Minnesota Wild Lose 5th Straight, Chicago Blackhawks Win 4-1


4. 94. 1. 98. Final

Barely Avoiding a shutout, the Minnesota Wild was dominated by the Chicago Blackhawks and their ravenous fans. Matt Cooke had the lone tally for the Minnesota Wild, who have lost their last 5 games by a combined score of 22-7.

Well folks, we made it to the halfway point of the season. Our Minnesota Wild are just 41 games away from the playoffs or the golf course. The way they’ve played the last 12 games, I’m wondering if I’ll run in to Mike Yeo on the links. Its current losing now stands at 5 games and 10 of its last 12, a season low for the loaded roster.

First Period:

The Minnesota Wild came out sluggish. Playing their third game in four nights, this may have been expected; however, the Blackhawks had a nearly identical schedule and came out with a jump that would cost the Wild with 2 goals in the opening frame.

First, a Jason Pominville turnover in front of the Blackhawks net turned in to a 180 foot scoring play for the ‘Hawks. After scooping up the puck, Marian Hossa and the Blackhawks developed a 2-on-3. Johnathan Toews, trailed the play to quickly build a 3-on-3 as Pominville coasted behind. Failing to jump in to the play, Pominville let Toews skate to the left-wing side of Niklas Backstrom , pick up a pass from Brandon Saad and pass off for Hossa who buried his 9th of the year in to a wide open net. 1-0 Blackhawks at 04:17 of the first period. Take a look at the play in the video below. The Blackhawks were free to set up a great play as the Wild skated in circles. Frustrating.

Next, Bryan Bickell, the better Bickel(l), took a cross-crease pass from Patrick Kane, who skated out of checks like he was made of quicksilver, and put home his 9th of the year right over Backstrom’s right leg pad. Bickell ALWAYS scores on the Wild. 2-0 Blackhawks at 07:53 of the first period. By the way, this goal came after the Wild let the Blackhawks saunter out of their defensive end and through neutral ice.

The Wild, who was outshot by a 10-2 margin at one point, turned up the pressure in the final 10 minutes, including a power play chance where they registered 4 shots on goal and managed to move the puck really well.

More from Editorials

Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Justin Fontaine were a line tonight and had the only real offensive chances for the Wild. Niederreiter and Coyle were great on the forecheck, something this team has forgotten about. Fontaine always knows where to be on plays, but he seemed to hold back on his checking tonight.

Johnathon Blum, playing in place of Justin Falk, had the undisputed play of the first period, reaching behind Backstrom and sweeping the puck off the goal line to keep the Wild in the game, kinda.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 14, Chicago Blackhawks 13

Second Period:

The Wild continued to look like they were skating on half-melted ice. A few shots here and there, but nothing of quality. Jason Zucker came close a couple of times, as did Ryan Suter and Matt Cooke.

Brad Richards put the Blackhawks far out of reach for the Wild. Kane threw a shot on net that took a fortuitous bounce off Backstrom’s pad and on to the stick of Richards. Richards roofed a shot over Backstrom’s stick to make it 3-0 Blackhawks at 11:08 of the second period.

Zucker earned a penalty shot in the second period. After twisting

Niklas Hjalmarsson

in to knots,

Johnny Oduya

was forced to trip Zucker on a clear breakaway. In the video below (courtesy of

Yahoo Sports Canada

) you can see he can’t quite settle the puck down  on his way to the net and tries to backhand a shot over

Corey Crawford’s

head but misses wide. The thing that gave me hope for the last half of the season was Zucker’s reaction. He broke his stick, doubled over, and looked despondent. Zucker  really cares about his team and his play; that’s something we as fans can’t ignore.

To end the period, The Blackhawks decided to score again. A 2-on-1 break with Saad and Toews against Jared Spurgeon originally looked to be broken up with a deflected pass and a blocked shot by Spurgeon. Unfortunately, a trailing Oduya picked up the puck and snapped it home to make it 4-0 Blackhawks at 18:25 of the second period.

Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 26, Chicago Blackhawks 27

Third Period:

Let’s get right to it, The Wild ended Crawford’s shutout bid at 45 minutes. Cooke, Ryan Carter, and Kyle Brodziak were pretty productive tonight and put the Wild on the board.

Kyle Brodziak rushed down the right-wing wall, fired a shot on goal, and the rebound made its way on to Cooke’s stick. Cooke, with a wide open net to work with, finally put the Wild on the board with a wrister.

4-1 Blackhawks at 15:08 of the third period.

A late power play and a comfortable shot on goal lead, but the Wild couldn’t rally. Game over, Blackhawks win 4-1 in regulation.

Trembley’s Take:

We’ve past the “skid” and moved in to a full-blown free fall, guys. I don’t know what to call it anymore. My hopeless optimism is quickly fading in to sadness. There’s really still a chance, but it’s hard to see right now.

Jason Zucker was my star of the game tonight. Undoubtedly, his passion was something to be admired. I loved it. If this team played the way he did today, they’d be well in to the playoff race, rather than slowly fading from it.

Backstrom had another sub 0.900 save percentage. What more is there to say? Our defenders weren’t great, but he was worse.

I saw a lot of twitter hatred towards the “veterans” tonight. Look, I get it. The team is losing and we want to blame someone, so we blame Yeo, we blame the veterans, we blame our weird superstitions. I have a weird superstition about Blackhawks games and it came true. So, blame me if you want. If you want to tell me how bad the veterans are performing, show me statistics that say they’re the worse than any other member of this club right now.

Talk to you on Tuesday, when the Wild take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh.