Jul 14, 2013, 10:05 PM EST
If you were to draw up a list of the “easiest” series from the 2013 postseason, Chicago’s five-game stroll against Minnesota would probably finish close to the top. To make matters worse for the Wild, some might say the team took a step back by shedding salary this summer, yet the Pioneer Press’ Tim Powers believes that they improved in a bigger picture way.
Enter Ballard and Cooke. With luck, they’ll growl and prod and, as a result, motivate. Not when things are going well. Not when the Wild have put together a nice streak. But when things are headed south. Because no team can turn a couple of bad bounces into a four-game losing streak as quickly as the mentally fragile Wild.
(Now imagine a low-budget promo video of Cooke and Ballard dramatically removing their sunglasses.)
One can easily question this concept – especially since hit machine Cal Clutterbuck is out of town – but the two players do bring some snarl to the table.
We all know the story Cooke, as the 34-year-old’s past is so checkered that the common refrain is that he’s a changed man. (Perhaps there’s a small group of Wild fans who want the “old” Cooke, then?)
Ballard, 30, isn’t a pushover either. For those who look past his formerly problematic contract and scratches, Ballard showed that he wasn’t shy to throw his body around. That was especially true when it came to his old-school hip checks:This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
It’s anyone’s guess if two supporting cast members like Cooke and Ballard will really make that much of a difference, but maybe the team will be “tougher to play against,” as hockey people like to say.
Dec 9, 2013, 9:56 PM EST
There’s a chance Zbynek Michalek could be back, though.
Dec 9, 2013, 9:27 PM EST
First bout for Couturier, fourth for Turris.
Dec 9, 2013, 8:55 PM EST
Quite a way to end Columbus’ 162-minute shutout streak.
Dec 9, 2013, 8:42 PM EST
NHL’s Board of Governors ratified the Canadian TV deal.
Dec 9, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
“Well that’s just super,” the Blue Jackets probably didn’t say.
Dec 9, 2013, 7:31 PM EST
“There are other ways to respond.”
Dec 9, 2013, 6:53 PM EST
Adding some toughness.
Dec 9, 2013, 5:45 PM EST
Red Wings actually fared well in his absence.
Dec 9, 2013, 5:15 PM EST
Jon Cooper knows it could be a lot worse.
Dec 9, 2013, 4:25 PM EST
“We’re pretty frustrated,” said Ryan McDonagh.
Dec 9, 2013, 3:55 PM EST
Anaheim’s coming off two impressive wins over the ‘Hawks and Blues.
Dec 9, 2013, 3:17 PM EST
Tough times in the Chicago goal.
Dec 9, 2013, 2:45 PM EST
All the latest from the blue paint…
Dec 9, 2013, 2:44 PM EST
They’re in Anaheim to play the Ducks tonight.
Dec 9, 2013, 2:08 PM EST
Sounds like it could be.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:40 PM EST
And the players and coach seem to agree with the chart.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:37 PM EST
He’s been up, he’s been down.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:16 PM EST
The first punishment handed down from Saturday’s ugly Pittsburgh-Boston affair.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:47 PM EST
‘Canes play tonight in Vancouver and tomorrow in Edmonton.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:29 PM EST
Bit of a dream season for the 27-year-old hometown boy.
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head 150
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller 97
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ 119
- Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in back 8
- Islanders players hold closed-door meeting after ninth straight loss 15
- Penguins’ Neal has phone hearing for knee on Bruins’ Marchand 89
- Shawn Thornton confirms hearing with NHL Department of Player Safety (Updated) 88
- Video: Penguins’ Neal knees Bruins’ Marchand 69
- Penguins announce Brooks Orpik ‘alert and conscious’ (Updated) 47
- Shawn Thornton: ‘People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable’ 78
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (181)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (150)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (128)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (119)
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller (97)