Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me: Blackhawks At Wild – Preview/Pre-Game Thread/301 Countdown

The Wild

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: The Artists Formerly Known As Versus, WGN-AM 720
Hey Big Spender: Hockey Wilderness

I’m not going to say that the insanely loose pocketbooks of the Wild led to the lockout that almost cost us the season… but I will say that it added at least 3 months to it. I always look for arbitrary or petty reasons to hate other teams but I’ve never really had a reason to hate the Wild (they’re still no North Stars) but I’m going to go ahead and have one now.

Either that or Cal Clutterbuck’s facial hair… that’s a good enough reason too.

One of the biggest concerns of this shortened season has to be the fact that only 40-some odd games isn’t a big enough sample size to really figure out who the best teams are. 82 games may too many, sure… but 48 might not be quite enough. Case it point – The Wild last season. About halfway through the season last year, the Wild were the top team in the league. I was going to say they looked “unbeatable” but that was certainly not the case. They looked very beatable… but no one could seem to do it. True to their style, the Wild weren’t putting up a lot of goals but they were giving up far fewer despite getting drastically out-shot in just about every game.

Time/luck/fate/karma caught up to them though. Despite leading the league for a good amount of time, the wheels came off the Wild… and it wasn’t pretty. By year’s end, the Wild were 14 points out of a playoff spot. The solution this year? Meet Zach Parise and Ryan Suter! That loud sound you heard was Mikko Koivu exhaling after finally getting some real players around him to help carry the team.

The Wild surprised most by grabbing both of the highest sought after free-agents over the summer and without a doubt, it will drastically change the dynamic of what we’ve always known as a pretty dull hockey team. Parise (American Hero) is one of the better scorers in the league with a pretty gnarly reputation as a forechecker. We’re all well familiar with Suter from his time in Music City. Paired with Shea Weber, Suter was part of perhaps the best defensive pairing in the league… and it could be argued that Suter was the better of the two. It remains to be seen how well he’ll play without Weber but I would imagine he’ll be just fine. Suter’s had a bit of a rough start to the year but not much more so than our own Brent Seabrook. They’re both still solid players but look like they haven’t quite found their footing yet. Suter’s had a new partner on the blue line last night in the 19 year old Jonas Brodin. Christ.. and we thought Leddy was young. Brodin plays more of the Duncan Keith/Leddy role in his quicker and more mobile game. He’s only 3 games into his NHL career though so the Hawks should look to capitalize on any hesitation the see from the rookie.

As always, the Wild rely on strong goaltending with a solid tandem of Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom… that is if they aren’t battling PTSD after seeing over 31 shots per game last season. Backstrom has seen the most games so far this season despite having a lower Sv% (.887 to Harding’s .902). He played last night against Columbus though so it’s probably that we’ll see Harding tonight.

Speaking of the game last night – it was an ugly win for the Wild as they let a two-goal lead evaporate early in the third before getting a game winner from Bouchard, the 100th of his career. The Wild were solid for 40 minutes but lost it in the third, allowing the Jackets to tie it on the power play. They were able to regain composure and rally for the win but it could have taken it’s toll for their overall stamina tonight.

We know the story for the Hawks.. surprising solid special teams, surprisingly solid goaltending and a surprising undefeated record. As much as this Wild team has improved – they’re still not terribly intimidating. Prior to last night’s win they had lost 3 in a row and face a much stronger challenge tonight with the Hawks in town and on two (much needed) days rest. Expect the Wild to come out of the gate strong but they’ve got to worry about keeping up the same pace all game.

Let’s Go Hawks

 

  • AMR

    Looks like Bollig (sarcastic YEA!) and Brookbank are in for tonights game

    • http://twitter.com/oregon_hawk Oregon_hawk

      Craw in net, too.

      • stacie7

        I hope this doesn’t mean Emery on Friday vs Nucks.

        • High and Wide

          Though there’s a lot of travel in the off-day, it’s not a back-to-back, so I wouldn’t be worried about that yet. (I would expect to see Emery vs Calgary though.)

          • Accipiter

            Razor is 4-2 with a 1.57 goals-against average in his career versus the Flames.

        • mightymikeD

          naaaaah

        • http://www.cheertheanthem.com/ Hjammertime

          I think Ray is on the Columbus/Calgary plan again….and this time he doesn’t even get Columbus!

    • justforkicks

      Hopefully Rozsival gets better sooner rather then later and can get back into the line up asap. As for Bollig, whatever, Mayer wasn’t what I remembered him as, and Bollig isn’t as godawful as people think he is so who cares.

      • BodomSlayer

        Spoken for truth. Mayers has been downright silly from what I’ve seen/heard.

        • justforkicks

          yeah, memory was kinder then reality I think. I still like him a lot though.

