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Souhan blog: Blackhawks think they should have played better in opener

  • Blog Post by: Jim Souhan
  • May 3, 2014 - 1:47 PM

Chicago -

Team Strib is at United Center today for Wild practice. Just listened to a few Blackhawks players and coach Joel Quenneville speak, and they kept ripping themselves for letting the Wild dominate puck possession in Game 1, particularly in the second period.

I view that as bad news for the Wild: They got beat, 5-2, and their opponents, the defending Stanley Cup champs, think they should play much better going forward.

My colleague Michael Russo came up with an incredible statistic on Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. in his last five starts, including the playoffs, he is 1-4 with a 4.96 goals-against average and a .819 save percentage. And in those five games, he has faced more than 24 shots only once.

The Wild has played very well over the last month from crease to crease, but its goalie situation remains untenable.

The Wild won round one because it peppered and took advantage of Semyon Varlamov. Now its facing a team whose perceived weakness is its goalie, Corey Crawford, and yet Crawford is playing better than Varlamov, and far better than Bryzgalov.

There has been another unsettling development for the Wild in the last month. While young forwards Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter have surged, Jonas Brodin, who developed much faster than his younger teammates, has regressed. He might have cost the Wild the game last night with his high-sticking penalties and overall shoddy play. He's got to be better.

We'll provide full coverage of Wild practice on startribune.com today and will have the usual full gameday coverage in the Sunday paper.

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Please tune in to 1500ESPN from 10-noon tomorrow, as Scott Korzenowski and myself break down the Wild, Twins, NBA playoffs, Wolves coaching search and the saga of Donald Sterling.

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