It's Monday, and the Wild currently sit four points outside of the first and second wild card spots with a 14-10-1 record and 29 points. With three games to be played this week, none are against Central Division opponents, one is against an Eastern Conference juggernaut, another is against the abnormally absolutely abysmal Arizona Coyotes (say that sentence fragment three times fast) and the second game is against a team vying for one of those two wild card spots.
Minnesota may be on the outside looking in at this point, but they've had a pretty solid past 10 games, going 6-3-1 in that span. However, there's always room for improvement.
This Week's Schedule
Tuesday 7:00 PM vs New York Islanders (FS-N)
Thursday 9:30 PM @ San Jose Sharks (FS-N, FS-WI)
Saturday 7:00 PM @ Arizona Coyotes (FS-N)
Game of the Week
While the Coyotes are struggling, and the Sharks are fighting for playoff positioning with Minnesota, the biggest game of the week could come against Thomas Vanek, Nino Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon's old team - the New York Islanders, who are currently taking the NHL's Eastern Conference by storm.
Former 2009 first overall pick John Tavares leads the club with 24 points in 27 games, while youngster Brock Nelson heads the team in goals with 12. Perhaps another big reason why the Isles are doing so well are the additions of former Boston Bruins defensive stalwart Johnny Boychuk and former Chicago Blackhawks defensive speedster (and former Wild first round pick) Nick Leddy. Combined, the duo have collected seven goals, 27 points, a plus-17 rating, 10 power play points and average over 20:00 of ice-time per game.
In goal, well - let's just say the main man in the mask has been pretty good, too. In 19 starts, former Montreal and St. Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been a wall with 14 wins, a 2.26 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and three shutouts. He'll be a tough one to beat.
Key Player of the Week
Zach Parise enters tomorrow night's game against the Isles on a four-game point streak in which he's collected two goals and five assists for seven points in that span. He may have missed a few games due to concussion-like symptoms, but Minnesota's top line left winger is on track for his best season in St. Paul yet. In 20 games played, Parise has 10 goals and a team-best 21 points.
It's easy to see why captain Mikko Koivu's right hand man is our key player of the week. However, keep an eye on Vanek, Niederreiter and Spurgeon. Could we see an extra boost in performance when they face their former team on Tuesday? That'll be an interesting storyline to watch.