With the final game in the longest road trip of the season tonight, the Minnesota Wild are getting the painful part of their schedule out of the way.
If only it could have gone better, we would all feel more optimistic about the Wild. Maybe a match against the Chicago Blackhawks, who many expect to be a punching bag for the league, is the remedy for what ails them. But they did lose to Detroit Red Wings, so that point may be moot.
Coming into tonight, the Wild will have the 28th-ranked defense in the league, and they will have to find a way to keep the goals out of the net against the league's 8th-best offense — astonishingly — scoring an average of 3.5 goals per game. Despite losing critical offensive figures like Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik this season, they've managed to keep the offense clicking. Led by the annoyingly relevant Patrick Kane and a resurgent Jonathan Toews (who's tallied four goals already, despite only scoring 12 goals last season), Chicago is feisty.
Good news for all of you who love a high-scoring affair, as Chicago's offense is only let down by their porous defense and goaltending, allowing almost as many goals as they score, 3.38 goals per game. Our old friend Alex Stalock is handling the net for Chicago, and he's been decent for them with a 3-2-0 record.
Marc-André Fleury should be in the net for the Wild, with some shuffling at forward as Tyson Jost draws in, with Marcus Foligno missing tonight with an upper-body injury, as per Michael Russo.
On the other side of the ice, Chicago will be missing maligned defensemen Seth Jones, and Tyler Johnson is still on injured reserve.
It's definitely a team of some guys.
Puck drop is at 6:00 pm.
Let's watch some hockey; see you in the Gamethread.
Can Fleury put up a good performance against his old team?
It seems so strange to call Chicago his former team, a brief flash in the pan for a long career, but it is what it is. Fleury’s struggles have been well documented, so we won’t dwell on it, but he had three strong performances against the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. Can he build on that and get his season back on track?
Will Tyson Jost make an impact?
The expectations weren’t high for Jost coming into the season, but he’s starting to see other prospects around him pass him by in the eyes of management. Clearly, the team sees something the like in Mason Shaw. Brandon Duhaime seems to be making progress every game.
He’s already seen his name with the healthy scratches, so his first game back is a chance to prove he’s good enough to impact this team.
How much will the Moose be missed?
Emotionally, Foligno is the leader on this team. Chicago has been playing like a team with nothing to lose. If things get feisty, who steps up, if anyone at all?