Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Tip-off: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 – 8:00 PM ET
This is when the Chicago Blackhawks will truly show what they’re capable of – taking into account their many accomplishments so far — the record-breaking start, the Presidents’ Trophy, the individual honors.
Jonathan Toews and the rest of the team also know all the reasons for concern heading into their playoff series versus the Minnesota Wild.
As the NHL point spread suggests, Chicago is favored to make it to the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons, however Minnesota brings a lot of talent into Game 1 this evening. Then there is the Blackhawks’ recent postseason history, and the checkered performance for past winners of the Presidents’ Trophy, which makes it more exciting.
YouWager experts believed the Wild to be Stanley Cup contenders after they gave free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter identical 13-year, $98 million contracts last summer.
However, Minnesota had a difficult time when they finally got on the ice following the lockout, managing just 22 goals while sputtering to a 4-5-1 start.
The Wild got hot in the middle of the season, winning seven in a row and 17 of 24 over one stretch, then struggled a bit at the end. They now have an opportunity to clinch a postseason spot, they lost 6-1 at home versus the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
The Wild finally secured its first playoff appearance in five years when Niklas Backstrom stopped 29 shots in a 3-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
Minnesota could be truly energized in Game 1 from the return of Jason Pominville, who missed the last two games after taking an elbow to the chin versus the Los Angeles Kings. The 30 year-old practiced yesterday, however coach Mike Yeo was unsure about his status for the opener versus the Blackhawks.
Chicago’s goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland have been ruled out with lower-body injuries, but they could return for Game 2 by the end of the week.