The Colorado Avalanche are posing one simple question to their fans prior to game seven: Why not us?
The Minnesota Wild hope to be the answer to that question.
The two squads are set for a series-deciding game Wednesday night, without much clarity about who has the momentum or the advantage. Check out a collection of clips from the Wild's website after practice Tuesday.
"We faced a game seven last game too," head coach Mike Yeo said. "That's one thing for our players to draw upon. I think You can see there were parts of the game where it was affecting us, and other parts of the game where our players really rose to the challenge. ... To come out and really play that third period with authority, we'd like to to see the same type of thing [in game seven." The Wild have a couple things on their side: First off, history. The only other game seven between the two teams ended with a thrilling game-winning goal by Andrew Brunette in overtime. And it came against Patrick Roy – who was in net for the Avs at the time, his last game in the NHL, and is now the team's first-year head coach. “What I remember about that game is we played against a team that just competed," Roy said Tuesday, according to the Avs' website. "I just saw a group that was resilient on the other side all year. This is how they made the playoffs. It’s a bit of what we have been doing all year.” That was back in 2003 though, so how much impact that has on 2014 is probably questionable. Fast forward, and the Wild are coming off a big 5-2 win in game six to stay alive and even the series at 3-3. Darcy Kuemper is 3-1 with a GAA of 1.53 during these playoffs. The Wild have been good on special teams, converting on 16.7 percent of power play opportunities with a penalty kill rate of 90.9 percent (compare that to the Avs' marks of 9.1 percent and 83.3 percent, respectively). Offensively, Zach Parise is on fire. He had 2 goals and 2 assists in the contest, giving him 10 points this postseason – tying him for the lead so far this postseason.
Here's the downer: He's tied with Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon, an 18-year-old whose speed has given the Wild fits this series. The Avalanche also have leading scorer Matt Duchene back – he played in his first game since March in Minnesota's game six victory. And check out this stat box, put together by the Avalanche: That home-road record doesn't bode well for the Wild. But hey, whether the stats or momentum or history points to the Wild or not, the team can simply ask itself this: Why not us? Puck drops at 8:30 p.m.
News & Notes
– No new injuries were reported from last game, so expect similar (if not identical) lineups. – A number of spots in St. Paul are participating in "Rock Saint Paul for Game 7," to encourage fans to get out and watch together. Click here for details. – Wednesday's winner will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Semifinals. CBS Chicago asked which team would be worse for their hometown squad, and decided the Avs would be a tougher out. – Even the Vikings are getting in on the the NHL fandom action.
– Of course, the Wild aren't the only team playing in a game seven Wednesday. The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will settle their series. And one Flyers fan was ready to go come breakfast time.
A little harder to do with the Wild's logo. But if anyone would like to give it a shot (doesn't have to be breakfast food), please send a photo our way.