Chicago suddenly in catch-up mode
Central Division-leading Minnesota’s on a major roll, having won seven of its past 10 contests. But will fatigue prevent Nino Niederreiter & Co. from silencing Chicago tonight?
The two rivals drop the puck in St. Paul at 8 p.m. ET. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Wild odds of -115 to keep humming. Conversely, the Blackhawks enter Xcel Energy Center as +105 underdogs.
Fresh off a successful road swing through Western Canada, Bruce Boudreau’s group is back in the Twin Cities for the first time since Jan. 26. Another reason for the home crowd to get pumped: Minny has captured eight straight regular-season matchups against Chicago. Less than a month ago, the Wild went into the United Center and emerged with a 3-2 victory that cemented their status as a legitimate Western Conference contender.
One wonders, though, about the hosts’ energy level this evening. Thanks to two-goal showings from Niederreiter and Jason Pominville, Minnesota secured a 4-2 decision over Winnipeg roughly 18 hours ago. But Devan Dubnyk’s 38-save performance automatically removed him from the equation vs. the Hawks.
With all due respect to Darcy Kuemper, Dubynk simply makes the Wild a more intimidating team. The visitiors are by no means happy about facing an uphill climb in the standings, either. Expect them to narrow the deficit a bit here.
WEDNESDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLACKHAWKS +1.5