The State of Hockey and Chicago are the 'home' to two of the most memorable group of brother's in the history of American cinema. For the Windy City its Jake and Elwood Blues played by Saturday Night Live original cast members John Belushi and Dan Akroyd. The pair of trouble-making musicians who go on a mission from God to save an orphanage they once belonged to formed the plot for the film the Blues Brothers. For Minnesota you have a trio of brothers from the "Iron Range" of Dave, Jeff and Steve Hanson played by real life professional hockey players Steve and Jeff Carlson from Virginia, Minnesota and St. Paul's Dave Hanson. The brothers from the cult classic hockey film Slap Shot who loved playing with toy cars when they weren't beating the hell out of their opponents on the ice as they hoped their thuggery could save their hockey team from being dismantled. The brothers and their films share some interesting comparisons. Both sets of brothers were made famous in part due their choice in eyewear. The Blues' and their classic sunglasses which they even wore at night and the Hanson's for their taped up coke-bottle glasses which the players did their best to keep on even in the middle of a hockey fight. Both sets of brothers were no strangers in getting into trouble with the law and both were great crowd pleasers. But which group of brothers kicked more ass?
Which 'brothers' kicked more ass, the Blues brothers or the Hanson brothers?
The Blues Brothers certainly started their share of fights but they spent most of their time running or morte often driving away. It was in their various car chases that they managed to send a whole group of Illinois Nazi's jumping off the side of a bridge as well as the destruction of a shopping mall in addition to countless police, sheriff and state patrol cars as they raced to the Cook County Assessor's Office in downtown Chicago. So on a property destruction level, the Blues Brothers win hands down. While the Hanson Brothers didn't have an old police car to drive, they road a bus with holes bashed in the side to make it look mean. And unlike the Blues who ran away from the fights they created they fought ferociously making the Charlestown Chiefs one of the most feared teams in the Federal League standing up to such thugs as Ogie Oglethorpe, Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken and Gilmore Tuttle. Only the national guard could finally reign in the Blues Brothers while the only thing stopping the Hanson brothers was the flagging economy in Charlestown. So which group of brother's kicked more ass? That's up for you to decide. Meanwhile in the NHL, the Western Conference's top team faces off the upstart Minnesota Wild. Will the Blackhawks be singing Sweet Home Chicago by game's end or will they be singing the blues?
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1st Period Thoughts: The best thing about this first period, is that while both the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks were testing each other out, they weren't doing it at the sake of offensive chances. There's nothing worse, than watching two teams playing an overly cautious game, just waiting for someone to make a dreadful mistake. Both teams got chances, and they took those chances. For the Minnesota Wild, that's saying something, as they tend to not even want to take chances when they have great ones. One aspect of concern, is that there were at least three times where Niklas Backstrom gave Chicago at least half the net. For whatever reason, Chicago was unable to convert. While that's great for Minnesota, one has to realize that it's only a matter of time before Chicago's talented skaters find a way to get one of those pucks behind Backstrom if Minnesota keeps giving them those chances. One scary moment in the period, found Backstrom on his back making snow angels. Now from the initial television angle, it looked like he had the puck covered, and as fans, we're wondering where the whistle was. Upon the overhead replay, we saw why the ref didn't blow the whistle as it was still loose. Finally, the whistle was blown when he lost sight of the puck, and it wasn't until after the whistle that Chicago tapped the puck into the net. It was a fortunate that the official didn't still have sight of it, or the Wild would find themselves having to crawl back into the game. While Minnesota got some chances, they weren't the best nor did they end up in a goal. The Wild should be thankful that they headed into the first intermission with a 0-0 score. Truly they need to come out for the second with a fire in their bellies, because Chicago isn't a team that most teams can simply hope to keep up with and have good things happen. Minnesota needs to be aggressive with the puck and physical with the body. So we will have to wait and see.
