The Minnesota Wild would, indeed, be in the Western Conference playoffs if the season started today, and they would be in as the number eight seed in the conference. Right now, the 65 points they've garnered on the strength of a 30-20-5 record has them tied with the Los Angeles Kings as far as points are concerned, but if the season ended today, the Wild would be headed to the playoffs and the Kings would be making tee times at a golf course near them.
This week, the Wild will take to the ice four times. Three of those games will be in the friendly confines of the XCel Energy Center, but all of them feature some pretty stiff competition for the Wild to overcome. Still, they have some serious momentum right now, having won three straight and going 8-2 over their last 10, so hopefully they can keep it going.
The week for Minnesota kicks off on Tuesday night with a game against the NHL's best team, the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver has a whopping 81 points on the year, coming from a record of 36-11-9. Despite having the league's best record, the Wild have had a measure of success against Vancouver this year, winning two out of the three match-ups between the two teams. Minnesota got a 6-2 victory over Vancouver in St. Paul back on October 19, with the Canucks returning the favor by getting a 5-1 victory in Vancouver just three days later. Their most recent meeting was on January 16 in Minnesota, and the Wild played a brilliant game, getting a 4-0 victory over the Canucks. The puck will drop for this one at 7:00 PM Central time, and you'll be able to see all the action on Fox Sports North.
The Wild will then get on a plane and head to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The defending Stanley Cup Champions would not be defending their title if the season ended today, as they currently reside in 11th place in the Western Conference, having gotten 62 points on the strength of a 28-22-6 record. These two teams have met twice this season, with each team winning on the other's home ice. Chicago came to Minnesota back on October 30 and managed to skate away with a 3-1 victory, and Minnesota was victorious in Chicago on January 25, winning by a score of 4-2. The puck drops for this one at 7:00 PM Central as well, and in a rare occurrence, this game will be nationally televised on the Versus Network. Yes, this one will be nationally televised, folks. . .check your listings to make sure you get Versus.
After a night off, the Wild return home on Friday night to take on the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Right now, Anaheim is tied for the top of a ridiculously competitive Pacific Division with the Dallas Stars, having picked up 68 points on the season via a 32-21-4 record. (To reflect on how competitive it is, the fifth-place team in the Pacific Division is the Los Angeles Kings, who we've already mentioned have the same 65 points as the Wild do.) This will be the third meeting of the year between these two teams, and they split the first two with each team being victorious at home. The Wild got a 2-1 overtime victory over the Ducks in St. Paul back on November 17, and the Ducks got a win on December 12 in Anaheim by a score of 6-2. Start time in St. Paul is scheduled for 7:00 PM Central time, and you'll be able to watch this one on Fox Sports North.
Then, the Wild will get about a 12-hour turnaround before having to get to the XCel Energy Center again for an early. . .and I do mean early. . .matinee against the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have a firm grip on the Western Conference's number two position, with 74 points coming from a 34-16-6 record. These two teams have also met twice already, with each team winning in the other's building. The Wild got a 4-3 overtime win at Joe Louis Arena back on November 19, and the Red Wings got a 4-1 victory at the XCel Energy Center on the day after Christmas. The puck drops for this one at 11:30 AM Central time. . .yes, before lunch (and before breakfast, for some of you), and the game will be televised nationally on NBC. In fact, that's the reason that this game has been moved, as it's now part of NBC's Hockey Day in America (an idea they obviously stole from the amazing and highly successful Hockey Day in Minnesota).
You can also get the radio call of all of these games by turning your AM dial to WCCO-AM 830.
There's going to be some quality hockey played at the XCel Energy Center this week, and two opportunities for you to see the Wild on a national stage. If you can get to the arena, please do so!