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Souhan blog: A great beginning to the NHL playoffs

  • Blog Post by: Jim Souhan
  • April 30, 2013 - 11:52 PM

If you had never seen an NHL playoff hockey game before, Tuesday's night's in United Center would have been a great introduction.

I wrote about Josh Harding for the paper. Here are my thoughts on other topics related to the game:

-Jason Zucker makes some rookie mistakes, but his speed and aggression can win you a game. He drew two penalties on Tuesday night and almost scored the winner off a faceoff in overtime.

-I don't know how Ryan Suter does it. He played a game-high 41:08 Tuesday. The Wild player with the next-highest total ice time was his defensive partner, Jonas Brodin, who played 34:20. And those were all stressful minutes against an excellent team.

Suter was outstanding, and Brodin seems to keep getting better. He's a brilliant skater and remarkably calm with the puck for a rookie.

No Blackhawk was on the ice for more than defenseman Michal Rozsival's 27:11.

-Fatigue could be a big factor in the series. The Blackhawks are deeper and were the superior team after the Wild bottled them up in the first period. I saw Matt Cullen leave the ice with an apparent injury, and he would be a major loss if he can't return for Game 2.

-I actually saw Pierre Marc-Bouchard throw a body check. That's when my cohort Michael Russo said, ``It must be the playoffs.''

-Wild coach Mike Yeo defended his first line after the game. Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle managed a combined five shots. Yeo said they played well defensively, which is true. But the Wild needs scoring from that line and that line was rarely an offensive threat.

-Eden Prairie native and former Wild prospect Nick Leddy wasn't on the ice for any of the goals, and put two shots on net.

-The Wild's lack of size on defense is most evident on the power play. Andrew Shaw spends a lot of time in front of Harding. Suter battled him aggressively, but Jared Spurgeon can't move him.

-The magic question is whether playing so well in Game 1 and losing is a positive or a negative for the Wild. Does it set the tone for a competitive series, or this the Wild getting its best chance to win a game (or a game on the road) and missing its opportunity.

The concern for the Wild is that its players performed extremely well, played physically, blocked a lot of shots and got a tremendous goaltending performance and still lost. Is this team capable of playing like that every night?

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I'll discuss with Judd & Dubay at noon on 1500ESPN every day this week. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

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