Update: My instincts were correct. Martin Hanzal is sick and won't play. I saw him leaving the locker room in a suit two hours before the game. I hear he's heading back to Minnesota, which means his status for Tuesday's game in Washington is up in the air.
Jordan Schroeder will return. Remember, even coach Bruce Boudreau admitted today that one reason the Wild acquired Hanzal was because Jonathan Toews lit the Wild up in the past two meetings and the Wild felt it needed another center. Now we won't get to see Hanzal play the Hawks in the final regular-season meeting.
Good morning from the United Center, where the Wild and Blackhawks face off at 11:30 a.m. on NBC.
Feels like a 10:30 a.m. game with the spring forward, which is the time of a home team's morning skate. So it'll be interesting to see how both teams, without a practice yesterday or morning skate today, looks in the early going.
This is the final Central Division showdown of the regular season between the Wild and Blackhawks. The Blackhawks won each of their two visits to St. Paul last month after Minnesota won its eighth consecutive regular-season game against Chicago earlier this season. The Wild, three points up on the Blackhawks, has won four in a row in Chicago. If the Wild wins today, it'll technically win the season-series 2-1-1 (NHL math).
Devan Dubnyk will be looking for his career-high 37th victory, which would match the Wild’s team record.
Corey Crawford goes for Chicago.
Bruce Boudreau said same lineup for the Wild, although my reporter's instinct tells me a certain forward is out. Boudreau swore the player I asked about is playing, so I'll divulge it during warmups if I don't see that player on the ice.
How about that for a little covert lineup chatter?
Boudreau is looking for the same effort he saw in South Florida.
"Our passion and energy in the third period was exceptional," he said. "When we’re playing like that, all the other things come with it. You play fast, you go to the net, you backcheck, you track."
He loves the play of Charlie Coyle the past two games.
"He’s skating. He’s competing in all areas of the ice. You get a 220-pound, 6-3 guy that can skate like the wind doing that, he’s hard to contain. Hopefully he can continue keeping that up," Boudreau said.
Boudreau says he has not talking to Darcy Kuemper, but he will start Thursday at Carolina and the team still has faith in him.
He admitted when Dubnyk had that puck-handling gaffe early in the third, his first thought was, "I hope we score because I don’t want to be answering questions about it."
He reiterated that the Wild needed to win that game and that's why he made the move, saying, "If we didn’t have success there, you're coming into Chicago, you're going into Washington, you end up coming home playing the Rangers, San Jose. Things can spiral pretty quickly. So there was a sense of urgency. It showed our team has a lot of backbone."
"I thought the need to win that [Florida] game, it would be incumbent on me [to put in Dubnyk]," Boudreau continued. "If I didn’t have my best goalie in there at that time, I’d be saying, 'What am I doing?' Whether it was right or wrong, … Mariano Rivera, [the Yankees] put him in all the time. Sometimes he didn’t get the save, but 99 percent of the time he did. That’s the way I was thinking."
Boudreau said the bye came at a great time for Eric Staal.
"The last three games, he’s had that jump that he had games 20-40. When he’s going, it adds to an arsenal," Boudreau said.