2nd Period Thoughts: Yes, it is nice to see a more fired up Minnesota Wild come out from the lockerroom. And the fire came in both ends of the ice. In the offensive end, early in the period, Cal Clutterbuck was mere inches away from scoring his first goal since Febrary 9, 2013. However, considering the less than stellar season he's had, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the fates (and Ray Emery) are working against him. In the Minnesota end, more good goaltending by Backstrom saved the day. A sharp angle shot came in on Backstrom, and he had the wherewithall to turn around and catch the puck instead of allowing the puck to bounce off his back and into the net. Minnesota would find themselves on the penalty kill due to a Mike Rupp roughing call on Daniel Carcillo. It wasn't the smartest play by Rupp, yet I'll admit the homer part of me likes that Rupp went after Carcillo. I have never liked Carcillo, as he's just one of those pests on the ice. I have to remind myself that we have one of those pests on our roster as well that other teams and their fans hate, so I'll say no more. However, Minnesota would successfully kill the penalty. With about nine minutes remaining in the period, Chicago got a flurry of shots on goal, but Backstrom and the Wild skaters managed to keep it out of the net. Finally, Minnesota would earn their first power play, off of the hard work and moving feet of Clutterbuck. Unfortunately for Minnesota, it wasn't their best example of a power play. Yet at the same time, not the worst either, especially considering that Chicago can score shorthanded. The Blackhawks killed the penalty to only have Clayton Stoner turn over the puck at the worst possible time that allowed Marian Hossa to score. Those are the chances you simply cannot give to the Chicago Blackhawks. It's hard to say what effect that goal will have on Minnesota. They had some moments prior to the intermission where it looked like they weren't going to take that goal lying down, yet other moments where they looked somewhat apathetic. At the very least, they didn't just completely pack it up. What I'd like to see, and what needs to happen is an explosion from Minnesota's top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville.
3rd Period Thoughts: If you wanted a theme for what the Wild needs to win this game, it might be lucky bounce. While this hasn't been one of their best games all season, it certainly hasn't been the worst. It just seems that it wouldn't matter how hard they worked tonight, because everything seemed to just not go their way. We've all seen games where all it takes is just that once lucky bounce to turn things around. Until Minnesota gets that bounce, I just don't think much will change. Yet at the same time, you can't just wait for the lucky bounce. You have to make things happen, and not just occasionally, but push for those moments all game long. But it appeared that tonight, Minnesota was waiting for the lucky chance. Waiting for the perfect moment is not a great recipe for success. Minnesota doesn't have the complete offensive package to wait for the perfect moments, because waiting for the perfect moment often means you're digging yourself out of a hole. And tonight, one Chicago goal was a deep enough hole that couldn't be climbed out of. One has to wonder if they felt so good after the 3-0 shutout in Columbus, that they forgot that Chicago is not Columbus. Looking at the rest of the season, it's going to be an uphill battle. And on top of the missed chances, the lack of offense, etc., we have a team that no longer has a second line. It has now been reported that Minnesota will not have the services of Dany Heatley until next season, not even in the playoffs. And we still don't know when we'll see Matt Cullen again. If Cullen would return soon, I'd like to see Minnesota bring Jason Zucker back to St. Paul and reunite that "magic" again. Cullen's return would also most likely reignite Devin Setoguchi's game. If there was a lost player on the ice, it would be Setoguchi. I guess if there was one positive to bring to this game, it's that we only allowed (and that is the best word for it) Chicago one goal.
~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi, Zach Parise, Torey Mitchell, Kyle Brodziak, Cal Clutterbuck, Mike Rupp, Zenon Konopka, Jason Pominville, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Clayton Stoner, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Nate Prosser, Justin Falk, and Jared Spurgeon. Darcy Kuemper backed up Niklas Backstrom.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game as selected by the fans were: 1st Star, Marian Hossa; 2nd Star, Niklas Backstrom; 3rd Star, Ray Emery.
~ Attendance was 19,158 at Xcel Energy Center.