Apr 5, 2012; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding (37) makes a save on Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (88)during the shootout at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Game #7- Chicago Blackhawks(6-0-0, 12pts) Vs. Minnesota Wild(3-2-1, 7pts)
Game time- 7:00 PM CT
Radio: WGN 720AM
Preview– The Chicago Blackhawks open their 6-game road trip tonight, at Xcel Energy Center against the new and improved Minnesota Wild. This road trip will serve as a great test for the still unbeaten Blackhawks, who at 6-0, have set a new franchise record for best start to a season. This game will also serve as a great test for the Wild, as they are trying to gain some footing, and a win over the Western Conference’s hottest team would do them wonders.
The Minnesota Wild are off to a bit of a modest start to the 2013 season, especially considering all their blockbuster moves they made during the off-season. This past off-season, the Wild signed free-agent left winger, Zach Parise and free-agent defensemen, Ryan Suter to big-time contracts. Parise and Suter were considered by many to be the top free-agents in the off-season, and Minnesota got not only one, but both of them! Along with returning veterans Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatly, Devin Setoguchi, and Jared Spurgeon, the Wild looked ready to be a playoff contender, and make some noise in the highly competitive Western Conference.
However, the Wild are not off to a fast start by any means(especially compared to the Blackhawks). It is still very early though, and this team will likely be in contention for a playoff spot come April. If not, there will be a lot of disappointed people in the lad of a thousand lakes. Last night, the Wild defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, even though they squandered a 2-goal lead. The victory helped the Wild to avoid losing their fourth straight game, leaves them with a 3-2-1 record and 7 points. With the Hawks coming into town, and having played a tight;ly contested game, just last night, tonights game will be no easy task for the Wild. Parise is off to a hot start with 9 points in 6 games, while Suter is still adjusting to life without former blueline partner with the Nasheville Predators, Shea Weber. Expect him to turn it around as the Wild should make the playoffs this season.
The Blackhawks got much needed and much deserved rest with no game action on Monday and Tuesday. The Hawks are begining a 6-game road trip in Minnesota tonight, and look to take advantage of the fact that this will be the Wild’s second game in two nights. The red-hot Blackhawks will have NHL second-star of the week, Corey Crawford in net against Minnesota. Crawford deserves a lot of credit for the Hawks ridiculous winning ways so far this season, with his 1.78 Goals Against Average, and his .933% Save Percentage.
The Blackhawks have been equally potent on the offensive side of the ice as well, with Marian Hossa continuing to light the lamp with absurd consistency with 5 goals in 6 games. Patrick Kane leads the team in points with 9, in six games played. Where the Hawks are most dangerous is on special teams. The power-play is producing at a 26.9% rate, and the penalty-kill is stopping opposing teams power-plays at an outstanding 95.6% rate. If the Hawks continue their excellence on special teams, look for them to make a lot of noise come playoff time.
This game will be an interesting test for both teams, as a win for the Blackhawks will keep their record setting pace on track, and a win for the Wild might mean that they are on track and ready to make their move towards the post season.