Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times,
What is it about the Hawks that makes them so resilient in close games? “Number one, it’s skill,” Yeo said. “And it’s the ability to finish on opportunities. You can chalk it up to a bounce or whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day, you give them an opportunity and they can capitalize on it.
Yeo still seems to think his team controls its fate against a team that wills itself to victory almost out of habit. “When it comes down to it, it’s a matter of us getting better,” Yeo said, “just being a little more determined in certain situations and limiting a few more of those mistakes that they can capitalize on.”
As Blues coach Ken Hitchcock observed last year against the Hawks, it might not be that simple. “You’re trying to beat their resolve,” Hitchcock said. “You’re not trying to beat their skill. Everybody’s got skill. And it is one hell of a challenge.”
It remains to be seen if the Wild are up to that challenge.
“They’ve won two Cups, so they know what they can do,” Wild defenseman Marco Scandella said of the Hawks. “They have a good team. We just have to bring a lot of speed. We’ve got to be faster next game. It’s definitely one thing we’re going to bring next game that’s going to have an effect.”
Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. The Hawks are like a high-wire act working without a net in the playoffs — always at risk of a calamitous fall. In 24 of their last 27 playoff victories, they’ve had no more than a one-goal lead in the third period, including 19 times when they’ve been tied or were losing. In Game 1 against the Wild, they lost a three-goal lead in 8:09 and didn’t flinch.
from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,
The Wild held one obvious and one possible advantage entering the second-round playoff series with the Blackhawks.
The obvious advantage: Devan Dubnyk had played like one of the top three goalies in the NHL for four months, while the Blackhawks had benched Corey Crawford before reinstating him.
The possible advantage: The Wild’s defensive system has thrived since Dubnyk’s arrival.
The latter betrayed the Wild in the first period, and the former betrayed the team when it mattered most.
The Wild’s usually-reliable defense handed Chicago three goals in the first period, and Dubnyk whiffed on a long shot in the last minute of the second. The Wild lost 4-3 instead of finishing what might have become the most remarkable comeback in franchise history.
“I just have to work harder at the beginning of that play,” Dubnyk said. “I have to get down and move to where I can see the puck the whole way.
“I didn’t see it until it was six or eight feet out, and I put my glove where I thought it was going, and I missed it. Simple as that.”
Game highlights below...
“I feel like I’m a lucky guy but it’s not just me, it’s my entire staff. I’m lucky because I’m well-surrounded by my staff. Our leadership group is outstanding, but we’ve got a bunch of guys and I consider them winners. They’re willing to do the things, the little things, things that go unnoticed, but they’re willing to do those things to win hockey games. There’s a lot of pride in that room.”
-Mike Yeo, head coach of the Minnesota Wild. Joe McDonald of ESPN has much more on Yeo.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Patrick Kane knows it’s coming, but he still gets a chuckle every time Zach Parise skates up to him before a faceoff and says, “What’s up, Darryl?”
“He spilled the beans?” Parise laughed.
Parise’s greeting is an inside joke about the skills coach he shares with Kane. It’s just one of those funny things that link two of the NHL’s best American forwards who, frankly, have little in common yet will clash for a third consecutive year in the postseason starting Friday when the Wild takes on the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
“I could be here all day talking about their differences. I don’t know if they have a whole lot of similarities other than their skill and ability to score goals and make plays,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said about Kane and Parise, the Wild’s top scorer whom Toews knows well because of their similar path to the NHL by way of Shattuck St. Mary’s and the University of North Dakota.
“Kaner’s a little more laid back and goes with the flow. Zach’s the go-getter and task-oriented, the what-can-I-do-next type of guy.”
Off the ice, Parise and Kane have different personalities. On the ice, they have completely different styles.
from Joe McDonald of ESPN,
It was only fitting for Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" to be blaring from the sound system in the Minnesota Wild locker room Sunday evening.
The Wild had just eliminated the St. Louis Blues with a 4-1 win in Game 6 of their Western Conference first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
"It's a great accomplishment what we just did ... and we're not done," said Wild coach Mike Yeo.
