Jan 8, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon (46) is pressured by Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (19) during the third period at Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
In their 5th consecutive game on the road out of 7, the Chicago Blackhawks will be facing off against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center tonight. They will definitely be looking to start the month of February off on the right foot after going 6-7-0 during the month of January, which is something the Chicago Blackhawks are not used to doing. They have had a couple of days to regroup after losing to both the Kings and the Sharks on the west coast battle and will need to earn 2 points tonight. The red hot Jets are nipping at their toes and are only 4 points behind them for 3rd in the Central Division. Below are some of the Chicago Blackhawks keys to victory against the Minnesota Wild.
Get Bryan Bickell the puck
I know this might seem kind of strange since Bryan Bickell has only recorded 1 shot in the last 5 games but you cannot ignore his individual statistics against the Minnesota Wild. For some odd reason during the recent matchups against them he has found his name on the score sheet. In 18 career games against them he has scored 7 goals and 2 assists. Hopefully his confidence is high and can help get things going tonight because the Blackhawks cannot keep counting on Patrick Kane to do everything for them. There has to be contribution across the offense, which leads me to my next key to victory.
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The top two lines have been the only ones really putting up goals as of late. However the goal contributors on the top two lines seem to only be Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp. The other guys need to pick their games up and get to work on offense. The Blackhawks are not getting blown out in the games that they have been losing; they have been losing by 1 or 2 goals. With more production from Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, or Brad Richards that could put the Blackhawks in a better situations when it comes to crunch time in the 3rd period. They definitely need to hold each other accountable because they are in those positions for a reason and are counted on. That does not solve everything though there needs to be some production from the back end of the lines also which takes me to the final key to victory.
Lower lines needs to produce
Good teams have players that score on every line. That is what we have seen in the past when the Blackhawks are red hot. Recently however they have had a lack of production from the lower lines like the 3rd and 4th. Just to throw a couple of aching numbers out there for proof; Marcus Kruger hasn’t had a single point during the last 17 games he has played in. In addition, both Ben Smith and Joakim Nordstrom have gone pointless in the last 14 games that they have played in. I know we aren’t counting on these guys to produce night in and night out but a point here and there really can go a long way when you are losing 1 or 2 goal battles. They have produced in the past and know they need to find that spark. Hopefully tonight will be the night one of them finds a spark. If not tonight the at least need to get things going during the month of February or they will be scratching for ice time once Daniel Carcillo, Kris Versteeg, and Trevor van Riemsdyk make their way back to the ice in the future.
I am sure that Coach Quenneville has addressed these concerns with the players and begin to pay attention to ice time. If the players that are struggling continue to do so he will not hesitate to bench them or cut their time to send a message. He did so not too long ago with Andrew Shaw and things worked out pretty good as a result. Hopefully it does not get to that though and they fix their problems before getting yanked. Their opportunity will be tonight! Let’s Go Hawks!!!
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