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The Future Freaks Me Out: Blackhawks at Wild Preview

It’s the Blackhawks. It’s the Wild. It’s a rematch.

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota WIld

Phrases like “seeking redemption in their next game” and “looking for a bounce-back effort” have been all to commonplace for the Chicago Blackhawks this season, yet here we are once again with the team heading to south Canada to face the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night in St. Paul.

Minnesota scored two quick goals and added a third before the first period ended during a 5-1 blowout of Chicago on Friday night at the United Center. While Chicago may have recovered somewhat after falling behind 3-0, the Natural Stat Trick data only credited the Blackhawks with two high-danger scoring chances during 5-on-5 play in the game, a trend that must be reversed if Chicago hopes to keep up with Minnesota in this rematch. Check out the heat map from Friday’s recap and notice the complete lack of attempts in any sort of proximity to the Minnesota net. Start the gameplan off by working to get into those dirty areas and, perhaps, fortunes will smile on the Blackhawks for this game.

On the defensive side of things, total breakdowns in the defensive zone were far too commonplace on Friday night and offered painful reminders of the poor in-zone coverage that plagued the Colliton era. Here’s an example of that, just before Minnesota’s goal. Four Blackhawks players are watching the puck, one guy from the Wild has it and the eventual goal scorer, Ryan Hartman — who was probably motivated by some internet doofus calling for his “regression to the mean” — is standing, uncovered, behind those four Chicago players:

Minnesota simply wrecked Chicago at 5-on-5 on Friday night, when the Blackhawks had been pretty good at that part of the game in the last month or two — it had been dreadful special teams performances that doomed them most of the time. We’ll see what happens on Saturday night Up North.

The only lineup shift for the Blackhawks will be Riley Stillman sidelined by the shoulder injury that was aggravated during Friday’s game. The expectation here is that Caleb Jones will slot in for him on the blue line. In net, it could be Marc-Andre Fleury again after his early departure in the last game or it could be Kevin Lankinen for the full 60. Either way, as L_B_R put it in the recap, it’d be nice if the skaters in front of the Chicago net could bail out the goalies instead of the constant developments in the other direction.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Wild

46.50% (27th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 50.30% (16th)

46.50% (28th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 49.93% (14th)

2.36 (29th) — Goals per game — 3.66 (3rd)

3.21 (22nd) — Goals against per game — 3.03 (19th)

49.2% (20th) — Faceoffs — 48.3% (23rd)

18.8% (29th) — Power play — 17.0% (24th)

76.3% (25th) — Penalty kill — 79.8% (15th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Hagel — Strome — Kane

DeBrincat — Toews — Kubalik

Kurashev — Dach — Entwistle

Hardman — Lafferty— Carpenter

McCabe — S. Jones

de Haan — Murphy

C. Jones — Gustafsson

Fleury/Lankinen

Wild

Kaprizov — Hartman — Zuccarello

Boldy — Eriksson Ek — Fiala

Greenway — Gaudreau — Foligno

Dewar — Strum — Duhaime

Benn — Dumba

Kulikov — Goligoski

Merril — Addison

Kahkonen

Hammond/Talbot

How to watch

When: 8 p.m. CT

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul

TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network

Webstream: ESPN+