For the Blackhawks, Game 2 was a waiting game.
Since this second-round series began against the Minnesota Wild the Blackhawks have been preaching patience. On Sunday night they truly had to practice it. There was a payoff, certainly, as they claimed a 4-1 victory over the Wild.
Now to continue that patience against a team that, despite Game 2 miscues, doesn’t usually give up much.
“That’s the way it has to be, especially against a team like this,” Patrick Kane said after the team’s Game 2 victory, which gives them a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night. “You’re not going to get many chances. They clog up the middle pretty well and have a good goaltender. You have to stay with it, not get frustrated.”
The Blackhawks expect the Wild to play a tighter and less errant game on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. When the mistakes were there on Sunday, the Blackhawks took advantage of them. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa broke out on a 2-on-0 short-handed effort, with Toews finishing it off. Kane’s first goal and Patrick Sharp’s score started with Wild lapses.
The Blackhawks certainly like to push the pace, and that’s fine. It’s going for the play that’s not there that has gotten them in trouble. They didn’t wander down that road in Game 2, instead taking what was there. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks have to stay that course, even if it takes longer than they’d like.
“We think we’re playing well in [Game 2] and it took us a long time to score a goal, so that’s got to be the recipe going forward,” Quenneville said. “Don’t think you want to go out there and outscore them. You want to play the right way and when you get your opportunities, cash in. I thought we did that last night.”
Thomas Vanek told the Minnesota media he wasn’t sure why the Wild were so sloppy in Game 2. He said part of it may be the Blackhawks playing a different game than the St. Louis Blues, the Wild’s first-round opponent – “they play such a fast, long pass game where I think we got trapped into it thinking we have to play the same way as them to beat them.”
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So the Wild know they have to get back to what works for them.
“When we’re on our game, we’re tough to get countered. When we try those long stretch passes, that’s when they pick them off and go the other way and that’s not us,” Vanek continued. “We have to come as a five-man unit through the neutral zone and not have two, three guys leaving the zone and try to play their game. That’s what I think we did yesterday and that didn’t work so well.”
The Blackhawks haven’t always practiced patience as much as they’ve preached it. But it’s worked when they have. They’ll need more of the same if they want to keep the pressure on the Wild.
“There are a lot of options on their lines, a lot of speed in their lineup and a back end that’s active. So there are a lot of ways they can generate, a lot of ways they can defend,” Quenneville said. “You still have to have that patient mindset.”