Here Comes A Regular – Game 3 – Hawks at Wild Preview, Pregame Thread, Paradigm Shift

oldschool at wildthings

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, CBC (Anglo), TVA (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Raspberry Beret: Hockey Wilderness

With the series now shifting back to the Twin Cities for games 3 and 4, the expectation is that the momentum will naturally shift back to the Wild, given the Hawks’ abysmal record in game 3’s on the road under Joel Quenneville. The only victory in 10 tries has been Game 3 in 2010 in Vancouver, but that doesn’t mean that anything is a foregone conclusion tonight.

For the Wild, the biggest advantage now comes with getting able to dictate the matchups, specifically being able to get Granlund and Parise away from Jonathan Toews, and instead making him have to look across at Mikko Koivu all night long tonight and Wednesday. Koivu will do so without Chris Stewart on his wing, who is day to day after his nasty spill into the end boards on Sunday. In his place will be Ryan Carter, who last saw game action in the regular season finale nearly a month ago. Stewart’s absence removes one of the Wild’s more physical and active forecheckers from the lineup, however Carter’s game isn’t that much different, he’s just far less accomplished.

To this point in the post season having played 5 road games and 3 home games, getting the Parise line hasn’t materialized in a lot of difference for Mike Yeo. Parise is himself sporting a 46.07% share at home with two goals (both coming in Game 6) and an assist, while getting a 45.19% share on the road and only a single helper. However, any line on the Blues that Yeo could have picked for them is likely nowhere near as unidirectional as the Richards and Kane line, who will likely be tried to made to defend. However the real key for Minnesota turning things around will again be the second pairing of Scandella and Spurgeon. If they’re able to drive play rather than being inundated with shots against the Wild stand a far better chance at getting back into the series. And at home, they’re likely to get the benefit of as many offensive zone starts as possible.

In net, Devan Dubnyk is now dealing with his first set of back to back regulation losses since being acquired by Minnesota. It’s very clear the Hawks are targeting the mid-to-upper region of the goaltender, as tall goalies can leave gaps under their arms when dropping to a butterfly, and Dubnyk is far more inclined to let a puck hit him in the chest than attempt to snag it with his glove hand. But the idea for Yeo and Minnesota is now for him to not have to do as much with the benefit of picking the matchups.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, as assumed, there are no lineup changes forthcoming tonight, even though Kris Versteeg did make the trip, reminding everyone that Teuvo is one defensive zone boner away from heading to the pressbox once again. While Sunday was probably the Hawks’ most complete game so far in the playoffs, there are things that are going to need to be tightened up now heading on the road.

The Kane, Richards, and Bickell line was the only unit underwater on Sunday, and it happened primarily facing the fourth Wild line of Brodziak and Fontaine. They’re obviously going to face a far sterner test tonight and made to play plenty of defense if Yeo can get Parise, Granlund, and Pominville out against them. If they get hemmed in, look for Q to try to start switching out of the matchup quickly after draws, which always leads to fun at the Hawks’ bench in the second period with a league-29th 13 bench minors in the regular season.

Also of concern is the Hawks’ still in place defenseman configuration of having a babysitter for their two elderstatesmen. Both Rozsival and Timonen are going to have their sides and their corners pressed consistently, and it will be incumbent upon their partners (particularly Keith with Rozsival) to not over-pursue to give their partner help. Having forwards diligently back pressure will also help to mitigate things, but if the game is close Quenneville cannot be hesitant to pull the trigger on completely hiding those two in favor of the traditional top-four configuration.

After coming out asses ablaze on Friday and then looking to trap on Sunday, now on home ice it stands to reason that the former will be the initial tactic used by Yeo to help get his crowd into it, and to see just how the Hawks are going to handle that kind of blitzing. Corey Crawford will need to be sharp early, as that policy generally coincides with an “everything on net” mantra as well. Not taking flat footed penalties and giving the Wild power play yet another look at the struggling Hawks’ kill is also an absolute must. Utilize the space behind the forecheckers, because the Wild defensemen have shown they’re not going to press even if they’re not outright conceding their own blue line.

