The Minnesota Wild have the slight upper hand going into Game 4 as they stole the win in demanding fashion in Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues. The Wild did nearly everything they needed to in order to secure the win. Their goaltender Marc-André Fleury was on top of all the shots that came his way and was a big part of their win. They also focused on putting pressure on the Blues’ defense, and it worked.
However, Game 4 will not be that easy especially since they are still on the road. Now, the Blues will be playing a lot tougher. They have one thing, in particular, to fix as they head into Game 4, and there will be a couple of new things added to their list. Thankfully the Wild have everyone healthy as of now, unlike the Blues who lost Torey Krug in Game 3 as well as being without Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy.
Wild Need to Anger the Blues
They need to do exactly what the Blues did to them in Game 1, get under their skin and don’t let up. The Wild were able to do a little of this in Game 3, and it caused the Blues to sit in the penalty box. They’ll need to really push the issue and force them to take penalties and then capitalize on the power play. That hasn’t been their strongest area, but now would be as good a time as any to get on a roll.
On the flip side, the Wild have to take care and control their own penalties. The Blues will be looking to exploit the Wild’s weakness which has been their penalty kill. They’ll need to remember the control they displayed in both Games 2 and 3 and use that to stay away from dumb, unnecessary penalties. In Game 3 the Blues had ramped up the hitting again but the Wild maintained their calm.
The Blues will no doubt be at it again with even bigger hits that’ll force some kind of reaction out of the Wild. They can react back with similar big hits as long as they’re clean and do not result in any kind of penalty back. If there was one thing in the entire series the Wild had to fix, number one would be their penalty kill. They’ve done okay, but they need to be better and they have the chance to be.
Wild’s Extra Efforts
In their last game, the Wild were going all out, they were racing to be the first to the puck, they were diving to block shots, and they were giving it all the extra effort. That effort was one of the defining traits in their recent win. That will be critical in Game 4 as well, they’ll have to continue to beat the Blues in puck races, block those shots, and be on top in every area that they can.
Their top-scoring forwards, Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek, and even Jordan Greenway have all been contributing on the defensive side of things and going the extra mile. During the regular season, those players would contribute defensively every so often but now that it’s the postseason they’ve stepped up their efforts significantly.
Even their defensemen like Jacob Middleton and Jon Merrill who normally play at a top level, have improved their respective games. Both of them have helped stop goals and even switched it up to put up some offensive stats as well with shots on goal and some time on both special-teams units.
Wild Need Kevin Fiala
That leaves possibly the second most important task to get a win in Game 4. Kaprizov, Eriksson Ek, Greenway, and Mats Zuccarello have all gotten on the scoreboard, but they have yet to see Kevin Fiala score a postseason goal so far in 2022. He hasn’t even been able to tally an assist yet. His entire line has been somewhat quiet, despite having a number of chances.
They need Fiala to start scoring goals and get back on the scoring streak he had at the end of the regular season. He went 10 consecutive games with at least a point before having a little trouble in the final three games of the season. That trouble seems to have followed him into the postseason as well, at least the first three games of it. To continue the success the Wild have had the last couple of games, they need everyone helping out, and that includes Fiala. If he can get on the same page as his teammates in terms of scoring, they have a very strong chance of another win.
Wild vs Blues Game 4
Clearly, the Wild would have the upper hand with the most recent win, but they’re still on the road and the Blues will come out strong to try to even up the series. They’ll need Fleury to continue his dominant play, Fiala to step up, and the extra efforts they’ve been getting from nearly everyone in their lineup to get past the Blues again. If they can do all those things, they have a very good chance to get their third straight win in the series.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.