Good Afternoon Wilderness… The Wild are finally at home for games three and four. Yay! While the Wild are behind the eight ball, they say you’re never in trouble (in the Stanley Cup Playoffs) until you lose a game at home.
If the Wild are going to have any chance of winning this series, it's imperative that they win both games at the Xcel Center, or this series is over.
Personally, the nightmare at the Madhouse on Madison couldn't end fast enough. I thought the Wild deserved a better fate, but they didn't get any goal support from their top-six forwards.
While the goaltending hasn’t been great. I don’t know if we can throw Ilya Bryzgalov under the bus. Let's not sugar coat this, his forwards aren’t scoring goals for him, at all. Also, the defense hasn’t been very good either.
Hockey is a team game, and there's plenty of blame to go around.
As I said earlier this week. The Wild aren't going to win too many hockey games if they don't start playing better defensively. The Blackhawks are too talented up front and they transition very quickly. If you give them an inch, they'll bury you.
Also, the Wild forwards need to cash in on the opportunities that present themselves. How many chances has Wild forward Jason Pominville missed during the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Too many to count. Pominville has modest numbers through nine games (1g-5a—6pts). Pominville needs to start burying his chances or the Wild can start booking their tee-times.
Wild forward Matt Moulson has scored 30 goals, three times, during his National Hockey League career, but has had a tough time during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In nine playoff games he has scored a measly (1g-1a—2pts). That has to improve if the Wild are going to be successful.
For the Wild to win the next two games, following needs to happen.
Defensively, the Wild need to protect their goaltender, Bryz has been a little shaky. The Wild defense need to make that front of their net nose bleed alley. It’s imperative that the Wild keep the Blackhawks on the perimeter. They do not want to allow them to get to the blue paint, or roam freely in the slot, unchallenged.
The Blackhawks are a fast skating team that comes at you in waves, and the Wild defensemen need to keep the Blackhawks forwards in front of them, so far they have not. Up front, the Blackhawks are led by former North Dakota All-American forward Jonathan Toews (4g-5a—9pts), Patrick Kane (5g-3a—8pts), Bryan Bickell (5g-3a—8pts), Marian Hossa (2g-6a—8pts) and former Michigan State Spartan Duncan Keith (2g-5a—7pts).
The Wild need to slow down this core group of players down if they're going to have any chance of winning this series. So far, the Wild haven't slowed this core group down, and it hasn't been pretty. The Video below illustrates this.
Go Wild, protect the castle.