Wilderness Walk- 03-27-2013: Game Day Edition

With Parise crashing the net, there's about an reasonable chance the puck Smith is looking for is behind him. - USA TODAY Sports

The Wild gun for their 7th consecutive victory. The Coyotes are trying to avoid their 7th straight loss. Someone's going home unhappy tonight.

Things are going well for the Wild. There's only one thing going against them right now.

The stupid Canucks just won't lose.

They just got their 5th victory in a row last night, defeating the Blue Jackets in the Shootout, which has, once again, ensured that the Canucks remained two points ahead of the Wild's 40 tonight (By the way, the Blues lost to remain at 36 points, so that's your playoff bubble update for today). This means the Wild will have to win their game tonight in order to keep pace with the Canucks.

Fortunately, it's apparently a good time to face their next opponent, as the Phoenix Coyotes have lost 6 in a row, and while they're playing with desperation and are largely the same team that won the Pacific last year, they're still a team the Wild should be able to take advantage of, if they're a team that's as good as they've been.

As covered before in previous Phoenix games, the key is scoring first. Under Dave Tippett, the Coyotes have a record of approximately (A Lot-Not Very Much-Also Not Very Much) when scoring first. If the Wild start slow, and let Phoenix score, you probably shouldn't expect three comeback goals this game.

Not a lot of news going otherwise, it's been a quiet day for the Wild. The trade deadline is looming, but if the Wild have an imminent trade lined up, it's been awfully quiet. But don't worry Wilderness, there's plenty to see here, especally in the minors, and around the NHL.

So let's get to the Walk, shall we?

Wild News

Gameday preview: Wild vs. Phoenix | StarTribune.com- Russo's preview for today's game.

Wild's GM will be patient with contracts | StarTribune.com- A look at Cal Clutterbuck and Jared Spurgeon, whose contracts are about to expire at the end of the year, and will be RFAs. While I think the Wild should work to retain both, if forced with a choice, I'd take Spurgeon over Clutterbuck, if only for the fact that Spurgeon's absence would be tougher to fill in-house.

Hitting The Post: Game 32 Is the Key- Game 32, as you'll read, was the game that Mikko Koivu was first injured. Fun discussion question: Could the Wild withstand a Koivu injury this year? If Koivu went down tomorrow, who'd be the first line center Friday? Granlund, Larsson, or Cullen?

Who Is This Team and What Have They Done With the Minnesota Wild? - Gone Puck Wild- I do not know, but they had better not bring the old Minnesota Wild back!

Tending the Fields

Stars need overtime to defeat Aeros - Houston Chronicle- From tonight's Aeros game. Granlund scored the goal to send them to overtime, his 7th in 6 games. Any reports of the death of Granlund's top prospect status were greatly exaggerated.

Top 50: Lehner among biggest risers in 2013 Spring rankings - Hockey's Future- A Minnesota Wild prospect resides on the list. I won't tell you which one, or which number he's at, though.

Off the Trail

6 rookie defencemen who could make a run at the Calder Trophy | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com- Too bad the Wild don't have a guy who could make this list, huh?

NHL Awards Watch: Can anyone take MVP honors away from Sidney Crosby? | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports- No, but Suter leads the Norris, Brodin is 4th for the Calder, and Backstrom and Yeo just miss the cut for the Vezina and Jack Adams, respectively? If you feel it's become passè to tweet #SuterForNorris or #BrodinForCalder, perhaps you can be the first to tweet #BackstromForVezina or #YeoForJackAdams.

Ha! Just kidding. You can be the second. I was the first.

Penguins still roosting atop SI.com NHL Power Rankings - NHL - Adrian Dater - SI.com- You know things are going really, really, really well for the Wild when even Dater is saying they're a Top-5 team.

Miikka Kiprusoff threatens not to show up to new team if traded: Report | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports- Agree with Wyshynski here. If you don't have a no-trade or no-move clause, be a professional and do your job. Very few players like being traded and the upheaval that's associated with it, especially when they have families. Everyone else reports when traded. While it's understandable that Kiprusoff doesn't want this disruption to his life, he's being very fairly compensated for his job, and he has no right to pull a stunt like this.

Systems Analyst: Oduya, Hjalmarsson, and the cost of missed assignments on a lost d-zone draw | Backhand Shelf- Another day, another Systems Analyst where the Wild aren't screwing it up!

Why hockey analysts are harder on players than those in other sports | Backhand Shelf- Self-explanitory, I have nothing to add. That's usually a good thing.

Respect

Wayne Fleming, long-time NHL assistant coach, dies at 62 | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports- Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with Fleming, but anytime you lose a long-time member of the hockey community to cancer, it's a sad day. Thoughts go out to him and his family, even if it comes with limited knowledge about him.

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