Wild players feed off fan noise

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 13, 2014 - 7:43 AM

Mike Yeo expected his players to understand the extra effort it would take to make a successful run in the NHL playoffs. The Wild coach didn’t know that message would spread to his team’s fans — or that they would embrace that task with such gusto.

Yeo thought he had heard Xcel Energy Center at its loudest during Game 3 against Chicago. The spectators pushed their decibel level a little higher for Game 4, helping the Wild move to 5-0 on home ice in the playoffs. Entering Tuesday’s Game 6 at Xcel, the Wild and Chicago (6-0) are the only teams still undefeated at home, and the Wild has held opponents to an NHL-low one goal per game at its home rink.

The coach noted, though, that his team cannot expect a raucous atmosphere to materialize on its own. The transfer of energy goes both ways, with the Wild’s consistently strong play at home inciting a crowd response that inspires it to push harder.

“There’s no question that we feed off our fans,’’ Yeo said. “Every game seems to somehow get a little bit louder, a little bit more emotion in the building. I’m expecting a lot of the same [Tuesday].

“I’m expecting our group to feed off it again, but I think we’ve been able to understand that we can’t just expect things to go the same way when we’re coming home. We went out and we’ve made it that way. We’ve forced the issue; we’ve played aggressive, and that’s what we need to make sure we’re ready to do [Tuesday].’’

The Wild is outscoring foes 16-5 at Xcel, following a season in which it compiled a home record of 26-10-5 — the second-best home mark in franchise history. It has held opponents to 19.2 shots per game at Xcel and has outscored them 8-0 in third periods.

Before this postseason, the Wild never had won more than one home game in a playoff series.

“The building has been electric,’’ defenseman Ryan Suter said. “The fans have been unbelievable. It’s been a lot of fun for us. We’re driving to the rink, and you see the excitement outside the rink, and we just build off that.’’

On the mend

Defenseman Keith Ballard (upper-body injury) and winger Matt Moulson (lower body) both skated Monday. Yeo said he would determine both players’ availability after seeing how they felt during Monday’s time on the ice, but both face challenges to re-entering the lineup.

Ballard, who left Game 4 after he was crushed in a corner by Chicago’s Brandon Bollig, has a history of concussions and missed seven games because of a head injury earlier this season. Bollig’s hit last Friday drew a two-game suspension, and he is not eligible to play Tuesday.

Moulson had one goal and two assists through 10 playoff games before sitting out Games 4 and 5, and the Wild has gotten strong forward play in his absence.

Mr. May?

Bryan Bickell’s sixth goal of the playoff season for Chicago on Sunday night came after a regular season in which he had 11 goals and four assists in 59 games. During the Blackhawks’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2013, Bickell had nine goals and eight assists in 23 games after a regular season with nine goals and 14 assists.

During the ’14 postseason, Bickell has been particularly lethal at the United Center, where the Hawks are 6-0, with goals in five consecutive games.

“You get the buildup in the regular season to get to the playoffs and the playoffs are where it really, really counts,” Bickell told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want to say the regular season doesn’t count, I just enjoy this time. We don’t practice much, which is good. The city is behind us, our fans [and] just the atmosphere in the dressing room, it gets me fired up.”


• The Wild is undefeated in Game 6 of playoff series played on home ice (3-0).

• Quenneville reunited his top line of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa to good effect in Game 5. Monday, he was asked whether high-scoring winger Patrick Kane could join Toews and Sharp on a line combining the team’s top three scorers in the regular season. “We still have that option in our back pocket,’’ he said.

  • related content

  • Chart: Home cooking in NHL playoffs

    Tuesday May 13, 2014

    HOME COOKING IN PLAYOFFS5-0Wild at home6-0Blackhawks at home41-25Home teams overall9-11Home teams, second round32-14Home teams, first round

  • Fans at Xcel Energy Center celebrated a goal during the Wild’s Game 3 victory. Coach Mike Yeo wants his team’s play in tonight’s Game 6 to be the fuel that ignites the home crowd’s passion.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question