Afternoon from the United Center, where the Blackhawks had an off-ice workout and the Wild practiced. The Wild wanted to rectify some things from a Game 1 loss, and it took the ice because there's no morning skate prior to Sunday’s 2 p.m. game on NBC.
The Wild looks like it will make one lineup change Sunday. Justin Fontaine will be back in and reunited on the young checking line with Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula. Dany Heatley, Kyle Brodziak and Cody McCormick are also reunited. Stephane Veilleux looks like he will sit.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Andrew Shaw, who got hit hard by Clayton Stoner in last night’s 5-2 Wild loss, is questionable with a lower-body injury. Q says Shaw’s injury isn’t considered long-term. Also, Quenneville said Kris Versteeg was pulled after warmups last night because he was sick.
As I guessed on last night's blog, Yeo was doing some postgame coaching after last night's 5-2 loss and he wasn't nearly as upset with the team's game as he portrayed. He just knows the Blackhawks will be better in Game 2 and he also recalls that the Wild has twice shown in his tenure that when it plays well enough to win in Game 1 and doesn't, it doesn't play well in Game 2 (last year vs. Chicago and last round vs. Colorado).
The Blackhawks feel they can play much better than they did in Game 1. Johnny Oduya said the Blackhawks “got away with one” and it won’t happen again in this series. The Wild pinned Chicago in its end all second period (17-3 shot count plus another 11 shots that missed the mark) and the start of the third. In the third, the Wild rallied back from a 2-0 deficit on goals by Stoner and Kyle Brodziak.
“I think they just outworked us, that’s just the bottom line,” Oduya said. “Hockey’s very simple like that sometimes. You try to complicate things with systems and plays and a bunch of different things. But we talked about it today, too, the passion and fire has got to be there, and the urgency. I think they had a little bit more of that. Obviously, when you’re down a couple goals you’re stepping on the pedal a little bit more, probably. We sat back too much, we can’t do that.”
Added Coach Q: “Our pace wasn’t very quick. Turned pucks over in the middle of the ice, thought in our neutral zone we have to be better. We have to get more involved in the attack, get more support from the back end and come more in groups of five.”
Regardless, star forward Patrick Kane scored an extraordinary goal 1:26 after Brodziak’s tying goal.
It’s the type of goal only Kane can score. I still think Ilya Bryzgalov needs to better cover the short-side (he said today he made a mistake and felt Kane would cut back to the middle), but man, Kane pitchforks a puck in the only place he could at a tight ankle.
“I mean, we saw it a few times this morning, and it’s just amazing to see that goal,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “Not too many players can do that, and Kaner’s done that, we were laughing a little bit about Kaner. That’s a beautiful goal and would be a highlight of probably any one of our careers, but Kaner’s done that probably 10 times. So it’s old hat for him.”
Added Jonathan Toews: “He’s always making plays like that. For us, it’s not something that that’s surprising.”
The Wild wants to figure out a way to get one win out of here to put the pressure on Chicago coming into Minnesota for two. The Blackhawks have won 15 of their past 17 postseason home games dating to 2013, including five straight.
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford has won five in a row. He has a 1.98 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in seven playoff games this year.
In Bryzgalov’s past five starts dating to the regular season, he is 1-4 with a 4.96 goals-against average and .819 save percentage. He has been pulled twice despite the Wild allowing 24 or fewer shots in four of those starts.
"I feel pretty good that he’s going to play well tomorrow to be honest with you," said Yeo. "I looked at that game closely again looking at that area and I'm not too sure what he could’ve done on too many of those goals that went in. He’s excited for the game tomorrow and he’s putting pressure on himself, but the bottom line is I want everyone to remember that game, to feel that game, but to come back with a little bit more."
No status change on Darcy Kuemper. He's not in Chicago.
Yeo said he talked to Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson, who each have one playoff goal, today:
"That for me was maybe Pommer’s best game that he’s played in the playoffs last game. I had him involved in seven scoring chances himself. There’s a couple one-timers, a couple shots that are a little bit off and quite often you see that with players that are pressing. You try to be a little too precise with your shot. I would like to see him build off that game and hopefully the way that he played, he should know that if he continues to do that, he’ll get rewarded. I talked to Mouls too. Mouls is another guy for sure with getting traded here and the idea that we’re counting on him for offense, similarly I think when you start to press and you start to feel that, you have to make sure that you’re able to push that aside and focus on the things that you need to do in order to make it happen. I felt like he got away from that. Just having the chance to talk to him today and hearing some of the things that he said, I think he’ll be ready to go tomorrow."
A whole lot more in Sunday's paper. Souhan weighed in on No. 26 and 29, I think, while I wrote about Bryzgalov, the adjustments needed in Game 2 (like hitting the net and being better on special teams, etc).
I’ll be on KARE-11 at some time after 1 p.m. Sunday.