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Momentum means little in seesaw series

ST. PAUL - Momentum is defined as the product of a body's mass and its velocity, a wholly appropriate Latin derivative that has been dead on arrival throughout this Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues series.

ST. PAUL – Momentum is defined as the product of a body’s mass and its velocity, a wholly appropriate Latin derivative that has been dead on arrival throughout this Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues series.
Minnesota and St. Louis have played zig-zag for five games, one seizing control with a convincing victory before the other answers emphatically. Elimination finally has entered the equation with the Wild anxious to finish off the Blues in today’s Game 6 at the Xcel Energy Center and accomplish what neither club has yet – win consecutive games.
“One of the toughest things to do is close out a series,” Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold said Saturday. “They’re going to bring their best game. They’re going to be scratching and clawing to tie this thing up. We have to bring our best game, too.”
Leopold has played 76 playoff games with six teams, including a run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004 with the runner-up Calgary Flames. The Wild blew an opportunity to seize a 3-1 series lead at home in Game 4 when St. Louis bulldozed them 6-1.
Today’s stakes are higher and Leopold realizes the peril of allowing the Blues to force a Game 7 at home Wednesday night. “Coming from experiences, yeah, it’s a pivotal Game 6 for us,” he said. “We’re at home in front of our fans and we have ‘so-called momentum.’ It’s been a back-and-forth type series and we’ve got to bring our road game, which has been our best game of the year.”
Counting the regular season the Wild have won 13 of their last 15 road games, including Games 1 and 5 at Scottrade Center. The teams split the first four games with road and home wins that were light on drama. Not only did the team that scored first win, it has never trailed.
The Wild halted that trend in Game 5, getting badly outplayed in the first period and falling behind 1-0. However, they roared back with four unanswered goals to provide a shot at redemption in front of the home crowd after their Game 4 clunker.
This matchup has proved difficult to analyze. Among the eight playoff series it is the only one without an overtime game or one-goal win. The average margin of victory is 3.2 goals. To that end, Wild coach Mike Yeo believes momentum is a red herring.
“I don’t believe in it in a playoff series,” he said. “I don’t think it carries from one game to the next. Not against good teams, not against a team like we’re facing. I think both teams have proved they have been able to collect themselves, and that’s even from period to period.
“Establishing momentum through the course of a game is something that’s very important. Maintaining it is something that’s very important. But I think recognition of the next shift, that next play, how important that is.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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