Wild sees critics as falling for the same old trap

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2014 - 7:53 AM

Slowdown style of Game 3 wasn’t Minnesota’s alone.

The Wild has been branded a trapping team since the days of Jacques Lemaire, so any time a game borders on the boring side, critics usually assign fault to the Wild.

The neutral zone in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals was so congested, Wild and Chicago Blackhawks players looked as if they were skating through a labyrinth.

In the days since, the national media and hockey fans across the globe have analyzed the game like, “Same old Wild.” That has rubbed some inside the Wild the wrong way, especially because early in Tuesday’s game, it was clear the Blackhawks, perhaps after seeing the storm the Colorado Avalanche had to weather in Games 3 and 4 last round, tried to silence the Wild’s record crowd of 19,416 by sitting back in an attempt to limit the Wild’s ability to get through center ice and get on overpowering forechecks.

Slowly but surely the game turned into a hard-to-watch, neutral-zone chess match. Neither team could get through cleanly.

“Of course we’re going to be blamed for that. I mean, it’s the high-flying Hawks,” Zach Parise said, sarcastically.

The Wild finally broke through during a four-goal third period and eventual shutout to cut its series deficit to two games to one. Friday night, the Wild will try to even the series and make it a best-of-three heading into Sunday’s Game 5 in Chicago.

Veteran Matt Cooke will return from a seven-game suspension in his normal checking-line left wing role and replace Matt Moulson. Coach Mike Yeo revealed Thursday that Moulson, the veteran goal scorer who has struggled all postseason with one goal and two assists, has been battling through a lower-body injury and won’t play.

Last round, the Wild rallied from a 2-0 deficit to even its series with Colorado and eventually win in seven games. Last year against Chicago, the Wild won Game 3, fell down 3-1 after losing Game 4 and lost the first-round series in five games.

Teams leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series are 246-26 all-time, although the Wild twice rallied from 3-1 deficits in 2003.

“We know that [the Blackhawks] recognize the importance of the game, as do we,” Yeo said. “We know that there is another level to our game that we can get to. We’re going to come out with a real purpose in how we play. We have to stay strong defensively, but I know that there is another level that we can get to with the puck and how we execute, in particular from coming out of our D-zone and through the neutral zone.”

That neutral zone was excruciating to get through for both teams Tuesday. Parise said the Blackhawks played a “good, stereotypical road game” Tuesday where they tried to clog up the neutral zone and take the crowd out of it.

“Show me a team in the NHL that doesn’t play a trap and I’ll call you a liar because every single team does it,” said Parise, the NHL’s second-leading playoff scorer with 13 points. “Whoever does it the best, then they get called a defensive team. I don’t agree with that. Every single team plays a trap.

“Last game, the ice was bouncy. There wasn’t a lot of flat plays through the neutral zone, and I think both sides were somewhat getting frustrated because you couldn’t get it through clean. So then all of sudden you just try to stretch pass and chip it in and skate. They did the same thing to us that we did to them. It wasn’t like we were playing an 0-5 [alignment in the neutral zone] all game.”

In Thursday’s practice, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville scrambled all four of his lines as the Blackhawks search for more offense. The top three lines? Jonathan Toews centered Bryan Bickell and Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger centered Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane, and Michal Handzus centered Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.

The Blackhawks were shut out twice during last year’s Cup run. In the next games, they scored four goals vs. Detroit and six goals vs. Boston.

The Wild, for the most part, is expecting the Blackhawks to be much more aggressive in Game 4. As defenseman Ryan Suter said, the Blackhawks are at their best when “they’re going at you, trying to attack, trying to make plays every single time.”

Said Yeo: “I expect them to come out and try and pressure more and skate and get their speed as more of a factor. Likewise, we want to, too.”

Frankly, though, Parise wouldn’t be shocked if the Blackhawks again try to “clog up” the neutral zone.

“When you run into a team that plays well at home, that has a crowd like we do, you don’t want to give up odd-man rushes, you want to limit the amount that their crowd is able to get into the game,” Parise said. “I don’t foresee either team trying to go all-out offense because there’s too much at stake.

“Let’s put it this way: The minute they did last game, the minute we finally got a 3-on-2 and 2-on-1 and we scored. They don’t want to give that up again, and neither do we.”

 

  • related content

  • Video: Wild Minute: Moulson out, Cooke in as Wild tries to even series

    Thursday May 8, 2014

    The Wild, down 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks, aims for a big Game 4 victory

  • Scoggins: Will Wild take next step, or wait until next year?

    Friday May 9, 2014

    The Wild overcame a mental hurdle in Game 3; Game 4’s outcome will either build on or demolish that progress.

  • Benched Leddy vows to be ready for Game 4

    Friday May 9, 2014

    The former Gopher knows “I’ve got to be better” in his return to Chicago lineup.

  • Suter in, Moulson out for Game 4

    Friday May 9, 2014

    Ryan Suter practiced and showed no lingering effects of an arm injury from Tuesday’s Game 3. Matt Moulson will be out with a lower-body injury.

  • Game 4 preview: Chicago at Wild

    Thursday May 8, 2014

    game 4 previewWild vs. Chicago • 8:30 p.m. • Xcel Energy Center • NBCSN, 100.3-FMPreview: The Wild is 4-0 at...

  • Wild center Mikko Koivu, right, stuck tight with Chicago’s Michal Rozsival during the second period of Game 3. The Wild broke free in the third period Tuesday to score all its goals in a 4-0 victory.

