Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Posts about Stanley Cup

Goalie drama before Wild's must-win Game 5 against Blackhawks

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: May 9, 2013 - 1:41 PM
There was some wacky and wild goalie drama at today’s pregame skate for tonight’s must-win Game 5 of the Western Conference quarters against the Chicago Blackhawks.
 
Josh Harding, who left Game 4 after the first period with a lower-body injury, had one cage. Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper shared the other.
 
That was a clear indication that Harding was starting. Next, Harding took shots from the D toward the tail end of the skate. That usually cinches who is starting.
 
But slowly but surely, it became clearer that Harding was laboring. As Harding took shots, head coach Mike Yeo and goalie Bob Mason were talking and watching Harding. Suddenly, they turned and began watching Backstrom at the other end of the United Center’s rink. He, too, looked to be having bigtime trouble pushing off.
 
Yeo and Mason turned back and watched Harding. Harding skated over, began chatting with them. Finally, Yeo skated over to Backstrom and had a long conversation with him.
 
The final decision? Harding will start tonight with Kuemper backing up.
 
Why Harding? “We don’t know how he feels, but you have to trust him, and he says that he is good to go and there was absolutely no doubt about it, so that’s what we were looking for,” Yeo said.
 
On the crazy goalie drama, Yeo said, smiling, “You don’t know what we were talking about. I think we might have been talking about what we were having for lunch today.”
 
Yeo then turned serious and said, “This is what we’ve been dealt, but we were able to figure it out and now we should push all that stuff behind us. Bottom line is we’ve got 20 guys going into the game. No excuses whatsoever on our part. You’re in the lineup, you’re there for a reason, and we’ve got a group that is more than capable of winning this hockey game tonight.”
 
Defenseman Ryan Suter has never seen anything like the Wild’s postseason goalie situation, saying, “It’s too bad you have to deal with that. There’s so many distractions already. For us, we know whoever’s in net, we have to play hard and play our best if we want to win this game tonight. That’s been our attitude all year. It’s just someone different in net. Obviously it’s not Backy, who’s been there all year. Whoever it is, we have to go out and defend well and play in the offensive zone.”
 
Zach Parise said, laughing, “Honestly I don’t know who’s playing tonight.”
 
The Blackhawks expect the Wild’s best game. Yeo said, “If we can win this game, obviously we’d still be behind, some of the pressure would shift. We have to have a good focus of how to make that happen.”
 
Yeo noted that the Wild has been in similar situations. “Game 3, we knew without a doubt we had to win that game, and we played our best game of the series. Game 48, we knew we had to win that hockey game and we were able to go out and perform. Hopefully we can draw upon that.”
 
Yeo said, “3-1 is daunting. Tonight’s game is not necessarily that daunting.”
 
The reason, he says, is because even though the Wild’s execution last game wasn’t great, the Wild easily could have won that game. The Wild outchanced the Hawks, outhit them and drew six power plays. “Bottom line we didn’t score and they did. But there are a lot of things that can be taken from the last two games.”
 
Yeo talked about how great the Hawks have been defensively and how deep they are, saying, “If you would have told us through four games that Jonathan Toews wouldn’t have a point, we probably would have signed up for that pretty quickly. But obviously we still trail 3-1.”
 
As for lines, Jason Pominville will skate with Kyle Brodziak and Pierre-Marc Bouchard – his line that was playing well prior to his getting hurt.
 
On the fourth line, Stephane Veilleux and Mike Rupp will be game-time decisions. One will play, one won’t, on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Cal Clutterbuck.
 
“They’re not going to lay over for us, by any means,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “Nobody wants to have their season over. We expect them to come hard and play a tough, tight game.”
 
Dave Bolland and Ray Emery are both out for the Blackhawks.
 
Just a real quick FYI, I’m going to be away from the team starting tomorrow for a little bit. I have a family emergency and need to leave town. We have plenty of capable folks to cover the Wild in my absence, and of course, I’ll do my best to keep one eye on the team. But I've got to leave unfortunately.

Ryan Suter selected as Norris Trophy finalist; Live chat at 3 p.m. today

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: May 7, 2013 - 9:01 AM

One day after the Wild felt rookie Jonas Brodin was snubbed as a Calder Trophy finalist, Ryan Suter was selected as one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman).

Good morning from Minnesota, where tonight at 8:30 p.m. (FSN, KFAN) the Wild will attempt to even the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals with the Chicago Blackhawks.

