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Continued: Wild faces fresh challenge from defending champ Blackhawks

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 2, 2014 - 9:47 AM

“To me last year, we were so flat-footed in the neutral zone and all we did was rip it up the boards, chip it in,” Parise said of the Blackhawks series. “The challenge with them is how mobile their defensemen are. They’re really good at retrieving the pucks and skating it out or getting in there before you’re allowed to get your forecheck going. When we’re playing well, our feet are moving. The way we handle the puck as opposed to last year, it’s night and day.

“We’re attacking off the rush, which is something we didn’t do last year. Our neutral zone transition is a lot better and counterattack is a lot better.”

Last year, the Wild was eaten alive by Chicago’s third and fourth lines. As the Wild proved against Colorado, especially in Game 7, the Wild can score from three or four lines and at a minimum continuously pressure in the offensive zone.

“A lot of times, you have your top guys going head to head with each other and your team needs a little help from the other guys to take pressure off the big guys,” said Kyle Brodziak, who had three assists Wednesday. “Hopefully we can continue providing that.”

The Wild was 3-1-1 against the Blackhawks in the regular season, but Parise said, “the regular-season record really doesn’t matter once you get into these games.

“We learned how good you have to play and how good Chicago is [last year]. They really know how to take their game to another level in the playoffs. It was good for us to see how the champs do it.”


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