With the series tied at 2-2, Game 5 of the Western Conference quarters tonight will be a swing game.
Somebody, whether that be the Wild or the Avalanche, will be facing elimination Monday night in St. Paul during an 8 p.m. Game 6.
Avs coach Patrick Roy shrewdly put on a show at his presser yesterday. With the Avalanche returning home after losing two games in Minnesota, he deflected all the attention onto himself and almost made the presser sound like an end-of-the-season presser. He talked about how it’s a process going from 29th to winning the Cup and how proud he is of what his team has accomplished this season.
Today, it back to business as usual as both teams look for a key win tonight.
Matt Duchene is clearly getting closer to a return, very possibly in this series. Roy said he won’t play tonight, but Duchene, the Avs’ talented youngster and leading scorer who has been out since late March with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, practiced for the first time with teammates this morning. He skated normal line rushes with Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn.
Roy said the Avs only lineup decision will be Joey Hishon or Paul Carey tonight on the fourth line.
No lineup changes for the Wild.
So far, this has been a homer series. Avs win Games 1 and 2 in Denver, Wild Games 3 and 4 in St. Paul.
The Wild dominated Games 3 and 4 yet only won 1-0 and 2-1. So it’ll be interesting to see if the Wild, clearly with renewed confidence, brings the same personality tonight. The Avs are obviously going to get the benefit of matchups on their home ice and a jolt from the home crowd. Can the Wild match that and play the same way it did in Minnesota?
“We’re making them come through five guys when they have the puck. That’s pretty tough to do,” Zach Parise said. “The key is we have to do the same thing on the road as we did at home.”
Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said Colorado was “taken aback” by the Wild’s play in Game 3.
“It was a wakeup call that they want this just as badly as we do,” Landeskog said.
After the Game 4 loss, Max Talbot told Landeskog almost every series he has ever played in was 2-2 at some point.
“That made me bounce back right away,” Landeskog said. “No one said it was going to be easy.”
Landeskog said the Avs were chasing too much in Minnesota and with the home-ice matchups, they believe they’ll have the puck more and be able to control the game better.
“We missed the fans here,” he said. “We realize why people talk about home ice advantage. Fortunately, we feed off the crowd so much. As an opposing team , I wouldn’t say it puts you back on your heels, but certainly you feel the energy against you.”
Western Conference home teams are 16-2 I the playoffs.
“I think we’re a different team than we were in Game 1,” Parise said. “We know we have to win one in here if we want to win the series. Hopefully it will be tonight. Hopefully we can break that trend tonight and get a win in here. “
I chatted with Patrick Bordeleau this morning, the former Wild draft pick that was cut loose on June 1, 2006, by the previous regime. Bordeleau said he has a lot of motivation facing the Wild even though that regime is long gone.
By the way, Bordeleau took a big run at Jared Spurgeon in Game 4 and kneed him. No call and certainly looking like a response after Matt Cooke ended Tyson Barrie’s series and a lot longer with a knee.
“I would have to think that they’re taking a pretty close at that,” Yeo said. “We have a player that was suspended for seven games. The very big difference is our player wasn’t hurt from it, but I would have to think both the referees and the people watching from afar are keeping a close eye on it.”