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).
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: