Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Why the ’Hawks could win anyway. This squad is coming off one of its better games in recent memory, with the only really scary moments occurring between the puck drop following Jonathan Toews’ second-period goal and the horn signifying the end of that period. The ’Hawks are continuing to crush the Wild in possession, even if the shot totals don’t suggest as much (both teams had 31 in Game 2). Only Michal Rozsival, Johnny Oduya and the second line of Bryan Bickell, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane posted negative Corsi-for percentages in Game 2. Meanwhile, only five Wild posted positive figures in that regard, while both members of the Wild’s No. 1 defensive pairing, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin, were near or at minus-10 for the game.
With the advantage of last change in Minnesota, Wild coach Mike Yeo should be able to give most of his players the opportunity to dig out of the possession hole. But in three home games against St. Louis last series, the Wild were still plenty abysmal possession-wise, dropping as low as 36.1 percent (!) as a team in Corsi-for in Game 6. When you give the Blues that much possession time, only so many guys can turn it into consistent scoring (Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz come to mind, and David Back…I tried to type that with a straight face; no dice). If you give the ’Hawks that much possession time, they’ll make you pay all over the roster. All four lines potted a goal in Game 2. That should strike some fear into Minnesota as far as its lack of puck possession goes.
Additionally, looking at the netminders after two games in this series, Corey Crawford is playing far better than Devan Dubnyk. Sure, neither has been perfect, but Crow is sporting a .939 save percentage while Dubnyk is at .893. Dubnyk’s number probably wouldn’t suffice on a team carrying the majority of possession (the ’Hawks, for example). On a team getting shelled in that department, the number is a series destroyer. Don’t expect Crow to be thrown off by any silly “Crawwwwwferrrrrd” chants directed his way while on the road. He’s getting back into form in net, and that’s bad news for the Wild no matter what game of the series we’re in.
At the end of the day, we can go back to the ’Hawks technically being 50/50 to win Game 3 in Minnesota tonight. Longer-term history errs on the side of anticipating a defeat. But shorter-term history says the ’Hawks can win tonight’s affair and essentially shut the door on the Wild’s season in the process. Time to let it play out.
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