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Lineup Changes as Wild Face Elimination

April 20, 2018, 11:45 AM ET [1 Comments]
Dan Wallace
Minnesota Wild Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Wild Game Day
2017-18 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Round 1 Game 5

Series: Jets Lead (3-1)
4/11 Wild 2 @ Jets 3
4/13 Wild 1 @ Jets 4
4/15 Jets 2 @ Wild 6
4/17 Jets 2 @ Wild 0

Wild Regular Season Record (45-26-11 101 pts) 3rd Place Central Division, 4th Place Western Conference
Home Record (27-6-8)
Road Record (18-20-3)

Winnipeg Jets Regular Season Record (52-20-10 114 pts) 2nd Place Central Division, 2nd Place Western Conference
Home Record (32-7-2)
Road Record (20-13-8)

All-Time Record: Wild/Jets
vs. Winnipeg Jets 18-17-1
@ Home 10-7-1
@ Winnipeg/Atlanta 8-10-0

All Time Playoff Record: Wild vs Jets
1st postseason meeting between Wild and Jets

Opponent: Winnipeg Jets (52-20-10 114 pts)
Road Record (20-13-8)

Site: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, MB

Time: 6:30PM CT

TV: Fox Sports North (FSN), NBC (NBC), CNBC

Last 2 seasons results:
2016-17:
10/15 Jets 3 @ Wild 4
11/23 Jets 1 @ Wild 3
2/7 Wild 4 @ Jets 2
2/28 Wild 6 @ Jets 5
3/19 Wild 4 @ Jets 5

2017-18:
10/21 Wild 3 @ Jets 4
10/31 Jets 2 @ Wild 1
11/27 Wild 2 @ Jets 7
1/13 Jets 1 @ Wild 4

The first elimination game of the series is tonight and the Wild have their work cut out for themselves, facing a Jets team that has won 11 straight on home ice. By all accounts this series should be over tonight given the Jets home prowess, combined with the Wild's ineptitude on the road all season, and without Suter and Parise.

But nothing is a given especially in the NHL where any team can win on any given night. This is also elimination for the Wild, and they know the frustration of five straight early playoff exits. This will not be an easy game for the Jets. Minnesota will come out hungry and will battle until the final buzzer that you can be sure of.

Bruce Boudreau has made a couple lineup changes and quite honestly I am not sure why this was not done sooner. Ryan Murphy and Kyle Rau will make their playoff debuts this evening in place of Carson Soucy and Tyler Ennis respectively.

Ryan Murphy has played well filling in for Jared Spurgeon during each of Spurgeon's two extended stints on the DL. Murphy is an offensive minded defenseman but plays the game very smart and always has his head up with and without the puck. The challenge for Murphy tonight will be that he will for the first time be playing on the left side.

Murphy is a former 1st round pick (2011, 12th overall) who has had trouble establishing himself at the NHL level. He has the speed and skills to be an every day player in this league and through the 21 games he played this season for the Wild, he looked very good.

The big thing that Murphy adds to the Wild attack tonight will be his presence on the powerplay. Murphy moves the puck well, and has a good shot that he gets off very quickly. Something the Wild have been missing with Charlie Coyle manning the point on the second PP unit.

Kyle Rau is the next man up to fill in for the injured Zach Parise as Tyler Ennis was ineffective in game four, much like he has been all season long for the Wild. Rau, the Eden Prairie native, gives the Wild a poor man's version of Zach Parise. He has good speed and is relentless on the puck.

Two good moves by Boudreau, but why did it take four games to get Murphy into the lineup, and why wasn't Rau in for Parise last game?

The thought is Boudreau wanted Soucy's size against the Jets I am sure, but after game one Murphy should have been inserted into the lineup. Murphy has the NHL experience and his speed and skill make him a better fit for the Wild attack, not to mention the powerplay upgrade.

That brings us to Ennis and Rau. According to the Athletic's, Michael Russo, Boudreau felt he owed it to Ennis to give him a shot, but he would have rather played Rau in game four.

If that is the case, shame on Boudreau. This is the playoffs and there is no paying up debts to players just because. This is where everything matters from lineup, matchups, ice time, line combinations, etc. There is no tomorrow, if he really felt the Rau gave the Wild their best chance to win then he should have dressed Rau and let Ennis take his place in the press box.

The Jets of course will be without Josh Morrissey, who will serve his one game suspension resulting from his cross check to Eric Staal in game four. Tyler Myers, who missed game four with a lower body injury, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, will play in game five tonight.

Now how effective will Myers be and is he rushing back due to the fact Morrissey is out, and the Jets are already without the services of Toby Enstrom and Dmitry Kulikov. Something to watch for sure tonight, is how Myers is moving early and can the Wild attack the Jets defenseman, who is most likely nowhere near 100%.

Boudreau is once again putting the lines into the blender and will go with Coyle alongside Staal and Zucker. Niedereitter will move to play with Granlund and Koivu. Rau should start the game on the third line with Cullen and Greenway, while the fourth line remains intact.

Splitting up Granlund and Staal to me does not make any sense, especially following a game in which the Wild were shutout. #12 and #64 together give the Wild their best chance to score every time they are on the ice.

Season on the line for the Wild, must win tonight. This still feels like a different team than in years past to me. Not sure what it is, but they have a better fight in them than in years past. There is a lot of character on this Wild team, and I believe the youth has inspired some of the veterans that have been here through most of the recent disappointing Springs. Tonight the Wild get up off the mat and bring this series back to the State of Hockey for a game 6 Sunday night.

Wild projected lines:
Zucker-Staal-Coyle
Granlund-Koivu-Niederreiter
Greenway-Cullen-Rau
Foligno-Eriksson Ek-Winnik

Brodin-Dumba
Seeler-Spurgeon
Murphy-Prosser

Dubnyk

It's always Hockey Day in The State of Hockey!

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