Photo - Hannah Foslien (Getty Images)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
St. Paul, MN - To say that home ice has been an advantage for the extent of the NHL playoffs would probably be the understatement of the year.
Playing in front of capacity crowds on a nightly basis, the Wild have tallied a 5-0 record playing inside the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center. They outscored their opponents 16 - 5 in St. Paul and have out shot them 150 - 96. Last night was much of the same. The Wild walk away victorious and out shoot their opponent 31 - 20.
"Our fans are awesome," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said to open his post game press conference. "The atmosphere in the building tonight was amazing."
At home the Wild have been playing with an unrivaled intensity. Bodies flying left and right, fans banging on the glass and all of it has resulted in five wins and a berth into the Western Conference Semifinals.
The return of Matt Cooke to the lineup surely had something to do with getting under the skin of the Blackhawks Friday night, but hearing the deafening "CRAW-FORD! CRAW-FORD! CRAW-FORD!" chants may have had a bigger effect. It becomes even better when you can hear through post game interviews that the fans and the building are in the heads of the Chicago coaches and players.
"It's a tough building and we should be excited about going home," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quinville said after the game. "I think they fed off the crowd...they get the crowd into it and they get energized. They play hard in their building and they play good in their building."
This home ice advantage is nothing new. Throughout the regular season the Wild were 26-12-3 at home in front of their fans. That said, there's just something extra special about hearing the defending Stanley Cup champions wine and complain about it!
Duncan Keith - "It's obviously a loud building...it makes it exciting."
Patrick Sharp - "It's a tough place to play...they play well in this building."
Jonathan Toews - "It's a tough building. This team plays well in their own building. We've just got to match their intensity."
The list could go on and on!
But not matter how great the advantage may be for the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center, as the lower seed they will once again have to win at least one game on the road inside the United Center if they have hopes of moving on to the Western Conference Finals.
On the road this year in the playoffs the Wild are 1-3-2.
Game six, from Chicago, is Sunday night at 8:00pm.