Standing right below one of the speakers was Wild assistant captain Zach Parise, who scored a pair of goals, including a short-handed tally. It's been an emotional season for him and his teammates.
Now, it's only going to get more intense.
Minnesota will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round, the third consecutive postseason the teams have met, with the Blackhawks winning the previous two series.
"Don't get me wrong, it's great for us to win and beat a really good St. Louis team, and we should enjoy it for a couple of days and we'll be looking forward to our series against Chicago," Parise said. "That's a team that's knocked us out the last couple of years, so we've got to be ready for them."
The Minnesota Wild advance to round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs and will play the Chicago Blackhawks after defeating the St. Louis Blues 4-1 today and winning the series 4-2.
What a year for the Wild, Mike Yeo deserves much credit as well as the players.
As for the Blues, probably a huge disappointment for their fanbase, another year of not coming close to expectations.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Let’s get this out of the way up front: I’m not counting the Blues out. The Note is certainly up against it, trailing the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. The Blues must win Sunday’s Game 6 to haul the series back to St. Louis for a final showdown.
I don’t rule out a win in St. Paul. Since the calendar flipped to 2015 the Blues have played their best hockey on the road, revving up for an impressive 16-4-3 record that includes Games 3 and 4 of this series.
We’ll see how the Blues will choose to confront their potential demise in Game 6. Can they win two consecutive games, survive and advance to a spot in the second round?
I’m highly skeptical, because this team is so fragile.
I really believed that would change after the Blues’ emphatic statement in their 6-1 victory in Game 4. Refusing to slide into a 3-1 series deficit, a skittish team that had been so easily dismissed in three previous Stanley Cup tournaments finally put up a fight and trounced the Wild.
But just when you thought it was safe to believe the Blues would show up and doggedly protect their home-ice advantage in Game 5, they had another letdown.
from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
There they go again, your St. Louis Blues, the most appropriately named franchise in professional sports. I can’t figure them out. Can you? Why do they insist on giving us the blues? They don’t need a better coach or game plan; they need to go sit on Dr. Phil’s couch. Maybe he can holler at them.
With a wonderful chance to take a crucial 3-2 series lead over the Minnesota Wild at home on Friday night, the Blues scored early and then skidded on their own flop sweat, losing 4-1 before a full house of oh-no disbelievers at Scottrade Center.
Instead of returning to the Twin Cities with an opportunity to put the Wild down and advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blues will seek to avoid elimination from the tournament for a 47th consecutive season.
With the galloping Wild up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, perhaps this will motivate the Blues to play their best hockey again. For some reason, the Blues require desperation for adrenaline, and their wake-up call is the sound of a crises. The Blues absolutely refuse to make it easy for themselves.
And of course it makes no sense. By now, any attempt to psychoanalyze the Blues will result in even more confusion and frustration.
I think there’s still pressure on that team over there. I think that the way things have gone for them the last few years, we know the word redemption is coming into play for them, and obviously it’s a very motivated group over there. I do think that they think that they’re much better than us and it's our job to prove that we’re up at that level. So we’ve got an opportunity tomorrow to be a good test, but we’re excited about it.
-Mike Yeo, head coach of the Minnesota Wild. More from Yeo and some Wild players from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
In a league where even the best teams get blown out once in awhile, the Wild was competitive nightly for three consecutive months.
Tonight, not at all, from the goaltender on out. Parise said the Wild got cocky, started to think they were unbeatable after such a quality Game 3 win, and that's precisely what Mike Yeo worked the past few days to caution against. It's why he said the Wild didn't dominate and had to move on from the win, etc., and it's probably why Ken Hitchcock spent the past few days pumping the Wild's tires incessantly.
But after this one, the Blues coach took a new strategy as his team regained home ice and turned this 2-2 series into a best-of-three with Game 5 in St. Louis on Friday night at 8:30.
“We knew how we were going to play yesterday,” Hitchcock said covertly.
Why did you think that? “It's between us and the players,” Hitchcock said.
“It looks like we've joined the tournament now and we're dialed in,” Hitchcock said. “We've got home-ice back, we're dialed into our game, we're going to be hard to play against when we're dialed in this. Not fun to play against.”
Game highlights are below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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