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One game from elimination, Wild face long odds as Boudreau searches for answers

The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders, the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers and the 2014 Los Angeles Kings.

This is the exclusive group the Wild will be trying to join as teams that have come back from 3-0 deficits to win a playoff series. The good news for the Wild is that this type of improbable comeback has happened. The bad news is that 180 teams have fallen into a 3-0 deficit and never recovered.

The Blues will try to bring an end to the Wild’s season in Game 4 on Wednesday in St. Louis, thus putting the finishing touch on a rattled Minnesota team that has little hope at this point.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team finished second in the Western Conference this season with a franchise-record 106 points, had his team return to the Twin Cities after Sunday’s 3-1 loss in St. Louis because of the two days between games. Boudreau also decided to give his players a day off Monday and will conduct a practice Tuesday before returning to St. Louis.

“Today was more of a mental health day,” Boudreau said Monday. “You guys don’t understand that they want to win as bad as anybody, for the city, for themselves, for the state. They know how long it’s been and when they don’t win, or we don’t succeed, all of us would want a different outcome at this stage.

“I think a mental health day (was in order). Let them get over feeling sorry for themselves for a day and then coming back and having a good practice tomorrow and then getting on the road and going in, like I said, just to win one game. Let’s start with that here and then we’ll think of something before Friday.”

There has been plenty made of the fact that Boudreau is 1-7 in Game 7s as an NHL coach, yet that’s how he wants his players to think of Wednesday’s game. That’s not an inaccurate way to view it, but on the other hand Boudreau also wants his players to dial down the pressure on themselves. That’s an interesting approach, considering the Game 7 mentality would seem to apply more pressure.

“In reality, no one expects us, except the group that we have, to win,” Boudreau said. “They should be playing fairly loose. The tightness is over. (It was) Game 1 and 2 that we were supposed to win. There’s no pressure on our team now except for the pressure we put on ourselves.”

Boudreau got upset during his press conference Sunday after a question about some struggles by the Wild’s third line, but Monday he was calm and no longer on edge.

The Wild have only three goals in the opening three games of the series — Zach Parise has two of them — in large part because of the outstanding goaltending by the Blues’ Jake Allen (114 saves on 117 shots) and because St. Louis has done an effective job of taking away the middle of the ice from the Wild for extended periods.

But many of the statistics from this series would make one believe it’s the Wild that holds a 3-0 advantage. The Wild hold a 228-142 advantage in shot attempts; a 117-79 advantage in shots on goal; a 102-70 advantage in hits; a 133-89 advantage in face offs and yet the Blues’ have an edge in the only numbers that matter, having outscored the Wild in each game and having seven goals (one into an empty net) to Minnesota’s three.

Boudreau knows that if his team can’t reverse that trend on Wednesday a once promising season will be over and an offseason filled with question marks will begin.

“I just want them to relax,” Boudreau said of his players. “If you’ve been in this business long enough you’re not going to take your mind off it. It’s an impossibility. You live with this (feeling) 24 hours. You go to bed thinking about it, you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it and you get up in the morning thinking about it and how you can correct it.

“That’s why we’ve all been in here as coaches since 8:30 trying to figure out another way. When you play the same team over and over again, they know exactly what we’re doing, we know what we’re doing. We’re sitting there talking about changes and there are not a lot of changes on the ice that we can do. Our DNA is who we are.  We can change line combinations and maybe change power-play combinations and then work at it. But that’s about it.”

Unfortunately for the Wild, history says that’s not going to be enough.





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Previous Story Don’t blame Devan Dubnyk for the Wild facing playoff elimination down 3-0 Next Story What happened? What now? The puzzling playoff tale of the Minnesota Wild (ep. 8)