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Wild Vs. Flames: Mikko Koivu Expected Back Against Desperate Calgary

It's too late for a playoff push, but Mikko Koivu's expected return to the lineup adds some intrigue to Thursday's game against a Calgary team that needs a win in a bad way.

The Calgary Flames will visit the Minnesota Wild on Thursday in dire need of two points.

The Flames are currently 11th place in the West, but with 82 points they are only two points behind the eight-place Los Angeles Kings and three points behind the seventh-place Colorado Avalanche.

While not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Wild are all but certain to miss the postseason. The Wild have slipped all the way to 27th overall, owed at least in part to the injury to Mikko Koivu. Koivu has missed each of the last 15 games and 23 of 27 overall, but he is expected back for Thursday's game with Calgary.

Though the team has lost eight of its last 10, Minnesota's Erik Christensen has been a bright spot. He's scored four goals in the past four games.

For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out Hockey Wilderness. You can check out more hockey news from around the league at SB Nation's NHL page.

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