Saturday, December 10, 2022

John Shipley: The Wilds Were Right, and Now We’ve Got Ourselves a Series


While fans fretted and the media announced déj vu, the Minnesota Wild promised Monday’s Game 1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, but the Matrix had a glitch, a hiccup that would be fixed by the universe.

Came right out and without saying it, Wilde spent the better part of 48 hours telling reporters — and, so, as anyone else took note — that they’re too good to get out of the arena again like they were at 4. . 0 loss on Monday.

Dean Evans sent nearly the same team to the ice for Game 2 on Wednesday, including Marc-Andre Fleury, who scored four goals in 31 shots on Monday. By the end of the game, a sold out crowd of 19,376 were chanting the goaltender’s name as time ran out in a 6-2 win at the Xcel Energy Center.

Evans was right, his players were right, and it took him the final 10 minutes of the first period to balance his best-of-seven, first-round series against his arch nemesis, who was 13-1-1 from Minnesota in the last 15 meetings. against. In fact, Wilde did almost everything he said would send the series to St. Louis for Game 3 on Friday at 1-1.

To paraphrase HI McDunnough, “What are you kidding? We’ve got a series here.”

The Wilds had a plan, which on Monday boiled down to doing everything they failed to do: crash the net, clear the puck on the defense, cash in on the power play, and destroy St. Louis’ second-ranked power play. Keep away from ice. On everything but that last part, Minnesota earned an A.

It appeared early that St. Louis would start from where it left off on Monday. The Wilds appeared to be temporarily squeezing their sticks, while the Blues confidently broke passes and played at Wild’s end. Minnesota didn’t have a shot on goal until about 10 minutes after the clock stopped, but they made it count.

Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzo was ready to start a breakout from his right circle when his stick broke on the attempt. This gave Jordan Greenway enough time to reverse course and track down the puck. He sent it to a Joel Ericsson one in circles, who zipped it into a near corner before switching sides to Ville Husso, and suddenly it was 1-0 wild.

Whether it was the shock of changing the course of the game in the blink of an eye or just the power to score first, the entire tenure of the game changed. Minnesota went on the attack and didn’t finish until they made a 3-0 lead at first half after overwhelming Husso, who was the first cent to earn a shutout in his post-season debut on Monday. Lewis had become a goaltender, and was cashing in. Before this two power plays.

Frédéric Goudreau blasted a rebound into the net to score 2–0, then a goal was credited to Kirill Kaprizov when his shot from the post leapt over the crease and was pushed over the goal line by a scramble Huso. After going 0 for 6 with a one-man advantage on Monday, it looked like the St. Louis cages were spitting nickels.

Ericsson Eck made it 4-0 when he stole the puck from Calle Rosen at the foot of the crease, skated to the right corner and spun Tic-Tac-Toe past Husso at 0:51.

Inevitably, Wild slowed down after that and started chasing the Blues. The result was four St. Louis power plays in the second period. The kill was not Minnesota’s best-looking unit during the regular season or on Monday, when the Blues scored two power-play goals and added just seconds after the clock ticked on another wild kill.

Called for 10 penalties on Monday, Wilde was better about staying out of the box on Wednesday, but still not enough if they plan to win a first-round series for the first time since 2017 and it almost cost them. has done

In their fifth power play of the night, the Blues almost made it a goalless game, with more than 15 minutes left in the third period when Vladimir Tarasenko took a wicked slap shot over the half-open net and hit the far post. Instead of giving the goalkeeper a chance to pinch, Wilde pushed the game out of reach.

Kaprizov ended a two-on-one breakout with Matt Zucarello with 11:47. Ericsson appeared to complete the first postseason hat-trick in franchise history with a shot from the center of the circles at 7:56, but after a video review officials declared that Wild was offside. Instead, it was Kaprizov who made franchise history with a blank netter at 7:08, his third goal of the night.

It was that kind of night for the wild. They were right, the skeptics – cough, cough! – Were wrong.

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