Tommy Wingels (57) checks Mikko Koivu into the boards during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in Chicago.
The most recent time the Wild played the Chicago Blackhawks, it almost derailed its short season.
While the Wild did come out with the 5-2 victory at United Center on Oct. 12, three forwards left the game injured, adding to the two that were already out ahead of the game.
The good news for the Wild is that of those injured ranks, all but Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle are back to it. Parise is still recovering from back surgery, as is Coyle with his leg surgery.
"It's like I always tell the guys, 'Anybody can do anything once,'" coach Bruce Boudreau said. "To be able to master it and get to do it two times and three times and four times, that's what's difficult. We know we've got a difficult task. We are hopefully going to meet them."
Last season, the Wild beat Chicago in the teams' first meeting but dropped the next three.
“It’s really important. It’s our biggest game of the year, even though it is November and Game 12," Boudreau said. "Up to date, right now, it’s probably our No. 1 rival. Last year, we beat them the first game we played them, and they beat us the rest of the games. So they obviously got up for it a little bit more than us. We’re mentally ready, and we’ve gotta get to that stage tomorrow.”
The Blackhawks are coming off their first shutout of the season, a 3-0 result Wednesday against Philadelphia, that also snapped a three-game losing skid.
"We always play these guys hard, and it probably stems from those rivalries in the playoffs and the fact that they’re always top of the league," goaltender Devan Dubnyk said. "That’s another part of it, but for right now, we’re going to want to change that if we do end up facing them in the playoffs, but that’s certainly a long way away from right now. We’re trying to concentrate on what we’re doing and get consistent. Again, it’s always good when Pittsburgh rolls in, Chicago rolls in, it’s always a tough task and forces you to be sharp."
The only players missing from practice Friday at Xcel (minus Parise and Coyle) were center Matt Cullen and defenseman Jonas Brodin.