ST. PAUL, Minn. – Corey Crawford will get the start and Brandon Pirri will get a look on the second line as the Chicago Blackhawks face the Minnesota Wild tonight at Xcel Energy Center.
The Blackhawks are looking to forget about their last game against the Wild, when they gave up five goals in their second regulation loss of the season. For them, it’s redemption. For Pirri, who was centering Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane at today’s morning skate, it’s about opportunity.
“Every game’s an audition. There’s a lot of depth in this organization and if you’re not playing consistent every game you’re not playing at all,” said Pirri, who’s the latest second-line center installment while Michal Handzus is out with an upper-body injury. “Those guys have a lot of skill, and I think I can bring skill and energy. If I’m playing solid defensively I can let those guys do their thing.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s time to see what Pirri can do there.
“It’s an opportunity for Brandon, who will hopefully grab that,” he said. “At what point are you comfortable giving him the chance. We’re comfortable, and we think he’ll do fine.”
Meanwhile, Handzus is still listed as day-to-day with his injury. He did not skate this morning, was already out for tonight and Quenneville said the veteran is also out tomorrow when the Blackhawks host the Ottawa Senators.
“Handy did a great job for us (last year at No. 2 center). I don’t think he’s been at that level of last year. We’re trying to get him healthy and get back to that level.”
Niklas Backstrom, who was strong in the Wild’s victory in Chicago, will start again tonight according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Josh Harding, who suffered a leg injury of his own last week, will be the backup.