It's The Biggest Game of the Year. Again.
The Wild finish off their road trip by taking on the likely-playoff-bound San Jose Sharks, or as they've been colloquially known around these parts, The Wild Rejects, + Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (Though in San Jose, I'm sure the Wild are known as The Sharks Rejects, + Parise and Suter).
It's getting pretty obvious at this point of the year: The Wild need points to qualify, and getting two points in a tight race would be very important. It's hard to keep finding words to say that.
Luckily, the Wild have appeared to be hitting their stride again, so long as it's not the third period, and they're also not up by 3 or 4 goals. Their new lines have been clicking pretty well, and they've been able to roll all four of them with confidence, again, so long as they're not up by 3 goals in the third period. It's nice to see things clicking again. Matt Cullen must have magic skates, or be one of the aliens from Space Jam, because he, for whatever reason, seems to be a key player for the Wild. And I remember when everyone (including me) would have loved to see him traded.
Funny how things work out.
Anyway, it's time for the Walk.
Playoff Bubble Today
Minnesota sits in the 6th spot in the Western Conference with 51 points. Because they have only 3 loser points instead of 7, they're four points behind Vancouver for first in the Northwest Division. They're 2 points behind the Kings for 4th place in the Conference, and 2 points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who've captivated the bandwagon hockey fans around North America by being the 8th place team. Detroit is the first team outside the bubble, with 47 points.
Calgary defeated Detroit (47 points) in regulation by a score of 3-2.
Columbus (49) rallied to beat Anaheim in the shootout, 3-2.
Rookie Coyle makes an impact with Wild | StarTribune.com- And how. Russo writes a long feature about everyone's favorite rookie not named Jonas Brodin. Or Jason Zucker, when he's in the minors.
Minnesota Wild need to show they can beat a playoff team - TwinCities.com- A notebook/game preview for tonight's game.
Minnesota Wild, Mike Yeo Need 2013 NHL Postseason Berth : The Hockey Writers- The Hockey Writers breaks down the upcoming Wild Playoff-Run-Home-Stretch, and the consequences of the Wild failing to qualify.
Has Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo Found the Recipe to Success? - Gone Puck Wild- It's certainly seemed that way the last few games. Are you waiting for Rupp to get back as soon as possible, Wilderness? Or would you prefer to see Granlund centering Mitchell and Clutterbuck?
The Team of 18,001: Playoff Odds- Giles has some fun with playoff odds.
Tending the Fields
The Third Intermission: Announcement Coming?- Sad to see our friends in Houston having to go through losing a team. And it's the worst stage of losing a team, too- the Will They or Won't They stage. A shame, because a lot of good people do a lot of good work down there. They'll be missed in a large, noticeable way.
Wild will officially seek approval to move AHL team to Iowa | StarTribune.com- Also, the Iowa Wild? Really? That's the best we could do? There's got to be a better name, right, Wilderness?
Off the Trail
NHL’s outdoor stadium series: Why it’s a bad idea | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports- Because Los Angeles gets one, and the Wild don't?
The NHL will go to six outdoor games next year, which might be a touch excessive | Backhand Shelf- I think the idea that outdoor games will lose their special feeling is a little overstated. I don't think it's really a TV event- my guess is that, much like hockey in general was before HD, the live game experience will outweigh the TV viewing experience by an outrageous margin. My guess is that there'll be plenty of fans next year experiencing their first professional outdoor hockey game, and I will also guess it'll seem special to them.
Kevin Lowe apologizes for alienating Oilers fans in press conference trainwreck (Video) | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports- And no, it's not the alienation that comes from fielding a crappy team for years.
Goalie Antti Niemi the reason behind San Jose Sharks' resurgence - San Jose Mercury News- Those Finns love stopping that rubber.