Wild ready to 'attack' Blackhawks' game plan


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."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reaction to Artem Anisimov trade and development camp standouts


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reaction to Artem Anisimov trade and development camp standouts

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis react to the trade of Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith. The guys discuss the role Smith could have with the Hawks and the areas where he has an edge over Anisimov.

They also discuss the first couple days of Development Camp and how this year’s top two draft picks — Kirby Dach and Alex Vlasic — have looked so far. Plus, a breakdown of the other top blue-liners and how Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin and Chad Krys have progressed and why they agree with Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to Denver for his junior year.

0:35 – Initial reaction to Anisimov/Smith trade

2:02 – Smith adds faceoff and penalty kill abilities

3:38 – Candidates for bottom-six center spots

4:57 – Edge a common theme among new Blackhawks

6:08 – Alex Nylander’s presence at Development Camp

8:20 – Kirby Dach has an open door to a roster spot

10:38 – Alex Vlasic holding his own against Dach

11:46 – Adam Boqvist wants to play in the NHL now

13:23 – Were Blackhawks recent moves scripted before NHL Draft?

15:28 – Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to college

18:57 – Young defenseman make decisions tough down the road

20:21 – Keeping an eye on Philipp Kurashev at camp

21:20 – Is Stan Bowman done making moves?

22:34 – Salary cap outlook with DeBrincat/Strome extensions coming

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 2 thoughts and takeaways

2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 2 thoughts and takeaways

Here are several thoughts and takeaways from Day 2 of Blackhawks development camp at Fifth Third Arena:

1. Why Alex Nylander wanted to be at camp

The Blackhawks invited 37 prospects to development camp. Only one of them has NHL experience and that's Nylander, who was a late addition after he was acquired from Buffalo for Henri Jokiharju.

Nylander has been one of the standouts so far, and rightfully so. He's supremely gifted and is ahead of the curve in comparison to some of the other prospects attending. But he's behind on his own development curve, and the Blackhawks wanted to see him on the ice this week because he's going to be one of the players in the mix for an everyday roster spot when training camp rolls around.

While it may have been unexpected to see Nylander's name on the prospect camp list because it feels like he's been around forever, he was all for getting a headstart despite not participating in the Sabres' development camp the week after the NHL Draft.

"I mean, I just got traded here," Nylander said. "I wanted to meet everybody and get on the ice. It’s been a couple of months since I was on the ice, so I thought it was a great opportunity for me to come here, show what I’ve done in training through the summer and I can get even better toward training camp. I just didn’t need to go to Buffalo’s camp."

2. Ripple effects of Artem Anisimov trade

The Blackhawks made a trade in the middle of camp on Tuesday, with Anisimov going to Ottawa in exchange for power forward Zack Smith. It's a move that cleared $1.3 million in cap space for the Blackhawks, but also opened the door for somebody to snatch up that third-line center role.

Kirby Dach, anyone?

GM Stan Bowman mentioned Ryan Carpenter, David Kampf, Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith as guys who have experience playing center but didn't single anyone out as a potential leading candidate to fill Anisimov's shoes in the third-line center role. One of those four figures to secure the fourth-line center position, which will likely be Carpenter or Kampf — perhaps we could see situational faceoffs between them with Carpenter a right-handed shot and Kampf a lefty.

It truly does feel like the third-line center position is up for grabs, and the Blackhawks don't seem to mind it that way. Bowman said Dach could very well be part of the group, and it's difficult not to wonder whether the No. 3 overall pick has a fair chance of making it.

"We have quite a few potential options there to play in the middle," Bowman said. "It’s hard to map out some lines and who is going to be in what spot but I think we have different looks that we can throw at the other team. Part of training camp is going to be to find out where does everybody fit and which combinations work best."

Other notes:

— Chris Kunitz has been sitting with the Blackhawks front office contingent observing camp. He hasn't announced what his future holds, but if he's ready to call it quits on his playing career, it wouldn't be surprising to see the organization bring him on in some capacity.

— Alexis Gravel made his camp debut on Tuesday. He did not participate in on-ice sessions on Monday because he wasn't medically cleared to do so.

— Tim Soderlund was listed on the prospect camp roster but has been absent for the first two days because of visa issues. It's unclear whether that will get resolved before camp wraps up on Friday.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.