Perhaps most important is Jonathan Toews being able to maintain his high level of play even while being shadowed by Koivu, who has given him fits in the past. In games 1 and 2 the Hawks’ top end was able to do what it wanted with the matchups it wanted, now they’re going to have to rise to the occasion. If they do, a vise grip on the series is there for the taking, 1-and-9 record in road Game 3’s be damned. Let’s go Hawks.

  • Harry Longwood

    I never thought I’d say this, but isn’t David Rundblad still knocking around somewhere? It might even be preferable to have a sack full of spiders in place of Roszival.

    • At this point the bed is made. Rundblad was given a chance towards the end of the season and looked even worse than Roszival (if that’s possible).

      • D_Smith

        Yep the thought crossed my mind after the Roszival’s penalty Sunday, but then I remembered that yes Rundblad is actually somehow worse. Occasionally Rosi has a less than abysmal game, but it’s just hard to imagine how there wasn’t anyone in Rockford better.

      • Aaeismacgychel

        Yeah, I spoke on this I want to say a couple days ago. I (along with everyone else) hoped Rundblad would really step up that final week of the season where he for all intents and purposes he was given a tryout for a playoff spot. Q was pissed at Rozsival at the time and had Rundblad just had solid games I have a feeling he’d have already been on the ice this postseason. But instead he came out and was a walking disaster out there. I do think this is the one area where Q gets a lot more flak than he deserves. At some point our “infinite potential” prospects need to take over and clutch and grab their spot, making it impossible for Q not to give them the nod, and far too often, our youngsters just haven’t done it. While Q definitely could have a much longer leash, fact of the matter is, the real reason a lot of those prospects weren’t playing is because they simply weren’t taking advantage of the opportunity. And in some ways our success is indeed a detriment in that regard as Q doesn’t have as much of a luxury giving young players who aren’t producing as they should opportunity after opportunity. And while he does go way too much to the “devil you know over the devil you don’t” philosophy, as with anything in life, when you get your opportunity, you better damn well take it because you may never get another chance at it.

    • I Remember The Roar!

      I know Roszival has made some bad plays, but he occassionally comes through. Recently, though, why aren’t more people looking to drop Timmonen from the lineup. Can’t someone else handle being on the ice for more than 8 minutes?

      Having a weak bottom 2 d-men isn’t the worst thing ever, but it’s better if both can take a moderate workload and play about 12 minutes per game.

      • Jim

        There are no more back to backs, so they can work the crap out of Keith/Hammer/Seabrook/Oduya for the rest of the playoffs. There might even be a few days off between series.

        • ZigZags82

          Still Rozi has actually been decent enough when called upon.

    • Shooter

      Forget Rosi…with timo playing 5 minutes a night, does Q still prefer that over rundblad?

    • Bob Lanz

      The kid can skate for sure and has a nice shot from the point quick and hard. Also he can get back fast if he does make an oops and can skate out of trouble too. Can’t say any of that for Rozy. Rozy is likely a better passer but fuck rosival lately sucks at that

  • mightymikeD

    a guy called George Hook is an ex-rugby-player-turned-annoying-pundit over here.. but that particular blind pig found this acorn once: “Sport has no memory, no conscience: what went before doesn’t count, the best team will win” Of course, that day he was wrong about who the best team were and who would win (Munster/Biarritz Heineken Cup Final in 2006) but the point stands. Hawks in 5.

  • MattC86

    That 1-9 in last ten road Game 3s is my favorite stat ever – because it is so meaningless and actually shows the Hawks’ success rather than failures.

    Think of how incredible that is – it’s all since 2009. For half the league, how far back would you have to go to get 10 road Game 3s (i.e., home ice in a series?) For at least a dozen teams you’re talking about before 2000. For all of our bitching, treasure this, guys. It’s an era we won’t see repeated.

