THE WILD WIRE - A MUST WIN IN CHICAGOMay 13, 2019
Well, if the Iowa Wild is going to keep this memorable season alive, they’ve got to win tonight at Allstate Arena in Game 6 of the Central Division Final.
For whatever reason, the Wild have struggled on the road this season, finishing the regular season with just 14 wins away from Des Moines and going just 1-4 so far in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
However, you can throw all that out tonight.
Here’s my key to success for the Wild, which will allow them to force a Game 7:
SCORE MORE GOALS THAN THE WOLVES BY THE TIME THE GAME ENDS
Seriously though, the Wild need the following (in my opinion) to even up this best-of-seven series:
- LOCKDOWN IN NET
- Veteran galtender Andrew Hammond wasn’t at his best in Game 5, allowing seven goals on 29 shots. However, let’s give the Wolves some credit here – they created traffic in front of Hammond’s net and they earned some gritty goals for really the first time in this series. There was a stretch from the second period of Game 2 until late in Game 4 where Hammond didn’t allow a single goal. I’m not saying he has to be perfect, I’m just saying it would help for him to “be clean” early tonight and let the Wild settle into the contest. Remember, in a must-win Game 5 against Milwaukee in the first round, Hammond made 26 saves in a 2-1 victory. He tends to play his best when it matters the most.
- DONATO CARRYOVER
- Wild winger Ryan Donato scored twice in Game 5 and although the second goal had little meaning towards the result of the contest, I’m thinking that finding the back of the net for the first time this postseason could bode well for the 23-year-old’s confidence. He can be a game-changer and the Wild need him to continue to use a shoot-first mentality in this series.
- UNLIKELY SOURCE
- The Wild could really use a goal or two from a depth player tonight – someone like Colton Beck or Mitch McLain finding the twine would probably go a long way to helping the Wild in their pursuit to keep the series going. Or, maybe there’s a defenseman that can step up offensively and play the role of hero tonight. Get one or two goals from those you expect to produce and sprinkle in a goal from a role player and Game 6 should go the Wild’s way.
- KEEP THE MOJO
- The Wild need to get the momentum on their side tonight and then KEEP IT. Several times in this series the club has scored a goal and then allowed the Wolves to answer moments later. It happened in Game 2 after the Wild crawled out of a 2-0 hole and it happened twice in Game 5 when the team was making its push and the Wells Fargo Arena crowd was just waiting to explode.
All year long this Wild team has stepped up when they’ve faced adversity. I expect them to come out tonight and make a statement early in Game 6 that this series is far from over. That’s just my gut feeling, given this team, its character and its track record. They’ll give themselves a shot simply because of the team’s leadership and work ethic. If the specialty teams units hold serve and Hammond breathes some confidence into the rest of the group with some big, early saves, the Wild will be just fine.
Don’t forget about the slew of watch parties in Central Iowa tonight – puck drop at 7:00 p.m. from Rosemont, Il!
- Wild Joe Radio