Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Minnesota Wild at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
- This will be the 3rd of 5 meetings this season for these Central Division teams – and 2nd in the last 4 days, having met in Minnesota on Thursday, a 4-2 win by Chicago (CHI has won both meetings this season, both by 2 goals). o Thursday‘s game was the first meeting in Minnesota since Game 6 of their Second-Round playoff matchup, a game won by the Blackhawks (2-1 OT), to finish the series.
- This second half of a home-and-home series saw each team squeeze in a game between these meetings, with Chicago stopping over in Edmonton on Friday night (5-2 loss – to the team with the fewest points in the league), before returning home, and Minnesota hosting Nashville on Saturday afternoon (3-1 loss) before hitting the road to CHI-town.
- “We gave up a couple of funny goals tonight…We were pressing in the third, but they were checking better with the lead than what we had seen prior. That’s what happens. We had enough chances tonight. The timing of the goals they scored was tough” – Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on the Edmonton loss.
- Starting with that 5-3 loss at Chicago on Dec. 16, Minnesota started what is now its worst stretch this season having lost 10 of its last 12 (2-6-4).
- The Wild have lost 4 straight (0-3-1) and have been outscored 18-7, allowing an average of 4.50 goals/game (allowed 3+ goals in each) and scoring an average of 1.75 goals/game.
- Chicago has traded wins and losses through much of the last 4 weeks having gone 7-5-1 since Dec. 13 after having an 8-game win streak from Nov. 26-Dec. 11. The Blackhawks have lost 3 of their last 5 (2-3-0) but return home where they have won 10 of their last 12 (10-2-0).
- Despite winning 10 of their last 12 at home, Chicago has split their last 4 home contests including losing to Colorado, 2-0, in their last game at United Center.
- Chicago last lost consecutive games on Nov. 1 & 2, losses at TOR then at home to WPG.
- The Blackhawks return home to Chicago after splitting a 2-game road trip with the Wild and Oilers. In their last home game back on Tuesday, Chicago set a record, but one they would like to forget, by putting the most shots on goal in a regular-season home game without scoring a goal since the league officially began tracking shots on goal nearly 60 years ago. The Blackhawks outshot the Avalanche 54-24 but lost 2-0 to Semyon Varlamov and Colorado.
- MIN coach Mike Yeo left Wednesday‘s practice early after he became visibly agitated and verbally scolded his team. By all accounts, Yeo was frustrated with his team‘s recent performance and went on a profanity laced tirade – including breaking a hockey stick over the boards – before exciting the ice surface.
- “We weren’t good enough. And we’re not in a position where we can come in and be, let alone decent in practice, bad at practice. I’m not going to accept that,” Yeo said.
- Yeo added, ―”I’m not worried about that. I told you I’m not going to accept that (kind of practice)…We lost the (last) game. We come to the rink today and, what, are we going to have a practice like that? That’s not good enough….I know one thing: we can hang our heads, we can feel sorry for ourselves, we can point fingers, we can do whatever we want. But those types of things are not the types of things that winners do, and those types of things do not help you get out of something like this. I know what I’m going to control, and I’m going to make sure that I bring it.”
HEAD TO HEAD
- Chicago has won both meetings thus far this season…
- Dec. 16 at CHI: CHI def. MIN 5-3
- CHI – Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews & Brent Seabrook each had one goal and 2 assists.
- Jan. 8 at MIN: CHI def. MIN 4-2
- CHI – Patrick Kane 1 goals, 2 assists…Bryan Bickell 2 goals…Brad Richards 3 assists. MIN outshot CHI 44-20.
- Central Division Matchup: Chicago sits 2nd in the division, while Minnesota is currently 7th (last)…
- With 56 points, Chicago is 4 points behind division/NHL-leading NSH.
- The Wild (41 points) are currently in the cellar of the Central – 14 back of 3rd-place STL in the division – and 7 behind LA for the 2nd Wild Card spot in the West…at this point last season (through 40 games), MIN had 45 points and trailed PHX for the 2nd Wild Card spot by 2 points.
- The Wild made a second consecutive trip to the playoffs last season after the previous 4 seasons without a playoff appearance.
