Defensively, it’s hard to imagine the Wild playing better against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild didn’t give the offensive juggernaut much in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Now the Wild must find ways to generate more against the team that gave up the fewest goals in the NHL during the regular season. It could start with more physical play.
“We have to make sure that we’re making their [defensemen] pay a price,” coach Mike Yeo said. “We have to make sure we’re getting pucks behind them, and I thought our forecheck wasn’t enough a factor in the game for us.”
The Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle line was limited to five shots.
“I was going to look at a little of the film, of our lines and shifts,” Parise said. “I thought we had too many what I call one-and-done plays, where we get into the zone and try to make a play and it gets broken up and we’re back out of our zone.
“We’ll have to see and find things we can do a little better and hold onto the puck a little more. That’s been one of our strengths this season, of our line, is getting the puck down low, and I don’t think we did a very good job of that last night.”
Koivu won 12 of 19 faceoffs, but Parise said he and Coyle, as well as the defensemen, need to help Koivu win more.
“They’re the type of team that if you don’t win the draw against them, you could be chasing the puck the whole shift,” Parise said.
The Wild’s power play finished the regular season ranked second on the road, but it went 0-for-4 Tuesday, including advantages in the third period and overtime with the score tied at 1-1.
Yeo said they will meet with the power-play units Thursday after breaking down the video.
“We were a little too slow and a little too passive against a team that plays tight,” Yeo said. “They play to the inside, so if you’re not aggressive and ready to attack in certain situations than it’s pretty easy for them to keep you to the outside.”
Defenseman Ryan Suter said he felt good Wednesday after logging a franchise-record 41 minutes, 8 seconds in Game 1.
“It’s unreal,” Parise said. “He comes off the ice after what seems like a two-minute shift, and he’s not even breathing heavy. I don’t get it. I wish I was the same way. He played a lot of hockey [Tuesday] and he comes in [Wednesday] and looks like he had a day off [Tuesday]. I can’t say I’m surprised.”
Said Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook: “We noticed he was out there quite a bit. … We saw the sheet after the game, and 41 minutes is unbelievable. I remember going back to last year, Duncan [Keith] and I played 30 minutes. … That felt like a lot.
“Forty-one was unbelievable. It was pretty crazy.”
No backup needed
Left with no other goalie with Niklas Backstrom hurt, Yeo smiled slyly when asked what the Wild would have done Tuesday night if Josh Harding was injured or played poorly.
“I don’t know,” Yeo said. “I didn’t like some of the choices that were being thrown at us.”
“[Goalie coach] Bob Mason maybe,” Yeo said. “[TV color man and former goalie] Mike Greenlay, maybe. [Assistant to the GM and former goalie] Jim Mill.”
Truth is, the Wild would only have been permitted to use a player on its roster, meaning it would have had to been a skater with no third goalie on the roster.
“Josh got hit there in the third period — I think [Jonathan] Toews kind of hit him — and I was thinking, ‘What happens if he goes down?’ ” Suter said. “Luckily, we didn’t have to deal with that.”
Darcy Kuemper was recalled from Houston of the AHL on Wednesday.
Forward Jason Pominville (head), who has missed three games, is questionable to return Friday.