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Blackhawks show they can neutralize Wild forecheck

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo said Friday night it was time to go back to the drawing board for Sunday's Game 3 of a Western Conference Quarterfinals series his team trails 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

After the Blackhawks won Game 2 by a 5-2 score at United Center, Yeo said one area that will need to be tweaked again is a forechecking scheme that proved ineffective against the Blackhawks' swift-skating, puck-moving defensemen.

The Wild worked on creating havoc with the forecheck in a practice between the first two games, but the Blackhawks weren't fazed much at all by it, dominating puck possession and breaking out of their own zone with a head of steam regularly.

"Part of our strength is our defensemen's ability to get pucks out of our zone and our forwards have done a good job of coming back all year supporting, so that makes it a lot easier on the defense when our forwards get back in position to help out," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Minnesota's got a lot of good skaters and they're fast, so it's not easy. They get in, on the forecheck, really quick. Guys like Zach Parise are fast getting in there, so we have to be ready."

When they are ready, however, the Blackhawks have more than enough skill to take a forechecking effort apart by the seams.

"We're a good transition team," rookie left wing Brandon Saad said. "We've got really good defense and move the puck well and [goalie Corey Crawford's] been playing the puck well too. It's something we pride ourselves on and something we've been able to do lately."

Right wing Patrick Kane said video breakdowns, for both teams, play a role in how things go in games.

"There's a lot of video that goes on these days, as far as being able to play against those forechecks and I'm sure they're doing the same thing against us," said Kane, who has three assists (all primary helpers) in the first two games. "They've been pretty successful breaking out, too, so it's just the way it is these days. Coaching is so good and adjustments are always made on the fly to where teams can adjust pretty quickly. I'm sure they'll change it and we'll have something to change up ours too."

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