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Wild Weekly Planner: February 16th-22nd

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Minnesota has the league's best record since the All-Star Break and the best in the past 10 with an 8-0-2 record in that span. If the Wild knock off the Canuckleheads or at least force overtime tonight, the franchise's career best point streak will set a new record of 11 straight games. That said, I have, of course, just jinxed things.

Devan Dubnyk is the man, and he knows it, too.
Devan Dubnyk is the man, and he knows it, too.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota has had a remarkable stretch the past few weeks, going from Central Division cellar dwellers to ninth in the Western Conference and closing the gap fast on a playoff spot.

Not only has Devan Dubnyk been clutch and even, at times, Hart worthy, there have been others that have stepped up, too. Captain Mikko Koivu has two goals and 11 points in the past 13 games, but that doesn't speak to how physically and defensively dominant he has been in this turnaround by the club. Wild fans have begged for just this kind of performance from Koivu, and, boy, they sure have it.

Thomas Vanek has also had 11 points in the past 13 games, including five in the past four, collecting five goals and six assists. Then there's top defenseman Ryan Suter, who has a goal, seven points and a plus-5 rating since January 19th. The fact is, Minnesota is on a roll, and injuries to key left wingers haven't changed that. However, that doesn't mean exceptional play can't or won't be rewarded by the arrival of help in the form of a scoring second or third line winger or a solid veteran defenseman to shore up depth. With division rivals like Nashville, Winnipeg and other teams across the league looking to improve before the trade deadline, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher's hand may be forced. That's going to be an interesting storyline to follow.

This Week's Schedule

Monday 9:00 PM @ Vancouver Canucks (FS-N, FS-WI)

Wednesday 8:30 PM @ Calgary Flames (FS-N, FS-WI, SN1)

Friday 8:00 PM @ Edmonton Oilers (FS-N+)

Sunday 7:00 PM vs Dallas Stars (NBCSN)

Game of the Week

Ryan Miller is getting awfully tired of Minnesota, and I really can't blame him to be honest. In two games against the Wild this season, he has allowed eight goals against on 37 shots for a .784 save percentage. Still, he's been fairly solid this season with a 26-15-1 record, a 2.46 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and six shutouts. It's fair for Minnesota fans to expect either his best game of the season, or another clunker against a team salivating for another year of playoff action.

Fortunately for Miller, he's got a pretty good team in front of him led, of course, by the Sedin twins. Daniel (13 goals, 33 assists) and Henrik (nine goals, 37 assists) lead the team with 46 points each (can't they do anything separately?), while 2014-15 All-Star Radim Vrbata paces the club with 21 goals. On the back end, the Canucks are led in scoring and average time on ice by Alexander Edler's five goals, 17 points, a plus-10 rating and a nightly average of 24:10 per game. Unfortunately for Vancouver, Edler was on the receiving end of an upper-body injury in the second period Saturday against Calgary and didn't return.

The injury to the Canucks' top defenseman is disappointing, but could tilt the game heavily in the favor of a Wild team that has beaten Vancouver in six of their past seven clashes and the last three straight. Minnesota is two points behind both the Canucks and the Flames, and face both their next two games. With the Wild having gone 10-1-1 since the arrival of Dubnyk - and two victories over Vancouver and one over Calgary in that span - there is a very serious chance Minnesota can jump into the West's top eight teams for the first time since November. That's exciting, folks!

Key Player of the Week

Is there even any doubt here? If the Wild even just make the playoffs, Dubnyk should be considered a legitimate Hart Trophy contender. If you think I'm crazy when I say that, at least I'm not alone. In 32 games this season, the big 6'6" 210-pound netminder has gone from okay in Arizona (9-5-2 record, a 2.72 goals against average, a .916 save percentage and a shutout in 19 games) to arguably the best goalie in the league with Minnesota (10-1-1 record, a 1.60 goals against average, a .938 save percentage and four shutouts in 13 games).

The biggest concern is whether or not he slows down. Minnesota has been riding him for 13 games, and he'll start his 14th tonight. It's understandable, even with Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom available to him, why head coach Mike Yeo has been sticking with the hot glove, but Dubnyk is human - he'll break down eventually, and Minnesota needs him fresh and able for as long as possible. If he's on top of his game, Minnesota's going to have a really great week. If not, things could get real interesting.