Plenty of noise today from Chicago that the Blackhawks got the "eye-opener" they needed to jumpstart a sweep. Even heard it a tad locally, too. Dohkay. I know, I know ... top seed, Speedy 'Hawks, HOSSA, KANE, TOEWS et al. I get it. I saw it last night and thought it was good.
The belief seems to be these Blackhawks have another gear they will use and speed by the Minnesota Wild like BICKELL by RUPP. They will improve and we cannot possibly, right, because we are a lowly eight seed?
I say "whatever." The defensive execution by the Wild last night was terrific and the blocked shots were impressive. Minnesota brought it defensively, kept the Blackhawks well under their GPG average in regulation and also forced OT and almost won sans BACKSTROM and POMMINVILLE.
I happen to think both teams played very well last night and don't see why the Wild cannot be a team to take a jump and improve for it was the visitior hitting the crossbar to win it (ZUCKER) and also sniping in OT (PARISE from dead center) to house the prize.
Not sure what to think about the goalie situation and it's hard to say JOSH HARDING can play as well again. Chicago's goalie CRAWFORD got a little shaky at times and has a reputation for folding this time of the year. We amassed 27 shots and need even more to put him in compromising situations. Can't just shoot to shOot, though, because these Speedy 'Hawks will saunter the other way and jack with the tempo.
D RYAN SUTER played 41 minutes and Chicago much better balanced its TOI for its defenders and that will take its toll on the Wild as the series winds away. Suter is such a stud, though, and was going along well very late in the game.
Like game one I expect a wonderful second game and don't envision any blowouts in the series. I still feel Minnesota wins at least two games and had a glorious chance to steal one last night. That was a huge loss, and when the radio show is at the X tomorrow for a penalty box show we'll try to gauge the pulse of a team that has to know it let one slip away.
... VIKINGS: Taped an interview with seventh-round LB MIKE MAUTI, the kid from Penn State. He's the cat I wrote about the other day who may be the utlimate wildcard from our draft. By all accounts when healthy Mike can be a stone-cold stud, but he has absorbed three ACL injuries since 2009, including one late 2012 in a game against Indiana.
I asked Mauti what his expectations were for this season wth the Vikings and he sounds like he wants to win a starting role. He's a longshot but it's not like ILB for us is making the Niners blush. He's an interesting story in that he already twice has overcome ACL tears to play well, his dad played seven years in the NFL and before the draft he sent personal letters to all 32 GMs proclaiming his desire, improving health and hopes to be drafted.
He and his PSU teammate GERALD HUGHES will be interesting to watch because there's a starting job open around here for a LB and the race is on.
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