Blackhawks

Battle Notes: Blackhawks at Wild

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Battle Notes: Blackhawks at Wild

Matchup

Blackhawks at Wild

Where? When? Television?

Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN; 6:30 p.m.; Versus
Where they stand

Blackhawks: 18-8-4 (40 points) - First in Central Division, Second in Western Conference

Wild: 20-8-3 (43 points) - First in Northwest Division, First in Western Conference

Last game

The Blackhawks are coming off a 3-2 OT victory against the Sharks on Sunday night. Patrick Sharp scored the game-winning goal at the 4:26 mark of overtime. Andrew Brunette had some late heroics, scoring a goal to tie the game at the 18:54 mark of the third period. Ray Emery picked up the victory in his second straight game since taking over for Corey Crawford.

The Wild fell, 2-1 to the Jets on a late goal in third period by Jeff Little of Winnipeg. Guillaume Latendresse scored the only goal for Minnesota and Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley added assists.

Who's Hot?

The stars have been shining bright for Chicago this month. Sharp leads the Blackhawks in goals (5) and points (8) in the month of December. Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have each notched seven points in December.

Minnesota has spread around the wealth so far this month. Kyle Brodziak leads the team in goals (4) and is tied in points (6) with Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Storylines

The Blackhawks are looking for their third straight victory and trying to state their case for why they're the top team in the Western Conference.

Can Emery continue his winning streak since taking over for Crawford?

How will the 'Hawks fare against Minnesota's stingy defense, who has only allowed 2.10 goals per game?

Between the pipes

Emery for the Blackhawks

Undecided for the Wild
Prediction

Blackhawks 2, Wild 1

Share your predictions in the comment box below and let us know what your looking forward to most in this matchup.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.