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Blackhawks vs. Wild game preview 2016: Alright, now let's beat a (likely) playoff team

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The Hawks have a good test Tuesday in Minnesota.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks have won a couple games to help right the ship, now comes time to test that success against a better opponent. The Hawks visit the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night in a matchup of likely playoff teams.

Chicago clinched its playoff spot over the weekend with back-to-back wins in Calgary and Vancouver, but still needs to fight for positioning in the Western Conference. A win would help keep distance between the Hawks and the Nashville Predators, who have been creeping up with a recent hot streak and sit four points back. Nashville lost the first part of a back-to-back Monday night to the Colorado Avalanche and gets a tough second leg Tuesday in Dallas.

Scott Darling will be in goal once again as Corey Crawford continues to recover from an undisclosed injury. I went on a bit of a rant Monday night about how important Crawford's goaltending will be to the Hawks' chances of winning this year, so it's worth closely watching how the team brings Crow back into the fold. If he's at less than 100 percent and not prepared to carry the load, it's hard not to be worried about a team that's 13th in Corsi and trending the wrong direction in the second half with that number. Then again, it's the Hawks and yada yada yada.

Projected lines:



No Artem Anisimov and Dale Weise again, it appears.

Opponent Breakdown

Wild | Record: 37-28-11 | 85 points | 5th in Central Division

Minnesota is heating up at the right time. Currently in a race with the Avalanche for the final playoff spot in the conference, the Wild have won five consecutive games to take a three-point advantage with six games to play. One of those wins came Saturday in a crucial 4-0 shutout of Colorado. On March 20, the team beat Chicago, 3-2, in a shootout.

Devan Dubnyk has been finding his groove and that's making the Wild a much tougher opponent. The team has some offensive punch and one of the better defensemen in the league in Ryan Suter. In March, Dubnyk has posted a 9-1-1 record with a 2.07 GAA and .930 save percentage to solidify the team between the pipes. This is a formidable opponent that's had a good deal of success against the Hawks this season.

Projected lines:




Blackhawks: Corey Crawford, Artem Anisimov

Wild: David Jones

How to watch

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.

TV: CSN Chicago