The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks clash for the second time in their Stanley Cup Playoff Conference Semi-Final series at 2 pm Central Time this afternoon. The Wild are ready to bounce back after a disappointing 5-2 loss in game one. This is not unfamiliar territory for the Wild as they have lost game one of every Stanley Cup Playoff series they have been a part off all the way back to 2003. When it comes to game two’s the results are a mixed lot with Minnesota winning game two twice out of six series. The Minnesota Wild need a victory this afternoon or they once again find themselves in a 0-2 hole heading back to St. Paul for games 3 & 4.
Ilya Bryzgalov will be in net for game two and he’ll be trying for a better performance this time out. Bryzgalov surrendered 4 goals on on 21 shots including a pair of goals in the third period by Patrick Kane that took a tie game and made it a huge hill to climb for the offense. For the Stanley Cup Playoffs Brygalov has a record of 1-3 to go with a goals against average of 4.26 and a save % at .821. Those simply are not the numbers of a starting goal tender in the post season. The problem is is Wild are out of options at this point. Darcy Kuemper is injured with no timetable for return, the current backup, John Curry, has a body of work totaling 6 NHL games, a 3-2 record, with a goals against of 3.55 and a save % at .893. Not exactly the career experience you want in net against a strong, confident, defending Stanley Cup Champs Blackhawks squad. What the Minnesota Wild need right now is for Ilya Bryzgalov to be better. Period.
Offensively the Wild generated a pretty good group of scoring chances in game one. They put 25 shots on Corey Crawford but got only two past him. I’m not sure the answer is more shots. One area Minnesota lacked shots was on the power play. The power play units were 0 for 3 on the night and suffered from perfect pass/shot syndrome. They kep passing ans passing and passing looking for the ideal shot which never came. When the Wild get a power play opportunity tonight the need to take shots as they present themselves, pounding the puck on net and look for deflections, redirections and rebounds then pounce on those appear to be:
Justin Fonataine – Erik Haula – Nino Niederreiter
Dany Heatley – Kyle Brodziak – Cody McCormick
Defensively the Wild need to tighten up just a bit. They surrendered just two even strength goals unfortunately both of them came after the game was tied in the third period. Earlier in the game the defense did a fine job of shutting down the Blackhawks they just need to do it for more that 40 minutes. The pairing for today appear to be unchanged:
Nate Prosser- Clayton Stoner
The special team for the Minnesota Wild need to step up today. The power play needs to break threough and score and the penalty kill needs to be better. Allowing two power play goals on four chances is unacceptable. The Wild can beat the Blackhawks, as they demonstrated with a 3-1-1 record in the regular season. A greater attention to detail and an unwillingness to accept a lesser effort are what Minnesota needs today against the Blackhawks.
I’ll be back after this afternoons tilt with a recap and analysis. This is a winnable game for the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is early today with face off scheduled for 2:00 pm Central Time. Until next time the is Scott Drain still confident, still shouting out loud, LET’S GO WILD – BEAT THE ‘HAWKS – LET’S GO WILD!!!!