I will host a live chat on startribune.com today at 3 p.m. Please join in. I will also be on Fox Sports North during Wild Live before the game and during the first intermission. I should also be on KFAN at some point this morning.

If you didn't buy today's newspaper, please go to www.startribune.com/wild for a ton of Wild-Blackhawks coverage from myself, Chip Scoggins, Rachel Blount and Shari Gross.

Remember, the Wild will host a pregame party from 6-8 p.m. between Gates 1 and 3 at the X tonight.

Because of the late starting time for the game, the pregame skates today are later than usual -- 11 a.m. and noon. I will blog again after the skates, but if you want lineup information, follow me on Twitter at @russostrib.

But the Wild will call up several players from Houston today to add to Mikael Granlund, Stephane Veilleux, Jake Dowell, Carson McMillan and Matt Dumba. Those players include Justin Fontaine, Kyle Medvec and others.

Suter was selected as one of three finalists with Montreal's PK Subban and Pittsburgh's Kris Letang.

Suter, signed by the Wild to a 13-year, $98 million last summer, led all NHL skaters in average ice time during the season with a franchise-record 27 minutes, 16 seconds a game. He finished third behind Subban and Letang in points from defensemen with 32 and ranked second behind Letang with 28 assists.

All of this season’s award winners will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, with more detail on format to be released at a later date.

The NHL Awards will return to Las Vegas in June 2014.

Following is the schedule of announcements:

Wednesday, May 8 Vezina Trophy (top goaltender)

Thursday, May 9 Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted by NHLPA) **Ted Lindsay Award nominees will be announced by the NHLPA

Friday, May 10 Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player to his team)

Monday, May 13 General Manager of the Year Award

Tuesday, May 14 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey) *Josh Harding is the Wild's Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA) nominee

Wednesday, May 15 Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward)

Thursday, May 16 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (skill/sportsmanship)

Friday, May 17 Jack Adams Award (top head coach)

Monday, May 20 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone (player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice)

Wild vs. Blackhawks blog: Pominville returns to practice; PHWA voting process

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: May 6, 2013 - 5:25 PM
With the Wild hoping to even its series with the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 Tuesday (8:30 p.m.), injured Jason Pominville took part in this morning’s optional practice. He was unavailable to the media and coach Mike Yeo was vague about his availability for Game 4 – partly because it’s the playoffs and probably because he doesn’t know.
 
After all, Yeo thought Pominville was ready before Game 1. But the winger woke up in Chicago not feeling right following a strenuous practice the day before and hasn’t played in the three games since.
 
My guess is he’s not ready yet. Stranger things have happened in the playoffs, but besides the fact that you don’t want to rush the vet back in if he’s hurt, today was only his second practice (and an optional one at that) since the April 23 injury, so who knows where he is fitness wise?
 
“Today was encouraging,” Yeo said. “I’m not saying that he’s a possibility for tomorrow. I’m not saying that he isn’t. For me, I’m just glad he was on the ice today and we’ll just see what the plan is going forward.”
 
Afternoon from the bowels of the X, where I've got a ton of writing in front of me. But here is a 2,000-word blog for your review. I will also host a live chat on startribune.com Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT. Be there or be square.
 
Today’s optional included, for the start of the skate, Sunday heroes Matt Cullen and Jason Zucker, and for all of the skate Pominville, Justin Falk, Jake Dowell, Matt Dumba, Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Carson McMillan, Mikael Granlund, Stephane Veilleux and goalies Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper.
 
McMillan was called up today because there is a chance he could play Game 4. Dumba was called up because he basically had nothing to gather in Houston. The rest of the Houston vets returned there to pack up their lives.
 
On Tuesday, a handful more Houston players will likely be recalled, including everybody’s favorite UMD Bulldog, Justin Fontaine. The Wild, like all playoff teams, will have a lot of young guys around for the remainder of the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily play, but they’ll be here to practice and get a taste of the NHL life. That includes everybody's favorite UMD Bulldog. Fontaine is a long way off from being put into his first NHL game.
 
My guess is either McMillan or Dowell play Game in place of Mike Rupp. Zenon Konopka didn’t play Game 3. Rupp played four shifts. Normally, you’d be on the ice for an optional if that were the case. Neither was today, meaning Konopka’s foot is an issue and Rupp’s knee.
 
“Might need some rest,” Yeo said, lying through his grinning teeth.
 
When I noted Rupp played four shifts, Yeo quipped, “They were hard shifts.”
 
