Round Two Preview: Blackhawks vs Wild
We know the opponent, but don’t yet know the schedule for the second round playoff series for the Blackhawks. With St. Louis eliminated, the Hawks will have home ice against the Minnesota Wild, against whom the Hawks had an uneven regular season series.
Unlike Nashville, the Hawks and Wild last game came only a couple short weeks ago in Chicago’s home finale. Jason Zucker returned from his clavicle injury to make in impact on that game, but Patrick Kane was still out of the Blackhawks lineup as the Wild held off the Hawks in a close game.
In the regular season:
- Dec. 16 in Chicago – Blackhawks win 5-3
- Jan. 8 in Minnesota – Blackhawks win 4-2
- Jan. 11 in Chicago – Blackhawks win 4-1
- Feb. 3 in Minnesota – Wild win 3-0
- April 7 in Chicago – Wild win 2-1
The Blackhawks statistical leaders in those four games:
- Patrick Kane – 4 games, 2 goals, 6 assists, +4
- Jonathan Toews – 5 games, 1 goal, 5 assists, 59.6% fo
- Brad Richards – 5 games, 1 goal, 4 assists
- Bryan Bickell – 5 games, 4 goals, 1 assists, +4
Chicago dominated Minnesota at the dot, led by Toews. Antoine Vermette won 60 percent of his faceoffs (one game with Chicago, three with Arizona) and Marcus Kruger won 59.2 percent of his faceoffs in five games against the Wild this season. Vermette had two goals and one assist against the Wild while skating with the Coyotes.
For Minnesota, only two players – Zucker (three) and Mikeal Granlund (two) – scored more than one goal in the five games. Granlund won 54.8 percent of his faceoffs against the Hawks this season; he appeared in only three of the five games.
Zach Parise posted seven points in the first round against St. Louis, which tied for third in the NHL in the first round; Toews and Kevin Shattenkirk led the league with eight. Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane also had seven points, while Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp had five points each.
Between the pipes may be the position where the Wild hold the most significant advantage heading into the series. Appearing in the postseason for the first time in his career, Devan Dubnyk posted a .913 save percentage with one shutout against the Blues in the first round; Chicago, meanwhile, had the opportunity to pull both of their goals during their series against the Preds and finished back where they began with Crawford in net.
The Hawks were one of the many teams that came up short against the exceptional play of Dubnyk down the stretch. After joining the Wild, Dubnyk allowed only one goal against 57 shots and won both of his starts against the Blackhawks; the second of those wins was against a Kane-less Blackhawks team, however.
Corey Crawford will start the series between the pipes for Chicago, and he was solid with a .948 save percentage against Minnesota this season. Antti Raanta appeared on Dec. 16, getting a win in spite of three goals allowed against 29 shots; Toews, Kane and Brent Seabrook each had three points that night.
On special teams, the Hawks were fantastic on penalty kill duty against the Wild the season, successfully killing 13 of 14 Minnesota advantages in the five games. In the first round against Nashville, however, the Blackhawks allowed a power play goal in five of the six games. The Hawks power play converted only twice in 11 chances against Minnesota during the regular season and continued the underwhelming trend in the opening round.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
17 thoughts on “Round Two Preview: Blackhawks vs Wild”
I am impressed with one stat. The Hawks ability to own or win at the dot. Pred’s did a great workman like job winning big big face offs. Stats in all spots never capture the real data that is the value, Those 6 face offs when you behind with less than 5 mintues and those 3 face offs on power plays, that is the stat!. Such a big advantage for any team when you can win it clean ( unlike most hawks wins in scrums ) you can get one of the best most accurate shots off on net in the game. Prime scoring!
Dubnyk if the Wild win will obviously be MVP, but WILD will have trouble scoring and the Hawks will tally a lot of shots on net in this series don’t be surprised if the Hawks get 51 shots on net and lose 2 to 1. It will happen, but over a 7 game set they can grind down Dubnyk.
Also of those 51 shots maybe 8 of them will be high quality scoring opportunities, WILD does not give up rebounds, Dubnyk Does give up rebounds, but normal procedure and strategy for their defense is to knock you on your ass if your near Dubnyk. That is why Cory may struggle, and does his net protection in actually O. His ability to play the puck behind the net is O and is actually a problem. Crow will need some protection.
We have no Ryan Suter whose DNA is search and destroy, so the net front Shaw and Bick and our D-men taking filling in gaps on the offense is sort of key. We need more “cheap” goals.
I fear a little how well WILD cashes in on mistakes and they do have speed which like the Hawks speed is not evident as it is for the Rangers. But they turn up ice fast and ZACK can be a MVP here with lame hawks turnovers like the nba bulls, , he’s not big but plays very big when you screw up. Keep him in check you sort of sweep these guys but no one can keep Zack in check he is that good.
