Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Chicago
Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways, presented by Wells Fargo, that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 5-3 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks:
Well, all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately for the Minnesota Wild the end was a chance at a two-game win streak and not the Chicago Blackhawks’ 23-game point streak. The Wild came out of the gate strong, scoring first, but were unable to find its game until the third period. As Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo stated before the contest, you have to play a complete game against the Blackhawks, and bring it for an entire 60 minutes.
“We can’t play the game that we did and expect to win,” Yeo said after the game.
After getting on the board first, it was as if Minnesota took its foot off the accelerator and Chicago hammered its down. The Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals in the opening period, three from two guys who might not be recognized outside of their hometowns or the Windy City. But depth is one of the reasons the Hawks is on its current streak.
Devin Setoguchi got the Wild on the board at the 8:22 mark of the opening period. The goal came after a strong forecheck from Setoguchi and his linemates, Jason Zucker and Matt Cullen. Setoguchi looked beat by a breakout pass of the corner, but chased down a Brian Bickell on the sidewall and finished his check. Cullen poked the puck off Viktor Stalberg’s stick, after Bickell move it to him, and Zucker picked up the loose puck and fed the centerman. The veteran dropped his shoulder, cut around a Hawks defender and fired a shot on goal from the left side of the net. Meanwhile, after finishing his check near the blue line, Setoguchi sprinted to the front of the net. Cullen’s rebound popped right onto the stick of Setoguchi, who battled for position inside of Duncan Keith and chipped home the second shot.
After a sluggish start to the year, Setoguchi has picked his offensive game up since joining Cullen and Zucker. Tonight, the winger was credited with four hits and two shots on goal. He’s in the midst of a five-game point streak, totaling two goals and four assists during the span.
After a scoreless second period, Minnesota mounted a third-period comeback, but it wasn’t enough on this night. Ryan Suter started the final frame with a power play goal, his first in a Wild sweater. Suter drilled a slap shot from the point off the post and in.
Aside from contributing in the offensive zone, Suter is one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League at retrieving pucks out of the corner in his own end. He uses body positioning and anticipation to fend-off oncoming forecheckers. Instead of zooming directly to the puck, Suter will first get inside body positioning while retrieving the puck and use his back as a shield several feet before reaching the biscut. He either bumps the forward for separation or guides forward to the shoulder he wants the attacker to be at for a quick escape in order to free his stick long enough to pick up the loose puck.
Kyle Brodziak scored midway through the final frame to make things interesting. Off an odd man rush, Mike Rupp fired a puck from the left circle. Corey Crawford kicked out a juicy rebound and, going to the net, Torrey Mitchell made a cutting stab at the puck for a second shot, which was resting in the crease behind the Blackhawks netminder. Brodziak, who was ridden behind the net, made a diving play to knock the puck into the net on the backhand. That second effort was exactly the type of play you want to see out of a checking line, and at times the line was the Wild’s best tonight.
I’m combining two takes into one since they are both half-takes that are Blackhawks-centric. First take, the Hawks’ 23-game point streak has turned the national media’s attention onto hockey, which is great for the sport. Chicago’s locker room was packed with media members like Da Super Fans' arteries were clogged with Polish Sausages. Which brought one talking head on a prominent sports show to compare the Blackhawks’ current point streak to the Miami Heats’ current win streak. Okay, I get that media members are paid to debate the merits of athletes, but comparing the Heat and Hawks was (screaming at the top of my lungs) ASI-NINE! ASI-TEN! ASI…you get the picture.
My point: we probably shouldn’t compare streaks across sports boundaries. You can compare the Hawks’ unbeaten streak to the old Flyers’ streak; you can compare the Heat’s win streak to the Rockets’ win streak. But comparing streaks, as to, which one is more impressive, is a waste of breath. Especially when one is a point streak and the other is a win streak. They are both impressive in their own right, in their own context and in their own sport. It’s like when a movie based on a book comes out, and everyone says the book is better. The conversation usually goes something like this: “Have you seen (insert movie title)?” “Yeah, but the book was better.” Well, you really shouldn’t compare the book version of a story to the film version, because you are comparing things that cross media platforms. You wouldn’t compare the television version of “Dukes of Hazard” to the thing Hollywood vomited out and called a movie, right? So why would you compare one sports’ streak to another?
Part two, Marian Hossa was honored before tonight’s matchup for skating in his 1,000th-career NHL game. The Satra Lubovna, Slovakia native has been one of the League’s most consistent offensive threats in his 12-plus NHL seasons. Hossa has an impressive resume: NHL All-Rookie Team (1999), NHL Second All-Star Team (2009), five NHL All-Star Game appearances (01, 03, 07, 08, 12), and most importantly a Stanley Cup ring. Currently, the 34-year-old has 426 goals and 495 points. A few more productive seasons and he will be a serious Hall of Fame candidate, something I’m not sure a lot of hockey pundits would’ve been saying at the start of his career.
Tonight, he celebrated his milestone game with a goal. Near the end of the game, the Blackhawks faithful began chanting, “Ho-SA! Ho-SA! Ho-SA!” It must’ve been special for the forward…
The first time that I went to a Chicago Blackhawks game at the United Center, it was the late 90’s and the franchise, to be kind, was not where it is today. Growing up, even in Anchorage, we heard tales about the Hawks faithful cheering throughout the National Anthem. Well, at my first visit to the Blackhawks’ home arena the building was at about half mass and the hoots and hollers during the Anthem wouldn’t have fire up a high school team.
Tonight, however, was a different story. Rarely does a cynical old codger that sits up on press row get goose bumps from something that seems so contrived, but the hairs on the back of my neck stood up along with the cheers, twice during the Anthem. It’s something that you’ve got to see live to really understand. With the Blackhawks on its current run, the Windy City faithful will surely be cheering harder and longer during the Anthem as long as the streak continues.