Posted on April 16, 2008 08:28 PM | Permalink
St. Paul, Minn. - While the Colorado Avalanche took today off from any hockey activities, the Minnesota Wild held a late-day practice where special teams were emphasized.
Wild coach Jacques Lemaire would like not only to see more goals on his team's power play, he wants more shots to get through as well. So far, the Avs have collapsed around goalie Jose Theodore and blocked lots of shots, and it's having an effect.
The Avalanche aren't particularly happy with their power play either, although they did score twice in Game 4's 5-1 rout. Still, Colorado failed to get anything on two lengthy 5-on-3 chances, something that never makes Joel Quenneville happy. The Avs coach believes not scoring on the 5-on-3 is a jinx in a game, but when you take as many penalties as the Wild did in Game 4, there was more margin for error.
The question for Game 5 is, will the nastiness from the last game carry over?
""I don't think they want to be in the box all night, and we don't want to be in the box all night in their building," Avs veteran Ian Laperriere said. "It's going to be an intense game. Maybe not as much chippiness."
The teams combined for 101 minutes in penalties in Game 4, and both teams were still wondering if the NHL might suspend Minnesota's Stephane Veilleux for leaving his feet on a boarding penalty against Paul Stastny.
The league said Wednesday it would have no decision before Thursday.
The Wild likely will be without forward Branko Radivojevic (right knee) for Game 5. Mark Parrish (concussion) and Nick Schultz (appendectomy) also won't play.
The Avalanche have continued to stay healthy through the series, even Peter Forsberg.
The star left winger came through his first back-to-back game test in
health. Of course, having almost the whole third period off in Game 4 helped his cause.
The Wild has had the lead for only 4:31 in regulation so far in the series.
UNDER THEIR SKIN
Manitoba native Cody McLeod is effectively doing his job as an agitator in the series.
Several Wild players seem to have been driven to distraction by the trash-talking McLeod. In Game 4, Veilleux made numerous funny facial gestures toward McLeod in the penalty box, but all McLeod did was laugh, which seemed to infuriate Veilleux all the more.
Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard has been quoted as saying McLeod isn't respecting "the game." This is the same Boogaard who slapped a puck the length of the rink after a Wild penalty and elbowed Avs rookie David Jones to the head after a whistle.
McLeod admits he loves talking trash. But he has also been playing an important role on the Avs' penalty-killing unit of late.