Game 2: Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Chicago
Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he looks back at a 4-1 loss in Game 2 of the Second Round against the Chicago Blackhawks:
The Minnesota Wild will return to the State of Hockey, down 2-0, in its best-of-seven Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wild got off to a slow start this afternoon, had a strong middle frame, but was unable to solve Hawks netminder Corey Crawford. The second period was a doorstep 20 minutes for the Wild. The club was on Chicago’s front porch a number of times, but couldn’t cross the goal-line threshold. After only mustering two shots in the first, Minnesota peppered 13 second-period shots, many from the slot, but couldn’t capitalize on its chances.
Minnesota started to mount a comeback in the third, but, just like in Game 1, Chicago scored a timely goal to kill the rally. Through two games, the Blackhawks have taken advantage of its opportunities and has had an answer every time the Wild has built momentum and tried to mount a comeback. Minnesota looks to even the series back in Saint Paul, where the team is undefeated in the postseason this year.
I knew Erik Haula was fast, but setting up the Wild’s lone goal, he seemed to find another gear. After losing a neutral zone faceoff, the Hawks cleared the puck the length of the ice and Haula went back to retrieve it. He started the play with the puck behind the Wild’s net and took off through the neutral zone, blowing by two Hawks before hitting the breaks and threading the needle to Clayton Stoner (we’ll get to that).
Funny thing about great skaters—they look like they’re not even putting any effort into their stride and still pass guys like they’re standing still. Haula has one of those effortless strides that most players would kill for.
Typically, Cody McCormick and Stoner make the highlight reel for their bone-rattling checks. Well this afternoon, they combined for a highlight-reel goal.
After Haula blasted through the neutral zone like a rocket, he found Stoner jumping up into the play. The defenseman looked like he had an opportunity to shoot, but dropped the puck onto the tape of McCormick. The forward then buried the puck for his first of playoffs.
While they combined for a slick goal, they still continued playing a rough-and-tumble game. Stoner had a couple of huge hits in the neutral zone and McCormick didn’t shy away from the physical play. After nearly launching Jeremy Morin into the Blackhawks bench, he gave him a punch to the ribs for good measure.
The Blackhawks have a ton of skill offensively. However, sometimes it overshadows how good the club is defensively—especially on the penalty kill. The Hawks’ PK is clicking at 93.9 percent, good for first in the National Hockey League.
The interesting thing is that the Blackhawks play a very passive box while shorthanded. The club allows plenty of perimeter passing, but is tougher than rhino skin to puncture. Hawks penalty killers use their sticks to cut off passing lanes and always seem to take proper angles when engaging through the neutral zone. They also block incoming shots like they’re covered in ballistics gear, something that is as difficult as it is painful.
I love music.
Listening to good tunes is probably one of my favorite past times. However, you know when a co-worker constantly sings a catchy tune, and then it gets stuck in your head until you’re completely annoyed and the song is then ruined? Well, that’s what “Chelsea Dagger” is like for me now. The song by The Fratellis has been completely ruined for me in the past two playoff series against the Blackhawks. The tune is the Blackhawks’ goal song, so hearing it in the context that I have at the United Center is far from ideal.
I’m sure those Scottish lads were just trying to produce a fun, catchy pop song when they composed it, with no idea it would become the bane of opposing teams’ fans and employees. If you play that song on the jukebox in Minnesota in the next few weeks, fair warning, you might have a drink poured on your head.