The Chicago Blackhawks grabbed a stranglehold of their second-round series with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Much of the game was tight and hard-fought until the final period, where after some pressure, the Blackhawks took control of the game and turned on their juices. The Blackhawks also now have control of the series, but the Wild cannot be underestimated.
In these two wins, a pattern is beginning to develop. The Hawks start fast early, but the Wild defense stifles them, even when they score. The Wild score and make things interesting, but the Hawks find a way to pull ahead. It’s a little concerning, especially given how both teams fared in the last round, but that’s later.
Certainly, it cannot be said enough just how well Corey Crawford has been playing. The Wild had so many chances that, had he not been dominant, could have gotten past. Jeremy Morin made his playoff debut but only registered 5:42 of ice time. At one point, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith were split up before being put back together.
Of course, the elephant in the room is the 2-0 series lead. The Hawks know firsthand how a team down two games feels, especially against a rival. The Wild themselves were down 2-0 against the Colorado Avalanche, proving the result is not a foregone conclusion. With the Los Angeles Kings coming back from a 3-0 deficit in their first-round series, it’s imperative the Hawks don’t get complacent and let the Wild back in the series.
Still, this is mostly the same Minnesota team that the Hawks beat in the first round in last year’s playoffs. The Wild have nowhere near the amount of talent the Hawks have, but it’s a good idea to be cautious heading into Game 3 in St. Paul.