As Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo put it, it’s felt like a week since Game 3.
It’s only been two days, but it’s the first time this series the Wild has had a two-day break between games. Not only that, everyone has to patiently play the waiting game for tonight’s puck drop at 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota hopes to sustain Monday night’s effort against the Avs tonight, looking to draw even in the series, 2-2. In order to do that, the club believes it’s a matter of focusing on the details and making adjustments to what Colorado has coming.
“I think it’d be a mistake for us to sit here and just expect or assume that the game will play out the same way,” Yeo said. “They’re going to make a couple of adjustments. They’re going to come in and be very determined.
“This is a completely new challenge. We understand the importance of the game, but in order to give ourselves the best chance we have to be focused on what we have to do.”
A key factor in that process is maintaining the same attitude they had in Game 3. Though the Wild pressured all night and dominated most factors of the game, putting a puck in the net was a task all its own as Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov was a wall most of the night, stopping 45 of 46 shots. The Wild didn’t get frustrated by the lack of scoring. Instead it bore down, continued to work hard and eventually got the result.
“We have to keep it the same momentum, the same intensity — even ramp it up a little,” Charlie Coyle said. “You can never be too complacent and you always want to improve each game and be better. I think if we just focus on our game, on our systems and playing well. Keeping our focus, the same intensity, and battle level that we had, I think we’ll be ok.
“It’s not just going to happen for us, we’ve got to come out and prove it.”
One of the biggest takeaways from Game 3 was simply how close it was. Though the Wild controlled most of the night, it was a 0-0 game. One score from the Avalanche and it would have taken on a much different tone. Minnesota was ready for anything, according to Yeo, and that’s an important quality to hold onto in tonight’s action.
“Tonight, for me, it’s a similar mentality,” Yeo said. “We have to come out. We have to be ready to dictate. But we also have to be ready for whatever the situation calls for.”
While Minnesota put forward a great effort in Game 3 and provided plenty to build upon, the focus has shifted to tonight. As Mikko Koivu noted, the team is not worried about anything else but the 60 minutes ahead of it tonight.
One thing it would like to see again is the intense atmosphere the State of Hockey provided in Game 3. You’re already proud, now get loud(er).
“The buzz in the building, the excitement I think really helped us,” Zach Parise said.
“No question it was one of the louder buildings I’ve even been in. It was great and hopefully tonight will be the same.”
“It was awesome,” Coyle added. “It was pretty cool to play in front of this crowd and just the atmosphere in the whole building, going out there and hearing them cheering for us. It’s huge. We really appreciate that and what they do for us. It’s awesome playing for them.”
Cooke Meets With The Media
Last night Matt Cooke was handed a seven-game suspension by the League for his hit on Tyson Barrie Monday night.
Cooke gave a statement today, noting his disappointment and apologies to Tyson Barrie. The winger said it was not his intent to collide with Barrie in the manner that he did, but rather to finish his check.
“Playoffs are a hard and physical time and it’s my job to be physical,” Cooke said. “I’ve led my team in hits all three games and it’s an intense time.
“At the end of the day, this situation was not my intent.”
Over the past couple of days, many players fielded questions about Cooke, more specifically what the Wild will miss without him in the lineup. Many have responded in the same manner, noting Cooke’s leadership on and off the ice and the intensity he brings to the game. The Wild has had players step up in different roles all season and believes that will be the case once again.