Back-to-back dominant performances by the Minnesota Wild has put the state of Colorado in a state of panic.
The Avalanche won the first two games of the best-of-seven playoff series against the Wild, but Minnesota's dominant performances in Games 3 and 4 have turned the momentum back in favor of the State of Hockey – the same State of Hockey that Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla said should be in a "state of disgrace" as long as Matt Cooke, who was suspended seven games for an illegal hit on Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie, wears a Wild sweater.
Kiszla's cohort at the Denver Post, Adrian Dater, admitted the Wild has been the better team, but not without calling Cooke a "gutless puke." Dater added:
The Avs came to St. Paul up 2-0 in this series, against a team that just made a goalie change, with grumbling about the coach and all those underperforming big-money stars and…now the Wild are looking like the greatest team on earth, while the Avs look like a shabby jalopy belching exhaust, just trying to get to the gas station for a few bucks of unleaded.
Sports Radio 103.4 in Colorado took a shot at their hometown Avalanche by saying the only two to "show up" in Minnesota were the radio play-by-play and color commentator guys. Ouch.
Colorado's Patrick Roy admits that he's learning how to deal with playoff pressure in his rookie season as a head coach.
"I'm learning. The playoffs are a learning experience for me. You always have to be learning," Roy told the Denver Post. "But I was learning for all those years as a coach in juniors. And I hope I am learning forever as a coach."
A rookie head coach and 12 players participating in gut-wrenching playoff hockey for the first time isn't necessarily the recipe for success. It actually opens the doors for major lapses. Consider this stat for perspective on how dominant the Wild has been.
Colorado had 12 shots-on-goal in Game 4 and 22 shots-on-goal in Game 3. Those 34 combined shots are only three more than the Wild had in the first two periods of Game 3.
If the Avs can't score, they can't win. Michael Russo reports that Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper – the winner of Games 3 and 4 – is only the fifth goalie in NHL history to win each of his first two career playoff starts while allowing one goal. Wild goalie coach Bob Mason is also on that short list.
Game 5 is back in Colorado on Saturday night. As of now, the Wild is headed to Colorado on a Rocky Mountain high.