Recapping the first 40 minutes of this game seems like a great way to get you to click on the ads (do we have ads?). The last 20 minutes were where all the action took place and none of it was beneficial to the Chicago Blackhawks. I wrote down some bullets before I slept on this last night and after reading them this morning I don’t feel too different. Let’s get to them.
- The penalty kill still remains pretty good despite giving up a goal in the final minutes of the game. I dislike how much it’s being relied on but at least when called upon it answers the bell.
- The two lineup changes will certainly be the focus of much angst today. As well they should be. Dressing Brandon Bollig is hardly a surprise after 82 regular season games and an entire series against the Blues. But Sheldon Brookbank in for Nick Leddy? Listen. The Accountant had a nice cameo filling in for Brent Seabrook after his malicious hit on David Backes. But what did Nick Leddy do to get scratched as a healthy player? Can’t be anything worse than what Brandon Bollig has given you in the playoffs, right? I’ve been an advocate of Quenneville’s roster management so far these playoffs. But tonight’s lineup didn’t make much sense at all. It’s hard to dismiss what could have been in the second period on that 2-on-1 if Kane is shooting down the right wing with anyone, anyone, but Brandon Bollig carrying the puck into the zone.
- That does not mean the lineup the Blackhawks iced was incapable winning the game. They were just at a disadvantage in this observer’s opinion.
- Corey Crawford was solid tonight if unspectactular. The two Wild goals early in the third period were just impressive tallies that they deserve full marks for. Transition plays that has been absent in the first 40 minutes for Minnesota. Still, he only faced 17 shots and an .824 is an .824. Crawford held his own somewhat but if you can’t score it doesn’t matter if the goalie gives up 4 or 40.
- The possession stats favored Chicago for the most part in this game which was contrary to the first two games in Chicago. They lost this one and won those two. I’m sure there will be lots of balanced, productive discussion on this, not stones thrown at a hornets nest. It does seem rather cock-eyed that the two games with a far more optimal lineup than last night’s did not out-possess the Wild. If anything, Chicago appeared to be less aggressive tonight than in their two home contests.
- It felt like Chicago lost a lot of crucial draws but the Wild only took four more in the game than the Blackhawks. Maybe I was just paying attention to the ones they lost.
- Guess they can’t win in three now. I was wrong about that.
- Last thing about Brookbank. Three right handed shots yet Quenneville didn’t seem to trust 17 to play with anyone but Keith. That breaks up the best pairing on the team for an unnecessary reason for roughly half of Duncan Keith’s shifts. It also causes Oduya to get displaced with Rozsival for part of the game. Compounded with Hjalmarsson skating some shifts with Seabrook, a guy he’s not 100% familiar with, while he’s unable to communicate because of injury. Why?
A win on Friday sets up a series clincher at home and a nice bit of rest heading into a potential conference finals series. I still expect this series to play out in that fashion. They’ve got two days to think about this one, hopefully they stew in their juices a bit and come out on Friday with different personnel and a different result.