Wild renews Blackhawks rivalry with two games in three days

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 26, 2013 - 12:42 AM

They’ll try to steal a page from the Blackhawks on puck control.

 

Zach Parise is pretty positive about the way the Wild has been playing, but Minnesota’s leading scorer is also a realist and always up for a challenge.

“We haven’t seen Chicago, St. Louis, Colorado, San Jose. We haven’t seen any of those top teams yet, so for us to play these guys and see where we’re at, you can’t get a better opponent than the Blackhawks,” Parise said. “It’s still going to be the team to beat in the Western Conference.”

Saturday night at the United Center, the Wild opens up an old-fashioned home-and-home series against its new Central Division rival that concludes Monday in St. Paul. It’ll be the first time the Wild meets Chicago since it was dispatched in five games by the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

“It doesn’t feel like that long ago that we were in their building, they were coming here and we were going head-to-head in the playoffs,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “Should be emotional games, should be fun games.”

Minutes before last year’s series-opening game in Chicago, veteran goalie Niklas Backstrom dropped to his knees during warmups. Backstrom had to be helped off the ice and wasn’t heard from again, suffering a season-ending sports hernia. Backstrom says “it still hurts” that he couldn’t be there for his teammates after the long road to get back in the playoffs.

Coincidentally, Backstrom’s first start since straining his right knee Oct. 8 will come Saturday in Chicago because Josh Harding, who took the reins from Backstrom last spring, suffered a “lower-body” strain in Thursday’s victory over Carolina.

The good news, Yeo said, is Harding, who has given up eight goals in nine games, was feeling better Friday and isn’t expected to be out long.

“He’s played a lot of hockey. He’s done a great job for us,” Yeo said. “It would be foolish to put him into a game if he’s not 100 percent. Backs came in and played well, so we’ll give Hards a chance to fully rest and fully recover.”

Backstrom says his knee isn’t 100 percent yet, but Yeo said, “I know what he’s capable of and he showed it [Thursday] night, so I don’t see why he can’t do it for a 60-minute game.”

Backstrom is 0-0-2 in four appearances this season with a 2.98 goals-against average and .867 save percentage. He had an average training camp, followed by a slow start to the season.

“Every time you have a surgery, it takes time,” Backstrom, 35, said. “You’re always cleared to play at some point, but it always takes time to be back to normal, to get everything where it should be. It’s still something I’m working on every day to get the strength back where it was.”

The Wild is 5-3-3 and looks to be a different team than the first two years under Yeo. With the exception of maybe Thursday’s game, the Wild typically has the puck the majority of the game.

Puck possession was its downfall last spring against Chicago.

“Our puck possession game has been really good,” Parise said. “It’s almost a little page out of [the Blackhawks’] book the way they played against us last year. So now we’ll see how well we can do it against a really good team that holds onto the puck as well.

“Faceoffs are going to be important. Last year, it felt like if they won the draw, you didn’t see the puck the rest of the shift.”

The Wild is the NHL’s third-best faceoff team in the early part of this season, while Chicago ranks 13th.

“They are well-organized and they play their defense very well. It’s a big challenge,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “We have to go in and break that. We’ve been playing a little different from last year. I think any team tries to bring something new each and every year, and so are we.

  • related content

  • Gameday preview: Wild at Chicago

    Friday October 25, 2013

    wild gameday7 P.M. at CHICAGO • UNITED CENTER • FSN, 100.3-FMPreview: The Wild has won four in a row at...

  • Wild notes: Coyle could be back next week

    Saturday October 26, 2013

    Charlie Coyle and Keith Ballard both practiced Friday but did not travel with the Wild to Chicago.

  • Chicago's Patrick Sharp celebrated with teammate Michal Handzus after he beat Wild goalie Josh Harding for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead during the 2013 NHL playoffs. Chicago won the series in five games.

  • Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp, left

  • Captain Mikko Koivu and the Wild will face a Blackhawks team about which Koivu said, “They are well-organized and they play their defense very well.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 20 1st Half 8:38
Radford 19
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 74 2nd Half 3:25
Mercer 73
Massachusetts 59 2nd Half 3:56
Georgia State 59
George Mason 47 2nd Half 7:49
Winthrop 38
Portland State 17 2nd Half 20:00
Princeton 57
UCLA 19 1st Half 8:05
Samford 7
Mobile 7 1st Half 5:58
Alabama State 32
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close