Talk about your buzz kill. After listening to Chicago talk about how they were going to step up their physical game in Game 4, they rope-a-doped the Wild into thinking that Tuesday's pivotal game was going to turn into an "if it moves hit it" affair.
It was actually quite the opposite as Chicago played "catch us if you can" with the Wild and laughed their way out of Xcel Energy Center with a 3-1 strangle hold on the series. The Blackhawks used speed and a smart defensive brand in their 3-0 shutout victory.
The Game 3 game plan was a masterpiece. The Wild hit the Blackhawks at every opportunity and rookie Charlie Coyle said after that he felt as though Chicago had their heads on a swivel not wanting to take any more physicality from the Wild. Even a comment from Coyle wasn't enough to anger the giant.
Maybe Chicago isn't afraid of playing physical, maybe they don't have to. The Blackhawks don't need a gimmick. They don't need to "goon" it up and would rather wait for you to make a mistake, then counter and quickly take advantage. They did that twice in Game 4 and two turnovers from the Wild top line resulted in two goals.
Six times the Wild had a man advantage and an opportunity to get on the board. They totaled seven shots and no goals. When a team is just as good a man down as they are at full strength, let's just shut the thing down and move on.
Seven shots on net, in six power plays.
That game breaker is just one of the reasons the Wild find themselves on the brink of elimination. The special teams have been anything but and calling it a power play would be a disservice because, well there is no power. The Wild are now 0-15 in the series with the man advantage.
Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said it best in his postgame press conference.
"We were playing the game. There's not a lot of room out there it was tight defensively, both teams played their check well and trying to play safe with the lead was what we were looking to do," said Quenneville. "On the road, we were pleased with how things were going. It's not like we were looking for a quantity of exchanging chances. If we were behind maybe we look at things differently."
Even in their approach, they are so freaking good. Quenneville is an elite coach that has his Blackhawks on the brink of the second round and with his team content to play the first round in first gear, we haven't seen the best of the Blackhawks.
Odds are we won't in this series, they can save their best for later in the playoffs.