ST. PAUL -- If you're looking for a key to tonight's game between the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, look no further than Chicago forward Patrick Kane.
One of the League's marquee players, perhaps its no surprise that Kane's line at the end of the night is typically a harbinger of how things went in this rivalry.
In his 41 career games against the Wild, Minnesota has won 21 of the meetings while Chicago has won 20 (all regular season).
Kane has 16 career goals versus the Wild, eight in wins and eight in losses. He's a slightly better distributor in victories, dishing out 12 assists in wins and eight in losses.
But where the big difference comes is in plus/minus. Indeed, it's an imperfect stat, but Kane's plus/minus swing between wins and losses is stark; Kane is a minus-16 in 21 career losses to the Wild. He's a plus-10 in 20 wins.
Either way, it seems, Kane (and his line, whomever he is playing with) is typically in the middle of everything.
"He's got it all," said Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. "He's so shifty and it looks like the puck is on a string when he has it on his stick. It'll take a five-man effort to contain him and make sure our forwards are coming back hard on him and doing whatever it takes to shut him down."
Video: Wild aim to shut down Kane, Chicago
Compared to the rest of the League, Minnesota has done a reasonably good job of containing Kane during the regular season.
His career minus-6 versus the Wild is tied with the New York Islanders for the second-worst plus/minus against any team (Kane is a minus-9 in 12 career games against the Washington Capitals). Minnesota and the Anaheim Ducks are the only two Western Conference foes against which Kane has a minus rating.
The Wild are not among the 13 NHL franchises in which Kane averages at least a point per game against, which goes to show how much of a focus Kane is for Minnesota whenever he plays it.
He'll certainly have the eye of the Wild's players and coaches again on Saturday.
"You just have to be aware of where everybody else is on the ice because he's capable of making plays that not very many people are," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "You have to assume the other four guys on his team are going to be open and that he'll be able to find them no matter which way his body is facing.
"He can obviously bring the puck to the net quickly as well, [especially] if he gets in tight. He's a unique challenge, a great player and a he's always fun to go up against."
Here are the projected lineups:
Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Luke Kunin
Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund
Marcus Foligno - Joel Eriksson Ek - Chris Stewart
Tyler Ennis - Matt Cullen - Daniel Winnik
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Kyle Quincey - Mike Reilly
Alex DeBrincat - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik
Brandon Saad - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Artem Anisimov - John Hayden
Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - Ryan Hartman
Duncan Keith - Cody Franson
Jan Rutta - Brent Seabrook
Michal Kempny - Connor Murphy