Minnesota Wild (39-26-11) at Chicago Blackhawks (42-19-15)
|Date & Time||Thursday April 3, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks / Minnesota Wild --- Over/Under:
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The Minnesota Wild look to take advantage of a shorthanded Blackhawks team on Thursday when the two clubs meet up in Chicago.
The Wild head into Thursday night’s encounter with the Chicago Blackhawks looking to inch closer to clinching a playoff berth and with the Hawks being without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in this one it could be a nice spot for Minny to do so. The Wild are a very good team and are certainly not a seventh seeded calibre roster but with the Western Conference being so competitive this year it is simply a matter of qualifying and sorting out who the game’s best are from there. Minnesota qualified as the eight seed last year and were dispatched quickly by the Hawks but at the current rate they are set up to face off against the winner of the Pacific division which is between the Sharks and Ducks. Either matchup could be a tough out for the Wild but I would have to think they would prefer facing the Ducks as Minny has the better blue line and just as deep a forward unit as their Pacific counterparts.
The Blackhawks have lost three straight contests and now will be without captain Jonathan Toews for the rest of the regular season as a precaution after suffering an upper body injury against the Penguins. Toews joins fellow superstar Patrick Kane on the shelf as he continues to nurse a leg injury but both players are expected back in full health in time for the playoffs to start in a couple weeks. Chicago has pretty well been locked into the fifth seed in the West for some time and I think part of their laxity and confidence for rest their stars is that they can’t really fall too much or climb too high in the final stretch of the regular season and it is expected that they will square off against the Avalanche in the opening round. Chicago is way too good to lose four straight contests but that’s what they face here and without the two aforementioned stars I think they’ll be hard pressed to keep pace with a team in desperation mode like Minnesota. I am interested to see the line here but either way I will be backing the visitors in a borderline premium play.