The Minnesota Wild threw everything they had at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. It didn't work. The Hawks were proven to be the better team, and they took the 1-0 series lead as a result. The Wild did show they can hang with the Hawks, and the effort was definitely entertaining for fans, but there are also some key deficiencies the Wild have that were highlighted.
The Hawks showed that their depth and speed are still unmatched by the Wild. Josh Harding had to be nearly perfect to keep the team in the game as wave after wave of Hawks offense crashed over them. The Wild were pinned in their own zone several times for far too long. At the other end of the ice, the Wild never seemed to get any cycling set up, no puck movement, no control. Cory Crawford was coughing up juicy rebounds, yet there were no Wild players there to capitalize.
Certainly, the game had its positives. The Wild never showed panic, they continued to fight and battle until the bitter end, and they truly showed the Hawks that this will not simply be handed to them on a silver platter. Anyone who thought it would be is, well, delusional.
The Wild need to find another gear if they hope to climb back in this thing. Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu need to get the top line fired up. Along with Charlie Coyle, they are going to face the toughest competition all series. They need to find a way to overcome that and put points on the board, or the Wild are doomed.
The second line needs to contribute as well, and needs to come out of their shell quickly. Jason Zucker was the best player on that line, and he was making his playoff debut. The bottom six of the Wild are going to have to realize that the bottom six of the Hawks is not build like them, as well. Speed, size, offense. The bottom six for the Hawks is the dagger, and if the Wild can't find a way to match them, it will be certain death.
The Wild's defensive play was far from terrible, with Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin leading the way, and the rest of the D corps doing their part. They will need to do so again, and hope the offense can contribute, in order for the Wild to climb back into the series.
Game two is far from a "must-win," but down 2-0 is a much different situation than tied 1-1 and headed home. The Wild showed they can keep up, now we get to see if they can do more than that.
Late start tonight, 8:30, so we''l see you back here for the game thread this evening.