With plenty of hockey weather outside, Game 3 between the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild will go on as planned. Although Wild fans probably hope their home team has a much different game plan if they want to win.
The Wild (0-2) are down two games to none to the Jets (2-0) after a coulda-shoulda loss in Game 1 and then an embarrassing loss in Game 2, 4-1, in Winnipeg. Now the series shifts to the Xcel Energy Center for Games 3 (Sunday) and 4 (Tuesday).
First off, despite an unprecedented mid-April blizzard, the Jets arrived in St. Paul on Sunday morning. Tweets came across throughout the snowy Saturday that the Jets’ flight was diverted to Duluth before eventually heading back to Winnipeg for the night with the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport shutting down all runways. The weather also forced the Wild to cancel Sunday afternoon’s outdoor pre-game party.
So, Game 3 will go on as scheduled. The Wild will need more than a couple feet of snow to stop the storm of Jets players. As fans have heard all season, the Wild are a good team at home, but the playoffs might take more than some cheering fans and “our ice” to get to victory.
In vast understatements from captain obvious, this is a very important game for the Wild and one that they need to win to get back in the series and obtain some confidence. The Wild are 6-6 all-time in Game 3 of a playoff series. However, visiting teams have a 5-1 record in the past six playoff games held at the X.
Shots on goal don’t mean everything, but they really have told the story in this series. The Jets have outshot the Wild 84-37 over two games, outshooting them 44-17 in the latest Wild loss. The Wild looked to have trouble making passes, controlling the puck and generating anything offensively, especially in Game 2.
The Wild will need some of their top players to step up, start playing well and start scoring goals. Who, exactly? Take your pick.
Eric Staal led the team most of the season at the top of the scoresheet, and he finished the regular season with 42 goals. He and his linemates have almost gone invisible so far in this series. Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle, who can be streaky scorers who look amazing when they play well, are also pretty absent. The speed and skill of Jason Zucker haven’t been seen much either.
Often, it’s been the third and fourth lines that have been seen the most. Marcus Foligno is doing his part to contribute some hits against a tough Jets team. Newcomer Jordan Greenway made a great pass for one of the team’s goals in Game 1.
It will be interesting to see if there’s any carryover from the final seconds of game two when winger Daniel Winnik fought with Brandon Tanev and Nick Seeler mixed it up with Ben Chiarot during the extra-curricular fest in the last 10 seconds.
Zach Parise has two goals in the series, though his second was a meaningless goal on the power play with 44.8 seconds left in regulation in Game 2 after the Wild didn’t have a shot on goal for the first 15 minutes of the third period.
Devan Dubnyk has been the bright star for the Wild so far, saving 37 and then 39 shots for a new career-high in the playoffs. He’s played well, but he can’t do everything.
In both games, it’s been a scoreless first period followed by a 1-0 Jets lead after two. A fast start for the Wild on Sunday is pretty much a necessity. Here’s another old cliché: The first goal is a big one. The Wild should look to set the tone with an early goal in the first period. They played very well to start the game Friday night but just didn’t finish and find the net.
Each team’s power play is 1 for 5 in the series.
No lineup changes have been indicated by head coach Bruce Boudreau. Defensemen Ryan Murphy, Gustav Olofsson and Louie Belpdio, plus forward Tyler Ennis have all been healthy scratches through the first two games of this series.
- Luke Kunin – out for the playoffs with an ACL tear in left knee
- Ryan Suter – out for the playoffs with a right ankle fracture