Wild returns home with hopes of slowing Colorado's top line

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2014 - 11:39 PM

Creating favorable line matchups could be easier — in theory — for Yeo.

Wild rookie Erik Haula, right, checking Colorado’s Nate Guenin during Game 2, has the speed that could help contain the Avs’ top line.

Photo: Jack Dempsey • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Colorado Avalanche took care of business by sweeping the first two home games of its first-round playoff series against the Wild. Now it’s the Wild’s chance to return serve.

The Wild, lit up by Colorado’s first line especially in Saturday’s 4-2 loss, theoretically will have a better chance of shutting down Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon on Monday night because it will have last line change on its home ice.

That means coach Mike Yeo will be have greater control of which matchups he wants to get against the prolific trio. The three forwards combined for 10 points Saturday.

That likely will mean top defenseman Ryan Suter and the third line, which should consist of at least veteran Matt Cooke and speedy rookie Erik Haula.

“Obviously I want that matchup for me and for my line and for our team,” said Cooke, who will play his 100th playoff game. “It’s tough when you’re on the road. We’re going to get the last change, and if that’s the way that Coach wants to go, then I’ll be ready.”

Haula is the Wild’s fastest forward, so it would make sense to assign him the task of shadowing MacKinnon, one of the fastest NHLers already at the age of 18. MacKinnon has seven points in the first two games.

Nino Niederreiter has been the third line’s right winger in the first two games, but perhaps Justin Fontaine, scratched in Games 1 and 2, draws in. When the Wild held Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby to no shots in a victory late in the season, Fontaine played on the right side of Cooke and Kyle Brodziak.

Yeo said that when the Wild’s playing well, he’s not afraid of “anybody playing against anybody.” But the Wild hasn’t been on top of its game, Yeo acknowledged.

“We really started to back up, which really plays into their game,” Yeo said. “We’re all on our heels, and that gave them that opportunity to build that speed. … We’re giving them too much ice. We have to do a better job of making sure they’re coming through tight layers.”

Added Cooke: “We have to be quicker to take away time and space with those guys. They’ve proven with time and space they’re going to make plays.”

Captain Mikko Koivu, who has three assists in the series, was caught flat-footed in the neutral zone on Colorado’s first three goals. This is a player who Yeo feels should be a perennial Selke Trophy candidate as one of the league’s best defensive forwards.

“We’ve got to be better with the puck so it doesn’t happen,” Koivu said. “It’s about us being better in each and every zone of the ice. If we do that, we are a good hockey team and have a good chance to winning the hockey game.”

The Wild also needs better play from its defensemen. Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon have struggled in the series. Yeo said he’s not concerned about either, saying Brodin is “trending in the right direction” and Spurgeon is a “guy who’s bounced back continually. If he wasn’t at his best [Saturday], I’m confident he will be next game. That’s the kind of character he is, the kind of player he is.”

The Wild went 26-10-5 at home this season. The Avs were the NHL’s best road team at 26-11-4. They also are 12-0 all-time when leading 2-0 in a series.

“We recognize the challenge,” Koivu said. “We’re excited to be home. We’re excited for [Monday’s] game. We know we need to play better. As a team, there’s things we need to do better. We recognize that, and that’s our goal.

“We just have to take advantage of coming home and playing in front of our fans and in our building.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Houston 7:00 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Montreal
Arizona 7:00 PM
Nashville
Carolina 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Chicago
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Dallas
Florida 8:00 PM
Colorado
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Calgary
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close