In a meeting with the media at Signature Flight Support before boarding the Wild’s charter to Dallas, coach John Torchetti appeared to back off some of his comments regarding Ales Hemsky’s power-play goal in the Stars’ 3-2 victory at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday.
The goal came at 9:11 of the second period, just four-plus minutes after the hard-working Wild had taken a 1-0 lead on Jason Pominville’s goal. The goal, which came near the end of Matt Dumba's delay of game penalty, stopped the Wild’s momentum, at least for a while. The theme after the game was Torchetti not liking the fact the Wild didn’t commit to getting into Hemsky’s shooting lane, with the guilty party being defenseman Ryan Suter. Torchetti stressed that the shot had to be blocked. Instead, the shot got past a screened Devan Dubnyk.
Thursday it was a little different story. Torchetti said it was a systemic breakdown on the penalty kill, the result of several players not doing the right thing. He did not name names.
“It’s A, B, C, D, E,’’ Torchetti said. “There’s no names to it. Just positions of the players.’’ Torchetti said the goal mirrored Jason Spezza’s goal in Game 1, when Spezza skated down the right side, faked the slap shot, then scored with a deadly wrist shot.
“It’s the execution of it, the assignments and that,” Torcheti said. “We go over it, make our adjustments. Same with the power play, same thing. We have A, B, C, D, E. We have to do a better job with those assignments.’’
The Wild only gave the Stars two power plays Wednesday. Unfortunately Dallas scored on both of them, in each instance tying the game.
Reminded that a lot was made of Suter not blocking that shot by Hemsky, Torchetti wouldn’t bite. “I don’t know where that comes from,’’ he said. “It’s just A, B, C, D, E. It’s just the execution of the play.’’
Game 5 of the series, led 3-1 by Dallas, is Friday night in Texas.
Of course, most of the talk was about how, down three games to on in this best-of-seven series, the Wild was going to stave off elimination.
“Hey, I like the way we’re playing,” Torchetti said. “We just have to find a way to get back home. That’s the bottom line. We have to find a way to get back home. As a coach, we deserve a chance to get back home. We need to keep playing the same way, have the same mindset, keep playing for each other, just push each other a little more. Because I know there is another level this team can get.’’
How is he so sure? “Oh, you can see it,’’ Torchetti said. “I don’t know the exact shot count, but we held them to what, 22 shots last night? And what was it the game before, 17? Then in their building, Game 2, 25? (Actually 28). That’s pretty good. I think our team is doing a good job defensively, structure-wise, competing. I think we’ve done a good job. We just have to keep improving. Again, you have to win the game. We’re in the results business, you have to win the game.’’
Torchetti seemed as unhappy with his team’s execution late in the game, on the power play, with a 6-on-4 advantage with Dubnyk pulled as he was with the penalty kill.
But Torchetti is convinced his players are really for the challenge Friday. “I came in after the game and told ‘em, ‘Hey, you worked really hard.’ ‘’
Other notes from today's access ...
--It does not appear Torchetti is considering changes to the lineup. When asked a couple times about whether Ryan Carter might see some action, Torchetti had the same answer: “I like the team the way it’s playing,’’ he said.
--Torchetti said the line of Zac Dalpe, Kurtis Gabriel and Chris Porter was playing well and would continue to see action in Dallas. “Yeah, I think they’ve done a great job. I think everyone’s done a great job. I mean if we take away the two power play goals, maybe we’re going home 2-1 off that win last night. But it just didn’t happen that way.’’
--Meanwhile, the word from the Stars is that center Tyler Seguin will miss a third straight game. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said today that Seguin is continuing his rehab and won’t play. Seguin missed the series opener, played in Game 2, then missed the past two games. This after he missed the final stretch of the regular season with an Achilles' tendon injury.
Here are some selected quotes from today’s player access:
Chris Porter on whether having to return to Dallas changes the team’s confidence:
“I don’t think so. I think that’s been our approach since game one. We all know Dallas is a (good) team, good offensively. Unfortunately last night we gave up two power-play goals, but I think we did a lot of good things since Game 2. We got them on their heels five-on-five; we’ve just got to stay out of the box. I like the way we’re playing. I think we’re doing all the right things. We’ve just got to convert on our power play and stay five-on-five as much as we can.”
Porter on whether the team is uptight: “No, I don’t think so. I think the guys that have played here before have been in this situation obviously before, and the veteran leadership obviously is great. You have guys who have won a Stanley Cup. So, no, I don’t think there’s any added pressure, no. I think we’ve got to go out and play the way we are. Game 1 wasn’t the way we wanted it, but 2, 3, 4, I think five-on-five was great. We’ve just got to continue to do that.”
Dubnyk on the team’s mindset: “We should feel good. Last game was disappointing. We played well, and had a good opportunity to tie the series. We’re going to have to win a game in their building at some point anyway, so it’s going to have to be tomorrow. If we put our game together that we had on home ice, we’ll give ourselves a real good chance. Obviously we feel good about coming back here, so that’s the focus right now.’’
Dubnyk on why the Wild is a team that responds with its back against the wall: “I’m not sure; that’s a tough question. When we really focus, and get to our game, and playing fast, we’ve shown that we’re extremely difficult to play against. When you’re in a do-or-die type situation, everybody prepares and focuses, and that’ the situation that we’re in right now. We’re going to need to bring that tomorrow night.’’
Dubnyk on not thinking about this being an elimination game: “You just don’t think about it. You understand that’s the situation, but you just use it to focus. That’s sports; that’s hockey. These are situations that you face in playoffs, and nobody wants to go home. This is the best time of year, and we started the series a little slow, but now we’re getting the feeling that we’re playing how we’re capable of, and we feel like we can win, and that’s fun. Nobody wants to go home, so you just have to use it as motivation to make sure that you give the best game possible, and see what happens.’’