Yeo said Rupp and Konopka might play. Or, might not.
 
Stephane Veilleux should earn a second straight game on the fourth line. Played a little under eight minutes, three hits – two on his first shift on menace (and I say that with respect because he’s been great) Johnny Oduya.
 
“We knew there would be energy in the building and we knew that he would contribute to that too,” Yeo said humorously of Veilleux. “Against a team like this, his skating ability was a big factor of why we chose him. He’s able to get in on the forecheck and he’s able to arrive and apply the pressure.”
 
Veilleux joked to me that he didn’t need to drink any Red Bull during the game. Said Yeo, “He’s pretty naturally wired. He does have experience. It’s not like we’re calling up a young kid that’s full of energy. He knows how to bring that energy without going over the line, too.”
 
The big message of the day from the Wild is it’s accomplished nothing so far.
 
It played in well in Game 3. It won. It’s still trailing in the series.
 
The Wild expects the Blackhawks to ramp it up, especially physically, and come with a shoot-from-everywhere mentality in Game. 4. The Wild needs to up its level, too.
 
“That’s the goal, that’s kind of what we’ve been striving for right from Game 1,” Yeo said. “That’s what we said with the playoffs -- you have to elevate your game. Looking at the video, there’s still some areas that we think we could be a little bit better. But at the very least, we have to be ready to bring a lot of the same things that we did last game. Part of the challenge for us next game will be to brace against their pushback. We know that they’re going to come hard and I’m anxious to see how we respond to that.”

There will be a heckuva lot more in the paper. One thing I plan to write about is Jonas Brodin not being named a finalist for the Calder.
 
As you can imagine, Brodin was humble today, seemed to care less and is just ready to keep logging big minutes to help this team win in the playoffs.
 
Yeo said, “I’m disappointed. And congratulations to the other players (Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau and Chicago's Brandon Saad). They’re great players. And I mean this with the greatest respect to them, but I’ve coached this guy all year and we’re here battling in the playoffs and it’s hard to say that we would be if he’s not on our team. This kid is a very, very good hockey player. So it’s disappointing for me.”
 
Basically, and real quick because I have a ton of writing to do for Tuesday’s paper, but members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association – I’m chapter chairman of the Twin Cities chapter and Vice President of the Northwest Division – votes on the Hart, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng, Selke and Masterton Trophies, in addition to All-Star (First- and Second-teams) and All-Rookie Teams.
 
Votes have to be submitted to an accounting firm in New York just prior to the first playoff game.
 
I talked with Kevin Allen of the USA Today this morning about the voting process this year. He is President of the PHWA (@ThePHWA on Twitter).
 
First, a little history. Ten years ago when Allen took over, there were three votes per chapter. In order to shrink the margin of error (that one or two bad ballots could ruin everything), Allen worked to vastly increase the number of eligible voters.
 
 Slowly, but surely, and in order to try to get a level of geographic balance, there wound up being about 68 votes in the West and 68 votes in the East, including what Allen called at-large votes (national writers that see everybody).
 
Today, the PHWA relies on recommendations from the Chapter Chairperson. To vote, you have to be a member. This year, there were 178 voters – the most in our history (every member doesn’t get a vote).
 
The breakdown of eligible voters this year, according to Allen, were 46.4 percent from Eastern cities, 32.8 percent from Western cities and 20.8 percent from international chapter members who cover no specific teams.
 
Allen doesn’t buy into the Eastern bias theory, saying, “Quality voter is a quality voter regardless of where he’s located. If you look at the way things have turned out historically, there’s no evidence ever to suggest there’s been geographic imbalance.
 
“I have great faith in our ability as an association to vote for what we think are the right people. This isn’t like the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. This is the day of the Internet and the availability of NHL Network. I just can’t believe things happen in the NHL without our members knowing about it. I think our votes knew who he was and what he was about.”
 
“This year, Rookie of the Year was a little difficult. In my mind, our group didn’t pick the guys I thought would be finalists. That doesn’t mean we’re wrong. It just means people didn’t think the same way I did.”
 
Allen provided some examples to show there’s not an Eastern bias. Allen noted that in 2010, Duncan Keith won over Eastern golden boy Mike Green when there weren’t even 60 eligible Western voters. Last year, Shea Weber came within a whisker of winning the Norris. He was on 146 ballots (more than Erik Karlsson). Last year in the Calder, Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado) and Ryan-Nugent Hopkins (Edmonton) went 1-2.
 
