Wilderness Walk: Game Day Edition

Mikael Granlund and the Wild look to all but eliminate the Canucks at the X tonight. - Hannah Foslien

The Minnesota Wild host Vancouver to extend their lead in the Wild Card standings.

Hey, Wilderness!

The inefficiency of the judicial system is the culprit for the intro for today's Walk being as brief as it is, but before we get on to the links, I would like to fill you in on what tonight's game means.

Both Dallas and Phoenix played last night. Phoenix defeated Pittsburgh 3-2, and Dallas fell to the Blackhawks 4-2. Phoenix now moves up to 3 points behind the Wild for the top Wild Card spot, though the Minnesota Wild have a game in hand on them. Dallas' game was their 72nd, which is the same number the Wild has, and their loss means that they remain 6 points back of the Wild. Considering the Wild's recent slide, it's amazing that Dallas hasn't been able to gain any significant ground on the Wild. In their last 10 games, the Stars have only earned 11 points to the Wild's 10.

Anyway, regardless of the lead that the Wild enjoys, the race is tight enough that this game still means something. According to Sports Club Stats, a win for the Wild improves their playoff chances to 95.6%, while a loss reduces them to 86.2%. The Canucks aren't still quite at the lows that they were around the trade deadline, but they should be a beatable team, and they play them at home. So, we should be saying good things tomorrow. At least until the Wild play the Blues.

On to the Walk.

Wild News

Sister never far from Wild defenseman's thoughts | Star Tribune- Wow. I did not know that Jonathon Blum lost his sister, especially at such a young age. Absolutely devastating. But in terms of what he can bring to the Wild, he's played only 5 games in bottom-pairing minutes but has flashed ability to control possession to some extent. Whether it's just a small sample size, or an indication of improvement from the former first-round pick remains to be seen.

Tom Powers: Wild's goalie decision more complicated than it appears - TwinCities.com- Tom Powers tries to start a goalie controversy where there isn't one. It's still Kuemper's net. As Yeo mentions, after a lot of talk of Kuemper struggling, "I don't think he is that far off. I don't think his game has slipped that much. He's still making quality saves."

Also a fun quote: "Being named the starting goaltender for Game 1 of the playoffs is a lot like being hired for a government job; once you're in, it's almost impossible to get fired."

Kind of like a newspaper columnist, eh, Tom?

Mike Yeo talks about the Wild's goaltending situation entering the final 10 games | Russo's Rants | StarTribune.com- More on the goalie situation.

Examining the Wild's goaltending plan - NHL - ESPN- Even ESPN weighs in on this. Probably because of Bryz in the trap(ezoid)

The Transcendent Rise of Mikael Granlund- Mikael Granlund went from left off the playoff roster last season to rising star for the Wild. Per 60 minutes, no one has more even-strength points than Granlund.

Wild's Yeo gives team chance to recharge before final stretch - TwinCities.com- The last 10 games are going to be grueling, as 7 of them are against current playoff teams. They'll need all the rest they can get. And that means you, too, Ryan Suter!

Off the Trail

Rumblings: Blues want to re-sign Miller - Cross Checks Blog - ESPN- Duh. The Wild are going to see him on Thursday. And hopefully not in the first round of the playoffs.

Evgeni Malkin out 2-3 weeks with foot injury; could the timing be any worse? | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Yes. It could be the beginning of the playoffs.

Mike Smith listed as an encouraging ‘day-to-day’ after leg injury | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Good news for Mike Smith and the Coyotes after he looked to suffer a major injury.

Dryden, Bowman, and how unleashing certain players allows coaches to best utilize their roster | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com- Meditations on how good teams conform their systems to their talent, not the other way around.

30 Thoughts: Leafs' Reimer should follow Cammalleri's lead | Hockey | CBC Sports- I think that Reimer should not perform well, get blamed for all of the Toronto-playoff-missing, and get traded to the Wild for peanuts.

Why Jon Cooper is the obvious choice for the Jack Adams Award | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com- Blame Yeo.

Why Mike Babcock will win the Jack Adams | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Apparently, it wasn't such an obvious question.

Andrew Ladd blasted for choosing birth of child over Winnipeg Jets game | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Can't we just eliminate Winnipeg from the NHL? Again? Why the hell did we bring these jerks back?

Jaromir Jagr doesn’t like autograph hounds | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- I do! They can be so pathetic and hilarious. My favorite one was when I was at a Twins game a few years back, and this 40-year-old dude was begging for Joe Nathan's autograph, and Nathan was all like, "I'm not even going to look at you, jackass." I can't tell you who won, but it was the best game of my life.

Behind Enemy Lines

For more news and analysis on the Vancouver Canucks, please visit our friends over at Nucks Misconduct.

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