Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

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Who's gonna win?

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Wild coaching, Wild news Updated: May 13, 2014 - 5:08 PM

Everybody seems to be making picks for Game 6, and those on my staff seem to be picking the Wild.

If you were silly enough to bet on sports, wouldn't you go that way, too?

The Wild have played 12 playoff games this season. In those 12 games, the road team has not won in regulation once. The only road victory in those 12 games occured when the Wild won in overtime at Colorado, long after establishing that Minnesota was the superior team.

So, yes, if you're going to pick a winner based on logic, you'd pick the Wild to win Game 6.

And the Blackhawks to win Game 7.

Quick hits, and cross-checks, from Game 5

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Wild coaching, Wild management, Wild news Updated: May 11, 2014 - 11:56 PM

Chicago –

Quick hits following the Wild’s 2-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday night at United Center:

-Jonas Brodin has played very soft during these playoffs. His hooking penalty led to the Blackhawks’ first goal. Even discarding that, he has not been strong enough with the puck or in the corners.

-Who knew that Cody McCormick would be the more valuable player in the playoffs when the Wild traded for Matt Moulson and him? McCormick played an aggressive, active game Sunday.

-Typical game from New Bryz: Ilya Bryzgalov played well throughout…yet almost let a shot in from the red line when he didn’t seem to be paying attention.

-When the game ended, Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya and a couple of his teammates got into it with Nino Niederreiter, Dany Heatley and Kyle Brodziak.

-Wild coach Mike Yeo said he had those three, along with Charlie Coyle, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella, on the ice because his more prominent veterans were tired, and because he wanted Heatley in front of the net. Seems strange not to have Zach Parise out there, even if he's tired.

-Erik Haula’s goal was spectacular. You know who he beat along the way? Patrick ``Showtime’’ Kane. Norris Trophy finalist Duncan Keith. Standout defenseman Brent Seabrook. Cup-winning goalie Corey Crawford. Not bad for a seventh-round draft pick from the U.

-Mikko Koivu has been a defensive force during this series, but he has one point in five games, and he didn’t manage a shot on Sunday.

-The Blackhawks haven’t lost a playoff game after a series has been tied 2-2 with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the roster. They are 13-0 in Games 5 and 6 in such series. (Credit Chicago Sun-Times)

Bryz is better

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Wild coaching, Wild management, Wild news Updated: May 11, 2014 - 7:31 PM

Chicago –

If you squint enough, and forget enough of the recent past, and focus on the last two games, you can see Ilya Bryzgalov imitating a playoff goalie.

As they prepare to drop the puck in Game 5, Bryzgalov, in the first four games of this series, is 2-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average.

Now, his save percentage is a mediocre .889. so he’s not exactly inspiring confidence, but he isn’t the flopping mess he so often looked to be in the Colorado series.

Corey Crawford, who has looked increasingly shaky, is 2-2 with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage.

Through four games, this is not the mismatch it was considered to be going in.

Bryzgalov has benefited from the Wild’s effective defense, but also his team’s ability to hold the puck in the offensive end for long stretches.

``That’s the best way to play defense,’’ said Wild forward Zach Parise.

In Round 1, I think the series turned in the Wild's favor when coach Mike Yeo didn't panic over bad calls in Game 5. HIs team remained composed and won the next two games.

In Round 2, the series turned, at least momentarily, when Yeo defended Bryzgalov after his poor performance in Game 2, saying ``This is our guy.'' Bryzgalov has played better since, although he has played better in part because of the Wild's improved play at home.

-----------------------

Michael Russo and I will have plenty of coverage in the paper tomorrow, plus a video and blog posts. I’ll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m., and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at 12:15 tomorrow. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Parise on lunch, Koivu, changing up routine

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Wild management, Wild news, Wild off-season news, Wild player moves Updated: May 11, 2014 - 12:49 PM

Chicago –

BREAKING NEWS EXCLUSIVE TO THE STAR TRIBUNE: Wild star Zach Parise told me what he eats for lunch every gameday.

``Lunch is going to be the same,’’ Parise said after the Wild’s morning skate at United Center. ``Pasta, chicken, a little salad with ranch, bread and olive oil. Home and road, it’s always the same.’’

That was about the only new out of the morning skate, other than this: The Wild, as it did before Game 7 in Colorado, changed the players’ locker stalls. ``Trying to reverse the luck,’’ Parise said.

Of course, the Wild’s only road win during the playoffs was at Colorado in Game 7.

The Wild is 0-5 in United Center during the playoffs the last two years, but this is a different team. Last year, when Parise and Mikko Koivu struggled to score against Chicago, the Wild had few other offensive options. This year, Koivu has just one assist in the four games, but the Wild has been able to win two games while Koivu has concentrated his efforts on stopping Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews.

``I think he did a really good job the last two games against Toews’ line, not only slowing him down but keeping the puck in the offensive zone,’’ Parise said. ``To me, that’s the best defense, to make them work in their own end a little bit.’’

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I’ll be covering Game 5 tonight in Chicago along with colleague Michael Russo. I’ll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at 12:15ish on Monday to recap the game. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

Wild wins, Bridgewater arrives, Twins beat JV

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Wild coaching, Wild management, Wild news, Wild off-season news, Wild player moves Updated: May 10, 2014 - 12:04 AM

Quite a day on the tundra.

The Wild played brilliantly in a 4-2 victory over the Blackhawks. Wrote my column for the Friday paper on the Wild's dominance.

The Twins beat Justin Verlander in Detroit with a limited roster.

The Vikings introduced their potential franchise quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, and the guy, at least, passed the interview portion of his career.

Then Bridgewater attended the Wild game, and saw what I saw: The local franchise thoroughly outplay the Stanley Cup champs.

My takeaways from the Wild game:

-I'm no fan of Matt Cooke or his history, but he played extremely well on Friday. His energy and forechecking led to the Wild's first goal and set up a couple of other prime chances.

-Ilya Bryzgalov gave up a terrible goal in the first period, but settled down. He allowed two goals in two home games to the Blackhawks. That's far better than could have been expected.

-The Wild's quality depth at forward has led to an impressive forecheck and plenty of scoring chances. This team, unlike last year's, doesn't have to have Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu score to succeed.

-Marco Scandella and Clayton Stoner are becoming the defensemen the Wild hoped they would be.

-The atmosphere at the X was outstanding once again. Late starts on a Friday play havoc with newspaper deadlines, but they're good for pre-game lubrication.

-Wild coach Mike Yeo's ability to match Koivu against Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews has helped hold Chicago in check. Koivu has managed only one point during this series, but his defense has been exemplary, and he saved at least two goals with timely checks on Friday.

-If Nino Niederreiter keeps working for the puck and skating the way he is now, he's going to become a star. He already has a star's shot, and he's willing to go to the front of the net.

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I'll be in Chicago for Game 5, so I'll be doing Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN from 10-noon on Sunday, with Korzo in studio.

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

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