The Blackhawks are back in action tonight after a long all-star break when they welcome the Minnesota Wild to the United Center. The Hawks come into this one on a four-game losing streak that has seen them shutout in three of those four contests. Things have not been pretty for this team on the offensive side of things, but with the long break and nine of the next ten games coming at home, hopefully this team will be rested and relaxed to try and find the scoring touch once again. While the team struggles, they have been bailed out night after night by goaltender Petr Mrazek. He has been one of the more pleasant surprises this season, as he really has found his old form again. Coming out of the all-star break, he currently has a 2.92 goals against average and a solid .910 save percentage. While no one expected this team to compete this season, if it wasn’t for the play of Mrazek, this season could have been a whole lot worse.
Minnesota comes into this one in the midst of a disappointing season. They are currently on a three-game losing streak and have a 4-5-1 record over their last 10. This was a team that shocked a lot of people last year with their play, and a large part of that was the outstanding play of goaltender Filip Gustavsson. While he hasn’t been able to replicate his production from last season, and if you take into account the large injury list they have as well, it's no surprise to see them struggle and sit 7th in the central. They are currently 7 points out of the last wild card spot with 33 games left to play, so if there is going to be any hope for a race for the playoffs, they need to get two points tonight.
Projected Line Up
Tyler Johnson has been activated from the IR and will return to the lineup tonight for the first time since New Year's Eve against the Stars. He seems to be one of the only players that could be used to pick up assets at the deadline, so expect him to get some ice time to showcase that he can still be a good depth piece for a playoff team.
The NHL is expected to announce tonight that the Blackhawks will host the St. Louis Blues in the 2025 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. While I am excited to see Bedard get the spotlight treatment, I personally have no desire for any more of these outdoor games. The oversaturation of the event just doesn’t give it that special feeling anymore. I, however, will be curious to see how Fanatics does with their first attempt at the specialty jersey. Adidias set the bar pretty high, I think, and I am just not sure Fanatics is the right move for the official jersey.