Wild complete season sweep of shorthanded Blackhawks


Wild complete season sweep of shorthanded Blackhawks

ST. PAUL, Minnesota – The Blackhawks were already without Brent Seabrook and, about 10 minutes later, they were without Duncan Keith.

Still, the Blackhawks kept things close with the Minnesota Wild, which had won the previous four regular-season contests between the two teams. By the third period, however, the Wild were once again sending the Blackhawks home disappointed.

Marian Hossa scored the 499th goal of his NHL career but the Wild scored three unanswered goals in the third period en route to their 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks remain in third in the Central Division with 95 points.

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Keith was assessed a match penalty for “intent to injure” midway through the first period. Keith was tripped by Charlie Coyle and, while on his back, swung his stick at Coyle’s face. The Department of Player Safety will review the matter; whether or not Keith is suspended going forward is uncertain at this time.

Asked what he thought of the penalty, coach Joel Quenneville said, “I didn’t see it live because I was on the same side of the bench. I took a quick peek at it. We’ll see.”

Despite the Blackhawks being down two defensemen, Quenneville didn’t feel they were giving up too much defensively. They finished the second period tied 1-1 with the Wild thanks to Hossa, who scored a shorthanded goal during the five-minute Keith penalty kill.

By the third period, however, the Wild were exposing the Blackhawks’ shortcomings on defense. Jared Spurgeon scored what would be the game-winning goal 4:07 into the third and Erik Haula added his 13th of the season about seven minutes later.

“We did a good job recognizing the fact we were short staffed defensively. I think for the most part we played pretty well defensively. Just got caught and gave them those rush chances again,” Jonathan Toews said. “The first three goals were all rushes. I’m pretty sure they were, but that’s where they were getting their chances tonight. Breakdowns, forwards weren’t coming back to help out. Gave a couple big ones away in the third period there.”

[MORE: Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Keith suspension coming?]

Scott Darling gave up three goals on 17 shots. Nino Niederreiter added an empty-net goal for the Wild with 1:19 remaining in regulation.

The Blackhawks have fared very well against the Wild in the postseason – three playoff series victories, two of which led to Stanley Cups. But this season has been completely in the Wild’s favor. The Blackhawks have had frustrations for various reasons this season. Being bested this much by a Central Division opponent was just one more.

“You know if we would’ve won tonight, we wouldn’t be satisfied with 1-4. It adds insult to injury to lose this one tonight. So I don’t know, at the end of the day, it’s unfortunate,” Toews said. “They were always ready for those games. There [were] a couple we didn’t really play well. We didn’t really deserve to win. It’s not fun to look back and have a record like that against a team in your division, especially a team like Minnesota. It’s not something we’re happy about."

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Filip Zadina

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 195 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Marian Hossa

Fit for Blackhawks:

You know who the Blackhawks missed last year? Hossa. It's not mentioned enough when analyzing what went wrong in 2017-18. 

Well, Zadina is a player who's got the upside of Hossa and is one of a few prospects who could potentially crack the NHL lineup this upcoming season. The scouting report above is all you need to know about Zadina's style of play, and Blackhawks fans surely nodded through the whole thing because it's exactly what the team is looking for.

However, this is a case where the Blackhawks would have to trade up to snag him if they want him, because there's little chance he'll be on the board when the eighth pick rolls around. And it's probably unlikely they would do so, given what it may take to move up a few spots.

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.