Game 3 Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Look to Push Minnesota Wild to Brink of Elimination


May 4, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) chases after the puck against Minnesota Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner (4) during the third period in game two of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

As the series, heads north, to St. Paul, Minnesota, the Chicago Blackhawks have the opportunity to go up 3-0, in the series, and putting the Minnesota Wild on the brink of elimination.  Tonight’s game figures to be the most challenging one yet, for the Blackhawks.  On the road, and with the Wild feeling the heat, the Hawks have their work cut out for them, even with a 2-0 series lead.

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As you can see, the Hawks are in fact, the superior team.  However, Minnesota’s Corsi For Percentage, is their only advantage.  Yes, some of that was earned in their 1st round series win, over the Colorado Avalanche, but it still goes to show that the Wild are a much improved team, from last season.  It’s likely that tonight’s game will be a low-scoring one, with the Wild furiously executing their boring clog the lanes style, more effectively, on their home ice.  The Hawks have to make this game a track meet, because the Wild will fight, but eventually not be able to keep up, with the Hawks.

The Wild are desperate and have played well enough to where winning a game, in this series, is likely.  If it’s going to happen, it’ll happen tonight.  Desperation setting in, heading home, and frustrated from narrowly missing on several scoring chances, in Games 1 and 2, make for a hungry Wild team.  If the Wild are going to attempt to climb back, in this series, they must have production, from their top-6 forwards.  Zach Parise has been narrowly missing, and has 1 point, in this series, but he may need to do even more.  After Parise, there is a big dip, in offense.  Parise has 11 points, in the playoffs, and the next best, is Kyle Bordziakwith 6 points.  In an attempt to create more scoring balance, Matt Moulsonacquired for offensive prowess, has been demoted to the 3rd line.

In net, for the Wild, will likely, once again, be Ilya Bryzgalov.  Bryzgalov has really struggled, to a tune of a .830 Save Percentage, during the playoffs.  However, Darcy Kuemper was also, on the ice, during morning skate, so it wouldn’t be a shock, if he made his return, tonight.  That could be a big boost, for the Wild.

The Blackhawks need to keep the tempo and attack up, as getting this series over with, as soon as possible, would be in their best interest.  A loss, brings the Wild within one game, and with another game, in Minnesota, they would have a chance to tie the series, and steal the momentum.  The Hawks cannot get lazy.  During the morning skate, shot blocking extraordinaire, Niklas Hjalmarsson, was wearing a turtle neck like article, on his neck.  In Game 2, Hjalmarsson, took a puck to the neck, and although he can’t speak, much, he is expected to play, in Game 3.  The rest of the lineup expects to be the same, as it was, in Game 2, as Andrew Shaw will again miss tonight’s game.  However, Coach Q wasn’t willing to commit to Jeremy Morin being in the lineup(figures…).  Hopefully, Patrick Sharp can’t get his game going, tonight, as he hasn’t looked himself, throughout the playoffs.

In net, for the Hawks, will once again, be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has been spectacular, during the playoffs.  He made several acrobatic saves, in Game 2, and he will likely need to be on his A-game, tonight, as the Wild are hungry and desperate.

This series, isn’t over yet, but the Hawks are sitting comfortably.  However, the concern is that they may get too comfortable.  The Wild are anything but comfortable, which can sometimes be a weird advantage, that can change the course of a series.

Go Hawks!