Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Four

Get your game notes: ‘Hawks at Wild


Tonight on CNBC, it’s the Minnesota Wild hosting the Chicago Blackhawks starting at 9 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Chicago became the only team to win a second-round game (22 games) after giving up the game’s first goal, rallying for a 2-1 win over Minnesota in Game 5. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goal in the third period, his NHL-high fourth GWG of the postseason and franchise-high tenth GWG of his postseason career. He became the fourth player in club history to score at least four GWG in one playoff year: Dustin Byfuglien (2010) had five, and Bobby Hull (1971) and Darryl Sutter (1985) had four apiece. (Elias Sports Bureau)

• Since the postseason debuts of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blackhawks have been in seven playoff series that were 2-2 after four games, including this series. In those series, they have never lost (13-0) in Games 5 or 6, winning one game each at home and away and clinching each previous series in six games. Four of those series-clinching Game 6s were on the road.

Series | Opponent | Game 5 | Game 6
2009 Western Conf. Qtrs. Calgary 5-1 (H) 4-1 (A)
2009 Western Conf. Semis Vancouver 4-2 (A) 7-5 (H)
2010 Western Conf. Qtrs. Nashville 5-4, OT (H) 5-3 (A)
2010 Stanley Cup Final Philadelphia 7-4 (H) 4-3, OT (A)
2013 Stanley Cup Final Boston 3-1 (H) 3-2 (A)
2014 1st Round St. Louis 3-2, OT (A) 5-1 (H)
2014 2nd Round Minnesota 2-1 (H) TBD (A)

• The Blackhawks (6-0) and Wild (5-0) remain the only teams with perfect records at home this postseason. Minnesota has outscored Colorado (8-3 in three games) and Chicago (8-2 in two games) by a combined 16-5 on home ice. This series, the Wild have gotten goals at home from seven different players: Mikael Granlund (2), Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Justin Fontaine, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jared Spurgeon.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (27 saves) outdueled his Wild counterpart, Ilya Bryzgalov (26 saves), in Game 5. The two goalies have each allowed 11 goals and boast comparable numbers over the course of the series (Crawford: 3-2, 2.23 GAA, .913 save%; Bryzgalov: 2-3, 2.21 GAA, .899 save%, shutout). However, home ice has been much kinder for both of them.

• In Game 5, Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell scored his fourth goal of the series and sixth of the postseason, tying him with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen (PIT) for the second-most in the playoffs (Marian Gaborik, LA – 8). Bickell has an NHL-high 15 goals in the past two postseasons (34 games). Seven of those goals have come vs. Minnesota, in two series (10 games).

• In 12 games this postseason, the Wild have registered 109 takeaways and 55 giveaways, for a league-best +54 margin. Three Minnesota players have at least 10 takeaways: center Mikko Koivu, winger Nino Niederreiter (11 each) and defenseman Marco Scandella (10). Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa leads all individual players, with 15 takeaways, while only registering two giveaways, for a league-best +13 margin.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”