Feb 9, 2012; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32) and defenseman Greg Zanon (5) against the Vancouver Canucks at the Xcel Energy Center. The Canucks defeated the Wild 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
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It's hard to imagine the Minnesota Wild getting back on the horse and really making something happen to close out the season and make the NHL Playoffs. It's hard to imagine because they've been gifted some pretty favorable circumstances in the final weeks of the season and still, they're not winning games. They're set to play 10 of their last 14 games at home, which is counting their last three outings - all losses at the Xcel Energy Center.
Their most recent outing was a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricans, which came after a 1-0 loss to the Dallas Stars and a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames. They'd won their previous outing, a 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on the road. But there's no tangible relief in sight, and it's odd to think this team was at the very top of the NHL standings without looking like a fluke.
Now, with 11 games remaining and 22 possible points, they're all-but eliminated. There's still an outside chance, but as opposed to outside, say, looking in through the window, it's more outside and a couple blocks away. All they can do is take it one game at a time and try and win now as opposed to later though, and up next they've got the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
Vancouver isn't doing so well either, but they're pulling better numbers over their last ten than Minnesota is, at 4-4-2. This is the sixth meeting between these two teams this season, with Vancouver having won four of the five already played. Vancouver took all three games at home and will now try to take the away series as well. Vancouver's dominance is largely thanks to Daniel Sedin, who has 10 points, with three goals and seven assists. In contrast, Devin Setoguchi leads the Wild in the sries with just four points.
The Canucks have been on a homsestand since March started, and this game will be their first on the road in seven games, so that could favor the Wild slightly. Vancouver has a lot of rest for their road trip, but also could not be ready for extensive time on the road. It's grasping at straws, but it's all that can be done at this point. The game is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.