Wild Vs. Kings: Minnesota Could Close Western Conference Gap

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: Jarret Stoll #28 of the Los Angeles Kings is called for a holding of the stick penalty on Clayton Stoner #4 of the Minnesota Wild during the second period at Staples Center on December 8, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Wild host the the Los Angeles Kings with each team eyeing a Western Conference playoff spot.

Playoff hopes are teetering for both sides as the Minnesota Wild host the slumping Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Checking in at 12th in the Western Conference standings, Minnesota is 28-25-9 and has 65 points. The Kings, meanwhile, are 10th in the West with a 28-23-12 record and 68 points.

With less than a quarter of the season remaining, there isn't much more time to make up ground.

The Wild could have some new players in the lineup for this one. Minnesota acquired a trio of players from New Jersey last week – Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux. And on Monday the Wild made a few more moves, acquiring defenseman Steve Kampfer from Boston in exchange for Greg Zanon, and sending Nick Schultz to Edmonton in exchange for Tom Gilbery.

The Wild might be catching the Kings at the right time. L.A. has lost five of six and seven of nine, the most recent setback coming Monday against Nashville.

These two split their two meetings this season, each of which were in L.A. The most recent matchup was a 4-2 Wild win on Dec. 8. On Nov. 12, the Kings tied a season-high with five goals in a 5-2 drubbing of the Wild.

For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out Hockey Wilderness. You can check out more hockey news from around the league at SB Nation’s NHL page.

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