MINNESOTA TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
- Despite missing the last 2 games, Zach Parise is t-2nd on the team in goals (14 – with Nino Niederreiter) and 2nd in points (30). Parise is the only player on the Wild with double figures in goals and assists (16). In his first game back on Saturday, he had 0 points and has 3G-4A in his last 8 games.
- Jason Pominville leads the team in points (32) and assists (23)…Pominville has 4 points (1G-3A) in his last 3 games. Pominville led the team in goals (30) and points (60) last season.
- Ryan Suter leads the league in time on ice/game (29:35) after leading the league in this category the past two seasons. Suter is 4th on the team in points (22) and 2nd in assists (21). Suter has gone without a point in his last 8 games and scored his only goal in MIN‘s season opener against COL on Oct. 9.
- Nino Niederreiter is tied for 2nd on the team in goals (14) but has gone the last 11 games without one. He has an assist in back-to- back games but has only 3 points (0G-3A) in his last 11 games. Niederreiter has 20 points this season (played in all 40 games) – more than halfway to his career high of 36 set last season (in 81 GP) – and has already tied his goal total from a season ago in 41 fewer games.
- Niklas Backstrom is expected to start in net for the Wild. In his 9th season, all with MIN, the Finn started in both meetings vs. CHI this season: 4 GA on 38 shots on Dec. 16; 3 GA on 19 shots on Jan. 8…In his career, he is: 6-11-1, 2.90 GAA vs. CHI. Starting with that Dec. 16 loss at CHI, Backstrom is: 0-3-2, 3.66 GAA, .876 SV% in his last 4 starts.
- Jason Zucker leads the team in goals (15) in his 4th season in the league (all with MIN). He already has set career highs in goals and assists (5). He has 4 points (3G-1A) in his last 3 games.
CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
- Patrick Kane was named the NHL‘s 2nd Star for the month of December (behind Ryan Getzlaf – ANA) after he tied for second in the league with 17 points (8G-9A) in 13 GP. CHI went 10-2-1 in December. Kane leads the team in goals (20 – 7th in NHL) and assists (25). His 45 points are 9 more than Jonathan Toews’ 36 (2nd on the team). Kane has scored a goal and had 2 assists in each meeting vs. MIN this season…He has 9 points (4G-5A) in his last 7 games. Kane has now reached 20 goals in each of his eight NHL seasons; he is the first U.S.-born player in NHL history to post at least 20 goals in each of his first eight seasons. Kane is just the second player in Blackhawks history to tally at least 20 goals in each of his first eight NHL seasons joining Denis Savard, who posted 10 straight 20-goal campaigns for Chicago to begin his career (1980-81 through 1989-90; then added two more w/ MTL).
- Brad Richards has 24 points (8G-16A) in his first season with Chicago. The 14-year vet had 51 points with the Rangers last season. Richards had 3 assists vs. MIN on Thursday and has 6 points (2G-4A) in his last 6 games. o Richards has 25 points (7G-18A) in 22 career games vs. MIN.
- Jonathan Toews is right behind Kane – 2nd on the team in goals (13) and points (36). ―Captain Serious‖ has not scored a goal since Dec. 21 (8 games without one) but has 7 assists in that span. Toews has 23 points (7G-16A) in 24 career games vs. MIN including 1G-3A in 2 meetings this season.
- Bryan Bickell scored twice on Thursday at MIN, his 2nd career multi-goal game and first since March 5, 2013 – also vs. MIN. Since 2012-13, Bickell has 6 goals in 9 regular-season meetings vs. MIN.
- Patrick Sharp, who led the team in goals (34) and points (78) last season, has only 21 points (9G-12A) this season in 28 games (missed 14 games in Nov./Dec. with a lower-body injury). Sharp did score at MIN on Thursday and has 6 points (4G-2A) in his last 7 games.
- Corey Crawford has made 8 starts since missing nearly a month after he injured his foot leaving a concert. He is 4-3-1 in those games. In his last start, Crawford made a season-high 42 saves on 44 shots at MIN on Thursday (Antti Raanta started at EDM). Overall this season, Crawford is 16-8-2 with a 2.19 GAA and .921 SV%. o Career vs. MIN: 6-3-2, 2.35 GAA, .913 SV%.