In the words of Charlie Coyle, “we’ve been here before.” And it wasn’t that long ago.
As it did in the First Round against Colorado, the Wild trails the Blackhawks 2-0 as the Second Round series comes to Saint Paul for Game 3 tomorrow.
And like last time, the Wild can’t wallow in the hole it’s sitting in.
“Right now we have to focus on the next one,” Coyle said. “That’s all we have to do. We said that last series too and we came out and got a win here. The crowd was great here and everything went well the next game. We’ve got to come out and prove that, and play well.”
While the team preps for tomorrow’s tilt, it took the day off to get some rest. As Clayton Stoner noted, the day off isn’t simply about getting a chance to get their legs back under them, it’s also an opportunity to recharge the mind — something it needs after the emotional seesaw its been on lately.
After a crazy come-from-behind win in Game 7 against the Avs, the Wild was riding high and then it quickly fell, two days later, after suffering a 5-2 loss in Game 1 against Chicago. According to Coyle, the team needs to get back to an even keel.
Potentially going hand-in-hand with that swing is the Wild’s missing urgency that fans saw time and again in Round 1. That being said, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo believes they have been a tough team to face this series so far.
“I don’t think that we’ve been easy to play against… (but) I think that we can bring more of an edge to our offensive game whether it’s on the forecheck, in our puck strength and our ability to attack the net or whether its just bringing more pressure and making things more difficult on their goalie,” Yeo said. “I do think we can find another edge there. But I don’t think we’re that far off. I don’t think that we’re quite there, but we’re not that far off.”
But that lack of energy has “caused some things tactically where we weren’t sharp enough,” Yeo said, particularly noting puck support. He added that a little more jump could have made a big difference.
Minnesota hopes that returning home will help turn things around.
“We definitely haven’t shown what we’re capable of,” Coyle said. “We haven’t been on our game. We haven’t had that grittiness that we brought last series. I think being at home will be good for us; it brings out the best in us.”
While the playoffs are a different beast, the Wild bested the Blackhawks twice in three meetings on home ice this season and for the first time in the postseason, won all three games its had on home ice. In last year’s playoffs, Minnesota used an OT winner from Jason Zucker to top Chicago in Game 3, again at Xcel Energy Center. That being said, Chicago has made life difficult for the Wild in the postseason lately. Last year that Game 3 win was the Wild’s only victory of the playoffs. But before we continue to draw any comparisons with last year’s postseason run, the Wild believes matters are different this time around.
“I think this year and last year are completely different,” Dany Heatley said. “We have a different group in there. You guys can run whatever numbers you want but we believe we can beat this team. It starts tomorrow.”
“I don’t feel like there’s any kind of mental block with this team,” Stoner added. “I think the last few games, I felt like we could win both games. We’re not far off. It’s not like they’re killing us out there. They’re capitalizing on their chances and we’re not. I think the belief in the room is strong and I think that as much as we respect them, I don’t think that we think they’re a better team.”
With that belief, though, now the Wild must go out and show it.
“There’s nothing to save it for now,” Coyle said. “It’s the end of the year; it’s playoff time. We’ve got to get our energy up. We know we still have it, we’ve just got to go out and prove it. We have the team to do it. We’ve done it before.”
News And Notes
This morning it was released that Friday’s Game 4 will start at 8:30 p.m.
Also, be sure to get to Xcel Energy Center early tomorrow for the Pre-game festivities. Check out more info on the event, here.