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NHL on NBCSN: Wild, Hawks battle for series title

Apr 9, 2013, 8:03 AM EDT

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 5: Bryan Bickell #29 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Justin Falk #44 of the Minnesota Wild get pulled apart by the referees during the NHL game on March 05, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Xcel Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Blackhawks became the first team in the NHL to secure their spot in the postseason on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take it easy over the final weeks of the season.

“We’ve had a good year to date and we’re happy with what we’ve accomplished,” coach Joel Queneville said in a CSN Chicago report. “But we still want to get better in games, and that’s the important thing. Finishing as high as we can is a priority as well. That’s where the motivation is.”

The Blackhawks are still in a battle for the first seed, but there’s no question that Minnesota needs these points more. The Wild have opened up a six-point lead on the ninth place Phoenix Coyotes, but they still have a shot at the Northwest Division title and the third seed that will come with it.

Even if they can’t best the Vancouver Canucks in the divisional race, only five points separate eighth and fourth place in the Western Conference, so every win counts when it comes to playoffs positioning. Then of course there’s the reality that if the Wild get on a losing streak now, they could still miss the playoffs entirely.

Playing against Chicago has been tough for any team this season, but the Wild actually enter this game with a chance to win their season series. They eked out a shootout victory over Chicago back in January to bring an end to the Blackhawks’ initial six-game winning streak. Chicago got its revenge last month when Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad led the Blackhawks to a 5-3 victory.

This will be the last meeting between these two squads in the regular season and is consequently both squads final chance to make an impression on the other before a possible playoffs series.

Probable goaltenders: CHI – Corey Crawford (15-4-4, 2.01 GAA, .922 SV%) | MIN – Niklas Backstrom (20-10-2, 2.44 GAA, .913 SV%)

Top scorers: CHI – Patrick Kane (20-26-46, 38 GP) | MIN – Mikko Koivu (9-24-33, 38 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Chicago – Forwards: Dave Bolland (lower body), Patrick Sharp (shoulder)
Minnesota – Forwards: Dany Heatley (wrist), Matt Cullen (lower body) Goaltenders: Josh Harding (symptoms related to multiple sclerosis)

  1. sasquatch678 - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    Check the typo in the headline. I don’t think Wild fans would appreciate being called “Wid” fans.

    • comeonnowguys - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      You wil tak wht you gt and lik it!

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      I dunno, I’m a Wild fan but any name is better than “Wild.” I’d be a Wid fan.

    • rsmaggiemae - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      I am going to be brutal after the 1-0 loss to the Blackhawks
      Stoner should hang his head after that pass to Hossa, Faulk is just about as bad as Stoner.
      Brodziak cant seem to hit the broadside of a barn anymore.. and Bouchard is so afraid of getting hit into the boards, he just stands around… this is getting frustrating as we cant get the puck out of our own end to score… not that we cant score we have the players who can score, we just cant get it out of our own end…,. I am getting to feel sorry for the 6-7 players who give 110% every game while others just collect thier salary every nite, I realize that mistakes are made, but some of these players are not rookies…, they should know what to do,. Maybe Suter should teach all the defensemen on how to handle the puck like he did to Brodin to get it out our end….Will we make the playoffs??? I have my doubts now with the Blues coming in on Thursday and if they do make the playoffs, I hope they dont face the Canucks in the first round. I have been watching hockey for 50 years now, and have never seen such careless plays made as I did tonite, it was just chase the puck, no tape to tape passing, not many players in front of that net for a garbage goal,…., and nothing on the PP at all,. to see the frustrated look on Parise;s face at the end of the game said it all.
      The front office of the Wild better be looking for replacements next year for some of these players… Bouchard will be gone for sure, Heatly will probably be bought out when he recovers and Stoner -Falk and Brodziak should be traded in my opinion….
      Bring up ZUCKER for some additional speed for this team, Granland is not that fast.
      and he is having trouble with the puck in the corners..
      As you can tell I am very very frustrated with thier play over the last 8 days

  2. mnrube23 - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    “Lets Play!”

  3. e5again - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    The series title? They give those out now?

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      There will be a banner hanging from the rafters for one of these two teams shortly.

  4. mp1131211 - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Didn’t realize Cullen was out. When did that happen?

    • lordfletcher - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      About a week ago. First report was he would miss the road trip, now its sounding like its up in the air, could be a game or two, or this could be awhile. I would be shocked if he wasn’t back by Saturday but I haven’t been reading the injury reports the last 48 hours

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