Blackhawks: What worked, all that didn't
Give the Blackhawks credit for knowing exactly how to silence a hostile crowd in a hockey-crazy community. In the first period of Game 3, the Hawks stuck to the fundamentals and didn’t take too many chances, and the result was a 0-0 deadlock at the first intermission. Yawn, said the Wild faithful.
Clearing the zone
On a team that’s loaded with stars and superstars, Hawks center Marcus Kruger doesn’t receive a lot of headlines. But Kruger does all of the dirty work that never shows up in a box score, such as when he cleared two pucks out of the zone during an early penalty kill.
You’ve probably heard this before, but the Hawks are terrific at blocking shots. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson wore a protective guard around his neck and couldn’t speak before the game because he took a high shot to the throat in Game 2. So, what did he do in Game 3? He blocked a shot with his shin. Ouch.
What didn’t work
We give Patrick Kane all kinds of love for his offensive prowess, and deservedly so. But fair is fair, and it’s necessary to acknowledge that Kane’s inability to get back on defense led to the first goal of the game. In the third period, Wild forward Erik Haula sprinted in front of Kane and broke a scoreless tie.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville seemed willing to try anything to spark his team’s offense, but none of his tinkering worked in Game 3. At one point, Quenneville assigned Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp to the top line. The maneuver looked great on paper, but it didn’t help the Hawks score.
For the past two days, the Hawks spoke about the importance of staying disciplined and avoiding the penalty box in Minnesota. And what happened? The Hawks committed four foolish penalties. Defenseman Johnny Oduya’s hooking penalty with 3:34 to go in regulation spoiled any chance the Hawks had at a comeback.
Stars of the game
None of the Hawks fared particularly well, but Hossa fired three shots on goal and was not on the ice for any of Minnesota’s goals.
Win or lose, Hjalmarsson deserves credit for continuing to put his team’s chances ahead of his health. Hjalmarsson blocked four shots in Game 3 despite taking a shot to the throat two days earlier.
It’s tough to find three stars from the Hawks after a woeful loss, but Ketih was effective during his 28-plus minutes of ice time. He notched three hits, a blocked shot and a takeaway in 32 shifts.
Yeah, throw this game out. Burn everything.
@SoldierFieldBlg, Blake Van Poucke
What they’re saying
“You’re denying them what they really want to do and you’re willing to take one for the team. It’s an important art, it’s an important part of how you defend.”
-Hawks coach Joel Quenneville on his team’s shot-blocking prowess
“This league is a lot easier when you’re playing with the lead. It’s tough to come from behind all the time.”
-Wild forward Zach Parise on the importance of scoring first
“There was a point when I was playing in Rockford and I maybe didn’t expect to be here playing. … As the season went on, I got called up and I think I played pretty good in those last few games. I feel like I’ve earned being here.”
-Hawks center Joakim Nordstrom on his postseason emergence