Five ways Wild can beat Hawks

Speed kills. Teams almost always resort to committing fouls in an effort to slow down opposing players, whether they are puck carriers or players going to the net or cutting through the neutral zone. More speed should in theory generate more power-play opportunities, and that is an avenue the Wild might be able to exploit to gain an edge.

The fact that the Blackhawks are in a groove while killing penalties isn't helping matters; they have allowed just two power-play goals since the playoffs began and have been perfect in four straight games. That will have to change if the Wild are going to make a dent in this series.

"We've got to draw more power plays, for sure," Yeo said. "Usually you do that when you're moving your feet, when you're playing with speed. It can be off the rush, but it can also be in the offensive zone, where we're moving our feet, we're forcing somebody to hook, we're forcing somebody to hold.

"Again, I don't think that we had enough of that. I don't think we saw a lot of guys carrying pucks [Sunday] night, skating, taking open ice. For whatever reason, we seemed to have our feet planted. Hopefully the energy part of it -- that's all it is. Hopefully, the confidence of coming back home and just sort of the mentality of 'Let's go make the play,' that'll be what we're looking for."

3. Crank it up at home

We often talk about home-ice advantage, even though the reality is that often there is little to no advantage of playing at home. Four of the eight first-round series ended with the visiting team (Los Angeles, Minnesota, Anaheim and Pittsburgh) winning the deciding game.

Having said that, home ice really is an advantage for the Wild. They are undefeated in three games at home (and a pedestrian 1-5 on the road) in these playoffs, and Yeo has been able to use the home crowd and last change to get the matchups that he feels favor his squad. The Wild outscored the Avalanche 8-3 in their three home victories in the first round. That kind of defensive posture will have to be replicated against a Chicago team that features eight players with at least two playoff goals and three players -- Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell -- with at least four.

"I think we feel comfortable here. We're excited," said forward Dany Heatley, who has had something of a renaissance in the playoffs with one goal and five assists. "This is a real loud building in the playoffs. I know the fans, the town's excited to watch [Tuesday]. And we've played well here all year. It's important to be good in your rink, and we have, and we've got to continue to do that this playoffs."

Added Yeo: "It's going to be really loud, and we feed off of that."

4. Respect yourself

There is a fine line between respecting a team and being in awe of it, and the Wild are going to have to stay on the right side of that line.

There is no denying the talent and experience that the Blackhawks bring to the table. They are in a mighty groove, and as Yeo pointed out, they don't sit back and try to protect leads; they continue to go after teams, which is what happened in the first two games as they managed to break open two close contests with late goals.

"I'll give those guys a ton of credit," Yeo said. "You look at what they've done the last four years. Night in and night out, this is a team that can hurt you in the way they play offensively. They can hurt you in how they can capitalize on their opportunities.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...