The Wild are in a position that most people wouldn’t have believed five days ago. After failing to score more than a goal for the third time in this series, they are down three games to the Blues. Head coach Bruce Boudreau doesn’t believe the series is over, but the odds are stacked against them. Especially with how this series has played out so far.
Game 3 was the spitting image of Game 1. The Wild outshot and out-chanced the Blues, dictating play throughout the majority of the game. The Wild had over 75 shot attempts on Monday to the Blues’ 47 attempts, but behind a strong blue line and goaltender Jake Allen, the Wild just couldn’t find the back of the net.
Ryan Suter: “We’re not playing bad. We just can’t score. If we can find a way to score a goal (i.e. a lead), it’s a different game.” #mnwild
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) April 16, 2017
Missed Opportunities Prove Costly
If only it was as simple as finding ‘a way to score a goal.’ The Wild have put 117 shots on net through three games, but have only managed three goals. They have had several quality chances in the series. Eric Staal and Jason Zucker had scoring chances on wrap-arounds in Game 3, but neither buried the puck. Martin Hanzal had a chance to cash in with an open net but pushed the puck straight into the side of the post. The Wild hit the post a couple of times in Games 2 and 3.
You have to give credit to Allen and the Blues’ defensemen. Allen has not allowed many second opportunities in this series and the Blues have taken away space in the neutral zone which has forced the Wild to dump and chase, rather than skate through the neutral zone with speed.
Achieving the Impossible
The Wild are in a tough predicament. There have been over 180 different times when a playoff team trailed three games to none in a series. How many times has a team come back to win the series? Only four times. Boudreau told Michael Russo of the Star Tribune that he believes a Game 4 win could turn this series around.
“We gotta look at it like it’s a Game 7 on Wednesday and not worry about the series at all,” said Boudreau. “That’s why, during the course of the season, you have goals of one week. It’s short-term goals. It’s one Game 7 on Wednesday. If we play like we played tonight with a few little tweaks, who knows, I think we can be successful.”
This series has been mostly dominated by the Wild, but their inability to score has put them in a tough spot. It’s hard to imagine Allen not putting together a solid performance for the next four games, but anything is possible. The Wild were inches from winning Game 1. They were multiple goal posts away from winning Game 2.
None of these games have been won because of the Blues’ high-caliber offense but rather their goaltending and the Wild’s failure to capitalize on quality scoring chances. If the Wild can find ways to play with more speed, get pucks into the high scoring areas, and finish on the power play, this series could quickly turn in their favor.
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