Observations From Section 321 : Quite The Handsome Victory

Blackhawks take a 3-1 series lead with a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild.

This has been an interesting series so far, to say the least. If you would have told me that Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad would be pointless after four games, I'd say the Blackhawks were in trouble. Instead, they have a 3-1 series lead after Tuesday night's 3-0 win in St. Paul. The Hawks can close out this series Thursday night at the Madhouse, and hopefully they come out with the killer instinct. There is no reason to drag this series out any longer than it needs to go.

The Wild came out swinging in the opening minutes of the game. They came out fast, physical and where all over the Hawks in their end. I knew Minnesota could not keep up that pace and style of play for long, so once they endured the first attack, they would be in good shape. And that is exactly what the Blackhawks did, and they stopped the Minnesota momentum by striking first at 8:48 of the 1st period. The play started with a bad turnover by the Wild's captain Mikko Koivu at his own blue line. Marian Hossa jumped on the puck and quickly got a centering pass over to Michal Handzus. 'Zus fired a shot that deflected off of Patrick Sharp who was going hard to the net for his 3rd goal of the series.

The 2nd period started with a change in net for the Wild. With about 4 minutes to go in the 1st period Jonathan Toews went hard to the net and caused Josh Harding to do the splits between the right goal post. After a lengthy delay, Harding stayed in to finish the period, but did not return after the intermission. It was now Darcy Kuemper's job to be the savior for the Wild. Good luck with that, kid! It didn't take very long for the Hawks to bring the welcome wagon either, as Patrick Sharp scored his 2nd of the game at 1:02. Zach Parise gained control of a lose puck at center ice and tried to pass it back to Jared Spurgeon, at his own blue line. Instead he gave it right to Sharpie who flicked a mean wrist shot, from the top of the left circle, past Kuemper for a 2-0 Hawks lead.

Bryan Bickell would close out the scoring with his 3rd goal of the series at 12:46 of the 3rd period. Andrew Shaw threw a big hit on Justin Falk behind the Wild net and Bickell took the puck away from him. Bicks literally shot the puck from the corner, on the goal line. I still have no idea how it went in, but happy it did.

* If you have been watching any of the other series, especially out East, then you would know that goaltending, as a whole, has pretty much sucked so far. Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury are overrated hacks. Jonathan Quck is a shell of his former Conn Smythe winning self. James Reimer? Yeah, not so much. I want nothing to do with the corpse of Evgeni Nabokov either. But, Corey Crawford has been the best goalie of the first week of the post season. He leads the league with a 1.39 GAA and a .949 save %.

* Speaking of league leaders, Patrick Sharp's 4 goals has him tied with Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Pascal Dupuis for the most in the post season so far. Not bad for a guy who only scored 6 goals in 28 regular season games. Welcome back Shooter!

* I've been saying if for the past couple of weeks and will repeat it again; I'd much rather have a dominate penalty kill than a killer power play come playoff time. The Hawks are the only team who has not given up a power play goal yet this post season, killing off all 15 penalties in the series so far. They were a perfect 6 for 6 last night, but got a lot of help from the fact that the Wild couldn't hit water if they fell out of boat in the 3rd period.

* The Wild had all kinds of problems getting the puck to Corey Crawford last night. They attempted 68 shots last night but only registered 25 on goal, and that was with 6 power plays! They missed 17 shots and the Hawks blocked an amazing 26 of their attempts. Johnny Oduya lead the way with 5 blocks and Michal Rozsival added 4 of his own. Michael Frolik lead the forwards with 3 blocked shots.

* I know there is not much difference between Brandon Bollig and Daniel Carcillo, but at least Bollig has not taken any dumb penalties. It took all of three shifts for Gorilla Salad to throw an elbow to the face of Tom Gilbert, who he has already tried to kill in the past. Hopefully, when Dave Bolland returns, we don't have to mention his name or waste 3:55 of ice time on Carcillo anymore.

* Is there anything Minnesota Wild fans won't boo? They booed Josh Harding in the home finale. They constantly booed the refs even though they had 6 power plays compared to just 2 for the Blackhawks. They gave Darcy Kuemper the "Bronx cheer" after he made his first save. I am pretty sure these guys would boo a wagon full of puppies. Oh, and nice job with the "CRRAAAAAWWWWFORD" chants while your team is losing 2-0. You really got into Crow's head with that one!

* For a guy who is supposed to be a "tough guy", Cal Clutterbuck certainly goes down pretty easy the second he is touched by anyone in an opposing sweater.

* I hope Josh Harding's lower body injury is not serious and he can return for Game 5. He is a great story and has been fantastic for the Wild.

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 13:39 12 13 -1 -2 -0
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 13:35 16 12 +4 -2 +5
Brent Seabrook D 13:17 13 13 0 -1 +0
Nick Leddy D 12:57 15 14 +1 -1 +1
Patrick Sharp R 13:01 11 19 -8 +1 -8
Daniel Carcillo L 3:55 4 1 +3 +2 +2
Marcus Kruger C 5:52 6 4 +2 -2 +3
Jonathan Toews C 13:26 15 10 +5 -1 +5
Brandon Saad L 12:59 15 8 +7 -3 +8
Viktor Stalberg L 9:20 6 6 0 +2 -1
Michal Handzus C 15:32 13 26 -13 +1 -13
Johnny Oduya D 17:09 12 16 -4 +3 -5
Bryan Bickell L 11:45 7 11 -4 +1 -4
Michal Rozsival D 17:54 12 17 -5 +3 -6
Andrew Shaw C 11:46 8 5 +3 0 +3
Michael Frolik R 5:48 7 4 +3 -1 +3
Marian Hossa R 11:39 6 7 -1 -1 -1
Patrick Kane R 16:26 22 24 -2 +1 -2

Wild Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Marco Scandella D 13:03 19 13 +6 -3 +7
Matt Cullen C 14:00 9 12 -3 -4 -1
Mikko Koivu C 12:41 11 13 -2 +4 -4
Devin Setoguchi R 12:31 7 9 -2 -2 -1
Zach Parise L 12:29 12 11 +1 +4 -1
Jason Zucker L 11:23 6 8 -2 -2 -1
Torrey Mitchell C 7:57 6 11 -5 -1 -5
Stephane Veilleux L 7:03 6 9 -3 -1 -3
Ryan Suter D 19:20 13 20 -7 +5 -9
Kyle Brodziak C 11:43 18 9 +9 -1 +9
Cal Clutterbuck R 13:12 16 10 +6 -1 +6
Jonas Brodin D 18:07 11 20 -9 +4 -11
Jason Pominville R 3:49 5 5 0 +1 -0
Justin Falk D 11:23 10 6 +4 -2 +5
Jared Spurgeon D 12:36 17 13 +4 -2 +5
Charlie Coyle C 13:52 14 12 +2 +4 +0
Tom Gilbert D 13:36 14 9 +5 -2 +6
Pierre-Marc Bouchard C 11:31 17 10 +7 -1 +7