It's gut check time kids! Time to put all the cards on the table. The Wild need to bring their "A" game. They need to get pucks to the dirty areas, they gotta get pucks on net, they gotta wear their heart on their sleeve and yadda-yadda-yadda.
A sports cliche, even when properly used doesn't make for much in the terms of writing about your favorite team or player. They tend to devolve the conversation from the game into some kind of pre-arranged conversation where real analytics get tossed out the window and are substituted for a broad stroke approach at making sense of what just happened, or what needs to happen.
It's honestly not easy to get around them. To say that the Wild need to "simplify their game tonight" might be accurate, but it's hardly a precise analysis of the things we need to see in order for this team to take a 3-2 series lead against the best team in the division on their ice. When the puck drops tonight against the St. Louis Blues, the Wild really just need to show up. Another cliche yes, but it is highly accurate. The Wild were outplayed in every aspect of game 4.
Here's the deal. We know the Blues, we've played them a bunch recently and tonight will be the 5th consecutive game. At this point, there are no more surprises. Each team knows what the other can bring on their best day after the previous 2 games. Each team knows the strengths and weaknesses of their rival on the ice.
The nice thing about tonight's contest is, I can almost guarantee it will be better than the last game. You cannot possibly play much worse that the Wild did in game 4. Through 2 periods in game 4, the Wild had just 10 shots on goal. It's not as if the Blues were blocking an exorbitant amount of shots in that span (15 blocked shots total in the game). It's that the Wild were just not getting the opportunities.
The Wild came out flat, they looked lazy, and they never seemed to get that fire under their ass that told them to start playing the game. For the first time in the series the Blues looked like the faster team. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, and you told me this, I would laugh at you more than I #LaughAtOtt.
Tonight, for the first time in this series I fully expect to see 2 competent hockey teams on the ice. Both teams have been dismantled by each other for a full game, and it's time to put it all together for some serious hockey. Win or lose tonight, as long as both teams come out and play how we all know they are capable, we are bound to see some great hockey.
They're going to leave it all on the ice. They're going to need to play a complete game, they need to find that extra level and play at 110%. This is the playoffs, you need to be all the cliches, and also play a damn good hockey game if you hope to go anywhere.
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