The Wild blows into The Windy City playing some of its best hockey of the season and looks to snap the Blackhawk’s stranglehold on the Western Conference win column.
The Wild will go with the same lineup as it last outing, a 4-2 home win against the Oilers on Sunday, with the exception between the pipes.
Niklas Backstrom will get the nod in net against the Hawks. The Wild netminder was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, ending March 3. Backstrom has been a wall lately, going 6-1-1 in his last eight starts with a 1.70 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo told the media after the morning skate that the Blackhawks can beat you a number of ways, so it will take a complete game for a win tonight.
“It’s pretty much amazing what they’ve done to start this season,” Yeo said. “They’ve got it all: good special teams, good five-on-five, good defensively and offensively, well coached and deep.”
The WildTV video of Yeo’s media scrum is available online. Wild forward Zach Parise agreed with his coach’s sentiments.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Parise said. “They find different ways to win.”
Parise was referencing the Blackhawks record in one-goal games, an impenetrable 12-0-3. The Wild’s record in one-goal games has been nearly as impressive, going 8-2-2 on the season. Parise’s media availability can be found on WildTV.
WildTV also caught up to Wild Captain Mikko Koivu, who talked about what it will take to get a win in Chicago.
WildTV also talked to Kyle Brodziak about the Wild’s penalty kill and what it will take to shut down the skill players from Chicago. WildTV interviewed rookie Jonas Brodin about going against Chicago’s talented forwards.
After the morning skate, the Blackhawks’ locker room was blustering with media members like the snow falling on the city streets of Chicago today. The media scrum surrounding Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville was two rows deep and continues to grow as the national attention is turned on the team’s undefeated start.
“It’s been fun for us,” Queneville said. “It’s a fun situation to be in and I think it’s good for our sport.”
The team has earned a point in each of its first 22 games (19-0-3) and the regular-season win streak dates back to last season and sits at 28 games. Of course the Hawks bench boss downplayed the attention that the club has been receiving of late.
“It’s gaining some momentum here and we don’t like to focus it too much on that,” Queneville said.
Of course the Wild looks to end that streak and defuse the spotlight aimed at Chicago’s ice hockey team. In the team’s first meeting on the season, Minnesota earned a 3-2 shootout win at Xcel Energy Center. Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews remembers the loss.
“They stole one from us and now they’re in our building so we’ve go to return the favor,” Toews told the media after the team’s morning skate. Towes and Queneville’s media availability can be found on the PONDcast.
Well, the Wild will have something to say about that tonight. Yeo wrapped up Minnesota’s mentality at the end of his scrum.
“Every day is big game and the key for us is not to getting caught up (in the talk of the Hawks’ streak),” Yeo said. “The key for us it to come in and try to find a way to win against a great hockey team.”