If you were to draw up a list of the “easiest” series from the 2013 postseason, Chicago’s five-game stroll against Minnesota would probably finish close to the top. To make matters worse for the Wild, some might say the team took a step back by shedding salary this summer, yet the Pioneer Press’ Tim Powers believes that they improved in a bigger picture way.
More specifically, he thinks that the Wild added some edge and attitude via Matt Cooke and Keith Ballard.
Enter Ballard and Cooke. With luck, they’ll growl and prod and, as a result, motivate. Not when things are going well. Not when the Wild have put together a nice streak. But when things are headed south. Because no team can turn a couple of bad bounces into a four-game losing streak as quickly as the mentally fragile Wild.
(Now imagine a low-budget promo video of Cooke and Ballard dramatically removing their sunglasses.)
One can easily question this concept – especially since hit machine Cal Clutterbuck is out of town – but the two players do bring some snarl to the table.
We all know the story Cooke, as the 34-year-old’s past is so checkered that the common refrain is that he’s a changed man. (Perhaps there’s a small group of Wild fans who want the “old” Cooke, then?)
Ballard, 30, isn’t a pushover either. For those who look past his formerly problematic contract and scratches, Ballard showed that he wasn’t shy to throw his body around. That was especially true when it came to his old-school hip checks:
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It’s anyone’s guess if two supporting cast members like Cooke and Ballard will really make that much of a difference, but maybe the team will be “tougher to play against,” as hockey people like to say.
Sunday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars gave us an opportunity to check in on the relationship between Jamie Benn and David Backes, and it seems that they still do not like each other very much.
Their on-ice feud continued literally as soon as Sunday’s game started, when they dropped the gloves right off the opening faceoff, which you can see in the video up above. It was clear right from the very beginning that fight was going to happen given the way they were discussing things before the puck was even dropped.
These guys have been going at one another for years, dating back to Backes’ days with the St. Louis Blues, and their fight (it was mostly a lot of jersey pulling at the start) on Sunday is already the third time they have dropped the gloves with one another in their careers.
Not much went right for the Stars following the fight as quick goals from Brad Marchand and David Krejci gave the Bruins an early 2-0 lead.
The Boston Bruins are starting to get on a little bit of a roll and they look to keep it going on Sunday afternoon when they visit their old friend Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars.
The game will be shown live on NBC with a 12:30 p.m. ET faceoff and also be available on our Live Stream.
It’s a Star Sunday with the focus falling on Seguin and David Pastrnak, while the game will also have Dave Strader calling the play-by-play action on NBC. Strader recently returned to the Stars’ broadcast booth as he continues to battle cancer.
Click Here for the Live Stream
Preview: Bruins look to stay hot against desperate Stars
Ryan Carter’s comeback attempt with the Minnesota Wild is just about complete.
After skating with the team in practices this month and getting a tryout contract with their AHL team, the Wild announced on Sunday morning that Carter has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the team for the remainder of the season.
According to Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune, Carter contract carries a prorated salary of $525,000 if he plays in the NHL and $250,000 when he is with Iowa.
He had been recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. An unrestricted free agent, Carter really had no interest in signing with any other team outside of the Wild. He spent the past two seasons with the team, including 60 games during the 2015-16 season where he scored seven goals and added five assists while also playing a role on the team’s penalty killing unit.
Minnesota is currently the top team in the Western Conference with 84 points.
The second game on the NBC Networks today features a Central Division rivalry when the St. Louis Blues pay a visit to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or on our Live Stream.
It will also be the second Star Sunday broadcast of the day, with this one featuring Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko and Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews.
From the minute he arrived in the NHL Tarasenko has been one of the league’s most electrifying players and is currently on pace for what would be his third consecutive season with at least 37 goals with an outside shot at his second consecutive 40-goal season.
Toews, meanwhile, is doing his part to erase a miserable first half of the season offensively by completely taking over for the Blackhawks in recent weeks. Entering Sunday’s game Toews is on a scoring surge that has seen him record 23 points in the past 15 games. That is more offense than he created in his first 37 games of the season.
As a team, the Blackhawks are simply crushing any opponent that gets in their way right now with wins in eight of their past nine games thanks to an offense that is scoring at least four goals every game during that stretch.
It’s a big game for both teams when it comes to the playoff picture.
For the Blues, winners of seven out of 10 under new coach Mike Yeo, they have a chance to put a little distance between themselves and the rest of the pack in Western Conference wild card race if they can pick up a win. They enter the game three points up on the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blackhawks are still trying to keep pace with the Minnesota Wild for the top spot in the Central Division, entering the day three points back.
Chicago will be without a pretty significant member of its defense on Sunday night when Niklas Hjalmarsson misses the game due to an upper body injury. He had to exit their game against Arizona on Thursday night in the first period. He is currently listed as day-to-day. With Hjalmarsson out Michal Rozsival will draw back in to the lineup after scoring his first goal of the season on Thursday.