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Continued: Souhan: Series takes seismic shift after two dominating Wild efforts

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 25, 2014 - 12:24 PM

The Wild dominated the first period of Game 2, before its defenders bought tickets, sat back on their heels and watched MacKinnon do a figure-skating routine.

The Wild dominated almost every aspect of Game 3, although the team’s well-known penchant for wasting scoring opportunities made an overtime necessary.

Proving that Game 3 wasn’t merely a function of desperation and embarrassment, the Wild thoroughly dominated Game 4.

In the past two games, the Wild has outshot Colorado 78-34. Thursday, Minnesota set a playoff record for fewest shots allowed, with 12. Now that Kuemper has replaced Ilya Bryzgalov, the Wild should win this series.

Varlamov was often spectacular again on Thursday. If his agent is smart, he insists that Varlamov be paid on commission.

Varlamov has little choice but to be spectacular, because the Avalanche defense is remarkably weak, and the Wild’s deep set of aggressive forwards has made Colorado struggle to merely clear the puck.

For all of its dominance, the Wild struggles to score. Watching the Wild with the puck is like watching a slugger hit fly ball after fly ball to the warning track. The arc is majestic; the results are negligible.

To summarize: The Wild dominated most of Game 1, some of Game 2, all of Game 3 and all of Game 4. Its reward is a 2-2 tie with the series heading back to Colorado on Saturday.

By now, the Wild has to believe it is the better team, and that its superior depth will win out if it can only find a way to deflect in the occasional goal past the always-sprawling Varlamov.

After Game 2, it looked as if MacKinnon would be the irrepressible youngster who would make this series his own.

Thursday night, after Game 4, it was Granlund who looked like the most complete, and gutsy, youngster on the suddenly tilted ice.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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