Most experts speculated that if the Wild were going to win a game, it would be the first home game, and that’s exactly what happened. The Hawks seemed a bit unprepared for the relentless fore check and back check that the Wild brought all game long. Blame could go around the whole team for every single one of the goals, but it’s the leaders who performed just short of their abilities. With the large impact they have on this team, its crucial that our star players are in top form. So while you can look at Saad and his -2 +/-, or Crawford letting in a softy in overtime, sometimes it’s all the little things that happen in between the goals that make all the difference. Here’s the three vets that need to tighten things up to really help the team out in the next game in Minnesota.
3) Duncan Keith
Keith scored the game tying goal in the third, which was his third point of the playoffs, but he had numerous small problems throughout the game. There were multiple times he couldn’t keep the puck in at the blue line and a couple of “what was he thinking?” passes throughout the game. I understand that he didn’t just hand the puck over for an easy goal, but because of his miscues we missed out on numerous extended stays in the Wild zone. In a game where we need to make the most of our offensive zone time, we expect a bit more from our experienced vets.
It feels a bit odd putting Toews on this list, but we are all still waiting for our “Toews moment” to happen. To give him full credit, the Oduya goal in game three owed a lot to Toews rushing the net, drawing the defender, and partially screening Harding in the process. Toews has been doing everything right.. except putting up the points. Toews also only has one takeaway in three games which is a good clip below the 1.17 takeaways per game he was averaging. As the captain, we need him to go into his bag of tricks and pull out a timely goal in a game where the Hawks are being outworked. I have a feeling that we will see an angry Captain Serious in game four.
1) Marian Hossa
Hossa is one of those players I tend to blindly defend due to the fact he is my favorite active player, but he struggled in game three. He makes number one on my list by not being… well, Hossa. He was mishandling the puck quite a bit, and the passes he usually could coral with ease seemed to just keep getting by him. Like Toews, he was averaging above one takeaway per game, but has only been credited with one this entire series. I’ve seen glimpses of the ol’ Hossa brilliance when he’s protecting the puck, but it wasn’t as often as the team needed.
These players are all known leaders to this team, and they need to be the kind of players their teammates lean on when the time is ticking down. I don’t blame them for the losses, I just know that they can bring more. So who would you say needs to tighten up their away game? Handzus and his subpar faceoff perecntage? Or maybe Krueger just isn’t pulling his weight offensively? Let us know your list.