Playoff Threeview: Chicago & Minnesota
CIII3. Blackhawks 46-21-5 (107 points, 3rd in Conference III) vs. WC1. Wild (43-27-12, 98 points, 4th in Conference III)
Season Series— Wild 3-1-1
Leaders— Blackhawks: Duncan Keith (2G, 5A, 7 Points), Jonathan Toews (3G, 4A, 7 Points, 3 GWG), Patrick Kane (3G); Wild: Zach Parise (3G, 7A, 10 Points), Charlie Coyle (3G), Clayton Stoner (20 PIMs)
Probable Goalies: Blackhawks: Corey Crawford (4-2, .935, 1.98); Wild: Ilya Bryzgalof (1-2, .826, 4.25)
Words & Music
“Let’s not stop here. Let’s keep going. We know we’ve got a tough test ahead of us with Chicago. They’ve been sitting there waiting for us. We’ll start preparing and get ready for that challenge,”– Wild coach and angry social studies teacher Mike Yeo to the Associated Press.
The early storyline, at least, will be about Minnesota’s goaltending which early on, at least, will be on the very bizarre head of Ilya Bryzgalov. The Pixies sang about a space man on “Planet of Sound.”
Locks & Keys
Mike Yeo is going to have to play the match-ups and play them hard, which, of course, is far easier to do at home. On the road, it’s going to be tougher to get Ryan Suter out against Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but No. 20 is, of course, destined to play 35 minutes a night anyway.
Chicago’s power play was a bit iffy in the Blackhawks Round 1 defeat of the Blues — just 15 percent or so — but they might fare better five-on-five anyway. The Wild were (was?) able to shut down the dynamic offense of the Avs at least enough to win four games, but Chicago presents a far deeper challenge.
The Wild will have to get scoring all through the line-up, which makes a player like Charlie Coyle — who has the ability to play any number of roles for Yeo — crucial to their success.
The Big Question Mark for Minnesota is in goal (NB: Why isn’t Bryz’s nickname “The Big Question Mark?”) and it may be a question that’s too hard to answer.
Call & Response
As mentioned yesterday, I like the Hawks in five.
I, uh, couldn’t find anybody who picked the Wild here.