Blackhawks

Wild ready to 'attack' Blackhawks' game plan

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Wild ready to 'attack' Blackhawks' game plan

Since the start of their second-round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild, the Blackhawks have preached the importance of playing a patient game against a team that doesn't give up too many opportunities.

So far that's paid off for Chicago, as the Blackhawks enter Game 4 with a 3-0 series lead and a chance to sweep.

[RELATED - Blackhawks treating Game 4 like it's a must win]

Now it's do-or-die for the Wild, who are still looking to come back against the team that's eliminated them from the postseason the last two years. And while the Wild have also taken a more patient approach in the past, that's not what they're looking to do Thursday night.

"I don't think patience is the right word," coach Mike Yeo told the Minnesota media prior to Game 4. "We have to keep attacking. We have to defend; defending is what prevents you from losing hockey games. We have to make sure that we don't lose. At the same time, you can't win if you don't attack. We have to attack their game plan a little more than we have. We have to attack smarter in certain situations."

Earlier in the series, Yeo said his team had seemed to be focusing on the overall outcome rather than taking each game one play at a time. Now the Wild have found themselves in a tough situation against the Blackhawks — teams with a three-game lead are 194-4 all-time in postgames series — and now Minnesota plans to put out a more aggressive performance to get a win on home ice.

"When we have the opportunity to attack, we have to go. We have to take advantage of it because they don't give you a lot of opportunities," Yeo said. "But we also have to find a way to create some more opportunities and that means getting in on the forecheck a little bit more, it means playing in the offensive zone a little bit more. Not being one and done when you get in the offensive zone."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

The Blackhawks' defensive performance from Corey Crawford on out has gotten better and better as the series has progressed. On Tuesday, Crawford recorded a shutout against the Wild, who couldn't generate a whole lot in front of Chicago's net.

So while patience has been the key word in this series, the Wild are now ready to take a different approach. The Blackhawks haven't been giving up a whole lot to the opposition, but tonight, the home team will try to find ways to change that.

"You're not going to get in the offensive zone in the first five seconds they have a big breakdown," Yeo continued. It's how we use our puck strength, our movement down in the offensive zone. It's how we have a good F3, it's how we hunt and recover pucks. We force them to make mistakes. That's generally and typically when we're on top of our game and we didn't see a lot of that stuff last game. I think we use that as a pretty good example of showing our guys that when we're doing those things, we can be effective."

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

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

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

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

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 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: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.