First off, Michal Handzus, who was just recently brought back from being injured, is out with an illness and did not even travel with the team to Minnesota. Andrew Shaw is out for an undisclosed reason, while Bryan Bickell remains out with a lower body injury.
While the first two mentioned are likely to be back any time after the game, Bickell has been reported as improved by coach Joel Quenneville.
Over the course of the season, the Blackhawks have lost a few other key players for short amounts of time and have managed to progress in spite of that. It will be important for the Hawks to continue this trend in the wake of these three offensive absences. Handzus and Bickell have been out for some time, but Shaw being out will make for an interesting game.
Shaw, who has put up eight goals and nine assists so far this season, will for sure be missed out on the ice. As a young player, he has made a name for himself on the Hawks’ roster. He is a powerful center, and with Handzus out, there are questions of how the lines will hold up Thursday night.
Bearing these absences in mind, Chicago will need to focus on how they are skating. They will need to capitalize on their speed to keep the puck out of their own zone. In turn, once they get the puck, they will need to make vital scoring decisions early and often.
As we learned in the previous matchups between the Hawks and Wild, Chicago should not underestimate this opponent, but they also have the ability to bury their net with goals. The Blackhawks will need to be very aware of their offensive situation at all times as well as maintain solid defense in order to win this game.