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Wild focus on handling Avs’ speed

Apr 20, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT

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).

  1. valoisvipers - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:27 AM

    The air can be the X factor for the Aves.

    • avscup - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      The altitude has zero effect at this time of year. None. The Avs will play fine and home crowd will help MN. I predict a split in MN.

  2. trbowman - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:43 AM

    MacKinnon is a phenom. But, he’s still an 18 year old. Put a flaming body on him if you’re Minnesota. If he’s going to beat you, make him beat you ugly.

    If there’s ever a tactical time to get dirty with a player, the time is now for the Wild. I don’t want to see the guy Matt Cooke’d, but punish him physically every chance and test his mettle

    • avscup - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      He’s a tough 18 year old who can fly. Put a body on him please! It will lead to MN penalties. Hard to put a body on him without grabbing him.

      Go Avs

    • purpleguy - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      Man did he break Spurgeon’s legs on that goal — tough series for Spurgeon so far. Hope the Wild make a series of it this week.

  3. 19to77 - Apr 20, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    You can’t defend especially well from the penalty box in the final minutes of the game either, Ryan. Maybe give that some thought?

    • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:27 AM

      To be fair, pretty sure he was on the ice for every one of the Avs goals. So, it really didn’t matter where he defended from.

  4. mp1131211 - Apr 20, 2014 at 3:18 AM

    HEY NBC: Sh**ty announcing!

    “This is a time for the Wild to shine. Their special teams have been pretty good!” Uh…. no, they haven’t. They specifically haven’t. Suter criticized it publicly like maybe a month ago because they have specifically sucked on PP and PK.

    “This has been a much better game for the Wild.” Not even close. The Wild played a much better game on Thursday and should have won that game! This one was gone from P2.

    “That was the right call on the offsides” Are we watching the same game??!?

    And I SWEAR that douche called him Bryan Suter a few times!!!

    Get someone – anyone- who knows SOMETHING about the game they are calling. Or at least get them a gamecenter account so they can watch the teams they are going to announce!

  5. mackattack29 - Apr 20, 2014 at 5:38 AM

    Lol when I read the title saying wild have to focus on slowing down avs the first thing I thought of was… good luck! haha but in all seriousness I think the wild need to focus on bettering their own team game. Because if they’re already only focusing on the avs offense then they’ve pretty much played right into what the avs were hoping for. The avs feed off of teams that stop focusing on their own game simply to slow them down. But we’ll wait and see what happens in minny.

  6. 950003cups - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    Yeah, that offsides call was wrong.

    • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      I had no idea what the refs thought they saw.

      I freeze framed it and even was able to fast forward the freeze frame to just about a second and the puck was CLEARLY a couple feet in the zone well before P.A. Parenteau was still on the blue line.

      Refs blew that one bad.

  7. 950003cups - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    It’s not the refs fault. Those calls are part of the game. But the announcers, while using slo-mo replay, had the balls to say it was the right call. NBC needs new announcers or just teach them the rules.

  8. billiam55 - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    wild have no chance against them

    • purpleguy - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      Who? The refs? The evil dead? The girls that shovel off the ice? The Taliban?

  9. Professor Fate - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    I don’t see the Wild slowing down the Avs much without hooking and grabbing. Hope the refs are paying attention.

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