Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/21/14
The Minnesota Wild has quickly dropped two games in the best of seven series with the Colorado Avalanche. The catalyst in the so far in this series has been 18-year-old rookie phenom Nathan MacKinnon, who has skated through and around the Wild nearly at will. His dynamic speed and agility combined with otherworldly vision has been the difference as MacKinnon has seven points in his first two career playoff contests. It seems to be a nearly impossible task, but the Wild must keep him at bay if it wants any chance to come back in the series. 1. Meet MacKinnon before he enters the zone This is far easier said than done. For the Wild players, it will take impeccable timing and near perfect positioning to keep MacKinnon from roasting them. Watch the first three goals scored by the Avalanche in game 2: Jared Spurgeon was flat-out embarrassed on MacKinnon’s first goal. Giving him less gap and time to maneuver will force him to make faster decisions than he wants to. Mikko Koivu was caught flat-footed in no man’s land on the other two goals MacKinnon assisted on. He and the other Wild forwards need to be better positioned and prepared to put a body on MacKinnon in order to slow him down before he enters the Wild’s zone. MacKinnon has been the difference in the series thus far. Limiting the 18-year-old’s production moving forward is the key for the Wild. 2. 3 P’s: Pressure, physicality and poise Watching the opening two games, it’s no secret that MacKinnon, playing on a line with Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog, thrives in open ice. Watch any of the seven goals that the rookie has had a part in and it’s obvious that he is most dangerous when he gets up to full speed. While the Wild may not be able to keep him completely off the score sheet, getting in his face as soon as he touches the puck is a good start to slowing his production. Mike Yeo should gather his more physical players (Matt Cooke, Nino Niederreiter) and tell them that when MacKinnon touches the puck, hit him immediately. Don’t give him a patch of free ice because that is where he has dismantled the Wild. The Wild defense need to be more vigilant when MacKinnon has the puck. Be alert of surroundings, cut off passing lanes, and hit him every chance you get. This is an 18-year-old kid playing against men; the physical play will wear him down. 3. Dump the puck and limit turnovers in the neutral zone Get pucks deep. It is a simple formula that the Wild have followed almost every year since its existence as a franchise. While Yeo has emphasized carrying the puck into the offensive zone this year, it won’t work against the speedy Avalanche. Costly turnovers have led to great scoring chances for the opposition. Cross the red line, dump the puck, and go to work. It may not be the highlight reel hockey people enjoy watching, but the Minnesota Wild cannot go toe-to-toe with the speed of MacKinnon and the Avs. Forcing them to travel the entire length of the ice will limit opportunities. Nathan MacKinnon has shocked the NHL and the Minnesota Wild so far with what he has done in the playoffs. He is well on his way to becoming the superstar that the Avs hoped when it took him No. 1 overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. This may be the first time the Wild sees MacKinnon in the playoffs, but it certainly won’t be the last. The post Minnesota Wild: 3 keys to stopping Nathan MacKinnon appeared first on isportsweb.
PLAYERS: Jared Spurgeon
TEAMS: Minnesota Wild
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Wild News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker