Dec 14, 2011, 7:30 AM EDT
We bet you didn’t think tonight’s Wild-Blackhawks battle in St. Paul would be between the top two teams in the Western Conference when the season started. That’s just what we’ve got though. Minnesota is tops in the West with 43 points while Chicago leads the Central Division with 40 points.
After seeing the Wild battle and brawl with Winnipeg last night, facing Chicago shows what life after realignment will be like against these divisional foes. The Wild are getting it done with goaltending all the same though. Whether it’s Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, or Matt Hackett, scoring on the Wild is no easy feat. These Wild also aren’t going to bore you to tears by clogging the neutral zone. They attack at both ends of the ice and push the pace to a breakneck pace.
When you’ve got guys like Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, and Mikko Koivu it seems wrong to hold them back. Also impressing for Minnesota is centerman Kyle Brodziak. With Guillaume Latendresse back from injury, the Wild are just that much deeper now too.
Chicago, of course, brings their circus of fun into town with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp. What’s been dragging on Chicago of late is their goaltending. Corey Crawford hasn’t been all that and Ray Emery has seized the opportunity. Emery will get the start tonight to try and hold the Wild down.
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- Bettman: NHL won’t expand ‘just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry’ 8
- Report: Johansen lowers demands, but not low enough 33
- Injuries piling up as preseason schedule begins 11
- Report: Fedorov denies contract offer was made to Johansen 8
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers 44
- Update: Drouin out with upper body injury, not expected to miss preseason 1
- Report: NHL officials to participate in preseason without new CBA 1
- Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals 16
- ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk 19
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (65)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers (44)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)
- Just how damaging are heated negotiations between Jackets, RFA Johansen? (38)