Souhan: Wild needs more out of Koivu

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2013 - 1:50 PM

Isn’t it time for Mikko Koivu to punch someone? Or something?

Isn’t it time for Captain Cipher to display a smidgen of emotion, even if he can’t provide a point or make one memorable play?

With an 8:30 p.m. starting time, following a rousing victory at home two days earlier, the Wild’s Game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks promised to produce the kind of combative play and alcohol-infused crowd response that is the signature of playoff hockey.

Instead, Game 4 turned into one of those mixed martial arts bouts that begins with a flurry of punches and ends with one combatant getting the other into an awkward position and holding on until time, or his opponents’ breath, runs out.

There have been more violent games of Scrabble.

The Blackhawks’ 3-0 victory on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center was not the product of the kind of physical play or anger both teams have talked about so much this week. They were simply the more skilled team, and their 3-1 lead in the series is indicative of their edge in talent and depth.

If the Wild was going to make a game out of Game 4, or a series out of its matchup with a No. 1 seed, it was going to need a leader, and what has been established in this series is that the reputation of its captain would have been better served had the Wild missed the playoffs.

Koivu is minus-5 for the series and has yet to score. Asked whether his team needs to assert itself physically the way it did in Game 3, he said “We’ve got to find that again. Obviously, when you’re down and chasing it’s a different game, but you’ve got to find a way to create that pressure and a lot of times that’s how we create offense. We’ve got to put more pressure on them.”

Captain Cipher has given his team less than nothing.

Chicago already had taken a 1-0 lead on a Patrick Sharp goal when Wild starting goalie Josh Harding, playing all series in place of the injured Niklas Backstrom, was injured late in the first period.

With Darcy Kuemper taking over in the second period, Chicago’s next shot, a long wrist shot from Sharp that seemed intended to test Kuemper, went through the rookie to make it 2-0.

That goal, like Sharp’s first, was the result of a turnover by Wild forward Zach Parise, a big part of another mediocre performance by the Wild’s first line.

That first line combines the Wild’s current franchise player (Parise), their former franchise player (Koivu), and their best young forward (Charlie Coyle.)

Other than a slick pass from Coyle to Parise in Game 3 for a goal, that line has produced nothing in this series, with Koivu being particularly invisible. Parise is minus-6 for the series.

“We’ve got to score,” Parise said. “That’s no secret.”

After two periods Tuesday, Koivu, Parise and Coyle were all minus-2. Koivu and Parise were also part of a power play that, to that point, was 0-for-13 in the series.

When the power play reached 0-for-14, the fans jeered. When the power play reached 0-for-15, the fans hardly seemed to notice. The crowd began dispersing after Chicago made it 3-0 in the third period.

Parise has created chances and put shots on net in the series. It’s hard to say what Koivu has contributed. He hasn’t been particularly physical. He hasn’t created scoring chances for his teammates. He hasn’t been effective defensively.

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Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 61 3rd Qtr 8:09
Charlotte 67
New York 13 1st Qtr 3:50
Chicago 21
Golden State 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:00 PM
Portland
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 2nd Prd 7:12
Carolina 0
Florida 1 2nd Prd 13:23
Montreal 1
Ottawa 2 2nd Prd 10:42
Toronto 0
Los Angeles 0 1st Prd 10:31
Minnesota 1
Columbus 1 1st Prd 10:37
St. Louis 0
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Colorado
Dallas 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 76 2nd Half 0:51
Wisconsin 81
Canisius 35 2nd Half
NJIT 31
Notre Dame 7:49 PM
Kentucky
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 2nd Half 44:55
D.C. 0
Sporting Kansas City 1 2nd Half 44:55
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 0 1st Half 5:00
Columbus 0
Portland 0 1st Half 35:00
Vancouver FC 0
Colorado 7:30 PM
Houston
Seattle 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 47 2nd Half 11:50
(6) Tennessee 36
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