The Chicago Blackhawks will be in Minnesota for a Tuesday night matchup against a familiar opponent. The Wild will play host at the Xcel Energy Center with both teams reaching a critical point in their seasons. Especially for the Blackhawks, who have done an excellent job of getting into the race behind the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have regressed in recent weeks, allowing the Blackhawks to get within shouting distance of a wildcard.
Having said that, it’s a crowded field around them in the Western Conference, with the Jets in a tie with them at 56 points and the Predators a point behind at 55 points. The Coyotes currently own a 3-point advantage on the Blackhawks and Jets. That seems good and all for the Coyotes, but they haven’t been looking too hot recently. Darcy Kuemper’s absence has something to do with that, and the news just got worse with Kuemper going on the IR to free up a roster spot.
Bad news for the Coyotes, but the Blackhawks along with other teams in the Western Conference are thrilled. The Blackhawks have been flying recently to get in this position. They are winners in six of their last seven games, and are coming off a 3-2 win in overtime versus the team they’re trying to reel in.
Their only loss since January 11 has been against the Florida Panthers in a tight game before the All-Star break. Give credit where credit is due, and in the face of criticism and his job possibly on the line, Jeremy Colliton, has the Blackhawks firing on all cylinders. He’s still under the microscope in Chicago, but at least putting up a fight and getting within reaching distance has Colliton’s seat cooling off slightly. Having said that, there’s still a lot of time for things to reverse and the Blackhawks fade away back in the standings.
The Wild are still alive, but they have more work to do down the stretch. They’re 23-22-6 with 52 points, which is going to provide them with a puncher’s chance of reaching the playoffs. The goaltending must be better by tenfold down the stretch if that’s going to happen. Devan Dubnyk has spent time away from the team on two separate occasions for an extended period of time, and when he’s with the team, his head clearly hasn’t been there. Alex Stalock has played well in spots, but he’s better suited as a backup. Dubnyk is coming off a horrendous outing against the Bruins on Saturday night in a 6-1 loss. Head below for our free Blackhawks vs. Wild pick.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild Betting Odds:
Blackhawks vs. Wild Prediction:
Devan Dubnyk has bigger concerns on his mind than hockey at the moment. His wife is reportedly going through a health battle, so I don’t think his focus has totally been with the Wild in 2019-20. After posting a 2.25, 2.52, and 2.54 GAA the last three years, Dubnyk has bombed with a 3.40 GAA and 0.89 save percentage as of Tuesday morning.
Stalock is doing everything he can, but he’s a solid backup that doesn’t have the skill to be an everyday starter in the crease. He owns a 2.93 GAA and 0.903 save percentage, which is suitable for a backup role. However, with Dubnyk struggling mightily, Stalock has had to step up which he has done to an extent, but not enough to save the season or anything. He is currently listed as probable to get the nod for this contest.
The Wild have been getting pushed around pretty good defensively recently. They’ve allowed 3.4 goals per game in their last ten games. The Wild were able to stand tall against a Stars team who already checked out for the All-Star break, and the lowly Red Wings, but other than that it’s been tough sledding. With the Red Wings game included, a 4-2 win, the Wild have yielded an average of 4.3 goals a game in their last three outings.
Now they must counter a Blackhawks team that has been a thorn in their side, especially in the defensive zone where they have had a lot of problems containing their offense. In their most recent meeting, the Blackhawks were winners, 5-3, at the United Center in December. That follows a familiar theme, with the Blackhawks winning four straight games and an average of 4.25 goals scored a game.
The Blackhawks have netted 3.4 goals per game in their previous ten games. Minnesota will likely have to rely on their offence to generate in this one. They’ve at least been doing that much despite the defence faltering. The Wild have scored 3.1 goals a game in their last ten games, though not enough to make up for the 3.4 goals scored on them on the other end of the ice. I’m expecting an entertaining matchup for this one, with a 4-3 final score a likely outcome at the Xcel Energy Center.