The Minnesota Wild just can't catch a break at this point. They've fallen far from the top of the NHL standings, but most will admit that they're still far beyond what was expected of them this season. They didn't get the second half of the season started out how they wanted to, allowing four-straight goals in a loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, and are now out on a three-game road trip.
Still, the Wild are not out of things by a longshot, and only need their second half to be about as good as their first, perhaps a little better, to make the postseason. That's going to be tough given their amazing winning streaks earlier in the season, but they should be hard-pressed to lose as many games in a row as they did before the All-Star break.
Either way, they're taking on a Colorado Avalanche team on Thursday that is struggling about as much as they are. In fact, over the last 10 games, both teams are 3-6-1, so the Wild can at least feel like this isn't a daunting task ahead of them. Minnesota also took two of the three games between the two teams this season, with one of those wins being in Denver.
Though there's still half a season to be played, the Wild hold just a one-point advantage over the Avalanche for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, so head-to-head wins are the most important in this case. Minnesota holds the edge in that the Avalanche are presently on a three-game losing streak. The Wild will try to make it four.