The Western Conference standings are clogged up -- it's hard to distinguish who's better or worse, when you have a scrum where only 10 points separate the fourth-place Predators from the 14th-place Flames. That's essentially five games separating 11 teams.
The Blackhawks currently are right in the middle of that group, tied for seventh with 56 points. A win tonight would move them up two spots and put them in a tie for fifth with the Ducks. After tonight, the Hawks are off for a week before they embark on the second United Center mandated two-week trip of the season, this time the "Ice Show Trip", as Disney's Toy Story 3 On Ice invades the UC.
The Wild and Blackhawks have met only one other time this season, and it's been almost three months since that game, a 3-1 Blackhawks win in Minnesota on Oct. 30. Duncan Keith had a goal and an assist in that game.
The Blackhawks head into the break somewhat hot -- 4-1-1 in their last six games, and a win tonight would get them some needed rest before they resume the schedule at Columbus next Tuesday. The Hawks meet an injury depleted Minnesota squad: Nick Schultz is questionable for tonight with an upper body injury, as are defenseman Marco Scandella and goalie Jose Theodore. James Sheppard, Josh Hardin, Guillaume Latendresse, and Marek Zidlicky are all on IR for the Wild. Meanwhile, Marian Hossa is ill and whether he'll play is a game-time decision. Jonathan Toews, who suffered an undisclosed "lower-body injury" on Sunday, is expected to play.
Tonight's game begins at 7:30 p.m. CST and will be televised on CSN Chicago.