The Chicago Blackhawks ended their six-game circus trip on a bit of a down note as they lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, but they’ll look for a better result on Tuesday as they welcome the Minnesota Wild to the United Center for a Central Division showdown.
The Blackhawks have had a tough time with the Central so far this season, going 1-2-1 against their won division, but they’ll get a huge opportunity to improve on that mark in the coming weeks, as they play five of their next six games against divisional foes.
That run begins on Tuesday night, and Minnesota isn’t exactly coming into this game firing on all cylinders. The Wild have lost six of their last seven games, and there has been some dissension developing in the ranks. When head coach Mike Yeo made a switch and paired up defenseman Ryan Suter with Jonas Brodin, Suter balked at the decision and blasted Yeo in the media about it.
“I don’t know what’s going on there,” he told Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. “I don’t know what they’re thinking. I need to play with a right-handed defenseman (Brodin is left-handed) to give me more options, neutral zone, offensively, and even coming out of D zone. It’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”
While Suter and Yeo apparently patched things up in a meeting, it still begs the question of whether or not Yeo is starting to lose the trust of his team. He’s been particularly pointed in his criticisms of the team during their recent struggles, and it seems as though he’s been on the verge of being fired on several occasions now during his tenure in Minnesota.
Even with that in mind, the Blackhawks still have to be weary of Minnesota’s ability on the ice. The team is loaded with talented offensive players, including Zach Parise, and the team’s speed is something that gives Chicago fits when the two teams match up.
With that in mind, Chicago is going to have to take advantage of their skill on the second line and the defensive prowess of their top line in this one. Odds are strong that Jonathan Toews’ line will be the one assigned to taking on Parise and company in this game, and that means the second line will have to continue to keep its scoring output high.