The Minnesota Wild are desperate for the offense, but determined to stick with what they did against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup first round.
“We can’t say to guys, like, ‘We’re doing fine,’” coach Dean Evason said on Sunday. “We are not well. I mean we lost 3-1 so we’re not well. We have to be desperate in our game. It’s not where we want to be, but we are there, so there is nothing. we can do about it now. We’re in this place, and it’s the type of game you clearly have to be desperate for.
“I think we’ve been playing desperate hockey so far, but we need it even more in tomorrow night’s game, and that starts with dropping the puck. First, we have to believe that we are going to score goals. . “
[RELATED: Complete Wild vs. Golden Knights series coverage]
The Wild have scored 3.21 goals per game in the regular season, tied for eighth in the NHL with defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. They scored 2.88 goals per game against the Golden Knights while going 5-1-2 against them.
Before Kirill Kaprizov led the NHL rookies and Wild in goals (27) and points (51) in the regular season, and led the Wild in goals (six) and points (eight) against Vegas. Before Kevin Fiala ranked second to Minnesota in goals (20) and points (40); he had five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games against Vegas.
But that success didn’t translate into the playoffs. Kaprizov has an assist in the series. Fiala has no points and was so frustrated at one point in Game 4 that he broke his stick on the Vegas net.
Meanwhile, the power play continued to struggle. After being converted at 17.6% in the regular season, tied for 23rd in the NHL with the Nashville Predators, he went 0 for 8 in the series.
Asked about Kaprizov, Evason said, “We just have to keep pushing as a group to get these opportunities. Kirill is no different. He will stop at nothing. He didn’t, he won’t, and I don’t. think he never will. He’ll just keep sticking his nose in it until he gets this chance. He pushes hard. He’s physical, because they’re physical on him, and what we’ve seen of him, his desire and his will be, you know, we believe tomorrow night. “
The Wilds feel like they’re doing the right things but haven’t gotten the breaks. They had two goals disallowed in two games on Coach’s Challenges, one for offside, one for goalie interference.
“If you look at the stats and the odds from the last game, we generated a ton, and we didn’t give up a lot,” Evason said. “So it’s encouraging for us with the group. We’ll look at our chances as a group with the team and show them we’re doing the right things, we’re getting to the right area, we’re putting the pucks in the areas where we can win that rebound and that breakout, and what not. just hasn’t happened yet, and that’s our belief. “
Savage captain Jared Spurgeon echoed Evason.
“The playoffs are a different game, but at the same time we had some scoring chances,” said Spurgeon, a defenseman. “We just didn’t bury them where we used to score those goals in the past. But we still have that belief in the room. We can’t be frustrated, because once that sets in it starts to go the other way. In this room, everyone believes that we can do what we did in the regular season and build momentum our way. “
Evason inserted towards the front Zach Parise and Kyle Rau in set 4, replacement Marcus Johansson (broken arm) and Nick Bjugstad (healthy scratch). He also mixed the lines. When asked if the Wild had any roster changes planned for Game 5, he replied, “Yeah. We have some thoughts, of course. But you know, we’re not ready to solve them just yet. “
He didn’t give details when asked about the injuries, saying, “We’ve always had bumps and bruises, obviously at this time of year, as you know. Our show is extremely physical so we have some stoned guys there is no doubt about that. But the guys are tough and tough and will play through if they can. “
In general, the Wilds will likely go with what got them to this point.
“You want to have that consistency, right? Evason said. “We have a really good idea of what works for our hockey club. You don’t go through a regular season and you don’t succeed like we did without that chemistry developing through your lines and your pairs and ultimately through the squad, so what we did in the regular season, you do. will probably see. ”