    Also, as we’ve seen in the past, a big part of that road Game 3 nonsense has been Q futzing with lineups and matchups. In this series, he’s got the former figured out (knock on Versteeg’s empty skull), and unless he completely doesn’t give a shit about matchups tonight, he’s got those going too. So while I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic, there’s no reason for the Hawks to have a flameout tonight if they play their game.

    • Bob Lanz

      Nailed it Matt, nothing to change except pairings. Let the best players play and I like our odds!

    • Jim

      Toews/Kane is like the Jordan/Pippen era. The best NHL/NBA rides in the modern Chicago Sports era. All hall of famers. It’s the golden age for the BlackHawks. And they came a whisker from winning another last year, and another the Vancouver Burrows/Campoli year.

  • Hags

    I’ve gone from thinking tonight’s game was going to be a bugger to thinking the Hawks will hold up just fine. Yes, Yeo can pick his spots now with last change, and I know the X will be a hornet’s nest tonight. But at the same time, the Hawks forward depth can nullify a lot of that. even if they take away the Toews line and the Kane line, there’s the Sharp-Vermette-TT line ready to roll.

    • Jim

      Dejardin/Kruger/Shaw is not completely terrible either.

      • DJ

        Now that Shaw is not centering, no it’s not. A fine “energy line,” it is.

  • Jim

    Why is the other team always blitzing the Hawks? How about the Hawks come out blitzing?

    Nice Insight by McClure in the preview:
    “Itt’s very clear the Hawks are targeting the mid-to-upper region of the goaltender, as tall goalies can leave gaps under their arms when dropping to a butterfly, and Dubnyk is far more inclined to let a puck hit him in the chest than attempt to snag it with his glove hand. ”

    I noticed a few going in under the armpit.

    • DJ

      Why does the other team come out blitzing? In this case, Minnesota usually does at home. Plus, down 0-2, they pretty much have to. They can’t afford to go down 0-3. The Hawks, on the other hand, can absorb the onslaught, figure out what matchups Yeo wants, figure out their countermeasures, and accomplish their mission with merely a split in St. Paul.

      Mind you, I’d prefer to really put the screws to them and win tonight.

  • Aaeismacgychel

    I’m personally not expecting much of anything tonight. The Hawks tend to take a foot off the gas up 2-0 and the Wild should be an angry spirited team playing in front of what should be some very excitable fans. There is little doubt that the Wild are going to come out and come out hard early in this one. If Crow can weather what should be a fierce storm for the 1st 10 minutes, we should be in pretty decent position. That said, I would not be surprised at all by a blowout let alone a loss tonight. It’s just sports in general and it’s very hard to beat a really good team (which the Wild are) 3 games in a row especially in front of their home crowd. As well, the Wild haven’t yet put together even half a full game this series, so if they were going to come out with their A+ game, this is the most likely one. But that’s not a bad thing necessarily either as the Hawks tend to respond well to bad losses, and teams can get a bit overconfident with big wins. We just need to steal one of these next two to feel really confident about closing this out. If we can win Game 3, that would be a backbreaker and flat out awesome, but if not tonight as I fear, I would like our chances to get Game 4 regardless of the results. That all said though, let’s get this done tonight. GO HAWKS!

  • Aaeismacgychel

    By the way, just to expound on McClure’s comment about our shot placement against Dubnyk, I must say that I have been extremely impressed by the Hawks this season in that regard. In years past (and even in the regular season), you’d see players like Sharp for example just shooting the puck at the net or trying to pick a random spot, but it seems this post season that the Hawks have really gone to school on the goaltenders. They continually went at Rinne high blocker and it paid off and they’ve continued going at Dubnyk above the legs and under the arms. Those areas are tough for all goalies to defend, but it really seems the Hawks have studied up on these specific goalie’s weaknesses and not relented at going right after them. Smart smart shooting thus far this postseason and makes one realize why we’ve had success thus far against them where we had no success at all against Mike Smith where we just shot from all over the ice but with little to no actual purpose

  • CornelisonsFlagPointer

    Howdy, y’all. The horse is dead regarding 3rd game losses, please stop. The Hawks know what they have to do, even if Minny tries something drastic.