The Chicago Blackhawks will be aiming to take a 3-0 series lead when they take on the Minnesota Wild this afternoon up in St. Paul. The game will start at 2 p.m. and will be carried nationally on NBC.
For the Hawks, their first road test of the playoffs couldn’t come at a better opposing arena. The Wild actually scored the fewest home goals in the NHL, scoring only 52 times in 24 games at Xcel Energy Center. Contrast that with the 66 that they scored on the road, and it’s easy to see that this team doesn’t exactly thrive in their home confines.
The Wild are relatively stingy in terms of giving up goals on home ice, however, only allowing 55 goals during their regular season slate. That puts them in the middle of the pack statistically, and they will need that kind of resiliency against a Hawks team that won 18 road contests in only 24 games. Chicago was third in the league in road scoring, with 75 goals to their credit, and actually tallied one more goal on the road than they did at home this season.
In terms of players to watch for Chicago, there are two players that stick out for their road prowess. Patrick Kane scored 12 goals and dished out 18 assists in 23 road games this season, and Jonathan Toews had similar numbers, with 15 goals and 10 assists in the same number of contests. Marian Hossa also scored 10 of his 17 goals on the road this season.
-The Blackhawks will once again be without the services of Dave Bolland and Ray Emery on Sunday. Both players did travel with the team to St. Paul, but will be sidelined with lower body injuries. Both are still listed as day-to-day.
-The Wild will still start Josh Harding in net against the Hawks. Niklas Backstrom is still dealing with the complications from an injury suffered during warmups prior to Game 1.