Good morning from Chicago, where the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks meet for the first time tonight at 6 p.m. CT. The game is on NBC Sports Network with Kenny Albert, Pierre McGuire and Eddie Olczyk at the mics.
This will be Kenny's third Wild game in seven days in three cities starting a week ago in Anaheim. In between, he called Bruins at Blues, Knicks at 76ers, Leafs at Rangers and Rangers at Habs.
Rangers are Kenny's day job.
Judging from my flight, there will be plenty of Wild fans in attendance at the United Center.
By staving off the Stars' furious comeback last night, the Wild took over the Western Conference and Central Division lead with four games in hand on the Blackhawks. The Wild would love to add to that tonight.
Wild opens the second half tonight after its most successful first half in history.
27 wins, 59 points, conference-best .720 points percentage, conference-best +45 goal differential, only team by a wide margin in the conference with fewer than 10 regulation losses, conference-leading 3.27 goals per game, conference-leading 2.15 goals against per game despite some high-scoring contests lately.
Minnesota is 3-1-1 in the second of back-to-backs this season.
It's 18-2-4 in its past 24 games overall and 9-0-2 in its past 11 road games, one short of its franchise-record (Fun Fact: That's actually a 12-game road winning streak accomplished during Devan Dubnyk's first season with the Wild and tied with Detroit for the longest road winning streak in NHL history).
The Wild is a crazy 4-1-1 in its past six when ALLOWING four goals.
Unless he fell down the steps of the airplane or something last night, Dubnyk will get the start tonight vs. the Hawks. The Wild swept last year's season series 5-0 and has beaten Chicago in seven straight regular-season games. Dubnyk, who made his debut exactly two years ago today, is 7-0 with the Wild in the regular season against Chicago.
Dubnyk leads the NHL in GAA (1.77) and SV% (.940), and is T-2nd in wins (22) and shutouts (5) this season. He is 15-1-2 in his last 18 games, posting a 1.91 GAA, .932 SV% and one shutout since Nov. 23, including a career-best and franchise-record 14-game point streak (11/23-12/29). Since his first game with Minnesota on Jan. 15, 2015, Dubnyk is 81-42-11 with a 2.04 GAA, .928 SV% and 15 shutouts in 138 games – leading the NHL in games, shutouts, SV% and GAA, and ranking second in wins in that span amongst NHL goalies with at least 75 games played.
No morning skate today because the team arrived in town in the wee hours of the morning, so we'll get Bruce Boudreau pregame. I assume same lineup unless Nino Niederreiter's foot swelled up once he took off his boot last night. He was nailed by that Christian Folin shot in the third period.
If you missed this tweet last night, here's the updated stats from the Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund put together the day after Thanksgiving:
In 22 games together for #mnwild— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) January 15, 2017
Koivu: 10 goals, 22 points
Zucker: 9 goals, 20 points
Granlund: 22 points
Granlund 10 multi-pt gms this yr
Here's some lineup information on the Hawks
Artem Anisimov WILL play. So will Nick Schmaltz. So will Michal Rozsival and Michal Kempny. I'm guessing Brian Campbell is the scratch.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 15, 2017