The Blackhawks head to the Wild in hopes for a big win
In what was their sloppiest game of the season so far, the Blackhawks (6-2-3) fell to the Minnesota Wild (6-3-3) on Saturday, and are facing them again on Monday evening, surely hoping to snap their losing streak.
Despite outshooting the Wild 36-25, the Blackhawks fell to their opponent 5-3, due to sloppy defences, too many turnovers and giveaways. The team lacked a sense of finish, and their special units are still a sore spot for them. They only managed one goal for the 7 penalties the Wild took, and allowed one goal themselves on the 5 penalties they took.
The Wild, who were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the Blackhawks last May, displayed solid goaltending and penalty killing throughout all three periods of the game on Saturday, and delivered the Hawks their first home loss of the season - which they also did last season.
With this win, the Wild now have as many points as the Blackhawks in the Central division, although the Chicago have played one game less than Minnesota. They’re sitting 6th (Hawks) and 7th (Wild) in the Western Conference.
Hot or Not
Bryan Bickell seems to have hit his stride, scoring his fourth goal in four games. The two bottom lines have been the most energetic and productive for the Blackhawks recently, and Jeremy Morin, in his first game wearing the Indian Head this season, played really solidly - surely enough to earn him more starts.
Patrick Kane scored in the powerplay and Jonathan Toews picked up an assist on it, but their production during Saturday’s game was lackluster, with Toews allowing a 5-on-3 breakaway for the Wild after going for a line change. Brent Seabrook had his worst game yet of the season on Saturday night, despite picking up a point on Kane’s goal.
The Blackhawks had issues with their penalty kill, and also at the dot in their own zone, which they will have to straighten out to be more dangerous.
Jason Pominville scored two goals on Saturday, including the game-winning goal. This should give him confidence going into Monday’s match-up, which will be at home for the Wild. Zach Parise continues to lead his team in points, adding to his tally with the powerplay goal on Saturday that opened up the scoring. Niklas Backstrom had his best game yet, blocking 33 out of 36 shots for a .917 sv%, which might earn him the start on Monday, despite a nagging knee issue.
Overall, the team managed a very convincing win against the defending Stanley Cup champions, considering they were missing Josh Harding, Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Keith Ballard and Mike Rupp.
"Games like [Saturday night], you're not happy with the result or the way things went," Coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think we should all be disappointed with the way things evolved tonight and be excited about [playing] them again on Monday."
Post-game, Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews was not making an excuses: "We had breakdowns, we had turnovers inside our zone, we had miscommunication and took some penalties we shouldn't have taken. I think one thing relates to the other and it's just a little bit sloppy sometimes," he said. "We've got to tighten that up and get back to playing a solid checking game that we know how to play. Our talent and ability is going to take over when the work ethic is there. It's a frustrating loss to lose like that at home."
What to expect
The Blackhawks will be desperate for a strong win in regulation, which is proving itself much harder than last season to achieve for them. They’ll need tighter defense, less turnovers, and a much better penalty kill.
The Wild will try and build on Saturday night’s win, to boost their confidence further against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
Let’s not forget to wish Brandon Saad a happy 21st today!
Game time is 7:00 p.m. CT and can be seen live on CSN-CH and FS-N.