CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25: Pierre-Marc Bouchard #96 of the Minnesota Wild raises his stick after scoring a 3rd period goal against Corey Crawford #50 and Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Now that the trade deadline has passed with a minimum of fuss and little activity... or a lot of fuss and no activity depending on how you look at it, the Hawks have to get ready for what is a tantamount game in Minnesota.
The Wild and Hawks are amongst the muddle tied for 7th spot in the Conference, and a win in regulation will see the Hawks vault up to 6th in the Conference while taking dead aim on 4th as well.
The Hawks cannot afford to let this get into OT or a shootout. A regulation win is all that will do.
Corey Crawford gets to ride the roll he's been on even longer. He's been shaky each time he's had to do both halves of a back to back, but found a way to get a win the last time he tried it in St. Louis.
New pick up Chris Campoli will not be in the lineup Monday night, and there's been no call-ups, so John Scott will return to the blue line for the first time since October in what is sure to look like a Benny Hill routine.
For the Wild, they will be without top center Mikko Koivu, who broke his hand. Their number two center, Kyle Brodziak, is returning to the team after missing the last couple.
The Wild have not cooled off since we last saw them here in town, going 3-1-1 in those five games since losing here. Our former savior Martin Havlat still leads them in points, with defenseman Brent Burns putting up serious numbers from the blue line.
The Hawks are 2-1 against Minnesota this year, and those two were not all that difficult. Those were games that the Hawks abused this Wild defensive corps, which contains no smashers and no puck movers at all.
They chipped the puck into the corners and used their far superior speed to cause turnovers and chances. There's no reason that on the road playing for the second consecutive night the Hawks shouldn't keep things this simple.
If they don't, and they allow the Wild free looks through the neutral zone with turnovers of their own, then Havlat and Matt Cullen and Antti Miettinen and Cal Clutterbuck can hit the Hawks zone with speed and make our heads hurt.
Secondly, the Hawks have to stay out of the box, because this is a potent Wild power play and the Hawks penalty kill couldn't be saved with all the Viagra in the world right now.
If you're serious about making a run, these are the games you take.