Skip to main content

Major gut-check week for the Wild as Chicago tightens the race

The division standings could look a lot different at the end the week.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The race between the Wild and Blackhawks to win the Central Division – and possibly the Western Conference regular season title – feels like it will come down to the final few games.

This week could swing the division pendulum big time. Minnesota plays back-to-back Monday and Tuesday against the Kings and at Winnipeg while the Blackhawks rest and prepare for home games Wednesday and Friday against the Penguins and Islanders.

The Islanders lead the NHL with 28 points since Jan. 15 and Pittsburgh is second with 27 points, so the red-hot 'Hawks don't have it easy, but there slate is nothing compared to Minnesota, who follows up the back-to-back with tough games Thursday at Columbus and Sunday at home against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks.

NHL teams after a bye like the Wild just had have lost 16 of 21 games, according to SB Nation.

"L.A. will play a really hard game [tomorrow]," Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday. "It's going to be a really tough game. There's no doubt in my mind."

Gut-check time

Jan. 15 is the day the Wild tied Chicago with 59 points for the division lead. Since then, the rivals have played nearly identical hockey, with the Wild going 12-5-1 compared to Chicago's 12-5-0 record.

Zoom in a little closer and you'll see that Chicago has taken Minnesota to the cleaners in February, racking up 18 points compared to the Wild's 13 points, including a pair of head-to-head victories. Chicago went 9-1 in February compared to the Wild 6-3-1 mark with two games to go.

"I've always said if we don't make any moves we feel confident in this group," Chicago's Jonathan Toews said Sunday after they won for the ninth time in 10 games, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I think we're trending the right way. We're playing solid. All four lines are contributing in every which way. I love our group right now. Everyone is getting better individually, contributing more and more."

Suddenly, the Blackhawks are playing like a team ready to win its fourth Stanley Cup since 2010.

Minnesota's answer for Chicago's pressure might have come Sunday night when they gave up a trio of draft picks for Arizona's Martin Hanzal and Ryan White. Hanzal was the No. 2 player on TSN's trade big board, but he's considered a rental player because he'll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

“We’re putting our chips in the middle of the table for this year,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told reporters, via TSN. “We may as well take a swing and see how far we can go.”

Next Up

Brave New Comedy Workshop in downtown Minneapolis.

Brave New Workshop cancels shows due to COVID-19 cases

The shows were scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre.

Austin Retterath

Body of missing U of M student found in Mississippi River

Austin Retterath was last seen alive in the morning hours of May 8.

"Love" mural seen in St. Paul.

Summer mural events to bring together community, shine light on MN artists

The 2022 Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival will take place this weekend in St. Paul's Creative Enterprise Zone, with ensuing events happening this summer.

14869-Manitou-Road-NE-Prior-Lake-MN-55372-6110268-image37

Gallery: Remodeled lakeside home in Prior Lake on market for $2.8M

It offers privacy at the end of a dead-end road fronting onto Lower Prior Lake.

golden valley police department

Carjacking outside ice arena in Golden Valley under investigation

Golden Valley PD confirmed it received a report of a carjacking Monday evening.

Growlers

Signs that MN Legislature could move to loosen liquor laws

A provision was approved by a legislature committee on Thursday but still awaits a final decision from the House and Senate.

US Bank Stadium

U.S. Bank Stadium looking to hire 400 part-time workers

A hiring fair will be held for the positions.

Screen Shot 2022-05-20 at 8.55.56 AM

Officials looking for man last seen leaving Hudson home

David Mckay, 67, was last seen in Hudson Thursday morning.

covid

'Hyper-contagious' BA.4, BA.5 COVID variants confirmed in MN

Omicron continues to evolve into a more transmissible virus.

covid-19, coronavirus

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, May 20

The latest data shows there are 442 people with COVID hospitalized in Minnesota.

Related

Wild's critical road trip includes key game against surging Chicago

The key game in the Central Division race is Sunday between Minnesota and Chicago.

Wild beat the Sharks to reclaim Central lead from Chicago

The Wild have been perfect on the penalty kill 10 games in a row.

Chicago's surge, ill-timed bye puts tons of pressure on the Wild

An ill-timed bye week is putting a ton of pressure on the Wild.

Wild loss gives Chicago home ice throughout the playoffs

The Wild ran into a brick wall named Pekka Rinne on Saturday.

News flash, Chicago: This isn't the Wild team you whipped in the playoffs

A columnist in Chicago isn't impressed by the Minnesota Wild.

This week will determine the Wild's playoff opponent: St. Louis or Nashville

It's the final week of the regular season as the Wild gear up for the first round of the playoffs.

In 1 month the Wild's division title chances dropped 46 percent

One month ago the Wild were 84% favorites to win the Central Division.

Here's why the Wild are virtual locks to be the No. 1 seed in the West

The Minnesota Wild could (expletive) the bed and still make the playoffs with ease.