This series has been too nice. And Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo has noticed.
Trailing 2-0 in their Western Conference quarterfinal series with the Blackhawks, Yeo intimated the Wild have to increase the level of ''hatred'' for their opponent.
''We have a lot of guys, they're getting their first taste of playoff hockey and some guys who haven't been a part of it for awhile,'' Yeo said prior to Game 3 on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center. ''There's no question that. I really believe that to be successful there has to be a level of hatred for the team you're playing against.
''It shouldn't be hard for us. They're trying to take away something from us. Obviously they're a good team. The fact that we've played them a couple of times and have [lost], there should certainly be some hostility coming into this game tonight.''
Yeo said Josh Harding will start again in place of starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who suffered a leg injury during warmups before Game 1. The Wild are counting on all of the advantages of playing at their home arena to get them back into the series.
''Clearly we're going to be a desperate team today,'' Yeo said. ''This is a very significant game for us. But this is a team we're playing against that also has a lot o playoff experience and also knows the importance of this game, too. You're going to see two teams going head to head tonight.''
Yeo also said he's looking for his team to make more runs at the Hawks' core players.
''One thing that we haven't done very well is be physical on key guys -- especially on their defensemen,'' Yeo said. ''You look back on the games and we have opportunities to finish checks on a guy like Keith and we're not taking those opportunities. We have to make sure that every time they're going to touch the puck, that they know that you're coming.''
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville shrugged off the comments, and said his team will have to play harder than it did in Game 1 and Game 2 now that the series has shifted to St. Paul.
"Let's be ready to set the tone and don't be surprised by it," Quenneville said.