Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks - 1/23/14
Chicago Blackhawks (32-8-11) at Minnesota Wild (27-20-5)
NHL Hockey: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Xcel Energy Center)
The Line: Minnesota Wild +110 / Chicago Blackhawks -121 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
The Blackhawks play their second game in as many nights as they travel from Detroit to Minnesota to face off against the Wild.
Chicago heads into Minnesota on Thursday night holding on for dear life in the Central division as the Blues and Avalanche are hot on their heels and perhaps the pressure is starting to get to them. The Hawks have been the class of the division all season long and sit in second place in the Western Conference but with a target on their back that is this large every contest must be exhausting as opponents always seem to bring their A-game when playing the defending Cup champs. Chicago at the moment is tied in the third period with the Detroit Red Wings and regardless of how that game plays out I think the Hawks will be in tough against a Wild team who is very sound defensively and plays their best hockey on home ice. Antii Raanta is slated to get the call for the Hawks as he goes up against Darcy Kuemper for the Wild.
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The Wild head into Thursday night’s encounter chasing the Hawks as we as the Blues and Avalanche for divisional bragging rights but while it is tight at the top there is a huge drop off between third and fourth where the Wild currently sit. Minnesota is eight points back of the Avalanche for third spot and are clinging on to the eighth and final playoff spot if the season ended today so they know how important the second half of the season is and how critical getting healthy would be to their future success. Minnesota is a defense first type of team with a lot of role players at both ends of the ice and with Ryan SUter leading the way at the back end it will be his job to match up against Chicago’s top offensive unit that includes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp. This is a good spot for the Wild as they catch the Hawks in a back to back but I don’t think you can ever count out the Blackhawks in any circumstance. As such I am going to attack the total and I see this one staying under the number as Minnesota’s game plan combined with Chicago’s weariness I think this one comes in at four goals at best.