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.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis react to the Olli Maatta trade and how this impacts the Blackhawks' defensive group. Is this the first of more moves to come?

The guys then break down their top-three candidates for the Blackhawks at No. 3 overall and predict who the pick will be on Friday. They also discuss how the Blackhawks' selection may impact the offseason and the big picture going forward.

0:40 – Initial reaction to the Olli Maatta trade

3:45 – How Maatta fits with the Blackhawks

7:45 – Filling Dominik Kahun’s spot

10:00 – Maatta’s contract situation

11:00 – Our top-3 draft predictions

18:30 – Official predictions on who the Blackhawks will pick

24:30 – Is there a wrong pick in the top 10?

27:30 – If the Blackhawks don’t pick D, the forward is…?

29:30 – How the Blackhawks selections shape the offseason

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

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USA TODAY

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

The 2019 NHL free agent class — both restricted and unrestricted — is absolutely loaded. But perhaps the biggest fish of them all has already been taken off the board.

Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks have agreed to an eight-year extension worth $11.5 million per year, according to Cap Friendly, becoming the highest-paid defenseman in league history. It’s a significant move for the Sharks, who are looking to keep the band together and take a few more stabs at a Stanley Cup before their window starts to close — Joe Thornton is 39, Joe Pavelski turns 35 in July, Brent Burns is 34, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is 32 and Logan Couture is 30.

How the Sharks make the math work going forward will be fascinating to monitor. Thornton, if he doesn't decide to hang up the skates, is a UFA. Same with Pavelski, who is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career. Both of those players have become part of the Sharks identity, but their futures aren't guaranteed. And then there are guys like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier, both of whom are RFAs and due big raises.

So how does the Karlsson extension impact the Blackhawks and the rest of the Western Conference?

For starters, the UFA defensemen class just got thinner and that could lead to overpayment across the board from teams looking for impact-type blue-liners because general managers that are looking to make a splash don’t want to come away empty-handed. The Blackhawks were never going to be in on Karlsson, but his contract set the market for this year's class and the fact the signing came before the NHL Draft now gives teams that would've been in on Karlsson an opportunity to refocus ahead of the negotiating period.

In the bigger picture, the Sharks just solidified themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders for at least the next couple seasons. While the Karlsson contract may not look the greatest on the back half, given his durability issues, the Sharks had no choice but to offer him a blank check. When healthy, he is a game-changer and a two-time Norris Trophy winner who's still in his prime, and if the Sharks win a title in the next couple years then it was well worth it. You don't let players like him walk.

The Blackhawks are expected to be aggressive over the next several weeks, particularly in free agency but also continuing to explore the trade market. We already saw that when they acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that could only be the first of many this offseason. The West might be top heavy, but this past season proved that any team can turn it around quickly and the Blackhawks need to do everything in their power to make sure they're one of those teams.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.