Wild @ Blackhawks Preview
Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 8:30PM EST at the United Center in Chicago
Both Chicago and Minnesota are coming off much-needed victories on Tuesday. Minnesota (22-15-6), currently seventh in the West, ended a 1-8-3 slump with a 5-4 shootout win over San Jose on Tuesday. And the Blackhawks (25-13-5), though, followed that run by losing four straight before a 5-2 win over Columbus on Tuesday, pulling into a tie for the Central Division lead with surging St. Louis. Games between the Wild and Blackhawks are usually spirited, in their last meeting the Wild lost at home in a 4-3 shootout loss.
I expect a big game from Devin Setoguchi tonight in response to being apologetic to his teammates for missing a mandatory meeting on Tuesday morning and punished with seat in the rafters during the Sharks game.
Josh Harding did not practice on Wednesday due to illness and did not fly with the team to Chicago, however arrived later. Jeff Hackett was recalled from Houston just in case Harding is unable to play. It was thought that Niklas Backstrom would get the start, but Harding will get the nod in net. Backstrom has struggled lately going 1-5-0 with a 3.54 GAA in his last six starts. He's 1-4-1 with a 3.43 GAA in his last seven against the Blackhawks. Hackett will back up Harding since Backstrom is now ill.
Harding / Hacket
Congrats to Mikko Koivo for being selected to his first All Star Game.
Koivu, who has led the Wild in scoring in each of the past three seasons, leads the Wild again this season with 33 points in 39 games. A potential Selke Trophy candidate for best defensive forward, he leads the NHL’s second-worst offensive team with a plus-9 rating.
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