By now you've probably heard a dozen reasons why the Wild can't compete with the Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. All those reasons are legit.
If you prefer to search for reasons for optimism, here's one that might work for you:
The Blackhawks are talented, deep and well-coached, and Crawford is an outstanding goaltender. If the Wild has any chance in this series, Crawford will have to be less than stellar. And that's a possibility.
Crawford has been solid statistically in the postseason, but consider his record. In the regular season, he's 83-43-19. In the playoffs, he's 5-8. Last year, in the first round against Phoenix, he allowed soft goals in Games 3 and 4 to Mikkel Boedker, a big reason the Hawks didn't advance.
There are a couple of lesser reasons for optimism. The Blackhawks scored goals on just 5 of their last 40 power plays of the regular season, and two of the three games between the teams this year were decided by one goal.
I believe the Wild will miss not only Jason Pominville, who appears to be out because of a concussion, but also Dany Heatley. Heatley was the rare Wild forward who could battle in the crease and score ugly goals.
Replacing Pominville is Zenon Konopka, who scored zero points this season and took a lot of bad penalties. If Konopka can bother the Blackhawks with physical play, maybe he can make a positive impact. But he has not been a worthwhile player this year.
I'll be on 1500ESPN with Tom Pelissero at 6:30. Tomorrow, I"ll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and 1500ESPN at noon with Judd & Dubay.
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