Minnesota Wild (37-24-11) 85pts 4th in the Central
2.40 Goals For (26th)
2.38 Goals Against (5th)
18.8% Power Play (13th)
79.7% Penalty Kill (26th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 27G 24A = 51pts
2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 24G 22A = 46pts
3. #26 Matt Moulson ~ 21G 25A = 46pts
4. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 9G 34A = 43pts
5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 7G 33A = 40pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #39 Nate Prosser ~ 54 PIM's
2. #24 Matt Cooke ~ 52 PIM's
3. #8 Cody McCormick ~ 45 PIM's
1. #35 Darcy Kuemper (12-6-4) 2.26GAA .922%SP 2SO
2. #30 Ilya Bryzgalov (7-8-7) 2.86GAA .909%SP 2SO
Vancouver Canucks (33-30-10) 76pts 5th in the Pacific
2.34 Goals For (28th)
2.59 Goals Against (12th)
14.8% Power Play (27th)
83.3% Penalty Kill (10th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #33 Henrik Sedin ~ 10G 36A = 46pts
2. #17 Ryan Kesler ~ 22G 18A = 40pts
3. #22 Daniel Sedin ~ 13G 27A = 40pts
4. #20 Chris Higgins ~ 17G 21A = 38pts
5. #5 Jason Garrison ~ 7G 25A = 32pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #29 Tom Sestito ~ 191 PIM's
2. #9 Zack Kassian ~ 122 PIM's
3. #3 Kevin Bieksa ~ 100 PIM's
1. #31 Eddie Lack (14-14-4) 2.33GAA .915%SP 4SO
2. #35 Jacob Markstrom (1-6-3) 3.50GAA .872%SP
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It can't be stressed enough. Each and every one of the Wild's remaining ten games could make or break the Wild's chances at a playoff berth. Even with Sunday's amazing win in Detroit might not be enough. Phoenix beat Pittsburgh last night, so now the Coyotes are only three points behind Minnesota. Sure, the Wild are still in possession of the first Wild Card spot, but at this point that position is tentative at best. Every team behind us has nine or ten games remaining. Teams like Phoenix and Dallas could overtake Minnesota. And then there's tonight's opponent. At this point I don't see Vancouver sneaking in to the eighth spot, but they're going to want to play spoiler like no one's business.
Playing spoiler in Vancouver just got easier and then harder again. Vancouver has had a rough season. They had lost both Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin to lower body injuries. Of course I refuse to feel any sort of sympathy for them. It's called karma, and you know what they say about that. Now, when things start to look up for Canucks fans with the return of Kesler and Sedin, they now have lost Henrik Sedin with a lower body injury of his own. Henrik won't even be making the trip to Minnesota. Then to add insult to, well, injury, they will also be without Alexandre Burrows. Of all their injuries, I know I for one will be happy to not see Burrows dressed tonight. He has always been a thorn in the Wild's side, and not having to deal with him is much appreciated. I know I'm also happy to only have to deal with half of the aptly named "Children of the Corn."
Minnesota desperately needs to take advantage of a banged-up Vancouver team. Now, they're not quite at the injury level of the Detroit Red Wings, but they're also not the Vancouver Canucks of the past. This a team that Minnesota should be able to beat, they just have to be mentally and physically tougher. They need to be the aggressive team and take advantage of Vancouver's mistakes. And for all that is good in hockey, they absolutely cannot afford to take the pressure off of the Canucks if Minnesota finds themselves with the lead. You see, these are the kinds of things that good teams do on a regular basis. Unfortunately, while Minnesota has the talent and ability to do these things, it's as if they refuse to do them. That is probably the most frustrating trait of this team.
I'd also like the Wild to make the playoffs based on their own merits. I'm sick and tired of sneaking or backing into the playoffs thanks to other teams making more mistakes than Minnesota. If they want to get past the first round, they need to head into the playoffs strong. To do so, means they need to win the majority of the remaining ten games. Winning in regulation would be a bonus. If extra time is required, the wins need to come in overtime and not the shootout. At this point in the season, teams looking towards the playoffs do not need shootout practice, as that skills competition is not part of the playoffs. Looking at the remaining ten games, the only game that Minnesota cannot afford to go past regulation (unless they get the win in overtime) is the one against Phoenix.
So here's to the final push…or according to that classic rock anthem by Europe, the final countdown.