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Article updated: 5/2/2013 7:55 PM

Hawks, Wild ready for Game 2 adjustments

Hawks, Wild ready for Game 2 adjustments

Although he got knocked off his skates here, Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith had the upper hand against the Minnesota Wild’s top line in Game 1, holding them scoreless.

Although he got knocked off his skates here, Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith had the upper hand against the Minnesota Wild's top line in Game 1, holding them scoreless.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

 Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith defend the goal against Minnesota left wing Jason Zucker as goalie Corey Crawford scrambled back into position Tuesday in Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith defend the goal against Minnesota left wing Jason Zucker as goalie Corey Crawford scrambled back into position Tuesday in Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

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The playoffs are when you need your best players to be your best players.

The Minnesota Wild found that out the hard way in Game 1 of its best-of-seven series against the Blackhawks when their top line of Mikko Koivu, Zack Parise and Charlie Coyle was held without a point and had just 5 shots on goal.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville used defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson against the Koivu line along with his top line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad.

"They (Keith and Hjalmarsson) did a nice job," Quenneville said. "They defended well and their gap was good. A lot of times you've got Johnny out there as well, so you're not always defending.

"They're still going to get chances against you. You just want to make sure they're few and the quality is down."

Toews won 18 of 26 faceoffs, which is where Parise felt the problems started for his line.

"They're the type of team that if you don't win the draw against them, you could be chasing the puck the whole shift," Parise said.

Making the adjustments for Game 2 on Friday will be a key for both teams.

"I was going to look at a little of the film, of our lines and shifts," Parise said. "We had too many what I call one-and-done plays, where we get into the zone and try to make a play and it gets broken up and we're back out of our zone.

"We'll have to see and find things we can do a little better and hold onto the puck a little more. That's been one of our strengths this season, of our line, is getting the puck down low, and I don't think we did a very good job of that."

Toews downplayed his role in shutting down Parise, Koivu and Coyle.

"It didn't matter what line was out there against those guys," Toews said. "We were always conscious of who was on the ice, knowing those guys are very dangerous and can play a lot of minutes.

"You've got to try and make it as tough as you can on those guys."

Hossa said there is no magic formula for shutting down the Wild's top line.

"You cannot give them too much room," Hossa said. "They're strong on their skates and are speedy guys. They're really quick; one little mistake and those guys turn it around. If you give them a little extra room, they'll find a way to score."

In Toews and Hossa, the Hawks have two Selke Trophy candidates on one line.

"Hossa is a top player who complements our team game, how we need to play and how we should play," Quenneville said. "The way he checks and pursues pucks defensively is as good as anybody in the game. He puts a lot of pressure on our opponents to not have a lot of time. It's tough to make plays under that type of pressure."

The matchup Wild coach Mike Yeo wants is defenseman Ryan Suter on the ice against Toews and Hossa.

Suter played more than 41 minutes in the 2-1 overtime win in Game 1.

"I felt like he was out there against everybody," Hossa said. "That's a huge portion of time on the ice. He's a great defenseman and he's going to play against the best lines.

"It seems like it's going to be like that so we have to find a way to get around him or try to make those minutes feel longer for him."

• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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