It's a hotly anticipated clash of the Western titans when second place Chicago Blackhawks take on the first place Wild at Minnesota. This should be a great night for hockey as the two best teams in the Western Conference face-off and get down to it on Wednesday night.

Looking at the last 10 games, Minnesota have the thinnest of advantages as they are 7-3-0 while Chicago are 6-3-1. That likely won't matter one iota to Chicago though, as they have dominated this series in recent years.

Minnesota Wild

The Blackhawks are 6-1-1 against the Wild since the start of the 2009–10 season, and they will be feeling enthused ahead of Wednesday night, especially as in their most recent encounter where they skated out 4-2 winners. NHL odds makers offer another 4-2 Hawks win at +1600 and you might also want to place your NHL picks on the same score reversed at the same odds.

The Blackhawks take on Minnesota with an 18–8–4 record, but the Wild still have the best record in the National Hockey League this term (two points ahead of the Flyers). The fact that they're facing back-to-back games might shift the balance in the Blackhawks’ favour, but it’s going to be close.

When great forms collide

You might want to back 3-2 Blackhawks win (at +1200) as that has been the score in their last two games, or you might like to back 3-1 (at +1600) or 3-0 (at +2800) to the Blackhawks as they have scored three goals in their last three games. I’m staying away from a Hawks shutout, as the have failed to keep a clean sheet so far this season.

Recently the Wild were ridiculously hot to trot and had amassed a seven-game winning streak, but that was rudely brought to an end in Winnipeg. That was a tight three goal game that looked to be headed for overtime, with the scores tied 1-1 deep into the third when Bryan Little converted a Dustin Byuglien pass with 5 minutes remaining.

All credit to the Jets as they also faced down a Minnesota powerplay in the last minute of the period and keeper Ondrei Payelec blocked three big shots to protect their win. Minnesota also had a seven game road victory streak snapped by the Jets, so expect them to be in no mood to be given the run-around by the Blackhawks.

Tough calls and tight odds

My heart says back in the Wild in this one but medical staff might have a different opinion. Chicago has a clean bill of health, but Minnesota will likely be missing forward Devin Setoguchi, center Matt Cullen and defenseman Justin Falk. The NHL betting odds on an away win are -110 and the odds on the points staying in Minnesota are also at -110. It looks like the sportsbooks are expecting a close one.

Minnesota have a slight edge in the standings, where they are three points ahead of Chicago, but they have played an additional game. Chicago will see this match as an opportunity to close the gap while Minnesota will still be bristling from their Winnipeg defeat and will want to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

With the Wild resenting every single goal conceded you might want to bet on this game ending Under 5.0 goals at +110, while Over is at -130. The Wild are currently fourth in the league in goals aloud (2.10) and their home record reads 10–4–1. As they’re sitting on top of the tree this close to Christmas I'm backing a home win.

Prediction: Minnesota don’t quite run wild, but take the game 4-2 available at +1600.