Blackhawks Crush the Wild to End the Series, Red Wings Look to Tie the Ducks
After enduring some earlier challenges by the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks kept their heads down on Thursday and defeated them 5-1. With the win, the Blackhawks took the series in this fifth game and will now advance to the semifinals.
The second period was a good one for Chicago as they scored three goals with two coming from Marian Hossa. Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp also had goals for the game while goalie Corey Crawford had 21 saves. He also wracked up his fourth win for the postseason.
After their 2010 Stanley Cup win, Chicago will finally see a postseason run for the first time. They also snapped a jinx for Presidents’ Trophy winners who typically endure early exits as this has happened in the last three of four years.
Next up for the team is either the San Jose Sharks or the rival Detroit Red Wings–if they get past the Anaheim Ducks.
As for the Wild, who had hoped for a good postseason run, had to play with backup goalie Josh Harding on Wednesday after Niklas Backstrom went down earlier with a leg injury just before Game 1 started.
Harding only played in five games during the league’s regular season after receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis last summer. He had a rough game on Wednesday as he gave up three goals over 18 shots. Goalie Darcy Kuemper came in after that.
Now that the season has ended for the Wild, questions are now swirling whether Wild coach Mike Yeo will return for next season. The Wild had high expectations to make a good run for the Stanley Cup this season after adding Zach Parise and Ryan Suter at high prices but they both didn’t meet expectations.
Yeo said of his job possibly coming to end via ESPN, “I can’t answer that. All I can say is if you want to look at it objectively, statistically, if you really want to look at it properly, then there’ve been a lot of improvements in our organization and our team. I feel that we’re going in the right direction.”
Looking ahead for the Blackhawks, center Dave Bolland and goalie Ray Emery are still spectators for the playoffs with injuries but their coach Joel Quenneville has said they’re “real close” to returning with Bolland expected to return for the upcoming round.
The Blackhawks sit at +300 to win this year’s Stanley Cup.
Red Wings vs. Ducks
On Friday, the Red Wings will look for a win to tie up their series as they will host the Ducks.
Leading 3-2, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has been clutch in two of the team’s three wins, as he has scored three key goals to take the win.
Don’t expect this aggressive play to change as Getzlaf said of Friday’s game via ESPN, “We’ve worked really hard throughout the year to know what to do in these situations. We’re excited about trying to get that win here in Detroit.”
But it’s hard to bet against the Red Wings in the postseason, especially with team captain and center Henrik Zetterberg. Since 2006, he, along with Philadelphia Flyer’s Danny Briere, are the NHL leaders with 48 postseason goals, according to STATS. Since 2008, only the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have accrued more playoff points Zetterberg’s 80.
However, Zetterberg has a cold hockey stick as he hasn’t made a playoff score in almost 13 months; he now has a career-high seven postseason games sans a goal.
For the Red Wings, the likelihood of winning this year’s Stanley Cup does’t look great as the team sits at +3300 while the Ducks are +1200. The odds are better in the short term as the Red Wings need a win Friday and get the nod (-125, 5 o/u).