The Minnesota Wild are set to face not only the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, but also their own demons as they toe the line with their season in the balance. Down 3-0 and having scored the same amount of goals as Patrick Kane himself in the series, the Wild will have to show a form of desperation tonight that they have yet to show in the playoffs, and have been far away from in this series. This series has also lacked a physical tone, and one could guess that the Wild will try to assert that type of game early on to change the pace to disrupt the Blackhawks from their game.
The Wild will defy the definition of insanity by juggling the lines and lineup to give the Hawks a different look. Nate Prosser draws in for Jordan Leopold on the bottom pair, while Erik Haula returns to the lineup for Ryan Carter. Charlie Coyle shifts back to Mikko Koivu's right side for the first time since the All-Star break. Here's how the lines stack up to start the game:
And the D Pairs with Prosser:
Suter - Brodin
Scandella - Spurgeon
Prosser - Dumba
And of course, Devan Dubnyk in net.
As has been stated many times, the team is only looking at this game and how to win tonight. In order to do that, they must find a way to solve Corey Crawford, who is having an outstanding series, and stop Kane, who is always great against the Wild. Look for Haula to shadow the offensive dynamo, and a potentially sneaky good 3rd line to spark the offense. Coyle and Koivu also have a history of chemistry and could make a very nice line with Zucker.
Keys to tonight's game will be getting on the scoreboard first, establishing a physical presence, and shutting down Kane and Toews - all things that this team is capable of. No shortage of desperation should be shown tonight, and the team of 19,000 should provide a raucous chorus to energize the team. Plain and simple, the Wild must leave everything on the ice to win and force game 5 in Chicago.