Backs against the wall.
Win or go home.
There you go. Three quick sports cliches to perfectly sum up the Minnesota Wild's predicament tonight in Chicago in Game 5 of their Western Conference playoff series. The Blackhawks lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven contest, and the Wild need to win to force a Game 6.
How did it come to this? The numbers tell the story:
That's the number that's numbing the Wild. Fifteen power play chances, but zero goals so far. The Wild are the only team without a power play goal in this postseason. How do you change that? Wild center Kyle Brodziak tells the Star Tribune players should move more with the man advantage -- with and without the puck. In his words: “It’s almost impossible to keep track of everyone when there’s so much movement."
That's the plus/minus for Wild captain Mikko Koivu this series. He doesn't have a point yet, with just seven shots on goal and four penalties. Koviu, however, tells the Pioneer Press it's no use getting frustrated. Slumps are a part of the game. In his words: "You just have to find a way to get it to the net and keep creating and believe it's going to go in."
In 2003, the Wild won two playoff series that they had trailed, 3-1. Can that happen against the Blackhawks? It's unlikely. But, we like Tom Powers' take in the Pioneer Press: "If they can get this game in Chicago and force a Game 6 at Xcel, everything could change. They'll see the Blackhawks start to tighten up. People will raise an eyebrow and wonder why the team with the best record is fiddling with the Wild for so long. What's the problem? It can all turn in a jiffy."