The first two games are over. Minnesota won a game and St. Louis won a game, and now the tied series moves back to St. Paul, Minnesota, where the Wild will need the help of home ice advantage to dominate the Blues.
Home is where the heart is
In sports, playing at home is always said to be a big advantage for the home team. The passionate fans, the energy and the familiarity just seems to help the home team play well. This theory holds true for the Minnesota Wild, who completed the 2014-15 regular season with a 22-13-6 home record.
The Xcel Energy Center, home of the Wild, is known for being one of the best arenas in the NHL, and the energy in that building is always incredible. The playoffs only amplify that vibrant atmosphere. With the series between the Wild and the Blues tied at one game a piece, both the team and the fans have to realize how important these next two games in Minnesota are.
The Wild has, statistically speaking, had much better luck recently in the playoffs when playing at home. Last year, the team went 5-1 against the Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks before the latter of those two teams knocked them out in the second round.
#mnwild were 5-1 in St. Paul last year in the playoffs. Need more of that this year.
— Nate Bauer (@NateBauer) April 18, 2015
Statistics are also in favor of Minnesota when looking at the series record against the Blues. The Wild have a 15-10-2 record against St. Louis when playing at the X, and they beat the Blues in two of the three games the teams played in Minnesota. The third game was an overtime loss, which is still impressive considering how good St. Louis was all year.
On the road
Although home ice advantage could definitely come into play over the next two games, Minnesota still has to play well on the road, which they’ve proved is more than possible.
The Wild’s road record this season was actually more impressive than its home record at 24-15-2. The team also worked its way to a NHL-record-tying 12-road-game win streak at the end of the season, which was coincidentally ended by St. Louis.
Over the last three days, Minnesota has shown that it is more than capable of winning on the road after beating St. Louis in Game 1, 4-2. Although the Wild dropped Game 2, 4-1, they still escaped St. Louis with at least one victory. That’s a big feat for this team; many people didn’t think these guys would be able to come back to the X with a tied series. Luckily for the Wild, a tied series give it a bit of wiggle room during the next two games.
However, this team shouldn’t let that 1-1 tie get to its head. The Wild has a chance to dominate these next two games at home and really take advantage of playing in front of a home crowd. Just because the Blues can’t finish off the series in either of these games doesn’t mean Minnesota shouldn’t give its all. Home ice advantage can give the Wild a huge edge against the Blues, and the team hopefully will realize that.
The next game between these two teams is Monday night at 7, and it will also be the first time the St. Louis Blues have ever played a playoff game at the Xcel Energy Center. Win or lose, this series is bound to stay exciting.
Alli covers the Minnesota Wild and has been a contributing writer with THW since August 2014. She is currently a journalism and sports management student at the University of Minnesota. For all of your Minnesota Wild news and updates, follow her on twitter: @allibaker23