Game 4 Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Need to Get Back on Track Against Minnesota Wild


May 6, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella (6) hits Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp (10) during the second period in game three of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

After jumping out t a quick 2-0, series advantage, over the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks were shutout, in Game 3.  Much like last year’s playoff series, against the Wild, the series is now 2-1.  Game 4 is in Minnesota, tonight, which gives the improved Wild a prime chance to even the series.  We shall see…

Here’s how both teams have played, throughout the post-season.

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No need to lose hope yet, as the Hawks have played better, throughout the playoffs, in almost every category, than the Wild.  Although Minnesota has an edge, in Corsi, much of that was achieved against the Corsi challenged Colorado Avalanche.  The Wild are not a possession team, so their improved Corsi For, shows how they have improved as a team.

The Wild were in this same exact position, in last year’s playoff series, going into Game 4 against the Hawks.  They lost Game 4, and the series went back to Chicago, where the Hawks eliminated them.  The Wild have improved, and could very well tie the series, tonight, much like they did, in the 1st round, against Colorado, and much like the Hawks did against the St. Louis Blues.

Struggling scoring threat, Matt Moulson, will be out for tonight’s game, but the controversial Matt Cooke will replace him, as he is returning from a 7-game suspension.  Cooke will be playing on the line with Erik Haulawho has given the Hawks trouble, during this series, and Justin Fontaine.  The line featuring Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund has also given the Hawks a hard time, this series.

In net, for the Wild, will in all likelihood, once again, be Ilya Bryzgalov.  I Game 3, Bryzgalov shutout the Hawks, and it will be interesting to see if that will boost his confidence enough, to send him on a sort of hot streak.

The Blackhawks will have a very different look, tonight, as Coach Q, has once again, used his lineup blender, in an attempt to spread out scoring.  No word on how long it will be until he uses the blender again, though.  Ben Smith has been moved from his very succesful role, as 2nd line center, to 1st line winger, alongside Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell.  Smith’s 2nd line center spot has been taken over by Marcus Krugerwho will be flanked by Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad.  The most interesting line has to be the 3rd line, of Michal Handzus centering Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.  The remaining forwards fall onto the 4th line, and it consists of Jeremy Morin, Joakim Nordstrom, and Brandon Bolligas Andrew Shaw will once again, be out, for tonight’s game.

Speaking of out, Nick Leddy should be back, in tonight’s game, after being a mysterious healthy scratch, in Game 4.

This seems like an awfully dramatic blending of the lines, after 1 loss, but Coach Q is gonna Coach Q.

In net, for the Hawks, will once again be Corey Crawford.  Not much to complain about, with Crawford, this post-season.  He has put up an excellent .929 Save Percentage, in 9 playoff games.

This one could be a tide-turner.  If Minnesota wins, they tie the series and snag the momentum, and then a win, in Chicago would not be at all out of the question, for them.  If the Hawks win, they take a 3-1 series lead, with a chance to advance, in Game 5, in Chicago.

Go Hawks!