The Wild currently sit in a three-way tie with the Dallas Stars and the defending Stanley Cup champs in Los Angeles with 56 points (25-20-6, 7-2-1 in the past 10), and are just five back of Calgary and Vancouver, and eight back of the top wild card seeds in Winnipeg. Tonight, they'll get their chance to slip within three points of Vancouver before taking on a Jets team that hasn't been so hot lately. Obviously, nothing is guaranteed, but we haven't seen a Minnesota team this confident since the season's early stretch
This Week's Schedule
Monday 7:00 PM vs Vancouver Canucks (FS-N)
Tuesday 7:00 PM @ Winnipeg Jets (FS-N, FS-WI)
Thursday 7:00 PM vs Florida Panthers (FS-N, FS-WI)
Saturday 7:00 PM vs Carolina Hurricanes (FS-N, FS-WI)
Game of the Week
A regulation win against Winnipeg would be a big help for Minnesota, but a regulation win over the Canucks (who we play tonight in the second of three match-ups in eight games), and a regulation loss by Calgary against San Jose, puts the Wild just one win away from a playoff spot. And it could very well happen tonight. Minnesota is 5-3 against Vancouver the past three seasons, but a better 3-1 since moving to the more competitive Central Division. Perhaps more games against the Patrick Kanes, Tyler Seguins, Matt Duchenes and Shea Webers of the world have better prepared Minnesota for occasional clashes with their old Northwest Division rivals?
Still, the Canucks are still a fairly formidable opponent. Brothers Daniel (11 goals, 32 assists) and Henrik (nine goals, 34 assists) Sedin lead Vancouver with 43 points apiece, while Radim Vrbata's 20 goals are a team best. On the back end, Alexander Edler's five goals, 17 points, plus-6 rating and 24:25 average nightly ice-time lead all Canuck rear guards. In goal, Ryan Miller is quietly putting together one of the best campaigns of his career with a 25-13-1 record, a 2.35 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. His six shutouts tie a career record set with Buffalo in 2011-12.
Key Player of the Week
Minnesota has a great goaltender of their own - Devan Dubnyk. Since 1967-68, no goaltender has reached four shutouts with a team faster than the Wild's 6'6" 210-pound giraffe. After starting the season out with a 9-5-2 record, a 2.72 goals against average, a .916 save percentage and a shutout in 19 games with Arizona, "Dooby" has since gone 7-1 with a 1.31 goals against average, a .948 save percentage and four shutouts in nine games since being acquired by Minnesota.
Though he'll likely get a break Tuesday against the Jets, head coach Mike Yeo will need his stud netminder to be at the very top of his game against a tough Vancouver team, a Panthers squad playing with damaged pride and a late surging Hurricane from Raleigh looking to make land this weekend. Fortunately, there hasn't been a better goalie in the league than Dubnyk as of late. With a strong defensive system in front of him, there's no reason why Minnesota shouldn't continue rising through the standings.
If he can keep up the impressive standard he has set, and lift the Wild into the postseason, it's not unrealistic for him to be in the running for some end-of-season hardware in addition to a hefty pay raise. Lord knows he's earned it thus far.