Minnesota Wild (26-9-3-2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (27-13-4-1)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 15, 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
After an embarrassing thrashing in Washington, the Chicago Blackhawks (1st in Central Division), will be facing another in-form team, hosting the Minnesota Wild (2nd in Central), who are trailing them just by two points in the division standings, having five games in hand…
Minnesota’s fine form continues
The Minnesota Wild (26-9-5) are coming into their back-to-back mini road-trip against the Dallas Stars on Saturday, with the matchup at the Chicago Blackhawks scheduled just 23 hours later, in tremendous condition. They had registered points in 21 of their previous 23 games (17-2-4), won three of their past four outings (3-0-1) and scored 35 goals in their last 8 contests, averaging 4.37 goals per game, beating their season average of 3.23 markers per contest. In their last fixture before the trip to Dallas the Wild managed to beat the Montreal Canadiens with the final score of 7-1, with 14 different players notching up at least a point. Eric Staal was leading Minnesota’s scoring chart before the weekend with 14 goals and 38 points. Charlie Coyle was not far behind with 13 goals on 33 points.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk was entering Saturday as the NHL’s leading netminder in GAA (1.77) and save percentage (.940), almost tying Washington’s Braden Holtby in most shutouts (6) during the game against Montreal. Dubnyk did, however, concede a goal with just 9 seconds left in the contest. He was coming into the weekend with a 22-7-3 performance tally and has gone 9-6-0 against Chicago in past meetings with a 2.96 career GAA. The Wild were 4th in the league in most goals scored per game (the aforementioned 3.23) and were conceding the 2nd lowest amount in their defensive zone (2.10). Minnesota ranked 13th in power play with an alright 20.2% success rate and 5th in penalty kill with an impressive 85.1% proficiency.
Chicago gets a surprise in D.C.
After winning four home games in a row since Jan. 5, the Chicago Blackhawks (27-13-5) were served the drubbing of the season by the in-form Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Friday. The embarrassing 6-0 loss was the first time Chicago’s were thumped with six or more goals since the Edmonton Oilers defeated them 9-2 on Nov. 19, 2011. Vinnie Hinostroza (4 goals, 10 points this term) netted 6:32 minutes into the second period after the Caps already made it 3-0 after the first 20 minutes, but the goal was forfeited after Washington won a challenge, claiming interference from Marian Hossa (16 goals, 25 points). The Blackhawks were outshot 34-24, outhit 17-12 and outplayed pretty badly.
Goalie Corey Crawford made 25 saves before being replaced by Scott Darling after Washington’s fifth goal in the third period. Crawford is 16-9-3 for the year with a 2.47 GAA and has a 7-7-2 record against Minnesota with a 2.42 career GAA. Darling, who made three saves on four shots against the Caps, has gone 11-4-2 for the season with a 2.34 GAA and is 0-2-1 versus the Wild with a 3.28 GAA. The Blackhawks are comfortably sitting 3rd in the NHL with 59 points from 45 games and have a great 17-4-4 home record. They are 15th in the league in most goals netted per game (2.71) and 7th in least goals allowed per outing (2.49). Chicago’s power play ranks 14th with an 18.8% success rate, while their penalty kill is 3rd worst in the NHL with dismal 76.3% efficiency.
- Over is 5-0 in Wild last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Over is 7-1-1 in Wild last 9 overall.
- Over is 5-1 in Wild last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Over is 5-1-1 in Wild last 7 road games.
- Over is 5-0-1 in Blackhawks last 6 games playing on 1 day’s rest.
- Over is 4-1-3 in Blackhawks last 8 overall.
The Wild have won all of their last five overall meetings against the Blackhawks and have seven straight wins during the regular season in this series. They are scoring a lot lately as well, which is not good news for Chicago, who just conceded six unanswered goals against Washington. The Hawks are unlikely to repeat their poor Friday’s performance. However, there have been some goals scored during past meetings between the two teams (Over is 3-1-2 in the last six contests), so expect some on Sunday as well…