While the Wild could certainly use a few standout individual performances in Game 5 to stave off elimination, a by-committee approach is what the team feels will give it the best chance to persevere against the Jets Friday in Game 5 at Bell MTS Place after falling behind 3-1 in the first-round, best-of-seven series.
“I think when we’ve been successful, we’ve had the whole team playing well,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’re not a team that can survive with eight players playing good and the rest just being mediocre. We have to have everybody on board. We have to have everybody going and when we have everybody going from the goaltender on out, we’re usually successful.”
The lineup the Wild will utilize to try to force a Game 6 back in Minnesota will be unlike any it’s used so far in the series. Defenseman Ryan Murphy will draw in, as will winger Kyle Rau. These changes were made to try to spark a Wild offense that came up emptyhanded in Game 4, as the Jets blanked the team 2-0.
In 21 games during the regular season, Murphy had two goals and three assists. Rau chipped in an assist in three games with the Wild.
“There's no guy more deserving than him, just based on how hard he works and the mentality he's had all season,” defenseman Nick Seeler said of Rau. “I grew up playing with him, and he's been the same way since he was s squirt. He's a competitor. He loves to compete. I can't say enough good things about him. I'm just excited for him to get this opportunity. I think he's going to do very well.”
The Wild is 11-8 when facing elimination and 4-6 all-time in Game 5s.
"We’ve played a lot of big games this year," center Matt Cullen said. "Obviously this is the biggest, but it’s on each guy right now to bring his best game. When we’ve been in these do-or-die situations throughout the course of the season, we’ve played some pretty solid games and I think we’re a group that will rise to the occasion."
Projected Wild lineup:
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Kyle Rau
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Daniel Winnik
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Nick Seeler-Jared Spurgeon
Ryan Murphy-Nate Prosser
Projected Jets lineup:
Kyle Connor-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers-Paul Stastny-Patrik Laine
Jack Roslovic-Bryan Little-Joel Armia
Andrew Copp-Adam Lowry-Brandon Tanev
Ben Chiarot-Jacob Trouba
Joe Morrow-Dustin Byfuglien
Tucker Pullman-Tyler Myers
Key Wild numbers:
0: Points from wingers Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle in the series.
3: Goals by the Wild on the road in this series.
132: Saves for goalie Devan Dubnyk.
0: Goals for the Wild in the last 81:37.
2: Players making their playoff debut in Game 5 (Murphy and Rau).
Key Jets numbers:
11: Straight wins on home ice.
Feb. 27: The last time the Jets have lost in Winnipeg.
7: Goals at home in this series.
4: Consecutive games in which the Jets have scored first in this series.
2: Goals in Game 4 for center Mark Scheifele.
Latest on the Jets:
Defenseman Tyler Myers said he’ll be back in the lineup for Game 5 after missing Game 4 with a lower-body injury. Myers left Game 3 after colliding with winger Marcus Foligno. “I just remember it being an awkward play,” Myers said. “I haven’t put too much thought into it, trying to focus on tonight and trying to get back to feeling good again these past couple of days. I did that. Trying to get a win here.” With him back in the mix, the Wild said its approach to Game 5 doesn’t change. “He’s a good player,” Boudreau said. “But it doesn’t affect our game plan.”