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No Secret, Wild Needs More In Game 3 Against Hawks

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

It’s no secret, after a pair of losses in the Windy City the Minnesota Wild will have to play better in Game 3 if it’s going to get back into its second round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

In a 4-1 loss on Sunday, the Wild was careless with the puck, which led to odd-man opportunities for the Blackhawks. Minnesota knows that it has to be more meticulous with plays coming out of the defensive zone and at the offensive zone blue line.

“Our puck support was not good enough last game,” Yeo said. “We were trying to make the wide cross-ice plays to a guy who was in a one-on-one or a one-on-two situation and it would turn into a turnover.

“We can’t be fast if we’re not executing properly.”

Yeo thought the team was trying to force plays and create when the opportunity wasn’t there. Of course, against a team with weapons like Chicago, hope plays can lead to desperation.

Once the team gets into the offensive zone, it needs to apply more pressure on the Hawks defenseman. Both teams want to move the puck quickly out of its own zone, but the Wild is at its best when it’s sustaining o-zone pressure.

“It’s two teams that play really well without the puck,” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “Both have that philosophy of get out of your own zone within the first five to ten seconds. So it’s hard. It’s not easy, but I just think that we can have a little better puck support and that should open some stuff up for us.”

With the combination of turnovers and the lack of puck pursuit, Minnesota has made it easy on the Blackhawks to gain speed and offense.

“We need to be a lot better in the offensive zone,” Parise said. “We’re not doing enough things to create. They play really well in their own zone, but I just don’t think that we’re supporting each other enough. I don’t think that we’ve been at our best in the offensive zone.”

The secret coming into Game 3 will be the Wild’s lineup. Minnesota will be without forward Chris Stewart, who suffered an upper-body injury in Game 2 against Chicago. The wing went hard into the boards after being taken down by Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya. Stewart left the game, but returned to finish, however, is now considered day-to-day.

After the team’s morning skate, forward Jordan Schroeder said he’d be in the lineup tonight.

“I’m excited, focused, ready to bring what I bring,” Schroeder said. The wing skated in one game in the Wild’s Round 1 win against the St. Louis Blues. “That’s what pros have to do; you have to be ready to go mentally. We’ve been working hard when we’re not in to be ready for this moment. I’ll have a lot of excitement and hopefully feed off that energy.”

This morning, he performed line rushes alongside Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter. However, he laughed when he was asked about skating alongside of them, “I don’t even know who I’m playing with.”

“Because he went there doesn’t mean you should assume he’ll be on that line,” Yeo said. “What he does bring is speed.”

Yeo said the 24-year-old Minnesota native played well in three games against the Hawks during the regular season. The team’s bench boss said he expects the same from him as for anyone who’s in the lineup tonight.

“What we’re going to need from him is, once again we’ve seen it last game, it’s one thing if you’re trying to create, but you’ve got make sure you’re smart about how you manage the puck,” Yeo said.

Yeo said there could be other lineup changes, but wouldn’t divulge any info to the inquisitive media members.

“You could definitely see some changes,” Yeo said. “No offense to you guy, I’d love to tell you guys and not have them find out, but it doesn’t really work that way unfortunately.”

Back On Home Ice

In the last two postseasons, the Wild has come to Xcel Energy Center down to the Hawks 2-0, but has won each Game 3.

“It’s a whole new year. Last year, good or bad, it doesn’t have any impact on what we’re doing today, how those first two games went, or how we’re going to play tonight,” Parise said. “I don’t think for us to expect to come how and play better just because we did it last year. That’s not how it works.

“We enjoy playing here, there’s no question about that, but we still have to play a lot better game.”

There were some questions surrounding the ice conditions, an area power outage knocked out the arena’s generators for a couple of hours. However, Parise said the ice was “fantastic” during the team’s morning skate.

““We’ve got a great crew here, and they obviously were thrown a curveball here last night,” Yeo said. “You could tell that it’s cooled off a lot, especially since I saw it this morning and they’ll have it ready to go for tonight.”

“We use our fans and our home ice as an advantage here,” Goaltender Devan Dubnyk said. “We just have to go out and get this game. That’s all we can concentrate on right now.”

Cinco de MaYEO

Celebrate Cinco de MaYEO at the Wild’s pregame party outside of Gate 2 at Xcel Energy Center. Happy Hour pricing starts at 4:30 p.m. and goes until the part wraps up at 6:30 p.m.

Pregame festivities will include a DJ, the two-story Bud Light Mega Bar, playoff merchandise and giveaways. For Game 3, NHL alumni autographs from Olympic Gold Medalist Dave Christian (Warroad) and Golden Gophers Ben Hankinson (Edina), Reed Larson (Minneapolis), and Dave Snuggerud (Minnetonka) will be available from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Goal Puck Auction 

The Minnesota Wild Foundation will host a silent auction featuring authentic game-used goal pucks scored during 2014-15 regular season home games. The silent auction will take place at Section 121 on the main concourse and fans can bid from the time gates open until the start of the third period.

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