Last night, the Wild topped the Avs in Game 3 in dominating fashion. Minnesota outshot, outhit and simply outplayed Colorado. The only thing missing was a few more tallies on the scoreboard in the Wild’s favor.
Mikael Granlund finally bested the hot-handed Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov in overtime for the 1-0 win. But forget all of that for the time being. Today, as both head coaches addressed the media, the focus remained on Matt Cooke’s hit on Tyson Barrie and his upcoming hearing with the League.
Cooke will have an in-person hearing Wednesday afternoon. Both Patrick Roy and Mike Yeo noted that the League will handle things and their respective teams need to remain focused on playing their games.
“I think we all want to play good, physical, intense hockey,” Yeo said. “At the same time, I know that they want to do the same to us. Neither side wants to see anybody get hurt. On our part, we don’t want to see one of our players get suspended. Obviously, not going to be sitting here saying we’re in a great mood about any of it.”
“To me it was the play of the game,” Roy said. “Losing our best offensive defenseman, we thought that could have been a five-minute major and certainly could have broken their momentum.”
When asked if his team will send any sort of response come Game 4, Roy said it’s not the time for that.
It’s no secret that the game raises to another level in the playoffs. The Wild and Avs have shown that in all three games of the series so far. It’s a hard-hitting game, as Yeo noted, and players are aware when certain opponents are on the ice. All Yeo asks is that his skaters finish checks when they can.
“I want our players, when someone’s in front of them, to finish their check,” Yeo said. “That’s hockey.”
Yeo also spoke at length about what Cooke brings to the team, noting specifically his leadership in the locker room — helping the younger players become pros and get through the ups and downs of the season. He even alluded to their time in Pittsburgh together and those same qualities he brought to a team that won a Stanley Cup.
“He’s an important player to our team, there’s no question,” Yeo said. “There’s a reason why he was brought here and physicality is only a very small part of it really. It’s his leadership, his experience. It’s his role as a penalty killer and a checking forward. Certainly it’s a loss to our lineup but we’ve been a team that’s been able to overcome injuries at different points of the season and at different positions.”
Eventually, talk turned to the next step for both teams. For the Wild, it’s about sustaining its play from Monday.
“Being at home ice and having matchups, obviously that helped,” Yeo said. “But more importantly I saw us playing our game. We should be a frustrating team to play against. We’re a tough team to play against. We play a hard game, but we play kind of an in-your-face type of hockey where it should be tough to build speed because we have layers.
“Getting back to that was real important and it’s going to be real important for us to go on here.”
Yeo already confirmed that Darcy Kuemper will get the start Thursday night after posting a 22-save shutout Monday in his first career Playoff start. The Bench Boss also indicated that they haven’t talked thoroughly about lines with Cooke out and will hammer out those details tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Roy is hoping to simplify things, particularly on the power play.
“We need to put more pucks on net and that’s the thing we haven’t done,” Roy said. “Sometimes it doesn’t have to be pretty. We just need to put pucks on net.
“Sometimes it’s just one power play and things start clicking.”
As far as Game 3’s result, Roy’s response was similar to Yeo and Co.’s after Games 1 and 2: “You know what I did with the game yesterday? I put it in the garbage can.”
It’s safe to say the State of Hockey, the Lighthouse included, isn’t ready to do that quite yet.
I mean, c’mon. That goal. Falling to the ice, Granlund swept in the game-winner and blew the roof off Xcel Energy Center. We’re still fondly reminiscing about it.
Even Roy agrees it was a top-notch play.
“We didn’t get beat by a bad goal; we got beat by an outstanding play,” Roy said. “He made the perfect play in the corner and even better to the front of the net. We had two guys in front of the net and he went through those guys. He deserves credit for the quality of his play.”