ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild answered their coach’s challenge in Game 3, and now Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is looking for the same from his team in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinals series.
The Blackhawks’ series advantage was cut to 2-1 after the Wild defeated them 3-2 in overtime in Game 3 on Sunday. The Wild outplayed the Blackhawks in nearly every category after Wild coach Mike Yeo asked his team to play with more hatred toward the Blackhawks.
Quenneville wants to see something similar to that from the Blackhawks in Game 4, which will be held in Minnesota on Tuesday.
“I’d like to see a very intense team,” Quenneville said after Monday’s practice. “You watch other playoff series, you can see whether it’s the animosity, the hatred, the battles; that’s playoff hockey. I think that’s the level we got to get to and go from there.”
Quenneville said he would like to especially see his team hit and shoot more than it did in Game 3. The Wild outhit the Blackhawks 34-13 and outshot them 37-27. The numbers were drastically different from the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win in Game 2, when they had 35 hits and 48 shots.
“I think everybody’s got to be looking for hits, counterhits,” Quenneville said. “You don’t want to be distracted going to the tough areas and the willingness to travel those areas. We got to be willing to go there. I think we got slowed down there and had hesitation in our game. It kind of feeds into it. If you’re going to stand still, you’re going to get hit. I think we want to make sure we got motions and movement in our game. Let’s make sure if it’s a hit or counterhit, we got to have more than the 13 we had [Sunday].
“Coming in on the road, the building is going to be loud. It’s going to be a tough place to come into. We had the start we were looking for [Sunday]. We just didn’t sustain it. They played like I said [Sunday] they had to win the game, and we didn’t. We want to make sure we have more urgency to our game, more directness, the passion that comes with playoff hockey.”
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane agreed that they needed to play more physically, but they also had to be careful not to be something they’re not.
“You want to be physical, you want to ramp up the intensity and bring a little more to playoff hockey,” Kane said. "We’re just going to play our game. That’s the most important thing. Sometimes you can get off your game by playing too physical or if you don’t fight back, then they seem like they have the edge too. Maybe a little mix of both.
“We obviously want to get more pucks and chances at the net. I think sometimes if you’re worried about bringing too much physicality and intensity, you’re not worried about doing the things we did to score a lot of goals this year, which we did. Just try to get back to the way the Blackhawks play hockey.”
Yeo anticipates the Blackhawks will raise their level of play in Game 4.
“Part of the challenge for us the next game will be to brace against their push-back,” Yeo said. “We know they’re going to come hard and anxious to see how we respond against that. ... We’re sitting here, and I expect to see probably their best game of the series [Tuesday]. For me, it’s great we’ve done some good things. [Tuesday] is a new test.”