Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he looks back at a 5-2 loss in Game 1 of the Second Round against the Chicago Blackhawks:
Coming off a hard-fought seven-game thriller in Round 1, the Minnesota Wild didn’t play its best hockey, but still had a chance to take Game 1 of its Second Round matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. The difference in tonight’s game was the Blackhawks power play and Patrick Kane (we’ll get to him in a bit).
The Wild outshot the Blackhawks, 32-22, becoming just the second team to outshoot Chicago by 10 shots in playoff game at United Center since 2002. It wasn’t the effort or result the club wanted, with Minnesota looking a little flat at certain times. But that’s the good thing about a seven-game series: Minnesota gets a chance to rebound in Game 2.
One Wild defenseman wasn’t flat, but flattened a few Blackhawks…
After sustaining an injury in the first game of the playoffs last season, Clayton Stoner has come back with a vengeance this postseason and his rugged style has translated well for the Wild. Tonight, Stoner had a monster game, landing big hits all over the ice and playing a responsible defensive game. Oh yeah, and he scored his first career playoff goal, too.
In the first period, Stoner landed a clean hit on Andrew Shaw. The Blackhawks forward got up slowly, in a lot of pain, and didn’t return to the game. You never want to see injuries, and Shaw is a tough customer, so we’ll keep an eye on his status for Game 2.
With the Wild trailing in the third period, Zach Parise slid the puck out to the left point, where Stoner bombed a shot from the top of the circle. The puck beat Chicago netminder Corey Crawford through the 5-hole, but the goaltender got enough to slow it down. The puck crept towards the goal line like a high school student trying to sneak in the back door after curfew. Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya looked like he caught the puck trying to cross the line, but after pin balling around, it finally crossed the red. Barely. The refs had to review it, but the puck clearly crossed over the painted threshold.
Patrick Kane is a world-class talent, a difference-maker and a game-breaker. Tonight, the Wild was in control of the third period, scoring back-to-back goals, and tying the game 6:56 into the final frame on Kyle Brodziak’s third goal of the postseason. The Wild had more momentum than a wrecking ball, while the Blackhawks looked like a dilapidated house. Then, out of nowhere, Kane came to the rescue, stopping the demolition like a high-priced attorney with a cease and desist order.
Kane took the puck in his own zone, weaved at the blue line and put a backhander into the top right corner. It was the type of goal only a handful of hockey players in the world could score, and seemed to wake the Hawks out of their slumber. For good measure, Kane drove the death nail home on the Wild’s comeback attempts eight minutes later with his second of the period.
In the first period the Wild was the bearer of good fortune, as two plays “broke” in Minnesota’s favor. First, the Blackhawks were buzzing deep in the Wild’s end with pressure down low. The puck was bouncing around in the crease, while Bryzgalov was sprawling on the ice trying to cover. It looked as if the biscuit was still free and the Hawks finally jammed it past the goal line, but you could clearly hear the referee blow the whistle, even up here in the United Center press box. The Blackhawks thought it had a 2-0 lead, but here’s the official explanation from the League:
At 17:16 of the first period in the Wild/Blackhawks game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Minnesota net. The referee informed the Situation Room that he blew his whistle to stop play prior to the puck crossing the goal line. This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no goal Chicago.
Towards the end of the first period, the Wild won an offensive zone faceoff and the puck moved back to Marco Scandella at the point. The blueliner wound up for a slap shot, but his stick broke in half and the puck skidded slowly to Hawks’ forward Joakim Nordstrom, who looked like he was going to take it to the rack. However, he skated the puck right into a broken piece of Scandella’s stick and what looked like a bad break (sorry, I had to), turned into a good one for the Wild.
This season, I’ve been a regular guest on a couple of radio shows, 100.5 FM The Ticket in Saint Paul and 1390 AM The Fan in St. Cloud (shameless self promotion). Sometimes on live radio, I say things that I immediately want a mulligan on. Speaking with Michael Knight today on The Ticket, I said that I didn’t think that special teams would play much of a role in this series. What I meant to say was that both teams’ penalty kill units were effective in Round 1 (Chicago allowed only two Blues PPGs; Minnesota gave up three Colorado PPGs), while the power play units needed to get going after the their respective series. Therefore, whichever team could get the power play on track would be the one with a definite advantage. Only it didn’t come out like that because radio isn’t like writing, where you have time to expound on a given thought (in my defense, I corrected myself in today’s Lighthouse on Wild.com).
Of course, the Blackhawks scored twice on the man advantage instantly proving me wrong in my assessment. I immediately thought of the radio interview and how I completely blew the special teams analysis. Stick tap to radio and television personalities who give instant analysis on the fly, because I’ll be the first to tell you, it is not easy. Maybe the key is not bringing up the times you completely whiff and having a short memory. However, since I’m paid to write, not talk, and the Takeaways live on the inter webs forever, it’s a hard lesson to learn.