Game preview from our friends at Hockey Wilderness. Be sure to check out the full game thread, complete with lineups and the Five Questions of the night; tonight at game time at Hockey Wilderness.
The Wild earned a big point against a Red Wings team considered by many to be the best in the West. Tonight, they play the hapless Oilers, and the temptation will be to play down to them. It is Minnesota sports tradition to play up to the tough games, and down to the weaker ones. Call it Minnesota nice, call it over looking an opponent, who knows. All we know is it happens far too often.
If the Wild overlook the Oilers, they could find themselves on the outside looking in. A win, and some help, could put them in fifth place. A loss, and no help, could sit them as low as tenth. Yes, hockey fans, the difference between fifth and tenth is one game. Every game is now a four point game, and every game is a must win.
How the Wild respond to the pressure will tell a lot about their character. They are playing without the face of the franchise, without their leader, and without one of their top scorers and minute munchers. There is no help the GM can offer that fills the void. It is on the shoulders of the men in the locker room to do it, and from their words, they know it.
Time for some killer instinct. Time to put the proverbial foot on the throat of a defeated dog and crush it.
Keys to victory? Show up. If the Wild play like the did against the Wings, this one will be over in the first period. Play like a traditional Minnesota franchise, and it could be a long night. Either way, the Wild know what is at stake, and it is up to them to make the choice.