GAMEDAY: Wild vs. Blackhawks
Minnesota Wild (33-23-6: 72 points, T-7th in Western Conference, 3rd in Northwest Division) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (33-23-6: 72 points, T-7th in Western Conference, T-2nd in Central Division)
A few hours remain before the NHL’s trade deadline passes, so the look of the Minnesota Wild still has time to change. But when you consider that it’s been the current group of Wild players that have put this team in position to make the playoffs with 20 games remaining, there are plenty of reasons for General Manager Chuck Fletcher to say “thanks but no thanks” to other GM’s around the League.
The Wild did recall C Warren Peters
this morning after sending him to Houston on Saturday. Peters played a role in the Wild’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. John Madden
and Clayton Stoner
picked up goals in regulation before Pierre-Marc Bouchard
stunned the Honda Center crowd by finishing off a breakaway with six seconds remaining in the extra session. Bouchard’s heroics were made possible by 46 saves by Jose Theodore
The Blackhawks won a fourth straight game last night by nipping the Phoenix Coyotes in a shootout. Jonathan Toews scored two goals in regulation and then netted the only goal of the shootout. Marian Hossa also picked up a goal for Chicago. Corey Crawford earned the win in goal with a 26-save effort.
Tonight’s game is expected to sellout, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your way in to this huge matchup to close out February. Visit the Wild TicketExchange
as the most secure way to obtain tickets from Wild season ticket holders.
Wild vs. Blackhawks will be broadcast nationally in high definition on Versus at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
to receive Minnesota Wild broadcast alerts/game day previews each Wild Game day.
If you haven’t yet signed up to join Team Barker for the Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota, tonight is your chance. Visit the Wild’s Community Relations outside Section 104 where you can donate or join Wild defenseman Cam Barker
, who will be plunging into Lake Calhoun on March 5.
Here they come. The rest of the Western Conference has been waiting for the defending Stanley Cup champs to make their move. Consider it made. Yesterday’s win matched their season long winning streak and put them back in the thick of this race.
As the Hawks have battled adversity and inconsistency this season, a rebound was going to have to be ignited by their captain, Toews. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s been instrumental in this winning push. Over the last five games, Toews has notched three goals and added five helpers.
Bouchard continues to save his goals for the biggest moments of the biggest games. Bouchard has seven goals through 39 games this season, but like Friday’s tally, they’ve been huge. All but one have come in the third period or later, and two have been game winners. Bouchard has also emerged as the Wild’s top shootout threat.
The talk before tonight’s game will be about what these teams did or did not do at the trade deadline. And unless these two teams pull off a trade with each other (not likely considering they are tied in the standings), whomever they acquire won’t be in the lineup tonight.
As we wait for a weekly update on Mikko Koivu
, we will see the return of Kyle Brodziak
to the lineup. His return will provide much-needed relief for Matt Cullen
and Madden, who have been counted on immensely to play center in every situation. Brodziak is one of the Wild’s most versatile and reliable forwards and should provide a huge boost to the lineup.
Brodziak will jump back in between Bouchard and Martin Havlat
will miss a third straight game due to injury:
will return to the crease, but another back-to-back set in New York this week means we’ll see Theodore again soon.
Every available player will be used tonight.
(abdominal) had a setback in practice yesterday, but is still expected to return at some point this season. James Sheppard (knee) continues to skate but isn’t ready to return. Koivu (hand) and Barker (upper body) are out. Brodziak (illness) will play.
"This is why you have scouts. They know a lot more about certain players than I do.”
-- Todd Richards when asked if he’ll join Fletcher in the war room later this afternoon.
D Nick Leddy will play his first NHL game at Xcel Energy Center tonight against the team that drafted him out of Eden Prairie High School in 2009...Toews is a product of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s program in Faribault...LW John Scott spent two seasons with the Wild and played in 71 games.
The Wild has killed off 21 of the last 22 opponent power plays over the last five games. The Hawks own the top-ranked power play in the League, scoring on 24.9% of their chances.