United Center 6:00CT
The Blackhawks square off against division rival, Minnesota Wild, tonight at 6 PM at the Madhouse. Both the Blackhawks and the Wild have a share of the lead in the Central division and a win tonight puts either team on top. The Blackhawks took a huge loss against the Capitals the other night getting shutout 6-0. Before that blood bath, the Blackhawks were on a 4 game winning streak at home. The Hawks are currently 17-4-4 which is the second best home record in the NHL. Rookie, Nick Shmaltz, of the Blackhawks was called up from the AHL on Saturday and it is unsure where he will fit in the line up. It is reported that center, Artem Anisimov, missed Saturday’s practice because of an illness and it is unclear if he will play in the contest tonight. It is possible the Nick Shmaltz will replace fit in the line up taking Anisimov’s spot if Anisimov is unable to play. Both Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane knocked a couple of goals against the Minnesota Wild last year in their five meetings with the Wild. They hope to continue this solid goal scoring in tonight’s showdown. Corey Crawford is expected to start in net tonight, looking to redeem himself after his last start against the Capitals.
The Minnesota Wild, on the other hand, have been red hot. Winning their last 3 games, they have a record of 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They also have THE best road record in the NHL going 13-5-5. This is all behind stellar goaltending by Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk has managed a 1.77 goals against average as well as a .94 save percentage. This is also THE best amongst goaltenders in the NHL. In front of this stellar goaltending, the Wild’s Eric Staal hopes to continue his lights out play style. In his first season with the Wild, Staal has managed to score 15 goals with 24 assists. He currently leads the team with 39 points. He looks to surpass his last season total of points in tonight’s game. With 14 points in his last 10 games, the Blackhawks need to worry about him the most.
Player to Watch Out For – #72 Artemi Panarin
Artemi Panarin did not notch a point in any of match-ups against the Wild last season. With 42 points in just 45 games, he is 2nd in total points for the Blackhawks this season. He is my player to watch because he is due for a point against the Wild. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets his signature one-timer from above the circle in tonight’s contest.
Keys to a Hawks Victory
- Capitalize on Powerplays – The Blackhawks went 0-2 against the Capitals on Power Plays. If they are given the opportunity to score they need to capitalize. Especially in a game like this where both teams have a shot at the lead in the central division. The Blackhawks need all the opportunities they can get if they are going to win this game.
- Come Out Firing – The Blackhawks need to set the tone early. They need to be putting as many shots as they can on net to wear out Devan Dubnyk. The hawks need to grab the first goal to have the mental confidence to surpass Dubnyk;s lights out goaltending.
- Pressure the Puck – The Blackhawks need to pressure the puck tonight against Minnesota. They need to lay the body and force the opposition to make a play. Forcing the opposition to make a play creates turnovers. These turnovers will create more offensive opportunities.
Line Combinations (Dailyfaceoff.com)
Hinostroza – Toews – Hossa
Panarin – Anisimov (Expected) – Kane
Hartman – Kero – Panik
Hartman – Schmaltz – Rasmussen
Keith – Hjalmarsson
Kempny – Seabrook
Riemsdyk – Rosival
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