The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game #79: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks, Sunday April 1, 2012 at 6:00pm (CDT), United Center [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (33-35-10) 76 4th Northwest 2.04 (30) 2.65 (15) 15.2% (26)

81.6% (19)

Chicago Blackhawks
(44-26-9) 97 4th Central 2.96 (6) 2.84 (22) 15.6% (22) 78.3%(28)


Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #15 Dany Heatley 21 27 48
2. #21 Kyle Brodziak 21 22 43
3. #9 Mikko Koivu 12 28 40
4. #7 Matt Cullen 14 21 35
5. #10 Devin Setoguchi 18 15 33
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #22 Cal Clutterbuck 97
2. #21 Kyle Brodziak 66
3. #4 Clayton Stoner 57
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (19-17-6) 2.43 .920
2. #37 Josh Harding (11-12-4) 2.64 .918
3. #31 Matt Hackett (3-6-0) 2.37 .922
Chicago Blackhawks
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #81 Marian Hossa 29 47 76
2. #10 Patrick Sharp 32 34 66
3. #88 Patrick Kane 21 42 63
4. #19 Jonathan Toews 29 28 57
5. #25 Viktor Stalberg 20 21 41
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #22 Jamal Mayers 89
2. #13 Daniel Carcillo 82
3. #52 Brandon Bollig 53
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #50 Corey Crawford (29-17-6) 2.78 .902
2. #30 Ray Emery (15-9-3) 2.77 .902
. . .
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Boy, am I glad I’m not a Chicago Blackhawks fan.  Sure, they’re going to the playoffs, which is definitely better than the Wild will do this season.  How long they last this upcoming post-season is another story altogether.  This is clearly not the Blackhawks team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010.  They still have a bevy of talent on their roster.  Unfortunately, some of that talent, most notably Jonathan Toews is currently sidelined with a concussion.  However, that is not what concerns me the most.  And it’s the one area that teams need to be able to count on in the post-season.

As I was typing the stats last night, I know I was a bit surprised at their goaltending numbers.  There are not many places where the lowly Minnesota Wild are better than Chicago, but goaltending is one of those places.  If I were a Blackhawks fan, you better believe I’d be praying to the hockey gods to somehow help the goaltenders.  The save percentage has me concerned.  Looking at the numbers for our very own Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding along with the cameo appearances by Matt Hackett are more of what you want to see heading into the playoffs.  Wild fans have been down on their goaltenders from time to time this season, but I know I’d be more comfortable with ours than Chicago’s.  With those kinds of numbers, it still amazes me that Chicago did not actively go after a goaltender at the trade deadline.  Heck, Harding was bandied about in the hockey press as a goaltender that teams might go after.  However, it is most likely that teams weren’t willing to part with players they had for a solid backup goaltender.  Chicago may end up kicking themselves if they’re out after the first round.

With the goaltending such as it is, Chicago is going to have to lean heavily on its skaters simply to score more goals than their opponents.  Now, if the playoffs only lasted one round, that would be just fine.  However, that is not the case when it comes for the Stanley Cup.  The playoffs are long and physical.  They’re going to have to outscore their opponents game after game, round after round, and hope to god that their goaltenders can stop just enough.  That wears a team down, and I don’t know if they can do it.  Plus, Chicago most likely is not going to end up with home ice advantage.  The travel is going to wear them down as well, especially if they end up in Los Angeles (if they win the Pacific) or Vancouver in the first round.  If the playoffs started today, they’d be heading to Los Angeles.  They might also want to pray to the hockey gods that Dallas wins the Pacific, so they can at least stay in the same time zone.

It will be a very interesting playoffs this year.  While I’m a bit burned out by the Wild’s roller coaster season, I’m really curious how this will all end.  Out of all the teams guaranteed a spot right now, a small part of me is hoping that St. Louis can bring home the Cup for the first time in their history.  Now mind you, it’s only a small part, as I still remember those physical games with the Blues earlier in the season.  But hey, anyone but Vancouver, right?

Injury Report:

Minnesota:  Matt Cullen (finger), Mike Lundin (lower body),  Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion, groin),       Matt Kassian (groin), Jared Spurgeon (concussion), Marco Scandella (upper body, questionable),     

Jonathan Toews (concussion), Daniel Carcillo (knee), Sami Lepisto (left leg), Duncan Keith (suspension), Steve Montador  (concussion), Ray Emery (upper body, probable) 

Jack Jablonski  Jenna Privette

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