It’s always fun to get an opposing view, especially when it comes from our hockey writer friends within the division.
Get To Know The Chicago Blackhawks–GPW Chats With Blackhawk Up
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Keith Schultz, the Editor of Blackhawk Up, the FanSided Network’s Chicago Blackhawks site. As you all are probably aware, Schultz’s ‘Hawks and our Minnesota Wild are set to drop the puck tonight on their 2014 Stanley Cup Western Conference Semifinal Series.
Here’s what our friend over at BU had to say.
Dakota Case: What is the biggest key for Chicago in approaching this series?
Keith Schultz: Playing Blackhawks hockey for 60 [minutes] which is a lot of possession with a lot of pace to their game. This season, and during parts of the St. Louis Blues series, the Blackhawks went to sleep for 5, 10 or even a period at a time. When they are locked in and playing their game for 60 minutes, they are tough to beat.
DC: Obviously, Zach Parise will be a big concern for the Blackhawks, but who else should they make a high priority on Minnesota’s roster?
KS: The person to highlight is Ryan Suter and his nearly 30 minutes of ice time he gets a night. The Hawks need to target him early and often to make him work and not be as effective as he normally can be against the opposition’s offense.
DC: Do you sense any fatigue affecting Chicago, or is it a concern?
KS: I don’t see it being a concern because the Wild forced a Game #7, and then won in overtime, giving the Hawks two extra days of rest. Both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were out in the last month with injuries, so that time, plus this past week off, should have them energized with no worry of fatigue.
DC: What is the secret to success against the Blackhawks?
KS: Possessing the puck and lulling them to sleep the team that gives the Hawks their biggest problems is the Nashville Predators. They play an extremely disciplined system and never give up odd man breaks which forces the Hawks to play almost perfect for 60 minutes. If you have a great goalie and system you have the secret.
DC: Having watched Minnesota’s quarterfinal series unfold, are there any players that could give Chicago major issues in the upcoming series?
KS: Not letting Zach Parise get hot in a series with the Wild has to be any opposition’s biggest fear. He’s everything that Wild expected when he was signed before the Lockout and he’s the one player you fear the most when facing Minnesota.
DC: What is the best way for Chicago to combat Minnesota’s dominating, puck possession style of play?
KS: Possession versus Possession is the best way to combat it and get an early lead. Scoring first was the key in the Blues series and should be in this series because it opens the ice up and leads to odd man breaks the longer they have the lead.
DC: Your call–who moves on and in how many games?
KS: Hawks in 6 games. The Wild will be a tougher opponent than last year, but the Hawks’ stars will trump the Wild’s stars and the question mark in net for the Wild will eventually be their kryptonite.
Special thanks goes out to Mr. Schultz for taking the time to give us a behind-the-scenes sneak peak at the defending Stanley Cup champs. For more Chicago Blackhawks coverage, be sure to check out our friends over at Blackhawk Up. You can also follow Schultz on Twitter: @Oakforest72.
Scott will have tonight’s game preview up shortly. I’ll be on “Calling All Sports” with Mark O. and and Mike H. on Sports Radio KWSN 1230 AM/98.1 FM at 2:30 PM Central Time later this afternoon to talk some Minnesota Wild playoff hockey. To listen in, click here.