GAMEDAY: Wild at Blackhawks
Minnesota Wild (24-19-5: 53 points, T-10th in Western Conference, 3rd in Northwest Division) at Chicago Blackhawks (26-19-4: 56 points, T-7th in Western Conference, 3rd in Central Division)
A lot has happened for the Minnesota Wild in the two days since their last game. After a Sunday morning practice in San Jose, the team flew four hours to Chicago on Sunday. That night, they had their annual rookie dinner which featured surprise appearances by Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan. Then, they found out another player – Martin Havlat
– is being talked about as a possible injury replacement for this weekend’s All-Star game. Tonight, it’s back to on-ice business as Minnesota visits the defending Stanley Cup champions in the final contest before the break.
The Wild had its three-game win streak snapped in San Jose in a 4-3 loss to the Sharks on Saturday. Mikko Koivu
buried two goals while Brent Burns
factored in all three goals, scoring once and assisting on both Koivu tallies. Niklas Backstrom
took the loss, but was spectacular in making 38 saves.
The Blackhawks dropped a 4-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals. Marian Hossa picked up the only Chicago goal by converting a penalty shot in the third period. Corey Crawford stopped 25-of-28 shots in the loss for Chicago, which currently sits tied for seventh in the Western Conference, three points ahead of Minnesota.
Wild at Blackhawks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 7:30 PM. The game can be heard on BOB 106.1 FM or KBGY 107.5 FM, or online at Wild.com.
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It’s Education Night at United Center, and the first 10,000 fans at tonight’s game will receive a three-ring binder. Why they couldn’t go with Trapper Keepers is still a mystery.
We all know how the Blackhawks ended their storybook season last year. And, we all know about how tough it is for a team to repeat because every opponent is going to bring a little extra motivation into a game against the champs. But despite an up-and-down first half, the Hawks aren’t short on emotion and motivation of their own, especially tonight.
With the All-Star break starting tomorrow and a six-game trip following that, tonight will be Chicago’s final home game until February 16, also against the Wild. The Hawks will also be fired up after a lackluster home performance on Sunday. The fact that the Wild is breathing down the Hawks’ necks in the standings should make things even more interesting as both teams have talked in the papers about the importance of going into the break with that winning feeling.
was brought to Minnesota this summer because he can contribute in every facet of the game. But for a spell of about 11 games in late December and early January, the offensive facet was missing. Cullen admitted to being frustrated, but he’s been around long enough to know that points will come eventually, and they have. Cullen has posted an assist in each of the last four games and he’s added two goals over that span. He’s now reached the 30-point mark to rank fourth on the team in scoring.
It’s been almost a year since the Wild acquired Cam Barker
for Kim Johnsson and 2009 first round pick Nick Leddy. Johnsson is currently out of hockey, but Leddy’s career is just beginning. Tonight, the Eden Prairie state champion will face the team that drafted him for the first time in his young career.
Who is the Wild’s plus/minus leader? It’s not Brent Burns
, the 14-goal defenseman headed to the All-Star Game this weekend. It’s not Havlat, the team’s leading scorer, or Mikko Koivu
, the team's two-way specialist. It’s Clayton Stoner
. The same guy who had trouble cracking the lineup for much of the first half of the season is a +7 on the year, and hasn’t posted a negative rating in any of the last 11 games. Over that stretch, he’s been a +8. He also scored the prettiest goal of the day at yesterday’s practice, so just maybe he’ll be looking to imitate another #4.
Todd Richards will change the third and fourth lines tonight, switching Chuck Kobasew
and Eric Nystrom
on the wing:
There was concern about Nick Schultz
after he left Saturday’s game in the second period, but he’s practiced the last two days and is good to go tonight:
Backstrom will make his third straight start tonight.
, who was recalled at the beginning of this four-game road trip, will sit once again.
(abdominal), Marco Scandella
(concussion) and Marek Zidlicky
(shoulder) are out. Schultz (upper body) is ready to go.
"There are six guys I'd like to shut down."
-- Todd Richards, when asked Tuesday morning which Blackhawks he wants the Wild to stop tonight.
D Leddy was a standout for Eden Prairie high school and spent one season at the University of Minnesota. D John Scott played in 71 games for the Wild between 2008 and 2010. C Jonathan Toews is a product of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribualt.
Despite losing four of the last five meetings with Chicago, the Wild has beaten the Hawks 23 times, more than any other opponent outside the Northwest Division.