The initial reaction to Michal Rozsival’s injury – after the cringe-inducing images were shared and the speculation was over about what he broke, twisted, tore and/or ruptured – was that, well, at least it wasn’t Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook. That would have really been a fatal blow to the Chicago Blackhawks chances.
Judging solely by coach Joel Quenneville saying the injury, “doesn’t look good,” for Rozsival means he is done for the playoffs. Notorious for keeping injury news under wraps, that Quenneville went so far as to say that something doesn’t look good means it really doesn’t look good. And as much as it may seem like Rozsival isn’t integral to the Blackhawks lineup, it can’t be understated just how much of a bind this could put Chicago in. Read more
Sifting through the ashes of another early playoff exit for a talented team, it would be easy to give up on this current iteration of the Minnesota Wild. After all, there’s a lot going against the franchise if you’re looking at next year’s Stanley Cup chances.
When Marian Hossa put the Chicago Blackhawks ahead 4-1 with an empty net goal late in the third period, it seemed the series against the Minnesota Wild, who were down 3-0 to Chicago, was all but over. But two quick Wild goals later, and Hossa’s fourth goal was more a savior than the cherry-on-top of the Blackhawks’ win. It was also the first time in nearly a quarter-century that a series was decided thanks to an empty net goal.
The goal itself came from a good distance, roughly 170 feet away from the Minnesota net, with the Wild on a power play following a Bryan Bickell penalty for boarding. Seconds after Minnesota had hit the post, the puck slid out front to Jonathan Toews who pushed it along to Hossa, who, because of the penalty to Bickell, was free to fire the puck down ice without fear of icing. It took him one chance to find the back of the net: Read more
The Minnesota Wild were one of the NHL’s better stories for much of the second half of the 2014-15 season. They pulled themselves back from the brink of a coach firing and were the beneficiaries of an incredible and inspiration comeback case in goalie Devan Dubnyk. Unfortunately for them, comeback stories and excellent goaltending can’t win you playoff games against the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks, who hammered the Wild with their big guns and their complementary players and held on for a 4-3 win in Game 4 Thursday to sweep Minnesota out of the second round of the playoffs.
Once again, the Wild didn’t roll over and play dead despite entering Thursday’s game trailing 3-0 in their series. To the contrary: they outshot Chicago 29-17 in the final two periods and fired 37 shots at goalie Corey Crawford while limiting the Blackhawks to only 24 shots on Dubnyk. But once again, the opportunistic Hawks did exactly what they needed to do to eke out a win – in this case, get a shorthanded, empty-net goal from Marian Hossa at 16:53 of the third period (yes, you read that correctly). That wound up being the game winner, although at the time it put the visiting team up 4-1 on the Wild. Minnesota would score a power play goal 49 seconds after Hossa scored, and then Nino Niederreiter’s fourth of the playoffs with 1:27 left in regulation made the last few seconds a nailbiter. But in the end, the Blackhawks pulled out the win and are headed to their fifth Western Conference Final in the past seven seasons. Read more
At age 36, veteran Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival no longer is in his NHL prime, but still fills an important need on Chicago’s defense corps. However, after a gruesome injury in Game 4 Thursday, Rozsival isn’t likely to play again in the playoffs – and he may have played his final game in hockey’s best league.
The Hawks were leading 2-0 early in the second period when Rozsival began to move back toward Chicago’s zone, but as he attempted to move from skating backward to forward in his pursuit of Wild winger Thomas Vanek, Rozsival’s skate caught a rut, twisting his ankle in a nasty manner: (WARNING: graphic images) Read more
The Chicago Blackhawks are arguably the NHL’s most dangerous team this year because they have a multitude of weaponry with which to defeat you. It isn’t only Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith who are doing the heavy lifting for the Hawks – they win games because players throughout the lineup can step up and help them win at any moment in any game. And in Game 4 of their second-round series against Minnesota Thursday, Chicago got its first goal and lead of the night thanks to another player: veteran blueliner Brent Seabrook, who wristed a knuckling puck past Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk.
Game 4 had just passed the first half of the opening period when Seabrook took a pass at center ice, skated into the Wild’s zone with the puck and sent a wrist shot that ricocheted off the leg of Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella and over Dubnyk’s shoulder for his third goal of the playoffs: Read more
Before they stepped on the ice Tuesday night, the Minnesota Wild knew a loss in Game 3 to Chicago would put them in the worst place on earth (yes, worse than Siberia, Russia, or Toronto highways during the peak hours of 12 a.m.-11:59 p.m.): down 3-0 in their second-round series to a Blackhawks team that has Johnny Big Moments and the Prime Time Patties on the payroll. So they understood they had to throw everything including the kitchen sink at the Hawks to win in front of their own fans and attempt to tie the series Thursday. And for the most part, they did. They outshot Chicago 30-22, and had 10 takeaways to the Hawks’ six. They were disciplined, taking just a single minor penalty (the Hawks were called for three minors). They had chances. Windows.
But – and maybe you know where I’m going with this – the Hawks responded by denying those chances, by closing those small windows, and by catching Minnesota’s kitchen sink, strapping it to their backs and winning anyway. Chicago’s Corey Crawford stopped all 30 Wild shots for his first shutout this post-season, and all the Blackhawks needed was an opportunistic goal from sniper Patrick Kane late in the first period to win 1-0 and push Zach Parise & Co. to the brink of elimination. Read more
Blackhawks star winger Patrick Kane had five playoff goals entering Tuesday’s Game 3 of his team’s second-round series against Minnesota – and his sixth, scored late in the opening period, put Chicago on top in a game the Wild need to win.
Minnesota trails the Blackhawks 2-0 in their series and losing at home Tuesday would spell almost certain doom for their post-season aspirations. But with approximately six minutes left in the first period and the Hawks on a power play, Kane got the puck deep in Chicago’s offensive zone and quickly flipped it through Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk’s legs to make it 1-0 for the visiting team: Read more