(that’s “Wild” spelled with zero Ws and seven Ls, by the way, a tribute to their all-time postseason record against Anaheim.)
Game Four: (2) Anaheim Ducks at (7) Minnesota Wild
(ANA leads series 3-0, JavaGeek ‘odds’: ANA 95%)
Aww, doesn't this picture take you back to the ol' Disney days?
Are the Ducks really going to pull off another sweep, their fourth since 2003? To put that in perspective, the rest of the NHL over that timespan has had only two sweeps (TB 1, NJ 1).
It's by no means an automatic, given the Wild's lofty home record and how closely each game of the series has been. Let’s not forget that Minnesota has a history of resilience—back in 2003 Minnesota fought back twice from a 3-games-to-1 deficit before hitting the J.S. Giguere wall in the 3rd round. All-time, the Wild are 6-1 in games that they can be eliminated; Anaheim is 6-2 in games that they can eliminate an opponent.
Should the Wild win G4, they can also take comfort in the fact that Anaheim has never in its history won a G5, though it has a 3-2 record in series that have gone at least five games.
The main problem that Minnesota has with Anaheim when it comes to postseason play is that it never gets to show off the best part of its game—relentlessly protecting a lead. How's this for a fun fact? In four-plus games in the 2003 series, the Wild had a lead for only 3 minutes and 53 seconds. In the first three games in this year's series, the Wild have led for only 3 minutes and 51 seconds. It certainly can be frustrating trying to come back against Minnesota (I'm told), but there just hasn't been any opportunity to demonstrate that.
The Ducks played a pretty awesome G3, holding both Demitra and Gaborik shotless, and at the same time allowing Rob Niedermayer to unleash his top-secret weapon (Backstrom: "HE CAN SHOOT?"). Even though MIN had the last change, Pahlsson and RNieds still managed to get on the ice for 60% of Gaborik's even-strength ice time, and both Pronger and Scotty were awesome as well. Turned out to be probably Breezy's easiest game of the series.
Bryzgalov quote of the day (talking about his performance in last year's playoffs):
The witty Bryzgalov tried to convince reporters in his limited English on Monday that he couldn't quite recall his success. "I forget about a year ago," he said. "I have really, really short memory. Sometimes if you ask me what date today [is] I can't tell you. ... I know it's a Monday, but what number?"Prediction: I did well last game predicting according to the '03 Detroit series scores, so sticking with that trend, it'll be Ducks 3, Wild 2. Ducks, by the way, have won their last seven G4s. Goals by Kunitz, Pahlsson, and the scoreless Niedermayer.
[UPDATE: From the Anaheim Ducks' official site: "Francois Beauchemin will not play in tonight's Game 4 after taking a puck to the face in Game 3 on Sunday night. His status for the rest of the postseason is uncertain."]