Losing Marian Hossa was expected to be a blow to the Chicago
Blackhawks’ offensive play. Now, they’re scrambling to shore up
their sloppy play in the defensive zone.
The Blackhawks look to rebound from their worst defensive
performance of the season when they face the Minnesota Wild at Xcel
Energy Center on Saturday night.
Chicago (6-5-1) lost Hossa for two weeks after the star right
wing sustained an upper-body injury in a collision with Los
Angeles’ Jarret Stoll in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory. The injury cost
the Blackhawks one of their top scorers, as Hossa has seven goals
and four assists.
Scoring, though, was not the issue in a 7-4 defeat Friday to
visiting Edmonton, Chicago’s third loss in four games. Marty Turco
was pulled after giving up four goals on 12 shots in the first
period Friday, and backup Corey Crawford wasn’t much better in
allowing two tallies on nine attempts.
Turco, who is 5-2-1 with a 2.82 goals-against average, had won
five of his six previous starts before Friday’s loss. He appeared
to be settling in as the Blackhawks’ starter during that stretch
after they controversially allowed Antti Niemi – one of the heroes
of last summer’s Stanley Cup championship – to join San Jose as a
Crawford has struggled in a limited role, going 1-3-0 with a
The Blackhawks may opt to go with Turco against the Wild
(4-3-2). He’s 14-4-1 with a 2.02 GAA in 22 career meetings, winning
the last four with a 1.98 GAA.
Despite Chicago’s potentially growing goaltending issues,
Patrick Sharp continued his torrid start. He extended his
goal-scoring streak to four games and added two assists, giving him
team highs of 10 goals and 15 points.
Sharp, though, has two goals and two assists in 16 games against
The Blackhawks went 3-0-1 against the Wild last season.
Minnesota is looking to build on Thursday’s 2-1 win over
Washington, holding the high-scoring Capitals to 22 shots.
“We came out early and played well to grab an early lead. More
importantly, we found a way to play with the lead late,” said right
wing Chuck Kobasew, who scored his first goal of the season
Niklas Backstrom has been superb in his last four starts, going
3-0-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average after making 21 saves
Thursday. He’s given up more than two goals just twice in eight
games, but has a 4.53 GAA in his last three starts against Chicago,
losing two and getting pulled in another.
Minnesota could use some better production on the power play.
The unit has converted 1 of 12 chances over the last three games
after a stunning 12 of 27 stretch over the previous six.
The Wild’s power play could get a boost if Cam Barker can return
from a groin injury, which has sidelined him for three games.
The defenseman has two of his three assists on the power
Barker’s return would also be his first game against the
Blackhawks since being sent to Minnesota in a three-player deal in
February. He was the third overall pick by Chicago in 2004, and
spent parts of four injury-riddled seasons with the club.
Minnesota is expected to be without right wing Antti Miettinen,
who is reportedly being evaluated for a possible concussion after a
hit by Dustin Brown in Monday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Kings.
Four of Miettinen’s six points have come on the power play.