          • BodomSlayer

            He was pretty solid last year. Just seems a little clumsy this year…

          • MySpoonIsTooBig

            I thought he was reliable for the first 3/4 of the year, but by the end of the season there didn’t seem to be much left in the tank. Let’s not mince words he’s looked awful in his 2 games so far this season, and while I’d love to attribute it to rust since he did not play anywhere during the lockout I worry that he’s still running on empty…

          • justforkicks

            yeah, age plus rust maybe? idk

      • nextgame

        True.
        If the difference between winning and losing is Brookbank or Roszival, and Bollig or Mayers in the lineup we’ve got major problems.

      • 2883

        I don’t mind Bollig getting his 4:21 seconds of ice time….

    • Sparky_The_Barbarian

      Henceforth known as the B team, to balance DDN.

  • Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne

    HI IM BOB LEDONNE AND THIS IS THE INTERNET!

    • BodomSlayer

      Upboat for you!

    • mightymikeD

      BOB? Have you got the Financial Estimates for our Easter Trading Period ready yet? I expect them on my desk by 0400

      • Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne

        THE INTERNET

      • Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne

        Easter?
        Hoppity hop hop
        Hoppity hop hop
        Look at Frosty go!
        Hoppity hop hop
        Hoppity hop hop
        Over the fields of snow!

  • BodomSlayer

    LET’S GO HAWKS!

  • justforkicks

    WOOHOO LETS GO HAWKS!

    • BodomSlayer

      Hey, it’s JFK! How’s it going?

      • justforkicks

        Hey! Things are good, will be even better if the Hawks win! You are you?!

        • BodomSlayer

          Me I am! lol. I’m good. Living life and enjoying this start. Eyeing the game on the 19th I’m going to against Van-cooter.

          • justforkicks

            I’m jealous! No Hawks games for me this season unless my plans to go to Chicago come to fruition or until the playoffs.

          • BodomSlayer

            Come to Chi-Town. You know you want to. Do it you won’t!

          • justforkicks

            I want to so bad! Once it gets warmer though, so idk. Fingers crossed!

  • http://twitter.com/oregon_hawk Oregon_hawk

    seven is better than six.

    LETS GO HAWKS!

    • Sparky_The_Barbarian

      You refer, of course, to Seven of Nine, who was of course, much hotter than her older sister, Six.

  • Waylon

    As per usual, if they withstand the first ten minutes or so, then they should be able to win the game. Still remembering Kaner’s super awesome ridiculous shoot – out last year in MN vs. Backstrom, he must’ve made something like 30 moves on him while traveling at about 2 MPH.

  • raditzzzz

    lets go hawks

    on another note, i had the misfortune of having to watch sunday’s game on the wings broadcast, and decided that larry murphy is the evil twin from bizarro world of our own steve konroyd. decide for yourself:

    • BodomSlayer

      No one is worse than the dude who does play by play for the Sabres. God that guy is awful.

      • Accipiter

        Rick Jeanneret is the dood.

      • stacie7

        Then you have never listened to the Pens feed. Homers, homers, homers.

        • BodomSlayer

          I was mostly referring to the awful shriek of his voice. Detroits announcers have been decent the few times I heard them.

          • girlphoenix

            Guy with the worst voice hands down is the color guy for the Caps.

          • BodomSlayer

            Sounds like the sun of the Sabres announcer.

          • MySpoonIsTooBig

            Craig Laughlin – such a weird / annoying voice. He sounds like a cartoon character

          • girlphoenix

            What I don’t get is why you would give a guy with a voice like that a job that is basically all voice.

          • MySpoonIsTooBig

            According to Wikipedia he has been the Caps color guy since he retired in 1990. I do not understand why.

          • chijim

            He’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to my ears.

        • High and Wide

          I can’t listen to them either! Glad I’m not the only one.

        • mightymikeD

          worst ever.. worse than Baaaahstahn, even

          • stacie7

            I listened to Boston for a bit last night and their Baaaahstahn accents were cracking me up.

          • mightymikeD

            is that a Saaahsage on dah hice?

          • 2883

            Boston announcer: “I looked at the lineup for the Islanders and thought who would the Bruins fight in case they needed a spark.”

        • chijim

          Penguins and Ducks announcers are awful homers, the worst outside of Boston.

        • Z-man19

          Darren freaking Pang is horrible for the Blues

          • Waylon

            Agreed – but Riley almost tops the Blues douches for blatant homerism. And to think I once liked Riley way back when he was on Sportscenter.

    • April O’Neil

      My boyfriend is a Wings fan and so I’m forced to watch their broadcasts any time their games are on the channels we get. Pretty brutal, though he finds Olczyk/Foley intolerable so I guess we’re even.

      • raditzzzz

        a hawks fan and a red wings fan in the same household? you remind me of the paradox commercials for starburst candy.

