When discussing the best teams in the Western Conference, the same cities often arise: Los Angeles, Chicago, Anaheim and St. Louis, specifically.
Minnesota wants to be in the discussion but knows that to be among the best, it has to beat the best.
“We’ve got to start beating some of these teams,” alternate captain Zach Parise said, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune.
Tonight will be Minnesota’s first meeting of the year against Chicago, who ended the Wild’s season in Round 2 of last year’s playoffs. This should make for a key “measuring stick” game, especially since Minnesota has struggled against other WC elites — the Wild have gone a combined 0-4-1 against Anaheim, L.A. and St. Louis this year and found it remarkably difficult to break through offensively:
Oct. 17: 2-1 loss to Anaheim
Oct. 19: 2-1 loss to L.A.
Nov. 26: 4-0 loss to L.A.
Nov. 29: 3-2 shootout loss to St. Louis
The Wild did score some goals goals in their most recent loss to the Ducks — a 5-4 defeat on Friday — but have still failed to win with regularity against the upper-echelon clubs.
And like Parise said, that needs to change.
Tonight will be the first in a series of good upcoming tests. Minnesota plays Chicago three times in the next 26 days, with two of those games coming at the always-difficult United Center. The Wild know all about how hard it is to win in the Windy City — during last year’s second-round playoff series, Chicago won all three games played at home.