Good afternoon from the X, where my eyes are heavy from an early-morning flight. I have a couple stories to write, so here’s a quick blog with mostly cut and paste quotes and a big apology for not putting a lot more thought into this blog. I just have a ton of work to do and it’s late.
By the way, I’ll be on Rosen’s Sports Sunday tonight on WCCO around 10:30, on KFAN at 9:55 a.m. Monday, probably on with Barreiro later in the day and I’ll be hosting a live chat on startribune.com/wild at 3 p.m.
Please join and come armed with some good questions.
Taking the cue from its coach following Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss, there was no whining about officiating or bad bounces or anything like that today.
Wild players are focused on playing better in a must-win Game 6 on Monday night (8 p.m. puck drop).
“It would be very easy for us to sit here and say we deserve better, whether that’s in the game or in the series,” coach Mike Yeo said. “But that’s a useless feeling to us right now. For me looking back at last game, a play here or a call here or a bounce here, whatever it is, regardless I feel that we still played a game that allowed a bounce or something like that to be the difference in the game. We dropped back a little bit in our level and we have to make sure we bring it up again [Monday].”
The Wild had a very optional practice today, but the players showed for meetings, video and treatment. For the Avalanche, dynamic center Matt Duchene skated today and is a question mark for Monday. If he plays, coach Patrick Roy said Duchene would start the game on the fourth line.
Yeo felt the Wild “started to believe that we were going really good and we got caught looking a little far down the road and they gave us a bit of a dose of reality last game. That’s a good team. I mean they brought it last game. They raised their level, there’s no question. But I think as their level went up, I think ours went down a little bit. So we’ve got to make sure that we crank it back up.”
What’s he mean? “Just a drop in our urgency level in a lot of areas,” Yeo said. “Whether it’s one on one battles or, it’s a fine line to be in your position or to be close to your position. It’s a fine line between being there and almost being there. So when I see our game, it’s not like we were really far off. There’s just another level to our urgency that wasn’t quite there that we have to make sure we bring.”
Yeo also said, “We didn't play big enough last game. I hope that we're ready to bring it tomorrow.”
On the officiating, obviously, there was the missed offside and some calls and non-calls where the Wild seemed to get the short shrift. I emailed Director of Officiating Steve Walkom and I haven’t heard back from him yet, but this isn’t like other sports where maybe the league issues a statement the next day if mistakes were made.
Yeo on the officiating (only because he was asked): “Yeah, better left alone. I don’t want to dwell on last game. Obviously, there was things that went on in the game last game, but I don’t think it does me any good, I don’t think it does our group any good, to dwell on that, to focus on that. I’m sure we’ll have a little talk with the supervisor in the morning, but to me I’m just ready to move on. I want to play the game [Monday]. I’m excited for the game. And I think our fans are going to really bring it. It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be exciting. It’s the ‘hard’ that makes it great.”
Lost in the shuffle last night were the quality games of Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatley. Brodziak was scratched in Game 3 after a tough Game 1 and 2. Heatley was scratched in Games 1 and 2. Brodziak scored a goal last night, Heatley assisted on two.
Yeo: “Both guys handled things the way that they needed to, and this is what you’re looking for, contributions from guys throughout the lineup. So to see those guys go out and play the way that they did, for sure that’s great. And for me, since Heater has come back into the lineup, every game he’s continually gotten better, and I think that’s a real positive for us. This guy has got experience this time of year, knows the grind, knows what it takes to make sure that you’re prepared, and this is a guy who’s out on the ice right now, making sure that he’s ready to go for tomorrow’s game again. So likewise with Brodzy, I thought that line gave us some real good minutes, and we’ll need them again tomorrow.”
And here’s the laziest move of em all. Here’s Colorado’s quotes today from correspondent Michael Kelly.
(Roy talked with you after Game 4) That’s a talk I needed to have with him. It’s tough when you come back from injuries like that. It was nice to talk to him. He told me he was believing in me. It was good to have that chat for sure.