Gotta feel good here. TT now has a pure shooter to pass to (Sharp). Bickell get to play with Kane (usually works for well for him). the Top line is rolling. the 4th is clicking.
I know Dubs has been hot, but all cinderella’s turn back into pumpkins eventually. i think his time might be up.
no schedule… but i’d assume Friday/Sunday for games 1 and 2. NHL schedule will be out before we know if the Bulls will need a game 7 vs the Bucks, so they can conflict with the potential G7 on Saturday. The extra day will be good for any tired legs. there will be no stopping these 2 in once they get going. I like the Hawks in 5, but in a tough series. I just dont see the Hawks not putting it together. Lets just hope the Flames give the Ducks hell…
Totally agreed with Tim above! Love this lineup, I want to see TT and Sharp get Goals.
Tim G, if the Hawks win in 5, then the Hawks will win the Cup. I hope for a win in 5, but this one is a 6 or 7 game series. Great for hockey, Great for us fans! Let’s Go Hawks!
I’d love to say the hawks take this one, but I think this is the year the wild get us. Their road play combined with our terrible road play doesn’t add up to wins for me. I’ll take Minnesota in 6 or 7
GO WILD!!!! sorry to say but we will have this in game 6. Crawford vs. Dubnyk I will take that match up all day.
The Wild have Parise and the corpse of Jason Pommenville. Almost forgot Vanek was on the team.
Bout the same top end talent as Nashville with less to offer defensively. Not a whole lot of center depth either.
Unless catastrophic meltdown happens then Hawks in 6, but it won’t be pretty. Five if they tighten their game up and refrain from taking too many periods off.
I’ll start with a disclaimer and a premise – I freely admit that, as a homer, I see more through my heart than my head, and I still believe the Hawks “best game” is better than the best game of every other team.
Individual matchups and performances matter, but to me it all comes down to whether or not the Hawks can play their best for longer periods of each game and more games than not. If they play up to their potential I believe they will win the series. If they don’t then they probably don’t win the series.
I suppose that’s kind of a Captain Obvious thing but I think it will take the sum to be greater than the parts to beat the Wild – a team victory. That’s the way the Wild play and that’s what it will take to beat them.
Scotty, the Hawks have the best road record in the league.
This feels like a 7 game war to me. If you look at the lineups the Hawks have the advantage, but the Wild have been playing great team hockey which often trumps raw talent. My heart wants to say the Hawks but my head says the this is the year the Wild puts it together. Wild in 7.
The schedule is finally out… Friday/Sunday with another 8:30 start Friday night. Good thing it’s not a school night.
Game 1 – Friday night 8:30 PM
I’m most curious to see how 2015 Parise handles Toews and Hossa. Last year he came in equally (if not more) hot into the second round and left a minus 3. And Suter was a minus 4. When Toews, Hossa and Keith crush the opposing leaders (e.g. Parise/Suter 2014, Burgeron/Chara 2013, Richards/Pronger 2010) the rest of the team crumbles.
Not sure if anyone caught this article in ESPN the Magazine. They identified KPIs and benchmarks of Cup winners. Spoiler alert, the 2015 Hawks meet all of them. Good read for some NHL down time.
AJ/ER, that’s what I thought. NAS is basically as good/the same as STL/MIN.
People do not give enough credit to NAS. NAS played really good, STL did not. NAS has a better defense/goalie then MIN, that’s why both teams play the style/system they do.
When we play really good, like ER feels and knows, we have a better team and roster depth then any. People are only looking at the way teams have played recently and not how when we take it to another level. When we play, we play.
Not feeling this match up i think Wild in 6 or 7. My concern are shots for and against. The Hawks give too many up and the Wild dont allow alot. Tab based on your breakdown i am feeling somewhat better but not ready to change my pick.
The Wild have more top end talent and more depth at forward than Nashville .. Besides Parise, they’ve got Zucker, Pominville, Vanek, and Niederreiter as real goal scoring threats. Last year, neither Zucker nor Vanek were there for the Eild against the Hawks in the playoffs. And frankly Zucker is the best goal scorer for the Eild this year when he’s healthy.
Defensive depth is also much improved for the Wild this year. Dumba is coming into his own, and they brought in Leopold as a steady veteran presence for their third pairing. Brodin is better than he was last year, and Spurgeon and Scandella continue to be an underrated pairing. Combine that with Dubnyk being a huge upgrade over what the Wild had in goal last year, and you are looking at a very different, better a Wild team this year.
This guy is a Wild troll or he is drunk off the Wild Kool-Aid
The Wild are an upgraded team, no doubt.
But when Leopold came up…