Following Wild games, Manager of Digital Content Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Second Round:
The Windy City has not been kind to the Minnesota Wild. For the third straight Stanley Cup Playoffs, the series between the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks shifts to the State of Hockey with the Hawks up 2-0.
The Blackhawks played a counter-punching game tonight, with three of its goals coming off turnovers and finishing with its high-end skill. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane (2) and Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago in transition, finishing on “goal-scorers” goals. Kane’s first and Sharp’s tally were both off the post and in. The lefty and righty scored on mirroring shots, going far side, low tide about a foot off the ice past Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Toews’ had some puck luck on his finish, but we’ll get to his goal in a moment.
The Wild talked about being responsible with the puck and the Hawks made them pay on three turnovers. With the series moving to Minnesota, the Wild has been able to bounce back on home ice. Last season, after losing to the Blackhawks in Chicago, 4-1, the Wild won Game 3, 4-0. The club hopes to recreate that outcome on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
If last season’s matchup between the Wild and Hawks is remembered for a stanchion, let’s hope an inanimate object also doesn’t swing this year’s series. With the game scoreless in the second period and the Wild on the man advantage, Marian Hossa created a turnover in the neutral zone and raced down the ice. He slipped the puck across crease to Toews, who was alone on the right side of the net.
It looked like Toews would have an easy tap in, but Dubnyk came across the crease like a charging bull. It looked like the goalie denied Chicago’s captain. However, as the puck popped up in the air, Dubnyk’s momentum carried his body at an angle and the butt-end of his knob struck the puck in mid-air. The puck inched its way across the goal line like there was a magnet pulling it a moment before Ryan Suter could save it from crossing the threshold.
I’ve used this space plenty of time to bemoan the special treatment goaltenders get and tonight was a good example of a bad goaltender interference call. In the first period, Thomas Vanek standing completely stationary on the edge of the crease and redirected a Jason Zucker pass, which Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford turned aside. Vanek was in search of the rebound when Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith ran him from behind, cross-checking the Austrian in the back. Keith knocked him into Crawford and the netminder shoved Vanek as he tried to retrieve his dropped stick. That’s what drew the ref’s attention and the penalty.
You know its bad when a fellow netminder breaks the goaltender’s code and thinks it’s a bad call. FOX Sports North color analyst Mike Greenlay was sitting next to me in the press box and called it a bogus penalty.
The Blackhawks continued to look for the home run pass again tonight. In the first period, Chicago narrowly missed on three long bombs in transition. In the second period, Keith hit Toews on a two-zone exit pass, which led to a shot on goal by the Hawks captain. In his morning media availability, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said the club had to be aggressive, but also be mindful of the Blackhawks ability to get out on the rush in a hurry. The Blackhawks have the ability to go through stretches of inactivity and then, bang, it’s in the back of the net.
Every time a Hawks defenseman, especially Keith, gets the puck in the D-zone, guys like Hossa, Kane and Sharp look to exit the zone for a stretch play. Late in the second period, the Hawks finally connected on a long bomb. Keith took a Wild turnover just inside his own blue line and hit Kane in stride at the far blue. The 26-year-old went post-and-in past goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
For a guy who scores as often as Kane (tonight’s goals were his 41st and 42nd career playoff markers), you’d think he’d be better at celebrating his triumphs. After putting the puck in, he tried to pop his lid up on his head, but knocked it back too much, so that it looked like a bonnet on his melon: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/patrick-kane-of-the-chicago-blackhawks-reacts-after-scoring-news-photo/472097982.
It’s always fun to see what opposing teams’ game night staff pulls out during the playoffs to get the crowd pumped up. Tonight, during an ice-cleaning stoppage, the in-arena video board focused on a woman and two men in Hawks sweaters. The fans played it cool while the opening notes of Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” came blasting through the speakers.
After a few bars Freddy Mercury started to wail and the woman started to sing along. When the harmonies kicked in, the two men flanking her joined in. After a few seconds, you realized they were planted by the game night staff, as they went into theatre-mode miming movements and the song. When the song moved into the heavier head-banging-guitar-riff section, the trio jumped to their feet and encouraged the fans to get loud. The Madhouse on Madison crazies obliged, and they had their Wayne’s World moment. Party on. Excellent.