As of this Sunday afternoon writing, the Minnesota Wild sit third in the Central Division standings with a 14-7-4 record and 32 points. Nashville sits one point behind with 31 points, Chicago occupies the final wild card spot with 30 points, and Winnipeg sits just outside with 28 points. As you can see, it's still a very tight race in the Central, especially when you consider Minnesota is just two points outside of the second place Blues in St. Louis.
This Week's Schedule
Monday, December 7th - Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche 8:00 PM CT (FS-N+)
Friday, December 11th - Minnesota Wild @ Arizona Coyotes 8:00 PM CT (FS-N)
Saturday, December 12th - Minnesota Wild @ San Jose Sharks 9:30 PM CT (FS-N)
Game of the Week
Both Arizona and San Jose would be in the playoffs if they started today, and the Shark Tank is an especially difficult rink to play in. However, coming off a 3-0 Saturday night shutout in St. Paul, the Central's seventh place Avalanche will most certainly look to make the Wild play. There is now and always has been little love lost between the two organizations, and Patrick Roy, Semyon Varlamov, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and company won't take last week's defeat lightly.
It's always a physical, action-packed affair. Expect more of the same. Now, if only it was on FS-N...
Key Player of the Week
With Devan Dubnyk briefly on the shelf due to a mild groin strain and #BabyWatch, the task of stopping rubber falls to backup netminder Darcy Kuemper. Once labeled the "Kuemperor", the 2009 sixth round pick has struggled in the past couple seasons after a promising rookie campaign. Kuemper finished last season with a 14-12-2 record, three shutouts, a 2.60 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. In four appearances this season, he has a 1-0-2 record, a 3.41 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. However, minus four goals on 18 shots against Winnipeg back on October 25th, his save percentage drastically improves to a very impressive .952. Obviously, with such a small sample size, it's difficult to be too negative or positive about Kuemper's stats, but he'll get every chance to prove himself with a rematch against Colorado on Monday night.
Key Opponent of the Week
Colorado's Duchene has been on a scoring tear ever since being featured prominently in this year's trade rumor mix, but this week's top opponent is San Jose captain Joe Pavelski. Through 26 games, the Sharks pivot has 12 goals, 25 points (both totals good enough for the team scoring lead), a plus-7 rating, 16 penalty minutes, two power play goals, four game-winning goals and 79 shots on goal. He's also been featured heavily on San Jose's power play, leading all Sharks forwards with 10 points on the man advantage. Only former Wild rear guard Brent Burns has more power play points (11). If any Shark is going to get on Saturday night's score sheet, it'll likely be Pavelski.