Central Division showdown: Blackhawks host Wild on Sunday
The Western Conference’s two current wild teams square off.
In the Chicago Blackhawks final home game of 2017, its another Central Division opponent skating into the United Center on Sunday night, as the Hawks host the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota played yesterday, snapping a four-game win streak in a 3-2 loss during a Saturday matinee with the Edmonton Oilers. Alex Stalock handled the net in that game and is expected to do the same on Sunday night with Devan Dubnyk sidelined by a lower-body injury that happened earlier this week, which could have him out for the rest of this calendar year. Stalock pitched a shutout against Toronto on Thursday before losing to Edmonton on Saturday. Elsewhere, Jared Spurgeon is supposed to return to the lineup after missing about three weeks with a groin injury. Where he slots into the lineup remains to be seen, as Ryan Suter and Matt Dumba have made a solid D pairing in Spurgeon’s absence. The rest of the forward lines will look awfully familiar, exempting the name Zach Parise, who remains out following preseason back surgery.
Nothing new to report for the Blackhawks’ lineup. Both Jan Rutta and Cody Franson remain sidelined with their injuries and could be back against the Dallas Stars on Thursday. The forward groupings and D pairings remain the same as they did during last Thursday’s destruction of the Winnipeg Jets.
Chicago and Minnesota each have a win in the 2017-18 version of this rivalry, with the road teams reigning victorious each time. These are the two current wild card teams in the Western Conference, because talking about playoff standings just 32 games into an 82-game season is apparently a thing now. But this game remains of the highest importance on the regular season scale, as piling up wins against a divisional opponents in December — the Hawks are in the middle of three straight divisional games — is one way to ease the process of clinching a playoff spot by April.
|F1||Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Alex DeBrincat|
|F2||Nick Schmaltz - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane|
|F3||Ryan Hartman - Vinnie Hinostroza - Patrick Sharp|
|F4||Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden|
|D1||Duncan Keith - Jordan Oesterle|
|D2||Michal Kempny - Brent Seabrook|
|D3||Gustav Forsling - Connor Murphy|
|F1||Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund|
|F2||Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle|
|F3||Marcus Foligno - Matt Cullen - Joel Erikkson Ek|
|F4||Tyler Ennis - Daniel Winnik - Chris Stewart|
|D1||Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba|
|D2||Jonas Brodin - Jared Spurgeon|
|D3||Mike Reilly - Nate Prosser|
How to watch Blackhawks vs. Wild
Time: 6 p.m. CT
Location: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago