Playoff Game #2- Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks (Chicago leads series 1-0)
Game Time-7:30 Central
Preview- The Minnesota Wild played Game 1 as well as they possibly could and still came up on the short end of the stick even with Josh Harding‘s emergency effort in net. Harding looks to be net again after the Wild recalled Darcy Kuemper from the minors on Thursday. The Wild were successful getting the early lead, getting the crowd out of the game, and playing a very disciplined defensive hockey game. All of these factors kept the high scoring Blackhawks at bay for the entire contest. The Wild will be hard pressed to play this style consistently for the entire series but it is there only real shot at victory. Ryan Suter needed the extra days off thanks to the Chicago Bulls playoff game Thursday night after playing 41 minutes in Game 1. As good as their defense played Tuesday night, the Wild’s offense was pretty weak with their only goal of the contest coming from a soft shot by Cal Clutterbuck that Corey Crawford should have handled easily. The Wild offensive didn’t put much pressure on Crawford except for a few good chances when the Hawks were pressing. You do have to give credit to the Wild on blocking 21 Blackhawks shots during the contest but if the Wild are going to leave Chicago with the series tied up they have to be more aggressive in the Hawks zone.
The Chicago Blackhawks start to the 2013 playoffs was not the start they were looking for from soft goals to errant passing. The Hawks seemed rusty and out of sorts in the first period, but they seemed to fight it off as the game went along even though they weren’t able to solve Harding for much of the game. The real key to this game is getting the first goal of the contest to force the Wild to play hockey instead of defending their blue line. Joel Quenneville preaches pace and that is what the Hawks need to play with from the opening faceoff to avoid another defensive struggle all night long. The Hawks special teams need to continue their strong game one performance after going 1-3 with the man advantage and forcing Minnesota to go 0-4 on their powerplay. Corey Crawford after a weak first goal settled down and played a solid game which will be need again in Game 2 tonight with Ray Emery still out with his lower body injury.
Prediction- The Hawks jump out early and often and win going away 4-1.
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