NHL on NBCSN: Wild test turnaround against Blackhawks

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Minnesota Wild host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Xcel Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET today. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Minnesota Wild have been showing serious promise lately, but that progress will be tested on Tuesday as they face the Chicago Blackhawks.

A challenge amid a promising start

Assuming he gets the nod, the Blackhawks will test Devan Dubnyk, who is 5-1-0 as a member of the Wild since being traded from the Arizona Coyotes. For all the impressive work the 28-year-old goalie has done in his short stay with Minnesota, it’s worth noting that his wins have come against borderline playoff teams (Calgary, Vancouver) and squads that have often been downright dismal (Edmonton, Arizona).

What happens when Dubnyk and the Wild face one of the best teams (not to mention scoring attacks) in the NHL?

Blackhawks may not be at their best

Chicago is in the middle of a six-game road trip (seven if you count the game before the All-Star break) and (uh oh) just spent two days “bonding” in Las Vegas, so perhaps the Blackhawks are a little more vulnerable than usual. Going 6-7-0 in January argues that they’re not at their absolute best.

That’s good news for Minnesota, as Chicago has handled the season series so far, winning the first three games between these teams by a combined score of 13-6. Niklas Backstrom was in net for all those defeats, so the ‘Hawks will probably get a different look assuming Dubnyk starts this time around.

Daniel Carcillo is eligible to return from his latest suspension in this game. Ultimately, one would assume that the contest is more likely to come down to what stars like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter can accomplish.

Suter, for one, has been pretty banged up lately.

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After some tough times, the Wild have at least a glimpse of optimism, but the Blackhawks serve as a useful measuring stick for how realistic their ambitions might be. It should be an intriguing game to watch on NBCSN tonight, then.