If you thought the big news out of Tuesday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild was that Duncan Keith was literally running on no sleep and pure adrenaline after the birth of his son, you were only partially right. The Wild took another ride on the netminding carousel and were soundly shut out 3-0 by the Blackhawks.
Corey Crawford gave another first-class goalie clinic, making 25 saves on the night to garner his second playoff shutout. But unlike the game on Sunday, the defense finally decided to show up and actually help Crawford out, blocking quite a few shots themselves. Between the blocks, the saves and shots that were thrown wide, the Wild were frustrated at every turn. But Crawford’s play was only half of the goaltending story in the game.
Toward the end of the first period, a rush by Jonathan Toews ended with him crashing into Josh Harding and his stick jamming into Harding’s left leg pad. Harding was slow to get up, but he shook it off and played out the period. When the period finally ended, Harding had a hard time getting off the ice.
As was anticipated, Darcy Kuemper came into the net for the rest of the game. His nerves were evident when he let in the Blackhawks’ first shot against him, but he regrouped and only allowed one other goal in the third period. The puzzling thing about Kuemper’s presence was that Niklas Backstrom dressed as his backup. This is the same Backstrom who was injured prior to the first game and has been ruled as day to day ever since. There was rampant speculation that the goaltending situation is so dire for the Wild that they dressed a man who’s probably not 100 percent ready to play.
At this point, there’s no telling who could be in net for the Wild on Thursday. Harding could be all right and start. Kuemper could start with Harding as his backup. Backstrom could try for a start if he’s feeling up to it. Or perhaps they’ll just pull some random person from the crowd and dress him as their backup, which would have a very “Keith Moon passing out at his drum kit” kind of feel. In any case, the Blackhawks will be ready for whoever’s in the crease.