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.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT
He may begin 2014-15 banged up.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
“The next few days will be the turning point,” GM Jim Rutherford said.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:12 PM EDT
The early word is that he’s OK, though.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
It’s not as foolish as it sounds … maybe.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Worth a try.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
According to fellow Swede and Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.
Oct 1, 2014, 6:38 PM EDT
One last chance for a tune-up.
Oct 1, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Where he’ll resume coaching duties for KHL Lokomotiv.
Oct 1, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT
Didn’t take advantage of their opportunities.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT
Sounds like both will start the season at center.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
Off to AHL Lake Erie they go.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
“We have not been in contact with the IOC and they have not been in touch with us.”
Oct 1, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
Meaning all of Columbus’ No. 1 line — Jenner, Ryan Johansen and Nathan Horton — is now out of action.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
He won’t be ready for the season opener.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Both have one-year, two-way contracts.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT
And Zack Stortini has been placed on waivers.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT
“You can tell a guy ‘don’t dive’, but even on our team we’ve seen a few of them.”
Oct 1, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT
Another veteran d-man, Nolan Yonkman, was also released.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
“But we’ve talked and we’ll continue to talk about it.”
Oct 1, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT
A rookie head coach, some significant roster turnover and the annual questions in goal.
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