NHL Playoffs: Know your opponent – Minnesota Wild
Road to the Stanley Cup series, sponsored by Can-Am Spyder’s Open-Air, Three-Wheeler. Can-Am Spyder is an official sponsor of the NHL.
The second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are here. After losing the first two games to the St. Louis Blues, the Blackhawks rallied to win four straight and advance. Their opponent, the Minnesota Wild, won Game 7 on the road in Colorado.
Here is what you need to know about the Minnesota Wild.
Record: 43-27-12 (98 points); Fourth in Central Division
vs. Blackhawks: 3-1-1
First Round: Def. Colorado 4-3
Series schedule (All times central) * – If necessary
Game 1: Wild @ Blackhawks; Friday, May 2, 8:30 p.m.
Game 2: Wild @ Blackhawks; Sunday, May 4, 2:00 p.m.
Game 3: Blackhawks @ Wild; Tuesday, May 6, 8:oo p.m.
Game 4: Blackhawks @ Wild, Friday, May 9; TBD
*Game 5: Wild @ Blackhawks, Sunday, May 11; TBD
*Game 6: Blackhawks @ Wild, Tuesday, May 13; TBD
*Game 7: Wild @ Blackhawks, Thursday, May 15; TBD
Key players for the series
He doesn’t have the pure talent to completely take over a series. What he does have is a tenacity that no one else in the league can match. – Dakota Case, Gone Puck Wild Owner.
Parise’s greatest strength might be his knack for never giving up on a play. His motor keeps running and sometimes it rubs off on his teammates. Parise isn’t a guy who can win you a series himself, but his effort and skill is something that can give the Wild some momentum. His 10 points are good enough for the NHL Playoff lead and will be someone the Hawks need to focus on stopping.
Heatly had a great game 7 to push the Wild past the Avalanche and it seems like he might have found some sort of fountain of youth. Mainly on the fourth line, Heatly has produced for the Wild in the playoffs so far but will that continue? Going up against a tougher Blackhawks team will be the test for Heatly. If he can play well in this series, it will go a long way for the Wild.
Wild in the net
Darcy Kuemper was hurt in the Wild’s Game 7 win over the Avalanche, so in steps Ilya Bryzgalov. This could be the big difference-maker in the series as Bryzgalov wasn’t too good in the first round. If the Wild want a shot at winning the series it will start with goalie play. If Bryzgalov struggles and Kuemper isn’t available, it could be a short series for the Wild.
Can the Wild slow down the ‘Hawks stars?
The Blackhawks are loaded with stars including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Their role players are also very, very good. If the Wild want a shot in this series they will need to limit the ‘Hawks stars.
The Wild are quick which will help them defensively in the series. When the Wild wanted to stop the Avalanche’s top line they turned to their speedy youngsters who limited the Avalanche and made life rough on them. It’s possible they could do the same, scratch that… they MUST do the same to slow down the Blackhawks.
The Wild can win if….
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–Minnesota just needs to keep playing their game. Play smart, maintain possession of the puck, play physical and shoot when the opportunity presents itself. Speaking of “shoot”, the Wild’s best chance of getting one past Crawford is exactly like it was for Varlamov. Both goalies are strong down low, but leave wide, open areas for Minnesota’s snipers up high. If the Wild can keep shots elevated, they give themselves a very real chance to win every night. – Dakota Case, Gone Puck Wild owner.
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