May 5, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville (29) looks for a pass outside the crease of Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the third period in game three of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
How cool would it be to sweep? That’s exactly what the Chicago Blackhawks could do tonight if they can defeat the Minnesota Wild just one more time. The Wild will come out on fire, so the Hawks will have to be ready. This won’t be easy.
Tonight’s Game Four of the Western Conference Semi-Finals will be played in St. Paul. Puck drop is set for 8:30 PM, so get your coffee ready Hawks fans. The game can be seen on NBCSN and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.
Here’s a statistical breakdown of how the Hawks and Wild have fared in the playoffs so far.
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The Hawks defense is firing on all cylinders and their Goals Against is a bit misleading especially when considering the two blowout losses to the Nashville Predators, in the First Round. Although the Hawks hold a 3-0 series lead
Although the Hawks hold a 3-0 series lead, the Wild haven’t played terrible by any means. Their fatal flaw is that they have failed to prevent the Hawks from playing their brand of hockey. Defensively, the Wild have
Defensively, the Wild have been overall strong. They are limiting the quality of the Hawks’ chances, but they have failed at limiting the quantity of the Hawks’ chances. When a team like the Hawks and all the fire-power that they possess continually controls the puck and creates the majority of the game’s shot attempts, they will eventually find the back of the net.
The Hawks winning faceoffs, hogging the puck, playing responsible defense, and having great goaltending is a recipe for disaster for Minnesota or any team.
The Wild are mixing things up with their lines. Defenseman Nate Prosser will be replacing Jordan Leopold on the 3rd d-pairing. Charlie Coyle will now flank Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker. In an attempt to ignite the struggling Thomas Vanek, he will now be centered by Kyle Brodziak and flanked by Nino Niederreiter.
Starting in net for the Wild will once again be Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk has looked human this series after looking like a machine in the 2nd half of the regular season.
The Hawks are being powered by their responsible defense and puck moving abilities which have been on full display this series. So, look no further than Duncan Keith as a huge reason why the Hawks are up 3-0. Marian Hossa’s stellar defense has also helped stifle the Wild and he’s been great in the playoffs despite not having a goal.
A huge factor in the Hawks’ success has been the emergence of a freakishly good 3rd line. Veterans Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp along with Teuvo Teravainen have absolutely owned the puck when on the ice.
Starting in net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford. Crawford has gotten his mojo back in this series and his Game Three shutout is likely the biggest reason why the Hawks are within a win from advancing. In his post-season career against Minnesota, Crawford is 11-3 with a .942 Save Percentage in 14 games. Not too shabby.
Minnesota will come out fast and strong, so the Hawks will have to weather the storm for a bit. Desperation will likely turn the Wild into a completely different animal, so it’s hard to not pick them as the favorite to win tonight, but not the series.
Although, ideally the Hawks will complete their first post-season sweep since the 2010 Western Conference Finals over the San Jose Sharks.
Get it done!