Regardless of who's in net for the Minnesota Wild on Friday night for Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at the United Center, don't expect to see the high-flying, high-scoring, highlight-reel Hawks that led the conference in scoring this season.
The Wild simply don't allow for it.
"Doesn't have to be pretty," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday, following Tuesday night's 2-1 overtime victory. "If we want to play a pretty game in that type of traffic, it's going to lead to them having success. So I think we've got to play an uglier game and more of a faster game."
Minnesota plays a defensive style to begin with, but after veteran starter Niklas Backstrom hurt himself during warmups, the Wild collapsed even more in their own zone, protecting backup goalie Josh Harding by clogging up skating and shooting lanes, and diving in front of pucks left and right -- blocking 21 shots in all.
Backstrom is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, according to Wild coach Mike Yeo, and his status for Game 2 is uncertain. But no matter who's in net, the Hawks fully expect a series of 1-0 and 2-1 games.
"That has a lot to do with their coaching staff over there, and the way they play the game," Hawks winger Patrick Sharp said. "They're well-disciplined, good in all areas. And chalk it up to playoff hockey. There's not going to be too many easy games, or easy opportunities out there to score. We feel comfortable playing that style of game. It suits us. We've proven we can be successful playing that way. So we know what we're in for."
Sharp also attributed the Hawks' shaky start on Tuesday night to first-game jitters, despite the veteran roster.
"I think for Game 1 we were ready," he said. "Emotionally, we were fired up. Perhaps a little too much. I think you can put part of that on the nerves and the excitement of being in the playoffs again. You can also give Minnesota credit for playing a good first period. But we worked hard to get home-ice advantage, and we want to make sure we keep our crowd into it and make sure they give us energy throughout the game. Starting fast in Game 2 is important."
On the injury front, Quenneville hoped that Dave Bolland (groin) and Ray Emery (lower body) would be back on the ice for Thursday's practice (the Hawks didn't practice on Wednesday). But it's unlikely that either will be ready for Game 2.