  • Zach Parise didn’t mince words about criticism of the Wild’s play: “Show me a team in the NHL that doesn’t play a trap and I’ll call you a liar because every single team does it.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Golden State 99 FINAL
Cleveland 110
Oklahoma City 113 FINAL
Phoenix 117
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Arizona 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Montreal 5 FINAL
Columbus 2
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Toronto 3
Chicago 3 FINAL
Florida 0
St. Louis 2 FINAL(SO)
Winnipeg 1
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Nashville 2
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 0
Detroit 3 FINAL
San Jose 2
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 73 FINAL
Citadel 74
Winthrop 50 FINAL
Campbell 65
Delaware 58 FINAL
Drexel 44
Jacksonville St 57 FINAL
Eastern Ky 63
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Elon 72
Sacred Heart 90 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 85
Western Carolina 49 FINAL
Furman 53
Char Southern 81 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Western Ill 66 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Nebraska Omaha 73 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 67
Radford 69 FINAL
Liberty 80
St Francis-NY 74 FINAL
Long Island 69
Wofford 76 FINAL
Mercer 72
Minnesota 96 FINAL
Michigan State 90
High Point 75 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 71
Samford 67 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Ohio State 81
Wagner 59 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Mount St Marys 60 FINAL
St Francis-PA 63
Houston 54 FINAL
Temple 66
Vanderbilt 73 FINAL
Tennessee 65
Chattanooga 86 FINAL
Va Military 82
Milwaukee 61 FINAL
Wright State 58
Coastal Carolina 69 FINAL
Presbyterian 80
Central Conn St 69 FINAL
Bryant 77
Ga Southern 77 FINAL
Appalachian St 58
SIU Edwardsville 61 FINAL
Austin Peay 64
Green Bay 72 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 67
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 77
FIU 69 FINAL
Marshall 87
Rider 63 FINAL
Monmouth 60
Eastern Ill 57 FINAL
Murray State 65
Charlotte 65 FINAL
North Texas 81
North Dakota St 58 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Old Dominion 63 FINAL
Rice 54
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Southern Miss 70
UT Martin 69 FINAL
Tennessee St 52
Fla Atlantic 68 FINAL
Western Ky 71
Northern Ariz 85 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Grand Canyon 70 FINAL
Chicago State 74
Utah Valley U 50 FINAL
UMKC 69
ULM 75 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Texas-Arlington 80 FINAL
Arkansas State 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 92
Troy 61 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arizona 82 FINAL
Colorado 54
SMU 66 FINAL
Memphis 57
Tenn Tech 73 FINAL
Morehead State 86
Rutgers 85 FINAL
Purdue 92
Southern Utah 67 FINAL
Northern Colorado 77
Montana State 68 FINAL
Eastern Wash 92
UC Davis 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 74
UC Irvine 63 FINAL
Cal Poly 56
Cal State Fullerton 72 FINAL
CS-Northridge 82
Montana 87 FINAL
Idaho 92
BYU 82 FINAL
Portland 69
Pacific 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 57
Arizona State 41 FINAL
Utah 83
San Diego 39 FINAL
Gonzaga 59
St Marys-CA 84 FINAL
San Francisco 53
Oregon State 48 FINAL
Stanford 75
Long Beach State 59 FINAL
Hawaii 78
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
ULM 45 FINAL
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 84 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 55
Delaware 68 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
UMBC 41 FINAL
Maine 61
UMass Lowell 72 FINAL
Vermont 64
Albany 65 FINAL
Hartford 50
Stony Brook 68 FINAL
Binghamton 59
Boston College 60 FINAL
(8) Louisville 77
(23) Syracuse 60 FINAL
Clemson 55
(16) Duke 62 FINAL
Georgia Tech 71
Florida 53 FINAL
Alabama 49
NC State 52 FINAL
(9) Florida State 72
Miami-Florida 59 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
LSU 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
(11) Miss State 50 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 69
Fairfield 74 FINAL
Iona 62
Marist 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 66
Quinnipiac 91 FINAL
Rider 53
Virginia 70 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 72
Pittsburgh 59 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 87
Ohio State 88 FINAL
Penn State 70
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Dayton 69
(22) George Washington 81 FINAL
Richmond 69
Saint Louis 53 FINAL
Rhode Island 68
Wright State 74 FINAL
Detroit 59
Green Bay 70 FINAL
Oakland 55
Western Ky 85 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 74
Indiana 72 FINAL
(5) Maryland 83
North Texas 46 FINAL
Charlotte 71
Central Arkansas 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 56
SE Louisiana 60 FINAL
Northwestern St 71
Nicholls 63 FINAL
New Orleans 68
Incarnate Word 44 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 58
Denver 68 FINAL
No Dakota State 87
IUPU-Ft Wayne 61 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 70
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota 69
Lamar 77 FINAL
McNeese State 98
Western Ill 49 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Missouri 70 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 69
(13) Kentucky 56 FINAL
Arkansas 51
(20) Rutgers 60 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 80
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 59
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
(17) Iowa 78
North Dakota 68 FINAL
Northern Ariz 72
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Southern Utah 66
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
Montana State 63
Idaho 68 FINAL
Montana 81
Auburn 70 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(6) Tennessee 70 FINAL
Georgia 59
Gonzaga 62 FINAL
San Diego 75
USC 48 FINAL
Washington 60
Portland 63 FINAL
BYU 65
(24) California 74 FINAL
Oregon 59
(19) Stanford 69 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 58
Chicago State 49 FINAL
Grand Canyon 73
UMKC 51 FINAL
Utah Valley U 61
San Francisco 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
UCLA 74 FINAL
Washington St 69
Santa Clara 75 FINAL
Pacific 87
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 53
UC Santa Barbara 47 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 57
Hawaii 47 FINAL
Long Beach St 46
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
UC Davis 50
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which is your favorite 'return' by a Minnesota athlete?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close