One thing I personally think is flawed about our voting system is the imbalance among chapters. I don’t know how to fix it unless you go back to the same amount of votes per chapter, but for instance, Phoenix chapter has 1 person who votes, Nashville 2, Minnesota 7, Montreal 12.
 
Obviously, in a case like this year, you’ve got to see Brodin to really appreciate how good he is and how impactful he was to the Wild. And this year, there were significantly less Western voters.
 
I also think this was a very difficult year for members to vote. West writers only covered games vs. West, East voters only vote for East. There were 48 games in 99 days, so there weren’t a lot of off-days to watch other games between teams we don’t cover on television. Also, the large chunk of our voting members are not traveling beat writers.
 
So to me, it’s incumbent on writers to take voting seriously and do their homework. I didn’t have a good sense of many of the Eastern players this year because of what I wrote above. So I talked to scouts, a few GM’s and lots of Eastern writers for their thoughts on players.
 
Similarly, I received emails and a few calls from Eastern writers about what’s going on this West.
 
Personally, I’m not convinced every writer does the same thing.
 
As for Brodin not being a finalist, I look forward to seeing the final tabulations. I still believe a lot of members are very point-centric when it comes to voting. In other words, they scan the stat sheets and vote. If you do that, Brodin’s not going to jump at you. To disprove that, folks have noted Nail Yakupov to me. He wasn’t a finalist despite leading rookies in points. Of course, he went on a tear the last few days of the season and by then a lot of voters cast their ballots. That’s why I never vote until after the regular season is over. I want to see who makes the playoffs, how players performed through an entire 82-game season (or 48-game season this year).
 
So I’d be very interested to see how many ballots Brodin didn’t even appear on. And if that’s the case, then that’s disappointing.
 
I can tell you, the Wild’s real disappointed in Brodin not being a finalist, and frankly, this could have cost the team bonus money for him. Now, they are worried Ryan Suter will even be a finalist. We’ll find that out Tuesday.
 
Allen did plan to reach out to GM Chuck Fletcher today to discuss the PHWA’s voting process.
 
As for Blackhawks news, no Dave Bolland or Ray Emery for Game 4. Agitating, hard-hitting forward Dan Carcillo has been scratched for three straight games. It wouldn't shock me if he played as a response to the Wild outhitting Chicago last game.
 
Coach Joel Quenneville said he might play. And, he might not.
 
Quenneville and Yeo are speaking from the same coach’s handbook.
 
From Rachel Blount:
 
Here is Coach Q on Calder Finalist Saad: "He’s had a real nice year for us. He’s come into the NHL maybe under the radar when he started the season,  but the appreciation for what he contributed to our team game from start to finish was very strong. I think that line, his consistency, absorbing more responsibility as the season went on, being on special teams, getting quite a few minutes, the confidence that we used him was based on how well he played and how consistent he played. His strength and his size and his anticipation on both sides of the puck are going to make him a nice player going forward. But a real good start to his career."
 
The Blackhawks were careful to say Monday that they do not need to respond to the Wild's effort in Game 3 as much as they simply need to take care of their own business. While they stressed the need to be more physical, they also said that has to happen within the context of their style.
Chicago winger Patrick Kane warned that too much emphasis on hits could knock the Blackhawks off their usual game. If they stick with the speedy, skilled style that won them the President's Trophy and augment it with enough muscle to fight back, he said, they will be right where they need to be.
"You want to be physical, you want to ramp up the intensity and bring a little bit more to playoff hockey,'' said Kane, whose five assists put him in a three-way tie for fourth place in the NHL's postseason scoring race. "But sometimes if you're worried about bringing too much intensity and physicality, you're not worried about doing the things we did to score a lot of goals this year--which we did. We need to just try to get back to the way the Blackhawks play hockey.
"We want to play fast. Teams can try to be physical against us, but when we're playing fast and moving, it's tough to catch us. ... When we're playing well, we have a lot of players rolling. It's a shift after shift continuance where teams are struggling to contain us. Usually, when you bring that heat for a full 60 minutes, teams are going to struggle with that.''
Coach Joel Quenneville reminded his team that it showed flashes of that Sunday. It just didn't sustain it, so that will be the goal Tuesday. He does want to see a little more edge to his players as well. He used words such as passion, emotion, urgency and directness to describe what he wants from them Tuesday and said he does not think Chicago has "given (the Wild) our best.''
"I think we'll see a very intense team,'' he said of what he expects from the Blackhawks in Game 4. "I think when you watch other playoff series, you can see the animosity, the hatred, the battles. That's playoff hockey. That's the level we've got to get to, and we'll go from there.''
 
