Marian Hossa was talking about the challenges of playing the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center when he just threw it out there.
“The ice is one of the best in the league,” Hossa said of the St. Paul, Minn., arena. “The ice is so fast, they’ll be flying.”
Well, if that’s the case, the Blackhawks ought to be flying, too.
There was much ado about ice on Monday, as the Blackhawks prepared for their Game 3 matchup against the Wild on Tuesday night. They had no complaints about the United Center ice; players said it’s been good, especially the past two games. But there’s something slick about the Xcel surface, and that should benefit the Blackhawks’ speed and puck-possession game.
“The ice is going to be a factor. It doesn’t really get talked about, but sometimes when you go into another building and the ice is so good, it makes you feel good,” Duncan Keith said. “You’re skating a little bit faster, the puck’s moving quicker, your shots come off harder and it’s a good feeling. But I think it works for both teams; the other team’s skating on it, too.”
One way or another, the Blackhawks are looking to reverse one of their few negative postseason trends. The team has lost the first road game of their playoff series’ eight consecutive times. They lost all four Game 3s in last year’s postseason, though it obviously doesn’t hurt you when you win just about every other game. Still, the Blackhawks have the Wild on the ropes, and they’d like to keep throwing body blows at them.
If they’re able to do that and go up 3-0 because that Xcel ice suits their game, so be it.
“Definitely, it helps,” Hossa said. “We are a puck-control team. So we want to take advantage of that.”