Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Three
Updated: June 8, 2013 6:36AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — What is a proportionate response to the beating the Blackhawks took in Game 3 against the Minnesota Wild? Well, they’re going to hit back. But it’s not like they’re going to be wearing boxing gloves.
‘‘I think sometimes you make a little too much of that instead of just playing the game and playing hockey,’’ Hawks winger Patrick Kane said. ‘‘Yeah, you want to be physical. You want to ramp up the intensity and bring a little more playoff hockey. But we’re just going to play our game — that’s the most important thing.
‘‘If you’re worried about bringing too much physicality and intensity, you’re not worrying about doing the things you did to score a lot of goals this year, which we did. We just need to get back to the way the Blackhawks play hockey.’’
Game 4 of the Hawks’ opening-round series with the Wild on Tuesday is the first test of whether this team truly resembles the 2010 Stanley Cup champions. The hallmark of that team was its uncanny ability to play ‘‘the way the Blackhawks play hockey’’ when it needed to.
The Hawks are at one of those moments after the Wild outhit them 34-13 in Game 3 in a pounding that was not as close as the score indicates. Rookie Jason Zucker, a 5-11, 186-pound forward who’s in the lineup for his speed, epitomized the onslaught by leveling 6-3, 221-pound Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook at the end of the second period.
Zucker, 21, scored the winning goal by putting a ‘‘puck on net’’ from a sharp angle in overtime and somehow getting it past red-hot goalie Corey Crawford. Whether it was coincidence, karma or dumb luck, it was only fitting that Zucker was rewarded for his aggressiveness. That seems to be what ‘‘playoff hockey’’ is all about.
Now it’s up to the Hawks to respond, but how? Brute force is not this team’s style. But the Hawks know they’re not going to finesse their way to victory. There’s a magic spot in between, and it’s up to the Hawks to find it.
‘‘I’d like to see a more intense team,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘Whether it’s the animosity, the hatred, the battles . . . it’s playoff hockey. That’s the level we’ve got to get to.
‘‘We want to make sure we have more emotion and movement in our game. Let’s make sure, whether it’s a hit or a counter-hit, we have more than the 13 [hits] we put up [Sunday].’’
The Wild knows what’s coming.
‘‘Part of the challenge for us next game will be to brace against their pushback,’’ coach Mike Yeo said. ‘‘We know they’re going to come hard, and I’m anxious to see how we respond to that.’’
If the Hawks are right, there won’t be anything the Wild can do about it. The Hawks were in an even bigger bind in a first-round taffy pull with the Nashville Predators in 2010. Down 2-1 after a bad Game 3 loss on the road, the concerns and solutions were all too familiar — getting outplayed; getting outhit; unable to play Blackhawks hockey; no production from Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa; looking for a spark from an agitator (Adam Burish) or the return of an injured player (Brian Campbell).
Before a frenzied crowd at Bridgestone Arena, the Hawks were outhit 28-18, outshot 33-30 and lost 59 percent of the faceoffs. And won without a sweat 3-0.