PREGAME PARTY

The Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League (NHL) announced plans for a pre-game party from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, prior to the team’s 8:30 p.m. faceoff against Chicago in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The party will take place along the sidewalk between Gates 1 and 3 of Xcel Energy Center.

“Minnesota is the State of Hockey, and Saint Paul proudly serves as its capitol as we celebrate the return of Stanley Cup Playoff hockey and an invigorating Wild win on Sunday,” Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said. “With the later start of Tuesday 's game, we encourage fans to come and be a part of the playoff atmosphere. Festivities will include the Wild pre-game events at Xcel Energy Center as well as all the activity at the other downtown establishments.”

The party will include live music by Five Man Advantage, food and drink, including a beer garden, a Hockey Lodge tent with new playoff merchandise, along with a Beard-A-Thon tent. Fans can register to win one of two pair of tickets to Game 4 at the Beard-A-Thon tent. In addition, KFAN 100.3 FM will broadcast live from 3-8 p.m.

The Wild encourages all fans to get downtown early and visit the pre-game party and other downtown St. Paul establishments. Xcel Energy Center gates will open at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Game 4 will be broadcast on FOX Sports North locally, and NBC Sports Network nationally, in addition to CBC throughout Canada.

Postgame: Zucker's OT goal put stamp on physical night by Wild vs. Blackhawks

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: May 5, 2013 - 8:47 PM
Jason Zucker’s first career playoff goal came 2:15 into overtime tonight as the Wild took a 3-2 Game 3 victory from the Chicago Blackhawks.
 
Still trailing the series 2 games to 1, it was a huge win for the Wild, which got a late scare with 2:46 left from Duncan Keith, who teed up a goal to force overtime after the Wild went into a defensive shell the final seven or eight minutes.
 
The Wild attacked and attacked all game, outshooting the Blackhawks 37-27 and outhitting them 34-13. But Zach Parise, who gave the Wild a 2-1 lead 3:09 into the third, said the Wild got too passive as it just went into an almost natural prevent defense mode that almost cost them.
 
But in overtime, Devin Setoguchi came to the bench and Pierre-Marc Bouchard jumped on. Bouchard said Tom Gilbert sent him a puck and immediately a 3-on-2 began. Bouchard eventually put the puck behind the net for Matt Cullen, who was tripped by Andrew Shaw.
 
No call, so Cullen just reached with his right hand and passed in front for Zucker, and the 21-year-old who was recalled for the season finale buried it shortside. Zucker, who missed some shifts in the third because he was banged-up, showed he was completely healthy. Just jumped right into the glass for a mob scene in front of an electrified arena.
 
“Just trying to get the puck on net and it just happened to go in for me,” Zucker said of the biggest goal of his career.
 
Huge win. Game 4 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. There will be at least a Game 5 in Chicago on Thursday. Time unknown yet.
 
Lots of coverage in Monday’s Star Tribune, so please check that out. I will be on Rosen’s Sports Sunday tonight on Ch. 4 at 10:35 p.m. and KFAN at 9 a.m. Monday.
 
Also Monday, there may be some Jonas Brodin news. The NHL will announce the Calder finalists. Tuesday will be the Norris finalists, so we should definitely have some Ryan Suter news that day.
 
Suter only logged 32 minutes, 23 seconds today; Brodin only 28:26. They should do pushups.
 
Lots of big efforts on the ice tonight.
 
Bouchard scored a goal and assist and had four shots. Coach Mike Yeo said it’s the best game Bouchard has played for him. Cullen was great. Cal Clutterbuck set a physical tone with eight hits. Devin Setoguchi had seven and five shots. Mikko Koivu won 15 of 20 faceoffs.
 
Kyle Brodziak was great and had his first playoff point. Zach Parise scored his 22nd career playoff goal, an assist from Charlie Coyle after the big rook won a board battle with Michal Rozsival.
 
“I didn’t know he knew I was there,” Parise said of Coyle’s wicked pass.
 
Parise, like Bouchard, went backhand, over the glove, roof. Great quote here from Parise: “I just wanted to get it upstairs. We had done enough trying to get it through him on the ice.”
 
Josh Harding made 25 saves for his first career playoff win.
 
Zucker had the big goal, five shots, drew his fourth penalty of the series and popped Brent Seabrook, then stood over him at the end of the second. Seabrook is the same Chicago defenseman that has run Zucker a few times in the series.
 
