In tonight’s pivotal Game 5, the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche will leave it all on the table trying to take the lead in the best-of-seven First Round matchup. Each team has taken a pair of games on home ice, with the series spilt, 2-2, and back in the Mile High City tonight.
Home ice advantage has been a big factor in the Western Conference this postseason. In the West, the home team is 16-2 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo knows his team needs to buck the trend if they want to advance.
“We probably all feel pretty good with the fact that we’re 2-2,” Yeo said. “But the bottom line is that we still have to win a game in this building. We’re still playing the team that won the Division and it’s a best of three series.”
The Wild wants to play with the same urgency in Game 5 as it did in both games in the State of Hockey. Minnesota was fast, pursued the puck well and played a smart defensive game, not giving the Avs much in terms of offense or scoring chances.
“We’ve got to have that same mentality,” Yeo said. “Where you’re ready for anything and then go out there and steer the game in the direction you want it to go.”
With the series shifting to Colorado, the Avalanche Head Coach Patrick Roy expects a big boost from the home crowd. Although the Avs were outshot in the two games in Minnesota, 78-34, Roy liked how his club was only a shot away in both games. Now back on home ice, the Avs will get the last line change in the matchup game. The Colorado bench boss said he’ll make some tweaks after two-straight losses, but don’t expect a seismic shift in the club’s game plan.
“We’re going to make a couple tonight, but nothing major,” Roy said. Of course, he was silent about what those changes would be when asked by the media.
While the Avs expect to make a few tweaks, the Wild wants to keep its game rolling. Minnesota will use the same lineup as Game 4. Darcy Kuemper will be in goal again. The Avs will try to be more aggressive and try to get more pucks on the netminder. Roy thinks a strong first period, to get the crowd engaged in the contest, is important.
“Even if we’re a little nervous, or anxious, we’re going to need a good start of the game,” Roy said.
The Avalanche has been solid on home ice and has typically gotten the matchups Roy has wanted. With the series hanging in the balance, Yeo believes they’ll try and land a knockout punch early in the game.
“I know that they’re going to come out hard, I know that they’re going to push,” Yeo said. “If we’re sharp in our game and all aspects of it, then we should be able to weather whatever they bring and give ourselves the chance to the type of game we want to bring.”