Game 4, Wild vs. St. Louis Blues, tonight at 8:30, Xcel Energy Center.
So, it’s hurry up and wait time for the late start.
I’ll be doing a live podcast today with Jim Souhan at the Liffey in St. Paul, so come on down or listen at souhanunfiltered.com.
I'll be on NHL Network's Arena cam live at 5:20 p.m.
I’ll be on KFAN at 5:55 p.m. and Fox Sports North during the pregame show and first intermission.
Good morning from the press room, where I’ll be hunkered down for most of the day except for my run over to the Liffey and to Starbucks, of course.
If you didn’t see today’s Star Tribune coverage, please head over to www.startribune.com/wild.
But here is a fun read on Matt Dumba through the eyes of his parents.
And here’s a column by Chip Scoggins on the Wild having a different kind of toughness that has made it successful thus far in this series.
Also, over at the Wild Star Tribune page, Rachel Blount’s story on what the Blues plan for tonight, the Wild-Blues notebook leading with, of course, Steve Ott hopefully for the last time and a column by Patrick Reusse.
Lots of queries about the Game 5 time Friday. My guess is it is dependent on tonight’s Canadiens-Senators game. If the Habs sweep, maybe Wild-Blues get a 7 p.m. time. If Sens force Game 5, that too would be Friday, so more than likely the Wild-Blues and their fans will have to guzzle coffee again for an 8:30 start.
Poor Central time zone teams and their fans and their beat writers. I found it humorous hearing the whining coming out of Pittsburgh for its 8:25 ET start the other night because of the draft lottery. Hey, welcome to the almost nightly playoff life of the Wild, Blues, Blackhawks, Jets and last year Avs and their fans and writers.
Can’t imagine the papers in Chicago and Nashville even had a final score today from last night’s 1:16 a.m. final.
But I digress.
Coach Mike Yeo isn’t watching the other series.
“I look at the scores, but I’m paying no attention to the other games whatsoever,” he said. “I’m probably 90 percent focused on my team and 10 percent on St. Louis, so there’s not a lot of room for anyone else out there. Obviously, it’s good hockey, the playoffs are exciting. Sometimes you have a game on when you’re eating dinner or whatever but for the most part, it’s all about trying to get ready for the next match.”
The Wild plans to release some tickets this afternoon. The team isn’t giving a time, so mosey on down to the box office or ticketmaster.com.
If you can’t get in the door and want to road trip in St. Louis, there are a TON of Game 5 tickets available at quality prices (even below face value) for Friday’s game. Go to this link.
Same Wild lineup tonight.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Blues respond tonight.
New lines at the morning skate from Ken Hitchcock, reuniting lines and pairs from earlier this season (I caution, Hitch warned us yesterday to bring an eraser, so we'll see if this was Hitch tossing a cloak and dagger at the Wild):
Marcel Goc, whom I thought was miscast on that mayhem line anyway, wasn’t on a line, so Parise's buddy Porter seems to draw in.
"It got blown up there at the end because of the two significant injuries," Hitchcock said of the lines. "Then when we came back, Backes had good chemistry going with what they had. Then we just slipped Steen and Tarasenko in with Lehtera and they obviously played very well in the last game and have played pretty well, but ... these are the three lines that have been together the most during the year. We want to make them familiar with each other. We know it's going to be a hard game and there's great chemistry; there has been all year, especially with the first two lines and we want to stay with that."
No Robert Bortuzzo again. He may be secretly hurt. I thought he was good and punishing against the Wild in the regular-season finale.
"We've reached a stage with our own team where we've just got to expect a little bit more from guys, put them in positions to succeed, put them with the guys they've spent most of the year with," Hitchcock said. "Unfortunately, Shatty was out for a long, long time so things kind of got blown up on the back-end also. But they had great chemistry when they were together until he got hurt and we'll go back to it."
Of course, Jake Allen in net.
The Blues have lost nine consecutive road games in the playoffs since 2012, having been outscored 28-11. They are 3-17 on the road in the playoffs since 2003, having been outscored 55-31.
The Wild is 6-1 at home in the playoffs in 2014 and the one game this postseason.
Via Elias Sports Bureau, teams that go up 3-1 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series hold an all-time series record of 249-27 (90.2%).
“We’re approaching the game the same way,” Yeo said. “We don’t go into the game saying, ‘Oh, it’s nice we got a 2-1 lead.’ And we didn’t go in last game saying, ‘Oh no, we lost the last game.’ It’s just about the next one. That’s our approach within the game, too. If you have a good shift, how do you bounce back from the last one or how do you come back and make sure you maintain it. If you have a bad shift, what do you do when you step over the boards to try to correct it and get things going back in your direction. Likewise, that will be our same approach tonight.
“We come in with no kind of assumptions of how the game’s going to play out, no kind of thoughts in terms of ‘Oh, if we win this is what it means. If we lose, that’s what it means.’ We put all of our thoughts and focus into the idea that we have to play the game a certain way. We have to bring certain things into the game tonight. If you do that, you give yourself a better chance.”