The Minnesota Wild will be up against their toughest test of the season tonight when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Xcel Energy Center. It’s the second game of a back-to-back schedule that saw the Wild defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets last night 3-2.
The visiting Hawks are undefeated heading into tonight’s action, boasting a perfect 6-0 mark, their best start in franchise history. Leading the Hawks to start the season have been the usual suspects of Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews, all with at least a point per game average.
On the blue line, Chicago has seen a resurgence from Duncan Keith who many are saying he’s back to his Norris Trophy candidate level of play. Nick Leddy has also been a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks this seaon, posting a goal and four assists through the first half a dozen games.
In goal, the Hawks have Corey Crawford who has been nothing short of brilliant. He’s 5-0 with an impressive 1.78 GAA and .933 save percentage.
For the Wild, Josh Harding will get the nod in goal after watching Niklas Backstrom pick up the win over the Blue Jackets. It’s the second time this season the Wild have played back-to-back games, the other was to start the season where the Wild won both games.
Interestingly enough, Harding is 6-3 all-time against the Blackhawks with a 2.32 GAA and a .930 save percentage. So one could make the argument that head coach Mike Yeo is playing the odds versus resting Backstrom in consecutive games.
According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, there will be no other lineup changes for the Wild meaning Matt Kassian, Nate Prosser and Jared Spurgeon will remain out. Both Kassian and Prosser are healthy scratches while Spurgeon remains sidelined with a bruised foot.
Game time is set for 7pm.