Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild outplayed from start to finish as Blackhawks take 2-0 series lead

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: May 4, 2013 - 12:16 AM
Other than a late push in the second period, the Wild was on its heels from start to finish tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks convincingly took a 5-2 victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
 
Teams that go up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 86.7 percent (280-43) of the time in NHL history. The Blackhawks are 19-2 up 2-0 all-time.
 
Just no contest. It’s why the Game 1 loss was so big. The Wild put itself in position to steal one from the Blackhawks. It couldn’t get it done and the Blackhawks became the Blackhawks tonight.
 
They are bigger, faster and deeper than the Wild. If you turn pucks over or can’t make a pass or fail to capitalize, they’ll come at you in waves and eventually make you pay.
 
“There was clearly another level to their game tonight and I’d say that there’s at least another level to ours that was unfortunately in the wrong direction,” coach Mike Yeo said.
 
Michael Frolik and Patrick Sharp each scored twice. The first Sharp goal was the killer because it came after Devin Setoguchi trimmed the deficit to 2-1 with 2:03 left in the second period.
 
Read the gamer for all the details, but the Wild was outshot 48-28 – the 48 shots being the most Minnesota has ever given up in a playoff game – and Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise were not only shut out again, they were each minus-3.
 
Koivu had a terrible game. Two shots, three minors, the turnover that led to Frolik’s shorthanded goal when the Wild had a chance to tie at the start of the second, a shot blocked that ruined a power play, passes off the mark by several feet.
 
“I am going to have a tough time sitting up here saying that we’re real happy with anyone,” Yeo said when asked about Koivu’s play. “This is a team effort tonight, and unfortunately it wasn’t a very good one.”
 
Jim Souhan wrote about Koivu’s game, I believe.
 
The Wild again generated no sustained pressure in the offensive zone. They left Josh Harding (43 saves) out to dry. And the Blackhawks continually attacked because of turnovers, no puck support, etc.
 
“We weren’t playing with the pace that we needed to play,” Yeo said. “A large number of the things that we were doing helped them build the speed into their game. They were better tonight from Game 1 and we were worse.”
 
On what the Wild does now, besides casting this aside and relying on home-ice at the X, Yeo said, “We’re going to have to make a couple adjustments for sure. We’ll look at this and figure out what is it a matter of that we’re doing poorly and what is it a matter of what we need to do differently.
 
“I already have some pretty strong feelings on both.”
 
This was a mismatch from the outset. The Wild blew its opportunity to take Game 1. We’ll see where this goes from here, but it’s hard to see how the Wild will figure out a way to compete with the best team in the league in a real short series from here on out.
 
Early flight. Talk to you after Saturday’s practice/availability.
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