For casual observers, the Minnesota Wild’s checklist might boil down to “stopping Nathan MacKinnon.” After falling behind 2-0 in their first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild pointed to a broader goal: to find a way to slow down the Avalanche.
Both Norris-level defenseman Ryan Suter and Wild head coach Mike Yeo preached the need for Minnesota to avoid losing out on the speed and transition battle.
This is just a shot in the dark, but a change of locale might just help the Wild alleviate their problems.
One might assume that the high elevation in Colorado may benefit the Avalanche’s speedy young scorers – MacKinnon included – that much more. The series shifts to Minnesota in Game 3 and 4, so the Wild get the last change and the atmosphere they’re accustomed to.
That’s not to say it will all be easy. MacKinnon and the rest of Colorado’s strong scorers (Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny have been fantastic, too) aren’t likely to fall off the map altogether in Minnesota. Maybe most notably, the Avalanche have been fantastic on the road; they generated identical home and away records of 26-11-4 this season.
Still, a change of venue might be a big positive for a Wild team likely grasping for optimism (and gasping for air).