The Minnesota Wild has taken their fans on a wild and emotional Roller Coaster in the first two series of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The wild’s second round series is playing out in similar fashion to the first round series against the Colorado Avalanche, except the officials aren’t determining the outcome of a game this time around. OK, that’s not fair but I can’t let game five of the first round series alone.
Like the Colorado series, the Wild lost the first two games, then won the next two games at home and lost game five in Colorado. The Wild would end up winning the series. The Wild won all their home games in the first round as they have done against the Chicago Blackhawks in this second round series.
The Emotional Toll is Great
I’m sure many Wild fans are like me. While we’re an excited bunch, we feel like we’ve been put through the ringer at times. When our team wins, like they did in game seven in Colorado, the highs are amazing. We’re still emotionally spent but we can take it because our team from the wonderful State of Hockey won the game.
When our team loses like they did last night, the lows are brutally low. These games have started and ended late which makes getting up the next morning particularly hard, especially when the team has lost a close game.
Game five in Chicago was a close game that went down to the wire. The Wild continued their physical dominance of the Blackhawks by playing a more physical game five, outhitting Chicago 48-31. It’s been great to see the Wild play a physical game and win in that department.
Cracking Corey Crawford Will be the Key to Continued Success
In games three and four in St. Paul, the Wild were able to score goals. That’s something the Wild have had a difficult time doing all season and in some games during the playoffs. The Wild are likely to find the back of the net at home but what about in Chicago?
As far as goal output is concerned the Wild have struggled in Chicago, scoring only four goals through three games in the Windy City. It’s not like the Wild haven’t had their chances or have been greatly outplayed.
The Wild has had many chances but have been robbed by Corey Crawford who is a different goalie in Chicago. In game five, Crawford made some huge saves, some of them in the waning minutes of the game. Crawford was the best player on the ice on Sunday night and the reason why Chicago is heading back to the Xcel Energy Center up three games to two with a chance to eliminate Minnesota from the playoffs on Tuesday night.
The Blackhawks have also got the bounces at home. The bouncing and rolling puck seems to find Chicago goal scorers at the right time and just in the right places in front of the net.
Chicago Will be Tough to Beat at Home
Chicago is an experienced team. They have won two Stanley Cups in recent years and they are the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Hawks are a talented group and if the Wild are able to beat the Blackhawks in St. Paul on Tuesday night; the odds are stacked against them winning game seven in Chicago.
The Wild did pull of the upset against Colorado in Colorado in game seven but pulling the upset against the Chicago Blackhawks is entirely a different matter. Colorado was inexperienced and that allowed Minnesota to pull off one of the greatest victories in the team’s history.
As mentioned above, Chicago has the experience of winning Stanley Cups. The nucleus of last year’s championship team is basically intact. This is a team that has been through the ups and downs of grueling playoff series. In the past they have had their backs to the wall before but they find a way to win.
If the Wild can’t find a way to shut down Chicago’s snipers on the road, we will not only be heartbroken but will also be sick to our stomachs after listening to Chicago’s annoying goal celebrations.
Shut that Chelsea Dagger Up
What are the goal celebrations that make me sick to my stomach? It’s listening to Chelsea Dagger that makes me feel like I have a hangover. I usually love Chicago’s goal song; Chelsea Dagger is an infectious song and it definitely adds some atmosphere for the home crowd. In this series, hearing that song is making me sick and irritated.
I sure hope that the Wild can figure out a way to win game seven in Chicago (assuming they win game six on Tuesday night) and shut that song up for rest of this season.
The Wild have taken us on a ride. It’s been a great postseason for the team and while I don’t want to sound as if this is my premature season wrap-up, I do feel like the Wild have an uphill battle ahead of them.
That doesn’t mean that it’s a forgone conclusion that this team will bow out in six or seven games but the Wild will have to make the most of their chances and opportunities. They will have to be just as opportunistic in Chicago as they are at the Xcel Energy Center.
The ride we’ve been on will get a whole lot crazier in the next few days. Are you ready for the ride?
Anthony Bloch (AKA Sportmentary) – is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Sportmentary Online Sports Talk.
In addition to running his blog, Anthony writes a weekly column for Last Word on Sports and writes about the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.