(were you playing tentative) Yeah, I was a little more tentative for sure with my knee and stuff. At the end of the day it was coming down to competing more and to play with an edge a little more. It’s playoff time and I think I did that last night and it made a big difference in my game.
(your line was better) We skated more, we competed more. In Minny it was tough because we couldn’t generate much offensively. Yesterday it was nice to see our line skate, make some plays and go to the net harder.
(Got some goals on Kuemper) I don’t think we tested him much in Minny. He had it pretty easy. We made life a little harder on him. We have to keep doing that. We’ve got to bring this energy, this confidence we had at home we have to bring to Minnesota tomorrow night. It’s a big challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it.
(can close it out) It’s exciting. At the end of the day that’s the main goal, to beat them four games and we have a chance to do it on the road. We’re going to try to bring the same energy.
(how much has the team grown from last trip to Minny) We’ve learned from those two games in Minny. No one was proud of what happened or felt good after those two games. That’s a feeling we don’t want to live again.
(latest on Duchene) The tough part right now is he hadn’t a chance to have a full practice with us. He had a morning skate yesterday, today it’s more shooting, more for the goalies. Tomorrow he’s going to have another morning skate and we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. He seems to react well to the treatment, he looks good but like I said before we’re going to be patient and tomorrow we’ll see how he feels after the morning skate and we’ll make a decision after that.
(Tanguay) It’s exactly how it was supposed to be. They said four months, he’s doing well but he’s not ready for contact. Same thing with Dutchy, the fact that he hasn’t been in contact sometimes slow down the process.
(tough for Dutchy to jump in at this stage of playoffs) You can’t jump in and play the same way you were before you got hurt. Slowly start on the fourth line, power play and then you’re going to see it, you’re going to smell it he’s ready for more minutes.
(he’ll want to play) On this one it’s not my decision and it’s not his decision. It’s our team doctors’ and trainers. Matt and Scotty will let me know when they think is the right moment. They’re the ones that are going to make the decision.
(up 3-2 factor into your decision) It is. We said all along we’re going to be smart with him. He’s a talented player, he’s a great hockey player. He wants to play. If it’s up to him he’d be in the lineup tomorrow but it’s not the way it works here.
(difference from Game 4 to 5) A lot of things were different. We had a better forecheck and every forcheck we finished our checks. That was very important. We also protected the pucks better offensively, which meant we were better with our one-on-one battles. Defensively we did a good job. We tracked better and positioning were better. Two goals they scored we had broken sticks. I thought we competed well.
(ever want to tell player to go back to bench for a new stick) No. It’s still better if you’re there. I would have loved to have Granlund go to the bench in Game 4 but he blocked two of them with a broken stick. When you get the puck don’t be afraid to ice the puck. Even if you can’t change and you’re tired it’s better having five players with sticks than having one without a stick. We had a couple of chances to ice the puck and we could not doing it.
(Special teams) We were not necessarily happy with our power play in Minny but yesterday I was. I thought it was very positive. I thought we had some threat, some chances. I thought we moved the puck better, we brought the puck to areas where we wanted to be. I think we’re close to getting a goal. Hopefully it’ll be tomorrow in Minny. We’re doing a lot of good things. They scored a power play goal, Suter was the first one, tipped and it went in. Second one, Pominville took a shot, it hit the partition, came back in front of the net, Coyle open net. You look at ours, empty net. Both teams are playing really well shorthanded. Both teams are doing a good job killing penalties. Then I look further in other series. You look at Chicago who has tremendous amount of skills before last game they had only two power play goals. To score goals you need breaks and you need to be in the right place. Yesterday was much better.
(played top forwards a lot early) It was important for us to have the momentum. That’s what we wanted. I thought we had a good start, we had a penalty and they got the momentum back. When that happened you want to get it back. You’re at home.
(Duchene will start on fourth line) If he does play that’s the plan.
(Game 6) I’m not going to guarantee any results but we know how it’s going to be over there. We know how their fans are going to react, we know how they’re going to play, there’s not going to be any surprise. If they beat us they beat us. We’ll be ready for that. We’re going to have to play exactly how we did yesterday.
