Preview: Wild at Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Coming out of a three-day holiday break, the Chicago Blackhawks are hoping to re-establish some of the momentum they have built of late.
Although their record isn't close to where they would like it to be, the Blackhawks (13-20-6) are 4-2-1 over the past seven games heading into their home date with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday at the United Center.
Despite a 6-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday, Chicago -- which remains without goalie Corey Crawford (concussion protocol) -- has found a level of confidence that had been absent for much of the difficult stretch that cost Joel Quenneville his job in early November.
Now, coming off a brief respite that will lead into the second half of the season, the Blackhawks hope to play with the kind of energy they were over the past few weeks.
"We know we're a good team," Chicago forward Dylan Strome said after Sunday's loss, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We've just got to play the right way and follow the game plan. I think when we're getting pucks out along the walls and creating chances and we're locking down defensively and not giving them second and third chances, we're a good team. Hopefully we can continue that after Christmas and continue the little good run that we're on."
While it's uncertain how long the Blackhawks will be without Crawford, the veteran goalie attended Chicago's morning skate before Sunday's game. Crawford, who has been out since Dec. 16, is eligible to come off of injured reserve on Thursday and coach Jeremy Colliton characterized Crawford's attendance at the morning skate as a positive.
Cam Ward has seen the majority of time in net since Crawford's injury, but Collin Delia played well in his season debut last week. Colliton recently told reporters that he doesn't have a plan in place of who will start on a nightly basis.
"Performance will dictate (who plays)," Colliton said, according to the Tribune. "Both guys have been good lately and hopefully that keeps going."
Minnesota, meanwhile, enters Thursday's game looking for its first victory since Dec. 13 and hasn't played since Dec. 22 when it lost to the Dallas Stars 2-1 in overtime. The Wild have managed just three goals in their past four games and have yet to tally more than one goal since their 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Dec. 13.
Entering the Christmas break on a four-game losing streak wasn't exactly ideal.
"It's frustrating and it's disappointing," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters after Saturday's loss, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I was really disappointed for the players because you can see they stayed on the bench and they hung their head. They really wanted (Saturday's game)."
The Wild (17-15-3) had chances to snap their three-game losing streak but couldn't capitalize on three power-play chances they had against the Stars, including on four-minute chance they had with an extra attacker.
Moving forward, Boudreau said his team has to be better when chances at scoring -- and ultimately winning -- are at stake.
"Those are the times you've got to put teams away," Boudreau said, according to the Star-Tribune. "You have no choice. That's what you've got to do."