ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) –Here we are again.
The Wild find themselves in a familiar position, with their backs against the wall. It’s a spot they ought to be paying rent in by this point in the season — they’ve been in it so often.READ MORE: Clean Car Debate At Minnesota Capitol May Lead To Summer Closures Of State Parks, Trails
Now trailing their best-of-seven playoff series with the Blackhawks 2-0, the Wild head home for Game 3 on Tuesday night.
It’s far from a comfortable spot to be in, but at least there’s comfort in knowing they’ve navigated this territory well all year.
“For the last three months, we have always responded pretty well,” forward Thomas Vanek said.
That’s something this locker room can rely on again.
“We know we’ve done it before,” forward Nino Niederreiter said. “So I feel that’s going to give us confidence.”
The Wild are chalking up this latest predicament to not playing like themselves.
“Obviously Game 2 wasn’t the Minnesota Wild,” forward Jason Zucker said. “We didn’t play our game, and it’s definitely not good enough.”
Mike Yeo delivered that message to his players in a team meeting Monday morning.READ MORE: Marietta's Salt Lake Is A Paradise For Birds And Bird Watchers
“I don’t know if it was Chicago’s game,” Yeo said. “It just wasn’t our game.”
A team that prides itself on its speed, puck possession and strong defense has been none of those things so far.
“That’s not the kind of team we are,” Vanek said.
“They had pretty much two breakaways, and we don’t give any team those kind of chances, and that’s kind of the way we lost,” Niederreiter said. “We know how good of a team they are, but we’ve got to make sure we focus on us. And yesterday I feel like we were just thinking a bit too much about them instead of playing our game and the hockey we know how to play.”
And maybe, they just need a lucky bounce. They’re certainly due for one against this Blackhawks team. Maybe off of a stanchion, perhaps?
Tuesday’s Game 3 will be the first Wild-Blackhawks playoff game at Xcel Energy Center since the infamous “stanchion game,” when a bad bounce off a stanchion behind the net gift-wrapped the series-clinching goal for the Blackhawks in Game 6 a year ago.
“Mike (Yeo) had a great meeting today, got us back focused, and we’ll be better tomorrow,” Vanek said Monday.
What was the message in the meeting?MORE NEWS: COVID In MN: Gov. Walz To Announce On Thursday His Timeline To End All Restrictions
“Play our game,” Vanek said with a laugh, echoing the theme of the day yet again. “You don’t beat teams by playing their way, especially not Chicago. If you play their way, we’ll look like we did last night. So we’ve got to find our game here quickly, and I’m sure we will.”