Once again the Blackhawks are going to be playing the always annoying Minnesota Wild, and once again, they decided this is a perfect game to be on Versus. So sorry to all of you with with DirecTV - sad to say that I feel your pain now since I have to work tonight and we don't get the rodeo channel there either. Last time these two teams met the Hawks didn't exactly dominate but finished with two points, largely thanks to Kane threading the puck through an eye of a needle to put it away. I believe this was also the goal that originated our usage of the Belmont Transfer. The Hawks were also missing Toews, Seabrook and of course Hossa. Adding those three to the mix makes it a much steeper climb for the struggling Wild.
Making things worse for the Wild, the Blackhawks have won their last 3 games in a row, scoring 5 or more goals in all of them (not to mention 4 or more in the last 6 games). The Wild have lost their last 3 in a row and given up 4 or more in each game (not to mention 3 or more in their last 5). Doesn't sound too good for our friends from up north, eh?
Things aren't all bad for the team though - Two big stars are riding a decent point streak. Our dear old
savior friend Martin Havlat has 4 points in 4 games (13 in 12 games) and Mikko Koivu has 8 points in his last 6 games. That's not to say the Wild have fully adapted to a new coaching style. They don't shoot much and they're scoring even less - they're 21st overall in both shots and goals per game. They're in the top 5 in shots against per game though - same as it ever was...
Well not quite, their usually sound defense isn't up to par after the departing of Jacques Lemaire. Niklas Backstrom has a SV% of only .907 - backup Josh Harding (who plenty of Hawk fans were calling for earlier this year) is doing worse with a .873 and only 2 wins.
The Wild are toying with a .500 record in a league where .500 is simply atrocious. The Blackhawks are looking as good as they have in a long time and seem to score at will. Nothing is set in stone though and we all know that just about anything can happen. Maybe Marty steps up his game now that his groin is healed and he has to face his replacement for the first time. Lets hope not..
UPDATE: Hjalmarsson is in the lineup, but Barker is out. That is all.
Lets Go Hawks