Niklas Backstrom #32 of the Minnesota Wild looks on as Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks scores during a shootout on December 14, 2011 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 4-3 in a shootout.
(December 13, 2011 - Source: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images North America)

Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Undefeated Hawks take on Wild


Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks will head to the Xcel Energy Center for a match against the Minnesota Wild at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Many players talked about the importance of a hot start before the condensed season got underway, but the Blackhawks were one of the few teams to successfully execute. They not only managed to bank points early, they’ve come through in tight contests and have set a franchise record with their 6-0-0 start.

Everything seems to be going right for Chicago so far this season. This isn’t just a matter of its top guys contributing either. 11 Blackhawks players have already found the back of the net and 10 have at least three points this season. Among those that don’t are blueliners Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who have instead chipped in by logging big minutes and doing some of the less talked about things like blocking shots.

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The Wild can match the Blackhawks blow-for-blow in terms of star power thanks to the summer additions of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, but the big question is if they’re deep enough to compete with Chicago. Going into their match against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, 10 of the Wild’s 13 goals had been netted by their top line of Parise, Dany Heatley, and Mikko Koivu.

That’s one of the reasons why Minnesota was 2-2-1 at that point. However, the Wild’s secondary scorers led the way against Columbus in a 3-2 win Tuesday. If they can do the same tonight, then Chicago might suffer its first loss of the season.

Probable goaltenders: CHI – Corey Crawford (5-0-0, 1.78 GAA, .933 SV%) | MIN – Josh Harding (1-1-0, 2.56 GAA, .902 SV%)

Top scorers: CHI – atrick Kane (2-7-9, 6 GP) | MIN – Parise (5-4-9, 6 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Chicago – Forwards: Daniel Carcillo (knee) Defensemen: Michal Rozsival (lower body), Steve Montador (concussion)
Minnesota – Defensemen: Jared Spurgeon (foot)

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?