The Chicago Blackhawks took advantage of the Minnesota Wild’s schedule; defeating them 3-1 on the second of a back-to-back they’ll be keen to forget.
The Minnesota Wild haven’t given up too many losses this season, but will surely want to turn things around after defeat to Buffalo was followed by their second loss in two nights and third in four games.
It clearly wasn’t a lack of trying to score that was the problem; the Wild put 40 shots on Corey Crawford in the Chicago net but only managed to actually get one of them past him.
Meanwhile, their opponents mustered 28 shots, 27 of which were on Alex Stalock with two passing him and a further empty-net goal sealing the deal.
Minnesota Wild players that had been in decent veins of form suddenly lost their scoring touch on the night; Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal all held not only goalless but to minus figures on their plus/minus scores.
Ryan Suter and Matt Dumba on the back-end played serious minutes, both topping the 26 minute mark and getting nearer to the half-hour mark that you’d really like to see; especially against guys like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
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On the night, it would’ve been wiser of the Minnesota Wild head coach, Bruce Boudreau to use them a little less; roll the Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin line more often and actually give Nick Seeler and Greg Pateryn a bit of useful game-time, not a ten minute showing.
On nights like this one, players are a bit tired and playing nearly half the game, no matter how elite or how good your fitness is, isn’t going to help your team win.
The Minnesota Wild needed to show a little more aggression in their fore-checking and add a bit more haste to their game (easier said than done on a back-to-back), but realistically they were thwarted by a very impressive goaltending display.
It is easy to rest Chicago’s victory on Crawford’s shoulders; Minnesota were the better team on the face-off dot, they didn’t give up silly penalties and most of all, they limited the shots on their backup goalie, Alex Stalock.
Some nights just aren’t going to go your way though and I think this game was one of those nights. The Minnesota Wild would win this one three times out of four, but for a goalie standing on his head and some weary legs not showing as much pace as usual.