scoring with its first shorty of the playoffs. Though the play was unassisted, forward Matt Cooke helped create a turnover. The wing out-battled Patrik Berglund along the boards and then forced Kevin Shattenkirk into making a bad pass. Parise picked up the coughed up puck and raced the other way.
Once he crossed the blue line, Parise outmuscled Shattenkirk to take the puck wide. He threw a wrister on net and it squeezed between Allen and the near post. Not a good short-side goal to give up by the netminder…
With the 1991 World Series MVP, Jack Morris, giving the “Let’s Play Hockey!” call, the Wild’s goals definitely had a baseball theme to them. If Parise’s goal was a swing and a whiff by Allen, the club’s next tally was scored with a changeup. Justin Fontaine sped into the zone and threw a wrist shot on goal, which fooled the netminder and went through his 5-hole.
It was a tough day for Allen, who was pulled for Brian Elliott after allowing Fontaine’s goal. Unfortunately for Wild fans, the chants of “Ell-iott” didn’t have the same ring as “All-en.” It would’ve been hilarious if Minnesota supporters just stayed with calls for Allen.
This was a tough series to figure out. Today’s contest was probably the most visually appealing of the series — in that it was the best played by both teams and the most entertaining. This was a grind-it-out, scrap-for-goals affair, which isn’t necessarily the most aesthetic style to watch. However, it was entertaining for fans of hockey built on structure, physicality and execution of systems.
Which is kind of why this series was so surprising. Despite the evenness between clubs, the scores were more lopsided than a teeter-totter with a fat and skinny guy at each end. There were no overtime games (thank goodness with all the 8:30 p.m. starts) and each win was by at least two goals (five were more than three). Overall, the goal differential by the winning clubs was plus-19 in only six games.
With a 2 p.m. start time, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo was hopeful that fans going to the game would be engaged, yesterday even encouraging an early start with a Bloody Mary with breakfast. Not sure if there was an uptick in Bloody Mary sales in the Twin Cities, but the building was pretty juiced up today despite the early puck drop.
Our favorite between period promotion, the Treasure Island Phrase Game, was back and featured Yeo’s suggestion. The winning line was “Bloody Mary with Breakfast,” so even our game ops staff was getting into the action (hopefully they waited until after the final buzzer before indulging).
Everyone has to pick up their game during postseason. Stick tap to whoever arranges the towels on every seat before the game. Today, there was a giant SOH (State of Hockey) in the middle sections behind the benches and a giant Minnesota state designed into the seats. The Minnesota design was very impressive because it was so map-like. When I write these Takes, I typically make little notes. For this Take, I drew the state, but it looked more like a dragon’s head.