You know how the Minnesota Wild felt the past three postseasons? Well, the Blackhawks may have felt a smidge of that this season, considering the Wild pushed them around for five victories. It’s not easy taking a season series against the Blackhawks, but the Wild did it with authority, putting an exclamation point on it with a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night.
Yeah, that’s the way it goes some seasons. But the Blackhawks may have bigger concerns than their regular-season record vs. the Wild. So before we head home, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ latest loss to Minnesota.
1. Duncan Keith could be out a bit. The defenseman’s stick-swing at Charlie Coyle was a costly one, as he was assessed a match penalty for “intent to injure.” Coyle was bloodied and Keith was gone for the night. Will Keith be suspended another game or two moving forward? It’s possible. The league will review the match penalty and Keith is suspended indefinitely as of now – the Blackhawks’ next game isn’t until Friday against Winnipeg. Keith’s last suspension was more than 18 months ago – the league deems repeat offenders as those whose most recent suspension came in that time frame. But it’s still another stick-swinging incident that could have Keith sitting longer.
2. A critical penalty kill. The Blackhawks went on a five-minute kill with Keith’s penalty and they passed the massive test well. Not only did they keep the Wild from scoring but Marian Hossa also scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game, 1-1, at the time. The Blackhawks, down 1-0 at the time, could have buckled during that kill. Instead, they made the first period end a lot better than it could have.
3. The Wild are too tough in the third. It didn’t help that the Blackhawks were down two defensemen (Keith and Brent Seabrook, who was ill) but the Wild weren’t messing around in the final period. Three unanswered goals gave the Wild their fifth regular-season victory over the Blackhawks. Yes, fifth. The Wild have turned things around under coach John Torchetti in recent weeks. But be it now or earlier this season, the Wild just had the Blackhawks’ number this season.
4. Hossa nears another milestone. His scoring numbers may not be as high as he’d like this season but Hossa is nevertheless closing in on 500 career NHL goals. “That was a nice goal, great play,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Pretty amazing career. That’s a big number, [and it’s] especially hard to score in today’s game. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
5. Missing Seabrook never helps. The Blackhawks were already in a tough spot entering this one with Seabrook out due to illness. The team hasn’t had the same depth on defense this season, and it’s that much more evident when the Blackhawks are missing a key player. The good news is, according to Quenneville, Seabrook should be fine for Friday’s game against Winnipeg. But the Wild were opportunistic in the third period against a Blackhawks defense that was missing two top defensemen by that time.