Minnesota Wild Gameday Preview: Chicago Blackhawks – 12/16/22

It’s always a good day when the Minnesota Wild play. For the third time this week, they will take to the ice, this time against the Chicago Blackhawks. This will be the second meeting between the teams in the 2022-23 season, with the first game back on Oct. 30 going all the way to a shootout before Freddy Gaudreau sealed the win for the Wild against former netminder Alex Stalock. They are now riding a three-game win streak and have the third most points in the NHL since Nov. 19, winning nine of 12 during that stretch.

Minnesota Wild Gameday Preview Kirill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, Jared Spurgeon, and Marc-Andre Fleury
Kirill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, Jared Spurgeon, and Marc-Andre Fleury (The Hockey Writers)

Their opponents for tonight have had quite the opposite level of point production, as the Blackhawks have lost 13 of their last 14 games. They have allowed five or more goals in seven of those games, and have given up at least three goals in all 13 of those losses. Their active five-game losing streak has been enough to drop them to dead last in the NHL, also known as first place in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. Unsurprisingly, the Wild will enter tonight’s game heavily favored to come out on top.

Wild Projected Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov – Sam Steel – Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno
Matt Boldy – Frederick Gaudreau – Sammy Walker
Mason Shaw – Connor Dewar – Ryan Reeves

Jacob Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison

Marc Andre Fleury – Filip Gustavsson

Related: 10 Wild Prospects You Need to Watch in 2022-23

Blackhawks Projected Lineup

Sam Lafferty – Max Domi – Patrick Kane
Philipp Kurashev – Jonathan Toews – Taylor Raddysh
Andreas Athanasiou – Jason Dickinson – Tyler Johnson
Colin Blackwell – Jujhar Khaira – Mackenzie Entwistle

Jake McCabe – Seth Jones
Jarred Tinordi – Connor Murphy
Jack Johnson – Caleb Jones

Petr Mrazek – Arvid Soderblom

3 Keys to the Game

Take Advantage of the Schedule

The Blackhawks will be on the second half of a back-to-back tonight when they face the Wild after a rough game against the Vegas Golden Knights last night (Dec. 15). This will be the second game in a row that the Wild’s opponent played the night before, as the Detroit Red Wings were in the same boat when the Wild beat them on Dec. 14.

Latest News & Highlights

The Wild got off to a strong start in that game and took the life out of the Red Wings early with a massive hit from Reaves, a powerplay goal from Gaudreau, and held them to just two shots on net. A similar start tonight should get the Blackhawks scrambling early, allowing the Wild to take advantage and control the game.

Shoot the Puck

With Arvid Soderblom playing last night it is very likely the Wild will face veteran Petr Mrazek in the net. With 305 games played under his belt, he has struggled this season on an especially bad Blackhawks team. He has managed just two wins in 10 games played, allowing an average of 4.37 goals against and providing a poor .873 save percentage, both of which are well below his career numbers. With 28 goals allowed in his last five games, four of which he allowed six or more, the Wild need to take every opportunity to put shots on goal as there is a good possibility they could go in.

Greenway & Foligno Find a Rhythm

There is no denying that the GREEF line made up of Greenway, Eriksson Ek, and Foligno is one of the most efficient shut-down lines in the entire NHL. While it wasn’t available to the Wild at the beginning of the season due to various injuries, it has been great since being reassembled. The one area it has been failing in compared to last season’s dominance is its ability to double as a bona fide scoring threat. While Eriksson Ek is third on the team in total points with 24 (10 goals and 14 assists), Foligno and Greenway only have 12 points combined this season. If those two can get the points rolling in again that line will take another step in becoming the backbone of the entire Wild team.

Tonight’s matchup can be found on Bally Sports North and KFan 100.3FM beginning at 7:00 CT.

*Player statistics collected from Naturalstattrick.com, Blackhawks lines from their last game on Dec. 15, and Wild lines from their last game on Dec. 14.

Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.

The Hockey Writers HockeyPedia 800x120