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.
Aug 4, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
It blows the Kings goaltender’s mind that he’s not talked about more, so let’s discuss him.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:20 PM EDT
He used to have that role with the Calgary Flames.
Aug 4, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT
They signed him to a one-year deal while fellow breakout rookie Mark Stone got a three-year contract.
Aug 4, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT
Jim Benning follows through after calling him a “foundation piece.”
Aug 4, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Assuming of course Bill Foley succeeds in his attempt to bring the NHL to Sin City.
Aug 4, 2015, 4:55 PM EDT
Where should we set the bar post-Babcock?
Aug 4, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
That didn’t work out for them.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
Yes, it’s the inevitable, perennial Red Wings question.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT
MLBAM will handle NHL.com, Center Ice, Game Center Live and the NHL Network in 2016.
Aug 4, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
Can Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek get it done, collectively?
Aug 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Adding a wealth of experience.
Aug 4, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
The skilled Swede may or may not be ready to start the season.
Aug 4, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT
He’s already made a positive impression on Jeff Blashill.
Aug 4, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
Mike Babcock’s act is a tough one to follow.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The book has closed on the Mike Babcock era.
Aug 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002
Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?
Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.
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