NHL Preview: Minnesota Wild Host Already Playoff-Bound Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks haven’t had much trouble defeating anyone this season, having dropped just five games in regulation. This should come as nothing new to the Minnesota Wild, who have been having their trouble with the Hawks for quite some time.
On Tuesday night, they’ll try and bring those struggles to an end. The Wild will attempt to knock off the Hawks, and move a little bit closer to a playoff spot, when they host the tilt at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Blackhawks have managed to gain points in eight consecutive games against the Wild. They’ve met twice this season, splitting those games. The Wild were the first team to defeat the Hawks this season, though it took a shootout to do so. Their second contest saw the Blackhawks extend their point streak to 23 games, a game in which Niklas Backstrom struggled mightily.
As impressive as the Wild have been over the past several weeks, a playoff spot is still no guarantee. They slipped up a bit in the past week, needing a win on Sunday to snap a three-game slide. They are still sitting pretty in the Western Conference playoff picture, though, with 46 points, currently occupying the sixth spot.
They’ll have to press on without Dany Heatley, who had to undergo surgery on his shoulder. Luckily, Jason Pominville is coming off of a two-point performance on Sunday, his first points with the Wild. He’ll add a boost to this club offensively.
This is a huge game for the Wild. Not only does it give them a chance to measure themselves against the league’s best club, but a win would put them just two points out of first in the Northwest Division. With nine games left, that could really put some pressure on the Vancouver Canucks.