Blackhawks @ Wild Preview, Game 3: X Is The Spot

Jonathan Daniel

The Wild are back home at the X in familiar territory, down two games in the series. Ready. Set. Changes.

The Wild return to St. Paul, where they have won four of their last five playoff games. Minnesota lit the lamps just once in game two, and it came off the stick of Cody McCormick of all people. Not to say Cody hasn't had a great showing in the playoffs, but the top six forwards have not scored a single goal in the first two games. Credit the Crawford fella who has gobbled up just about everything. With the offense silent, Yeo has waved his magic-hand again, moving Nino Niederreiter to the top line with Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu. Those are some big boys playing alongside our captain. Matt Moulson slides down to the 3rd line with Eric Haula and Justin Fontaine. Moulson has had a disappointing playoffs so far, registering just two points in nine games. Haula has had some apples in three of his last four games, and the the hope is he can get Moulson rolling.

Keith Ballard is back, Nate Prosser is scratched after a rocky couple of games trying to stop something called Patrick Kane. Ballard hasnt played since March 18th. The hope is Ballard can dance across the blue line and get a few more pucks from the point actually on net. Chicago had 25 blocked shots in game two. Just like the offensive changes above, something has to give here being down 2-0. Ballard will be paired along-side with Clayton Stoner.

Zach Parise is second in the NHL with 11 points (3-8=11) this postseason after totaling 10 points (3-7=10) in the series vs. Colorado - a career high for most points in a single series. He is also second in the NHL in shots this postseason. His line of Granlund and Pominville was the only line untouched. Dany Heatley leads Minnesota and ranks T-3rd in the NHL with a plus-7 rating this postseason. YEP.  He also ranks T-2nd on the Wild with six points (1-5=6) this postseason. Darcy Kuemper returned to practice since leaving game seven with an upper-body injury. but is not expected back anytime soon.

The Wild enters Game 3 with an all-time record of 3-4 in the third game of a series, having won three straight Game 3’s in overtime. The Blackhawks have lost eight straight playoff road games to begin a series. So a good sign for us, eh? Oh yeah, Matt Cooke comes back after this game. Lets give St. Paul, The Wilderness and Cooke the important win. Go Wild!

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