May 4, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT
Much like Game 1, the contest was quite a bit closer than the final score might indicate,* but the bottom line is that the Chicago Blackhawks now have a 2-0 series lead against the Minnesota Wild after winning Game 2 by a 4-1 mark on Sunday.
Closer than it appears?
It’s easy to see that the Blackhawks are hot right now. Stretching back to their first-round battle against the St. Louis Blues, they’ve now won six consecutive playoff games.
It’s also a special win for head coach Joel Quenneville, for those counting:
The good news for the Wild is that they’ve been here before. The Colorado Avalanche took a 2-0 series lead against them in round one only to see Minnesota advance after seven games (which included an overtime battle in that decisive game). While the first two games against Colorado were often out of control for Minnesota, these first two losses were tighter until the Blackhawks pulled away in the third period of each game.
The shot totals probably tell the story best: Minnesota limited Chicago to 22 shots on goal in both games.
Not easy for Breezy
For all the good that comes out of those observations, the bottom line is that the Wild have been outscored by a combined score of 9-3 through these first two games.
Fair or not, one must wonder if Minnesota can put much trust in Ilya Bryzgalov. The Russian-born goalie has lost four of five games in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and his lone win came in just 13:15 of game time (from Game 7 after Darcy Kuemper left with an injury). His individual numbers haven’t been very strong, either, so it’s not just a matter of the team in front of him.
It’s probably true that Bryzgalov isn’t the only problem for Minnesota, yet they might just need him to carry them at times. (The goals often haven’t been Breezy’s fault, but his prospects as an unrestricted free agent seem to dip with each start.)
Bickell heats up
Toews scored the first goal for Chicago, Bickell collected two assists and added a goal in the third period (after clanging the iron on his previous shift) and Hossa had three helpers in Game 2. It’s little surprise that Toews and Hossa are looking strong, but Bickell seems to be on track for a playoff breakthrough for the second straight year. After only managing 15 points in 59 games in the regular season, Bickell has eight playoff points (all in a four-game streak).
If this trio can keep it going, it will be highly difficult for any team to slow Chicago down.
* – In the case of Game 1, it was 5-2.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
Just a precautionary measure, said GM Jim Rutherford.
Sep 18, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
He spent a lot of time on the sidelines last season, but Pittsburgh leaned on him heavily when he was healthy.
Sep 18, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Selanne was diplomatic after being made a healthy scratch, but now he’s opening up.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT
Is it still reasonable to believe this might have a relatively happy ending for both sides?
Sep 18, 2014, 7:57 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT
Brendan Bell also gets a chance to impress.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
A clothing-conscious post.
Sep 17, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
His back issues present another headache for Columbus.
Sep 17, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
He has 44 games of NHL experience under his belt.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT
Insert your “humongous big” jokes here.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Quite an open letter.
Sep 17, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT
Sep 17, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
His agent says it’s best to leave town and avoiding being a distraction.
Sep 17, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT
“No matter how much my old teammates say it doesn’t bother them, it affects them. It does in that city.”
Sep 17, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT
And on the possibility of his client signing an offer sheet? “Well, we’ll have to see.”
Sep 17, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
“Justin has emerged as one of our most well-rounded and dependable defensemen.”
Sep 17, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT
“We’ve been told if we don’t give them what they want, they’ll be leaving town.”
Sep 17, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT
Veteran d-man just turned 40 years old.
Sep 17, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT
Sep 17, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT
“That is significantly good to hear.”
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- Just how damaging are heated negotiations between Jackets, RFA Johansen? 13
- Panthers owners say they’re committed even though team has lost ‘tremendous amounts of money’ 10
- Update: Wild’s Harding out indefinitely with fractured foot 19
- Johansen heads home from Columbus as talks get even messier 21
- Kesler accuses Vancouver media of making up stories, ‘throwing people under the bus’ 22
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal 51
- Mike Yeo is pretty unhappy with Minnesota’s goalie situation 22
- Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center 19
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- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (51)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)