        • April O’Neil

          Or those Bruins Hockey Rules commercials… “Don’t date within the division”. He’s also a Tigers fan and I’m a rabid Sox fan, so it’s a miracle we haven’t killed each other yet.

          • BodomSlayer

            Jesus, that’s insane. You sound exactly like a friend of mine…save for that I don’t think she likes hockey. Her husband is from Michigan.

      • Paul the Fossil

        Honestly it’s hard to imagine that could be any more irritating than Edzo and Foley have gotten to be…last season it was around March before I finally started muting the TV for long stretches of game action. This season I’m already there.

        • April O’Neil

          I find their possibly drunken laughter kind of endearing, but I can definitely see why people get annoyed by them!

          • raditzzzz

            i can always recognize the blatant homerism that pops up during the broadcasts, but honestly, i get more annoyed when people constantly complain about them than i do by their actual broadcasts. no dig at you ptf, but for me, its a rug that has been beat too many times.

          • Paul the Fossil

            Howling into the wind at this point eh? Well perhaps.
            (Though I’m actually now in my household the moderate on this: some evening my generally-sunny-dispositioned wife is going to be pushed over her last edge by one more “tree-tirty-tree” gigglefest from those two.)

  • chipandchase

    Think we’ll get a Saad goal tonight?

  • chipandchase

    LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

  • April O’Neil

    Keep it rollin’, boys!

  • mightymikeD

    Remember how chippy those last couple of games against the Wild got for no apparent reason? Hopefully none of that nonsense tonight..

    • Hjammertime

      Konopka or Dowell (if dressed) v. Bollig by the end of the second period.

      • mightymikeD

        Jesus, Jake “Dumb Fight” Dowell.. forgotten about him. I think that’s a pretty safe bet you’ve got there. Bollig might actually win that one, too..

        • Hjammertime

          I recall him as Jake “should be the second line center” Dowell?

          might have been my favorite SCH debate ever….only because I was hopelessly outnumberd (along with Hawks61).

          I’m super pumped for the game tonight. I like Minnesota’s team a lot. Ton’s of defenseive talent in the pipeline.

          • mightymikeD

            So am I (Sister Geraldine being a Wild Fan and all) and so do I.. I really hope that that proposed re-alignment that chucks us back together goes ahead.

          • http://www.cheertheanthem.com/ Hjammertime

            Should be a lot of fun, even though I fear making the playoffs get a lot tougher.

          • mightymikeD

            it will, indeed.. but how much tougher than the “Sending 1/2 The Teams To The Playoffs AGAIN This Year” Central can it be?

          • http://twitter.com/oregon_hawk Oregon_hawk

            If i recall, it was Dowell, or Kopetzky. Dark days.

          • http://www.cheertheanthem.com/ Hjammertime

            That was exactly it. Right around the time people started to get fed up with Q’s overvaluing of Kopy.
            It was a dark time. That near comeback in the Canucks series sort of made people forget how infuriating that 2010-2011 team was a good majority of that season.

        • girlphoenix

          Remember the time his head got stuck in his jersey during a fight and ended up coming out a hole by the numbers?

          • mightymikeD

            that’s our Jake.. how could I forget

      • Mo Caraher

        Konopka it is; Dowell is in the minors.

        • Nagelbett

          and got his face opened against the wolves last week

      • detroit must die

        You give it that long? 5 minutes in more like.

  • JRF

    Hopefully the boys got some rest on their days off. I’m chalking the one goal wins up to fatigue. 82-0!!

  • Nagelbett

    Teams playing Columbus are 1-5 in their next game. The exception – that dominating 2-1 Hawks win over Det. Keep it rolling Hawks!

    • 2883

      I’m not sure I’d call the Hawks effort against Detroit “dominating”. It was marred by silly penalties and a tired 3rd period effort.

      • detroit must die

        I think, or hope, that “dominating” was being used sarcastically there.

        • Nagelbett

          um yes.

  • 2883

    the Wild’s top line has like 85% of their scoring (Parise – Koivu – Heatley) and a lot of that is because of a ferocious forechecking by everyone not named Dany Heatley on that line. Parise and Koivu are as talented as they come on the forecheck…

  • 2883

    the answer to the Hawks problems at C..
    Hurricanes place Zach Boychuk on waivers… Easy claim we have a roster spot on our active roster… He’s got some talent/upside . We would be responsible for his 625,000 this season… he is an RFA at the end of it… this seems like one of those claims that you make

    • 2883

      He probably can’t play C anymore but maybe you play him on the 4th line instead of Bollig but then that line gets kinda small ( Kruger already is small)

      • girlphoenix

        EVERYONE can play C. – Blackhawks Organization.

  • pompoon

    I’ve been looking forward to this game all week…7 pm cannot come fast enough