Ah, the only one who could have saved us. - Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Wild look to be the first team to beat the Blackhawks. It won't be a simple task.
It's not tough to get excited when the fiercest rivalry the Wild have ever had comes to town. As we know, rivalries are born in the playoffs, and the Wild and Hawks are known for their bitter feuds battling for the Norris Division and Campbell Conference titles with the Hawks. Man, those were the days. Remember those?
Apparently, NBC believes that the North Stars and Wild are the same franchise, with the same rivalries. Good lord, they even got Pierre to put his name on this. This is pure, invented BS, and everyone at NBC and around the hockey world knows it. Unless they are trying to gin up some kind of false rivalry so they can throw the Wild into the Winter Classic in 2015, this is just stupid.
No. Wait. It's just stupid.
On to the game.
This one should be interesting, folks. The Minnesota Wild beat a not so good Blue Jackets team last night, but did everything they could to find a way to lose. Penalty trouble in the third is not a theme that the Wild want to play with, especially not against a team like the Chicago Blackhawks. If you are sitting in your office right now screaming "The Comeback!" you need to put the Kool-Aid down.
The Wild saw improvement from the defense last night, getting Ryan Suter to play like he can for the first time in a Wild sweater. Who knew all it would take is a 19 year old kid in his third NHL game to give Suter some confidence? Not to belittle the ability of Jonas Brodin, but Suter should be the one in command in that pairing. It's like putting Christian Ponder behind Brett Favre and wanting Ponder to teach the lessons.
I apologize to Brodin for comparing him to Ponder. That was cruel, and not at all an accurate description of Brodin's talent.
The Blackhawks are playing lights out, mid season hockey. They have yet to lose, sport one of the best rosters in the league, and saw very little turn over from last season. Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, and of course, the one that got away, Nick Leddy. So many players on this team that can win games all by themselves. The Wild are in for a real treat if they decide to take a night off, or you know, really do even one thing wrong all night.
The Wild can win this game. It is not a certainty that the Hawks beat the Wild just by showing up. However, on the back side of a back to back, the Wild are bound to be tired, and the Hawks are going to be flying (see what I did there?). The Wild will need to get out of the first, find their game in the second, and avoid losing control in the third. If they can do that, the defense shows up again, and someone off the top line decides to play... the Wild have a shot at this one.
If all of those things do not happen? This could get ugly. Fast.