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Wild Vs. Blue Jackets NHL Preview: Minnesota Getting Close To 'Must Win' Situations

For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out Hockey Wilderness.

It looked for a brief moment that the Minnesota Wild might be able to get back on track near the end of January, but they've since continued their slump and are on a three-game losing streak, plummeting down the standings and getting further away from a playoff spot that seemed so certain earlier in the season. They had sat 20-7-3 atop the NHL standings, but now are falling further and further down. Coach Mike Yeo isn't pleased, and he's coming up just short of calling out players by name in the media.

Still, there's a lot of hockey left and the Wild have the talent to get back to their winning ways. They'll have to cool down a team that has been hot lately, though they did lose in their last outing, as the Columbus Blue Jackets come to the Xcel Energy Center for the second game of a four-game homestand for Minnesota.

Columbus sits at the bottom of the NHL standings, but they'd won two-straight games before their most recent outing, a 4-2 loss to the tough Dallas Stars. Prior to that, the Blue Jackets had beat the Ducks on Feb. 3 and the Wild on Feb. 9. This is the second meeting between these two teams in three days, but Minnesota could end up with the series victory this season as they took the first two outings by a 4-2 margin earlier on in the season.

There are a ton of teams currently trying for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, and the Wild just can't afford to lose to a team like the Blue Jackets, especially as they're in an easy part of their second-half schedule and need to get as many wins as they can before they start taking on the tough teams again.

For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out Hockey Wilderness. You can also head over to SB Nation's main NHL hub at SBNation.com/NHL.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.