Sunday, May 11, 2014

Road Woes

Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP
A recurring theme for the Minnesota Wild all season, has been their inconsistent play on the road.

During the regular season, Minnesota skated to a 17-17-7 record on the road. That record was the ninth best road record in the Western Conference (heck, Winnipeg had a better road record).

Through 11 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Wild have won one out of six games this postseason. They have cleaned up well at home (5-0 at Xcel Energy Center), but their play away from St. Paul has more to be desired.

Tonight, Minnesota takes the ice at United Center and will play a team that went 27-7-7 at home this year. The first two games in this series saw Minnesota hang around with Chicago for a bit, before getting blown away by the defending champs in the third period. If Minnesota is going to take one from Chicago this series, they will have to carry over their play from home.

When at home, Minnesota has played outstanding defense and has received timely goals. Both were spotty in Chicago for Games One and Two. If the Wild want to take one from the Blackhawks in their own barn, they can not afford to have anything in their game to be spotty. They have to be flawless.

Mike Yeo had the right mentality after the Wild's Game Four victory. Immediately following Game Four, he told his players "We gotta forget about this. Our focus should now be on the next game. We gotta play just as good if we want to win the next one".

Minnesota was not expected to have a prayer in this series against the Blackhawks. Most pundits had the Hawks winning in five, some were kind to give us a sixth game. But the Wild have a chance to take the drivers seat in this series tonight, if they can somehow pull out a win at the United Center tonight. Being in the driver's seat is not a position the Wild have really been in all year (their best hockey has come with their backs against the wall), but at some point you have to take the initiative to go on in the playoffs.

The Hawks are a frustrated bunch after Games Three and Four. If there was a game where Chicago was set to be upset at home, this would be the one. Its ripe for the taking.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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