We scored four on their goalie yesterday. He came in midway in the second period in Game 2, he played really well and then we could not score in Game 3 and it started to get into our head. Now scoring four goals yesterday we started to have better looks and we start to know we can beat this guy, which is very positive going there. It’s a big difference in Game 6.
(Parenteau) I had a good conversation with P.A. after Game 4. Confidence comes with how hard you’re going to work. If you work hard confidence is going to get there. You can go to Wal-Mart and you can’t buy confidence in the business of hockey because they don’t sell confidence at Wal-Mart. If you move your feet, and if he’s moving like he did yesterday, he’s a smart hockey player, he has a high IQ and he’s capable of having an IQ by playing a faster pace. That was a really good game for him. That line was very good yesterday. O’Reilly, McGinn and Parenteau had good puck possession. They had really good chances.
(team’s ability to come back in final minutes) There’s a lot of confidence. We’ve been in a lot of situations where we pulled the goalie and we’re confident we can score there. That gives hope. It reminds me of ’93 when we started going into overtime. You win one game, then you win a second one and a third one and fourth one and fifth one. All of sudden you’re playing the last eight-10 minutes of the third period and all you hope is you get to overtime because you know you’re going to win there. It’s the same thing for us. We knew if we could kill the penalty we would have a good look at some shots and a good chance to score a goal to tie the game. We almost scored in Game 4 and we did in Game 1.
(MacKinnon) What’s impressive capable playing him over 21 minutes or 22 minutes. There’s not too many 18 year olds that you’re capable of putting on the ice that many minutes in a playoff game, especially in crunch time. Earlier in the season I was afraid to put him in the end of periods. Now I want him there. He’s playing so well right now.
(why does this team keep scoring late goals) We’ve always been a resilient team. We have that belief in ourselves we can score goals at key times. When we know that, on the bench there’s no panic. We had good energy, we felt we were going to give us a chance to come back, sure enough we did. Going into OT with that momentum was a big reason we won.
(your line) Our energy was a bit better. We still maintained the right positioning and we worked together a bit better. We’re trying to win games before but couldn’t get anything going. Last night we were more consistent in our system and we got pucks deep and we were consistent on our forecheck. When we can do that that’s when we generate scoring chances.
(Duchene might play) If he is back it’s a huge addition for us. He’s been one of our best players all year and for me he helps create offense playing together on a line. He brings so much to the table it makes it difficult for them.
(confidence for Game 6) I think we have a lot of confidence but we’ve left (Game 5) behind and we’re in preparation mode. It’s not going to get any easier.
(mood on bench when Varly pulled) We’re confident. We’ve always been smart in that time. We know we have two minutes or a minute and a half where we don’t need to force plays. We can stay calm, work the puck on the perimeter and wait for them to get out of position and then we attack. We don’t need to rush. We have that calmness that anyone on the ice can make a good play when it’s needed. We trust each other.
It's still exciting, it was a big goal for the team. It was very exciting to share with the guys, on the ice seeing their faces after we scored that goal. but we want to kind of forget about it and move on for tomorrow night. We definitely need that win.
They played very well against us (in Minny). We need to do a better job of generating offense. we've been a very good road team all year so I don't think we should be discouraged after a couple bad road games. It's going to be a tough task for us. They're going to come out hard and be very desperate. Their season's on the line. For us, we have to have the same mentality.
(Saturday first time outshot them)
That gives us a lot of confidence. We had a slow start again in terms of shots. The first half of the first period I think we had two shots, so we have to generate more early. We found our legs and generated some more opportunities, but we definitely need more than 12 shots like we did (Game 4).
(in position to clinch)
It'll feel a little different tomorrow at the morning skate, maybe a little quieter. It's tough to say. It's business time tomorrow and we have to be ready to go.
we need him. Plain and simple we can't replace a guy like that. he'sone of our best players, our top scorer. It makes a difference every time he plays. If not, hopefully we can win for him and then he'll be ready to go in Round 2.