Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Unfriendly Confines of United Center

Photo: Rob Grabowski/USA Today

Travel time may be short, but there have been many long flights home for the Minnesota Wild following recent trips to the United Center in recent years.

Including the playoffs, the Wild have lost six of the past seven games in the "Madhouse on Madison". The last Wild victory in Chicago came on April 1, 2012 when they won 5-4 in a shootout. During that stretch they are allowing an average of 4.14 goals against while only scoring an average of 2.14 goals per game. But also keep in mind that the Blackhawks have a new pair of Stanley Cup banners hanging in the rafters thanks to the past five seasons, so its just not the Wild who have difficulties in the United Center.

The Wild have often looked completely lost and so outgunned in Chicago, the games just are not fun to watch (not even ample amounts of alcohol can make some of these games easy to watch).

But those are past teams. Enter the 2013-14 Wild. A youthful team that comes into tonight's matchup 5-3-3 and boasting one of the more dominating puck control offenses in the NHL. They haven't been exactly scoring goals all that well, but the fact that they are spending copious amounts of time in the offensive zone tends to suggest that the goal scoring will increase with each passing game.

The Blackhawks, 6-1-3, are a tremendous puck control team. Matching them up against the new and improved Wild should make for some interesting hockey in the next three days.

The Wild have had notable stretches of bad hockey in opposing rinks over the years (it took three seasons for the Wild to finally win in Edmonton following the team's inception, a decade long drought in the house that Modano built) and now are battling demons in the United Center. At some point these bad stretches of hockey end.

Does it end tonight? Probably not given how the Wild have played in the past two weeks. But good news is, they'll have plenty of chances to end that streak now that they are in the same division as Chicago.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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