Apr 3, 2014, 8:41 AM EDT
NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild at the United Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
The defending Stanley Cup champions have already secured a playoff berth, but they want to do more than just limp into their probable first-round series against the hot Colorado Avalanche. That’s exactly what they’re doing right now though.
Chicago just returned from a three-game road trip where they were outscored 12-4 and didn’t earn a single point. On top of that they lost captain Jonathan Toews, who will join Patrick Kane on the sidelines for the rest of the regular season.
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $200. Starts Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
As deep as the Blackhawks’ offense is, that’s a ton of firepower sitting out of tonight’s game, which is music to the Wild’s ears. The duo has been a thorn in Minnesota’s side this season with a combined three goals and seven points in four games. Even with them though, Chicago is still down 1-3-0 in the season series.
So as much as the Blackhawks would like to avoid losing four straight contests in regulation for the first time since Feb. 2012, this will be a tough one for them.
It doesn’t help that this game means more to the Wild in the first place. Minnesota is in a good spot in the battle to secure a Wild Card spot, but every point remains critical.
That’s especially true given how hard the rest of Minnesota’s schedule is. On top of playing Chicago, the Wild will also play against Pittsburgh, Boston, and St. Louis in the last week and a half of the season. If they aren’t careful, the losses could still pile on and deny them a playoff spot.
The Wild aren’t completely health either. In fact, Ilya Bryzgalov is projected to start partially because goaltenders Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, and Darcy Kuemper are all hurt. They are also likely to be without forward Mikael Granlund, who is dealing with a possible head injury.
Unlike Chicago though, they have their top two forwards in Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. The duo has been hot lately with a combined six goals and 14 points in their last five games. The Wild will be looking for them to be the difference tonight and add to Chicago’s slump.
- Video: Raanta shuts out flat Flyers in emergency start 0
- Video: Flyers’ Jones lays out Smith, called for charging 4
- Video: Islanders’ Hickey cut after taking a skate to the face 1
- (Video) McKenzie: NHLPA ‘entirely on board’ with Voynov suspension 8
- If allegations are true, will Kings welcome Voynov back into their ‘special’ group? 33
- Rutherford on Fleury: ‘As long as I’m the GM, he’ll be our goalie’ 15
- Datsyuk will play tonight in Montreal 4
- NHL on NBCSN: Flyers take on ‘Hawks in Chicago 9
- Jets’ Maurice apologizes for using the F-bomb at a reporter 30
- Video: Oilers win…? Oilers win! 3
- Source: Lucic fined $5k for gesture vs. Habs (Confirmed) (121)
- Updated: Kings’ Voynov arrested for domestic assault, suspended indefinitely (78)
- Video: Bruins’ Lucic gestures to Habs fans after late penalty (59)
- ‘It’s stupid': Tempers flare after Kesler’s late charge on Granlund (54)
- Lucic apologizes for obscene gesture: ‘I’m obviously not proud of what I did there’ (45)