The Minnesota Wild are now 5-0 at home this postseason after yet another dominant performance in front of the Xcel Energy Center crowd on Friday night. It's amazing. How does one even go about explaining their dominance on home ice? Is it the last change? The positive energy? The enduring power of Nino Niederreiter? The way their third jerseys, which are obviously their first jerseys now, make them feel?
Or maybe it's the extra guy. The Wild played with six skaters for a full 15 seconds in the third period of Game 4 and got away with it. Count the bodies coming over the boards:
Four forwards hit the ice for Minnesota at the 12:10 mark, and all four of them stay on the ice, defending the Blackhawks rush, until one realizes he's supposed to be a whole lot less involved and makes a mad dash for the bench. Somehow, this goes completely unnoticed by the guys with the whistles.
A theory: they were admiring Minnesota's forest green third jerseys, which remain excellent and sharp and the Wild should just admit that they prefer them to their home duds, CALL them their home duds, and stop playing games with us. Granted, I guess if you can get away with using six guys, you can get away with being coy about which jersey is your primary one.
In any case, this is some truly terrible officiating, and with the Blackhawks looking to cut the deficit in half, they have every right to be upset about a missed call that would have cut Minnesota's defenders from six to four.
In the end, though, the 15 seconds the Wild played with six guys weren't the difference in this one. It was the fifty-nine minutes and forty-five seconds the Blackhawks looked like they were playing with three.
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