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 1-0 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Second Round:
Backs against the wall. On the brink. Do or die.
Pick any “up against it” cliché because they all mean the same when you’re down to a single game. The Minnesota Wild finds itself a game away from the end of the season after tonight’s loss against the Chicago Blackhawks. In Stanley Cup Playoff history, four teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit. The Wild was once thought of dead this season, Jan. 13, so don’t count them out quite yet.
The Wild played a much better game tonight, but couldn’t solve Chicago netminder Corey Crawford. It was a low scoring affair, but not because of a lack of chances. Minnesota had several Grade-A looks and outshot the Hawks, 30-22. No, tonight we saw a good old-fashioned Stanley Cup Playoffs goaltending duel between Crawford and Minnesota backstop Devan Dubnyk. The game was a chance-for-chance, up-and-down affair, but each goaltender kept their teams in it and their opponents at bay. Only one shot was the difference tonight…
Patrick Kane continued his postseason tear tonight. The forward scored on a power play in the first period, extending a four-game goal streak and six-game point streak (5-3=8). He’s only gone one game without a point in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, totaling 11 (6-5=11).
Tonight, he scored on a tricky little wrist shot on the rush. He came into the zone with speed, settled a wobbly puck and outwaited Dubnyk. The netminder gave him almost zero daylight, but he found room through the 5-hole like a moth attracted to a flame. Kane is one of the elite scorers in the National Hockey League and a game breaker. He did it again tonight.
Maybe it was because Round 1 was physically taxing on both clubs, but the first three games of the series have remained pretty clean. The teams only took four penalties tonight and one was a too many men bench minor. Despite meeting for the third time in three years in the postseason, there isn’t the typically scrum-after-the-whistle, trash-talking-in-front-of-the-net shenanigans you’d typically see between clubs in a seven-game series.
Funny thing is the numbers say the first two games in the Windy City saw Game of Thrones level conflict. Game 1 had a total of 70 hits between the two teams, while Game 2 had an astounding 81 hits combined. Meanwhile, in the opening round, probably the most physical game of the series (Game 2 in St. Louis) the teams were credited with a total of 72 hits. Tonight, the teams totaled 31 hits. So, either I missed a whole bunch of finished checks in Chicago, or the scorer is trigger-happy.
The Wild made a couple of lineup changes for Game 3. Forward Chris Stewart suffered an upper-body injury in Game 2, when Johnny Oduya took him down and he crashed into the boards. Forwards Jordan Schroeder and Ryan Carter both entered the lineup. It was Schroeder’s first playoff game at home — he skated in Game 2 of the first round in St. Louis. Meanwhile, it was Carter’s first postseason game this year.
With Stewart out, Jason Zucker moved to the wing alongside Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter. Schroeder played with Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek, and Carter was on the fourth line with Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke. We’ll likely have to wait until Thursday to know if there will be any other alterations for Game 4, as Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo typically keeps his lineup card close to the chest.
A lot was made about the ice at Xcel Energy Center today after a power outage impacted the cooling system this morning. However, both teams took morning skate as usual and said the ice was fine. Some of the Blackhawks players even commented, regardless of the generators being out, it was better than the surface at the United Center.
Judging from the press box, it looked like the ice was in good shape. Pucks were lying flat as players skated up the rink, while passes slid smoothly across the surface — typically telltale signs of good ice. Stick tap to Travis Larson and the crew to get the surface ready despite the curveball. The springtime weather gives another set of challenges, as the humidity can wreak havoc on the ice. Last season, Larson told me that humidity is the number one concern for rink guys, but the Wild’s arena crew has had things under control this spring.