The Chicago Blackhawks are known for their talented forward group. And why wouldn't they? When you feature Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa sprinkled throughout the top-6. That's without mentioning the Wild-killer Bryan Bickell, Brandon Saad, and Patrick Sharp. The Blackhawks also feature a very mobile defensive corp led by Duncan Keith. There's not much of a drop-off to the other defensive pairings that feature Johnny Oduya, Nick Leddy, and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Containing a team with this much skill will not be an easy task.
The Wild's defensive group will be tested. There's no doubt about that. The top-4 defensemen performed well in the Colorado series, but the third pairing had times when they struggled. Do we see the re-insertion of Jonathon Blum into the line-up to help stabilize the bottom pairing?
In 15 games with the Wild this season, most of his games coming against in the stretch run against some of the top teams in the league. He has Corsi For 5v5 close percentage of 52.6 in those 15 games. He is a mobile, puck moving defenseman that has helped move the puck out of the zone with a good breakout pass.
The breakout pass is the most important pass a defenseman can make as it allows the team to relieve the pressure and get their offense going. What Jon Blum did in those games was provided another option for Mike Yeo. Blum not only helped the defensive side of things, but he also provided shots from the blue line.
Sure he got sheltered minutes with favorable zone starts, but when you have a third pairing consisting of Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser who constantly chooses to chip the puck off the boards to get out of the zone (which is a necessary play in some cases), Blum, instead, finds a forward to pass to.
I think that in order to contain a tough Blackhawks team, using a bit of their own medicine by having as many puck-moving defensemen, rather than size and face-punching ability, will benefit the Wild in more ways than one. The Blackhawks are less of a brute, punishingly physical team, and more of a tenaciously physical, strong on the puck kind of team. By reducing the turnovers by simply chipping the puck out of the zone, essentially letting the Hawks set up another zone entry, the Wild will be able to alleviate the overwhelming pressure that Chicago can bring.
But Jon Blum only has one assist in those 15 games! Sure, but Blum also isn't a liability. I know plus/minus is an irrelevant stat, but in those 15 games, Blum is a -1. He was on the ice only twice this season when a goal was scored against 5-on-5. One of those was that last game of the regular season in which no one had good game in the 7-3 loss to the Predators.
My point is that Blum is not a liability and a huge upgrade for a bottom pairing defenseman. I just think that in order to match-up with the Blackhawks, you need to match mobility with mobility.