Every single one of the Minnesota Wild’s downfalls were brought into the light during Game 1 of their first-round matchup against the St. Louis Blues. We were all shocked with horror as just about every problem we discussed at length all season long — whether it be the abhorrent power play, lack of a penalty kill structure, some loose goaltending, or offense going quiet at the top of the lineup at times; everything just popped up in their first 60 minutes of playoff hockey this year.
With that context, and generally how flukey it might eventually be, some Wild players really just wanted to focus on the positives and stress that this is a seven-game series, not five, not three, not single-game elimination. Seven games!
“It’s gonna be a long series,” Marcus Foligno said after the Game 1 loss. “We won Game 1 in Vegas last year and it didn’t shape out well for us. So it means nothing. You got to forget about it. We got to go right back at it. We’ve got home ice again in two days. Fans were great tonight. We had a lot of energy. We liked our game for the most part of the game. We just got to understand that there’s really not much pressure. We know we can beat this team and to get a split going back to St. Louis is the goal now. That’s the message to stay with it and be positive like we’ve been all year.”
When the Wild only get 32 or so minutes of 5-on-5 to play with, you just know the team is going to be boned. Special teams has not and is not any sort of specialty in Minnesota, but they can just about beat anyone if there is an equal number of players for both teams. For some reason, as soon as there’s a different game state, the plan gets thrown out the window and the rhythm of the game gets tangled.
And with that many changes, players like Kevin Fiala who appear both on the powerplay and the penalty kill, never got settled in. At least he’s staying positive considering certain scoring chances the team had.
“You can’t say we didn’t try,” Fiala said. “We had great opportunities five-on-five and on the power play as well. We hit the bar, I don’t know how many times today. It can go the other way and it looks differently. But we have to let it go now. It’s Game 1 and it’s playoff hockey. It’s best-of-seven, so we have to be ready for the next one.”
There is no way that Game 2 will play out even similarly to Game 1. It was an abnormal game where the refs were tooting on their whistle for their own entertainment and the Wild had some terrible shooting luck. It will be different, but the result is still up in the air.
See you at puck drop.