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  • Wild Series Planner: Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks Part One


    In 2012-13, Chicago won in five games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Minnesota made it a much more interesting series in 2014-15, falling in six games in the West's Semis. Could the third time be the charm this season? It's possible. The Wild have more depth this season than ever, a Vezina finalist in net and are facing a Blackhawks team that has some serious question marks between the pipes.

    On special teams, things have gotten weird. After an abysmal regular season on the man advantage, Minnesota's power play is now first in the league this postseason at 33.3%. On the penalty kill, the Wild's PK is ninth-best at 81.8%. Oddly enough, it's sixth-best out of the 10 teams left in the hunt.

    This Week's Schedule

    We'll update this as soon as the schedule is released.

    Friday 8:30 PM @ Chicago Blackhawks (NBCSN, SN, TVA2)

    Sunday 7:30 PM @ Chicago Blackhawks (CBC, NBCSN, SN360, TVA2)

    Key Player of the Week

    Devan Dubnyk's save percentage over six games hasn't been spectacular (.913), but his goals against average is pretty solid at 2.32. However, take away Game Four (a 6-1 thrashing on home ice) and those numbers look amazing with a .946 save percentage and a 1.40 goals against average. Throw in four wins and a shutout into the mix and his numbers look nigh unbeatable. Wild head coach Mike Yeo will need his No. 1 goaltender to be at the top of his game if Minnesota is going to come out early and take a win or two at the United Center.

    Key Opponent of the Week

    Bryan Bickell. I'm kidding. Only partially. Or not at all. Moving on.

    I was the idiot that had Nashville beating Chicago in six games, not the other way around. Now, in my defense, I had not counted on the Blackhawks having the services of a healthy Patrick Kane. They did, and he had two goals, seven points and a plus-3 rating in the series. If the Wild are going to advance to Round Three for only the second time in franchise history, they need to limit Kane's chances. We've all seen what he can do with the puck - after all, he was the guy to end Minnesota's run with a lucky bounce in overtime of Game Six last season.

    Fortunately for the Wild, they have experience dealing with a game-breaking scorer in the Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko. The problem with Kane and Chicago is that they are a speed team and can take Minnesota's game and throw it right back at them. Puck possession will be key to take that speed advantage away from the Blackhawks. Take the puck and make them chase you. If the Wild can do that, Chicago could be in for the toughest series of the 2015 postseason.

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