Minnesota Wild fans sang along to Journey’s popular rock anthem ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ at the Xcel Energy Center at points during Games 3 and 4 of the playoff series against Dallas.
Well, unbelievable or not, the Wild, who were shutout on Tuesday, have their backs against the wall in a first-round series.
And it’s hard to believe that the are Wild going to adjust the way they have played through the first five games of this series.
You can’t expect a team that has a ‘grit first’ approach and takes pride in its physical style, to all of a sudden pull back for a must-win Game 6 on Friday.
So what then?
Play smarter? Hard to know what is going to be called a penalty, not only in the Wild-Stars matchup but any of the other NHL playoff series.
So, then be better on the penalty kill? That hasn’t changed from last year when the St. Louis Blues dominated special teams play in a six-game win over the Wild.
In fact, this playoff series seems like deja vu from last year against the Blues.
Minnesota held a 2-1 series lead, which they lost and then were dominated in Game 5.
Game 6? That wasn’t pretty either.
Will things change Friday night, or will it be another first-round flameout for the Wild with more questions about the team than answers.
But, one can ask what needs to change now? One answer is obvious
“Our power play’s got to get better and our penalty kill is giving up too many,” Wild coach Dean Evason said during a media availability session on Thursday. “We’re well aware of it (as coaches), players are well aware of it. Would we like to play 5-on-5? Sure. But that’s not reality. We’re going to get penalties, (Dallas) is going to get penalties.
“We’ve got to score on the power play. We’ve talked about it a lot,” Evason said. “We did a lot of video sessions and worked on it here (Thursday). It’s ready to go for (Game 6).”
Dallas enters Friday night with all the momentum. The hope is a return to the Xcel Energy Center and playing in front of the home crowd will help the Wild reverse that.
“Our fans have been fantastic even if (the game) has been late or early (in the day),” Evason said. “For a long time now it’s been absolutely fantastic, The energy level will be great in the crowd, the energy level will be great in the (Wild’s) room and the energy will be great on the ice.”
Let’s hope so.
Wild fans have been down this road before. Too many times.
At the start of the series I predicted Wild in 6.
I have had some doubts at times over the last week or so, but not enough to completely shake my faith in the Wild.
Updated prediction: Wild in 7.
Believe that or not.