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At the Rink: Blackhawks at Wild

by Dan Myers /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Defeating the Chicago Blackhawks when your team is at full strength is difficult enough. The Minnesota Wild will try to do it Thursday while playing without a number of critical pieces.

Minnesota trails the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings by six points for the two wild-card spots for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference. The Wild have two games in hand, but must snap out of a stretch where they have lost eight of their past 10 games in order to make a second-half charge.

"[We can't] get caught up in the big-picture stuff," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We need to be ready to handle adversity over the course of the game. I thought we played a good game last time, but we have to find a way to be better tonight. I know as good as we can be tonight, there are going to be times where they pressure us and we're going to be in our own zone, whether there's a bad call or a bad bounce or a goal against, we're going to have to respond in those situations."

Among the players out for Minnesota are goaltender Darcy Kuemper and defenseman Marco Scandella. Forward Zach Parise is also not expected to play as he spends time with his family following the passing of his father, former NHL player J.P. Parise, Wednesday evening.

Kuemper aggravated a lower-body injury at practice Wednesday and was placed on injured reserve. Yeo said he could miss a week.

"I didn't think it was much yesterday, but I think it got a little worse during practice," Yeo said.

Scandella was hurt early in the third period Tuesday in a loss to the San Jose Sharks with an upper-body injury and did not return to that game. He also didn't practice Wednesday, but Yeo said he was feeling better today and could return as soon as Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

The Wild made a number of roster moves, recalling forward Jordan Schroeder, defenseman Jonathon Blum and goaltender John Curry from Iowa of the American Hockey League. Schroeder and Blum are expected to be in the lineup.

The Blackhawks made a couple of subtle changes to their lineup and will come back with Corey Crawford in goal for a sixth consecutive game.

Forward Daniel Carcillo will also return to the lineup. He has been scratched the past two games.

Forward Bryan Bickell, who skated on the third line against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, was slotted on the second line next to Brad Richards and Patrick Kane.

"I think [Bickell] has been fine. I think, physically he's there, production, we're still working on that," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think the consistency of his game has been in place the last 10 games or so."

Here are the projected lineups:


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Bryan Bickell - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Teuvo Teravainen - Andrew Shaw

Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

David Rundblad - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Joakim Nordstrom, Tim Erixon

Injured: Kris Versteeg (upper body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (patella fracture)


Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Erik Haula - Jordan Schroeder

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Carter - Kyle Brodziak - Matt Cooke

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Justin Falk - Jonathon Blum

Niklas Backstrom

John Curry

Scratched: Zach Parise

Injured: Darcy Kuemper (lower body), Marco Scandella (upper body), Nate Prosser (illness), Mikael Granlund (wrist), Keith Ballard (head/face)

Status report: Crawford took a shot off the mask from Carcillo during the morning skate, but stayed on the ice. … Minnesota waived defenseman Stu Bickel.

Who's hot: Saad has three goals in his past five games. … Pominville has 11 points in his past nine games, including two assists Tuesday against the Sharks.

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