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Wild look to continue positive trends against rival Blackhawks on Wednesday

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The Minnesota Wild will try to repeat their feat of beating the Chicago Blackhawks while playing back-to-back when the Central Division rivals meet in St. Paul on Wednesday night.

The Western Conference-leading Wild are expected to be listed as home betting favorites by puck drop against the Blackhawks at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks wear the braid of having won the Stanley Cup three times in the last seven seasons, Minnesota is 8-0 straight-up in the teams’ last eight regular-season meetings, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. Chicago, which is in the midst of a six-game road stretch, is 6-2 in divisional road games this season. The Wild are an identical 6-2 in divisional home games.

Minnesota had a road game against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. The Wild are 3-2 this season when they played the previous day, including a victory against the Blackhawks on January 15.

Chicago is 32-17-5 this season, but has wobbled of late with a 5-5 record in their past 10 games. While goaltender Corey Crawford was an all-star selection this season, he has been somewhat off his game recently, allowing at least three goals in four of his last six starts.

The Blackhawks have long had some of the best forward depth in the league, but they have struggled this season to get production out of the lines that don’t include Kane or Jonathan Toews.

Minnesota is 35-12-5, good for the top spot in the Western Conference, and is 7-3 in its last 10 games. The Wild proved they are for real with a 9-2-1 record in January and have a diverse attack with the likes of Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville.

All-star goaltender Devan Dubnyk, like his counterpart Crawford, has had some midseason regression, allowing three or more goals in five of his last eight starts. Dubnyk did have an excellent 38-save effort against Winnipeg on Tuesday, and got the win the only time this season that he started a game after also starting the previous day.

The total has gone under in only two of the Blackhawks’ last eight games as a road underdog. The total has gone over in seven of Chicago’s last 10 games, including four of their six most recent road games. The total has gone over in eight of Minnesota’s last 10 games, with one push.

USA Hockey, women’s players to meet Monday in Philadelphia

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USA Hockey and representatives of the women’s national team will meet Monday to discuss a wage dispute that could lead to players boycotting the upcoming world championships.

John Langel, a lawyer for the players, tells The Associated Press that they’ll meet with USA Hockey officials in Philadelphia two days before the scheduled start of training camp. Players announced Wednesday they’d boycott camp and the tournament unless significant progress is made in negotiations on what they hope is a four-year contract.

The International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan. The U.S. is the defending champion and has won six of the past eight world championships.

USA Hockey and players traded barbs Friday over demands but agreed to meet to further discussions.

Players are seeking a deal that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. USA Hockey has said it is not in the business of employing players but is still hoping the players picked for the world championships are on the ice when it begins.

Standout forward Hilary Knight, who is expected to attend the meeting after playing in the National Women’s Hockey League final Sunday, said Friday that it was her hope that USA Hockey would “reach out to our lawyers and present something that’s worth sitting down to the table for.”

After players called numbers released by USA Hockey “patently false,” fellow star Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said, “I just think they need to come to the table and let’s talk about it.”

Players have said USA Hockey pays them nothing outside the Olympic period and $1,000 a month for the six months leading up to the Games.

Knight, Lamoureux-Davidson and twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, captain Meghan Duggan, Kacey Bellamy and Kendal Coyne are scheduled to take part in the meeting on the players’ side. A USA Hockey spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for who will represent the organization at the meeting Monday.

 

Crosby, Penguins road betting favorites at Flyers for Wednesday night

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Despite multiple injuries on defense, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will try to maintain their mastery of Metropolitan Division opponents when they take on the rival Philadelphia Flyers on the road on Wednesday night.

Although they are just coming back from a road trip through western Canada, the Penguins are a -150 betting favorite against the +120 underdog Flyers with a 5.5-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Pittsburgh is 9-3 straight-up over its last 12 games against fellow Metropolitan clubs, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, as well as 9-4 as a road favorite in the month of March over the last five seasons.

The Penguins are 43-16-9 overall, including 7-3 across their last 10 games. Pittsburgh has managed to close the gap on the Washington Capitals for first overall in the NHL even though eight of their players – four defensemen and four forwards – are now injured. Defenseman Mark Streit (lower body) was hurt blocking a shot against the Calgary Flames on Monday, joining an injury list on the back end that includes Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley.

With Crosby and his wings Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary, and Evgeni Malkin helming a strong second scoring line, the Penguins are as gifted at puck possession as any NHL team. They will also try to take advantage of a vulnerable Flyers penalty kill that has been scored on in seven of their last 12 opportunities.

Starting goalie Matt Murray will likely get the call for the Penguins, who are 5-5 in their last 10 road games as a favorite with a -125 to -500 moneyline.

The Flyers are 31-29-8, including 4-6 in their last 10 games. The main question with the Flyers, who have lost three in a row, is how motivated a team of veterans, such as C Claude Giroux and LW Jakub Voracek, will be after those losses left them even farther adrift of the pack chasing an Eastern Conference wild card playoff berth. The power play has also been problematic, as Philadelphia has converted just two of its last 26 chances.

Michal Neuvirth might get the call in goal for the Flyers, who are 4-6 in their last 10 games as a home underdog. Steve Mason has been busy lately and was also lit up in his only appearance this season against the Penguins.

The total has gone under in seven of these teams’ last 10 meetings in Philadelphia, according to the betting trends for the matchup. The total has gone under in seven of the Penguins’ last 10 road games. The total has also gone under in eight of the Flyers’ last 10 home games, with one push.