For 53 minutes the Minnesota Wild skated step to step with Patrick Kane and the Marian Hossa. When the Blackhawks scored, the Wild countered. Actually, the Wild found themselves down by two goals after two periods.
Clayton Stoner and Kyle Brodziak would lead the Wild on a comeback attempt but the Chicago Blackhawks would seal the Wild’s game one fate with 12 minutes to play, scoring the third goal and then the fourth and insurmountable goal with just over three minutes to play. The Blackhawks would score an empty net goal but that damage had already been done
The Minnesota Wild had their opportunities. They had chances to steal this game but they couldn’t make those chances count. They couldn’t make the bounces go their way.
A Tip Here & Tip There
Like in the regular season, Minnesota had many chances to score goals but the puck would trickle just wide of the net or just over it. The Wild’s forwards couldn’t find a way to beat Corey Crawford for more than two goals.
I’m categorizing this game as the Wild missing their chances to tip or redirect the puck into the net. The Wild had players streaking to the front of the net, great passes were tipped just wide of the net on multiple occasions. Even NBCSN (NBS Sports Network) announcers were talking about it in the third period.
There had to be at least 10 times where the Minnesota Wild couldn’t tip a puck into the net. The team had glorious chances and once again it proved that the Wild can outshoot (greatly) and outhit and outchance their opponent and still lose 5-2. It’s becoming old and against an experienced team like Chicago, missing your chances can be disastrous.
The Minnesota Wild faced a good Colorado Avalanche team uin the first round but the Wild has to step up their offensive game to have a chance against the Chicago Blackhawks
Against the opportunistic Chicago Blackhawks, that wasn’t good enough, especially when you are playing against superstars like Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa.
Patrick Kane & Marian Hossa
Patrick Kane was on top of his game in the third period. He displayed just how opportunistic the Blackhawks are and he showed the Wild how skillful a player he is. Kane scored two third period goals.
Kane displayed a lot of skill and speed. The guy is good player. He defines being an opportunistic player. On his first goal, he was parked at front of the net and Marian Hossa feathered a backhanded pass to him. Kane had a wide open goal. That goal was a thing of beauty.
One of the best goals I’ve seen all playoffs was Kane’s second goal. He went from end to end, avoiding Wild defenseman and then scored an almost impossible backhanded goal from a bad angle. Kane put the puck in the only part of the net it could go; the top corner (blocker side). It was a great goal but you can be the judge, since I’m not doing the goal any justice.
Marian Hossa also played like he always does. The guy has a ton of grit and he puts himself in the right place at the right time. Hossa scored an empty net goal and had two assists. Hossa was a threat all night long.
The Wild will need to find a way to shut Hossa down or limit his chances. Hossa has a knack of making plays and he sneaks up behind you. The Wild will have their hands full for the remainder of the series. I hope that Mike Yeo has an answer to Hossa’s dominance.
The Minnesota Wild Need to Tweak Their Game
In Wednesday’s article I talked at length about my superstitions and rituals. Unfortunately last night’s rituals didn’t work. As much as I tried, the Blackhawks had an answer. I guess I will have to try a little harder going forward or as a rational person might tell me, the Wild will have to play better hockey.
The Wild will need to be a little more opportunistic. They will need to score more than two goals a game against the Blackhawks and they will also have to play better defense. The Wild had a few breakdowns on defense during the game and it cost them.
The Wild are still trying to be pretty in their defensive zone and neutral ice. Players had chances to dump the puck down the side boards to relieve pressure but decided to ice the puck or go for long passes. The Wild can’t do that or they will be burned over and over again.
The Wild also tried cross body and cross ice passes in their defensive zone instead of taking the safe plays and getting the puck out of their end of the ice. I thought that the Wild had learned their lessons from the Avalanche series.
The Minnesota Wild just needs to tweak their game a little bit and they will win some games. If they continue to mess up on their opportunities or try to be too cute with the puck in their own zone, Wild players will be on the golf course sooner than they desire.
Anthony Bloch (AKA Sportmentary) – is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Sportmentary Online Sports Talk.
In addition to running his blog, Anthony writes a weekly column for Last Word on Sports and writes about the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.