Game 3 on Tuesday night between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks ultimately brought about a familiar storyline. Chicago has made dropping the first road game of each series into an art form, with Tuesday marking the ninth time in a row that it has occurred.
The 4-0 score flattered the Wild as the game was evenly contested throughout. The Blackhawks and their fans have no cause for genuine concern; the eye-popping disparity between the way the team plays in Games 1-3 and 4-7 of playoff series is almost certainly about to rear its head.
Joel Quenneville has proven himself a master of making adjustments in the middle of series. Most of these go quite a bit deeper than just flipping the forward lines around. His emphasis on beating Zdeno Chara with speed following Game 3 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final may have single-handedly won the series for Chicago, but never got much press.
The Blackhawks would do well to start pushing the Wild with an aggressive forecheck and offensive mindset in a similar manner to what went down in that Boston series. Chicago has an enormous edge over the Wild in terms of top-end talent, which was on display during the first two games in the Windy City. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews took a brief vacation for Game 3, but it’d be surprising if they aren’t at their best once again in Game 4 on Friday.
Accordingly, it’s very difficult to truly see the Wild making this a legitimate series. A much more focused and effective Blackhawks team than what we saw in Game 3 will take the ice on Friday night, and Minnesota simply doesn’t have the goods to match it.