The Minnesota Wild face the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at the Xcel Energy Center. With just 10 games left in the season, these are the games I live for, a talented Wild team taking on one of the best teams in the NHL. The Wild enter play tonight 13-4-1 on home ice and holding the 6th seed in the Western Conference. Their 46 points trail Vancouver by 4 for the lead in the Northwest Division. Tonight is the start of a critical 3 game home stand for Minnesota. They need to keep pace and gain points if they are to have any hope of home ice advantage for the 1st round of the playoffs. Something that surprises no hockey fan is that the Blackhawks have become the first team to officially clinch a postseason berth. They beat Nashville Sunday to do that and win their fourth in five games. Chicago is a probable lock for the Central Division title and top seed in the Western Conference. The Wild are coming off an impressive 3-0 shutout win in Columbus Sunday evening and took Monday off in order to be rested for the Blackhawks tonight.
The Wild lineup will be the same as in Columbus. Matt Cullen remains out, but is said to be closer to returning. Dany Heatley is undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder today. That was the shoulder dislocated when Marc-Edouard Vlasic pile drove Heatley to the ice at the end of the game in San Jose. The forward lines for tonight will be: