Minnesota Wild (16-11-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (21-9-1)
|Date & Time||Tuesday December 16, 2014, 8:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks -170 / Minnesota Wild +153 --- Over/Under: 5
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The Blackhawks look to keep rolling in the Central division as they are 9-1 in their last 10 games and they'll look to pad their lead over the Wild who currently trail by 10 points.
The Minnesota Wild have been a tad inconsistent to start the season and for a side that had huge expectations coming in you can say they are underachieving a bit sitting in fifth place in the division and only four games above the .500 mark and they face a stiff test tonight against a red hot Chicago side. The Wild have one of the best defensive units in hockey and their goaltending between Darcy Kuemper and Nicklas Backstrom has been solid but they need to do a better job of scoring the puck especially against the better teams in the Western Conference. Minnesota is 7-8 on the road the season and they head into the United Center where the Hawks are always tough to beat and a place where they are 10-3-1 to start the year. Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the start and he will go up against Antii Raanta.
The Blackhawks are really starting to turn on the after burners of late as they have ripped through their opposition over the last two weeks sporting a 9-1 record over their last 10 and improving to 21-9-1 on the season and all of this with Corey Crawford out of the lineup. Chicago is certainly a threat to win the Stanley Cup this season and should be considered the favourite at this point despite some strong campaigns from other clubs but Chicago has the pedigree and at the moment I think the West is theirs to lose. Antii Raanta has shown a number of times he can be the guy in Chicago as he played very well in relief of Crawford last season and Scott Darling has done just as well as the team's new backup and if the tandem can continue to produce it gives the players in front of them so much more confidence and with this group that is downright scary. This game should be close on paper but with the way the Hawks have been playing of late this isn't the time to fade them and I think getting them in regulation is the best play here.