Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Look For Revenge On Minnesota Wild

By Mike Brennan
Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (88) protects the puck from Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) during a Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (88) protects the puck from Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) during a Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /
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After coming off of a win in Winnipeg on Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks are back at the United Center tonight for a matchup against the Minnesota Wild. This will be the fourth game between these division rivals, with one more game coming up on March 29. The last time these teams met, the Blackhawks were straight up embarrassed on national television in the 2016 Stadium Series game. However, with the ‘Hawks looking to get back to their true form, the Wild need to watch out. Let’s get into this one.

The Minnesota Wild have been in yet another dry spell as of late. They have had quite an up-and-down season, but this latest ‘down’ may prove to be enough to keep them out of the playoffs. In their last six tilts, the Wild have a record of 2-3-1. Their game on Thursday consisted of them letting up seven goals to the New Jersey Devils, a team that is last in the league in the goals-for statistic, and a team that only averages 2.24 goals per game. The Wild did get a 3-2 shootout victory Saturday afternoon against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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The strength for this Wild team as of late has been its offensive production, which has not been their strength on the season as the Wild are only 18th in the league in goals for. Their top offensive scorer on the season, Mikko Koivu, has three points in his last two games, and 48 points on the entire season. Going to their second line, Mikael Granlund has four points in as many games, and has been getting an absurd amount of pucks to the net. On their third line, Erik Haula is on a four-game point streak, with one point in each of his last four games. So it is clear that no matter what line is on the ice for the Wild, the Blackhawks’ defense will need to actually play well for a change.

On the defensive end, this team has let up 19 goals in its last six games. At some point, you will need to take a look at what the defense has been doing, as you can only blame Devan Dubnyk for so many of those goals. Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have been minus-4 in their last five games, and Marco Scandella has been a minus-3 in his past three games. These plus/minus ratings really show the Wild defense has not been able to control the game and slow down opposing teams’ forwards. With the Blackhawks coming off of a four-goal outing, look for the ‘Hawks to exploit this even more.

After a tough four-game losing streak against some highly talented opponents, the Blackhawks got back on track with a 4-0 win in Winnipeg Fon riday night. In that game, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Andrew Ladd and Tomas Fleischmann all tallied goals. Toward the end of the losing streak in the game against Philadelphia, coach Joel Quenneville hit the doomsday button and put Kane and Jonathan Toews together up on the first line. It did not work in that matchup as the ‘Hawks ultimately lost by a goal, but it did work when he hit the button again against the Jets, as Kane and Ladd scored while on the top line with Toews. This is a button that Q will likely be hitting much more, as they try and keep their division spot.

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What is the other button that ‘Hawks fans may have been hitting lately? That would be the panic button. The ‘Hawks did not look good in that losing streak; at times they looked absolutely dreadful. And the fact that those games were against teams they could be playing in the first or second round of the playoffs does not help the cause, either. In my opinion, the Jets game was exactly what the ‘Hawks needed. They kept their foot on the pedal all game, and did not let up even though it may have been easy against the Jets, who are just not very good. While the ‘Hawks seem to do this every March, they cannot afford to keep losing as the Predators are only five points behind them. The last thing the ‘Hawks would want is to head out west in the first round as a wild-card team.

In this game, look for the ‘Hawks to come out of the gates flying against the Wild, and look for the ‘Hawks to build off of their offensive burst last game, as the Wild defense has not been able to dictate anything in its recent outings. The atmosphere at the United Center will be playoff-like as the Wild are fighting for a playoff spot with the Colorado Avalanche, and the ‘Hawks are fighting to keep their division spot.

The game can be seen at 7:30 on NBCSN and heard on 720 WGN. That’s all I have for you in this division battle, so until next time, go ‘Hawks!

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