“I don’t even know what happened there,” Zucker said. “I just went in to finish my check. He’s a big guy. I was surprised he went down.”
 
On standing over Seabrook, Zucker unleashed his Vegas poker face: “He had my leg caught in between his legs.”
 
Yah.
 
Yeo, who won his first playoff game as an NHL head coach, wanted a more physical tone and the Wild brought it from the beginning.
 
“We need everyone to be physical and involved in the game,” Parise said. “That’s playoff hockey and I don’t think we did a good enough job [before Sunday]. It’s not about banging the glass. It’s just about finishing your check every time we can.”
 
The building was awesome. Just amped from the beginning.
 
“You could tell right from warmups there was electricity in here,” Parise said.
 
Like I said, please read the paper and all the goodies on www.startribune.com/wild for columns, game story coverage, notebooks, quotes, stats galore.
 
The big thing now? The Blackhawks will ramp up their game Tuesday. The Wild has to do the same.
 
“We have to continue doing this,” Yeo said. “We have to have an effect on their defensemen. We have to get pucks in behind them and we have to make sure we’re arriving physically. I thought we stepped that part of our game tonight and will need to do even more of that.
 
Some Hawks quotes
Toews
They just took it to another level and we have to be ready for the next one

We have to get the net more, get more shots, get more obstruction in there.

Corey was amazing, he's been good all year, obviously we have to look at that and take it to the next level like he did today.

We should have expected that from the start.  Just because we won two at home doesn't mean they are going to throw the series.  We need to take the game for 60 minutes.  They did, and we have to come back and do that.

They got some good players and they're a hard-working team, but when we focus on what we have to do, bring that intensity that you have to bring in the playoffs ... we didn't make them worry enough about what we had to do tonight.

Keith
At the end of the day, they deserved to win the game, they were a little quicker than us tonight, and our strength is using our speed and our skill, and we didn't use our speed enough tonight. Jumping up in the play, making plays, we just didn't use our speed enough.

I liked our start, first seven eight minutes was pretty good, they were physical, yeah, we had some big hits too.  We know we can be better in the physical aspect, but we want to use our speed.

When we tied it late like that, we're feeling good, we put good pressure on them the last seven eight minutes, and we got that goal, then you go into overtime, anything can happen.

Crawford
Quick shot off, thought I had it covered, but he got it short side there.

Really loud in here, obviously they feed off that. They had momentum, but we were able to settle down and not get riled up by all that.

As a goalie, you just want to give your team a chance to win, would have been nice there to win in overtime, but we just got to look ahead to the next one.

We were really positive throughout the whole game, not just when we tied it.  We knew they were going to come out and run around, but we stayed calm.

Tough to take right now.
 
Talk to you after Monday’s practice

Wild's Mike Yeo wants more hatred, physicality today against the Blackhawks

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: May 5, 2013 - 12:10 PM


 

Josh Harding will start for the Wild in Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks at 2 p.m. (NBC, KFAN) at the X.
 
I am hearing Stephane Veilleux will play for the Wild in place of Zenon Konopka. Originally, I heard Mike Rupp would be out for Jake Dowell, but that doesn’t appear to be the case now. Coach Mike Yeo didn’t want to discuss the lineup.
 
I’ll update blog if anything changes in warmups.
 
Yeo expects a good, intense game: “Both teams understand the importance of this game. Clearly we’re going to be a desperate team today. This is a very significant game for us.”
 
On why the lack of hate and hostility in this series compared to others, Yeo said, “We have a lot of guys that they’re getting their first taste of playoff hockey and some guys that haven’t been a part of it for awhile. There’s no question that I really believe that to be successful, there has to be a level of hatred for the team that you’re playing against. It shouldn’t be hard for us. They’re trying to take away something from us.”
 
On what he would want a guy like Veilleux to bring and the fourth line to bring, Yeo pointed out that No. 1 he doesn’t want the fourth line to be scored upon. That’s happened twice in Games 1 and 2, including the overtime winner in Game 1.
 
“One thing in particular that we haven’t done very well is be physical on key guys, and especially on their defensemen,” Yeo said. “You look back at the game and we have opportunities to finish checks on a guy like [Duncan] Keith and we’re not taking those opportunities. We have to understand it’s more than just that play. It’s about investing in the series and making sure that every time they’re going to touch a puck that they know that you’re coming.”
 
 

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