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Wild Weekly Preview: February 8th-14th Edition

In one word, last week could most certainly be described as ugly. The good news is that it's over. The bad news? It doesn't get any easier this week.

Things are looking very bleak indeed for the Minnesota Wild.
Things are looking very bleak indeed for the Minnesota Wild.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild currently sit outside the playoff picture with 55 points, three shy of Nashville and Colorado, who occupy the first and second wild card spots, respectively, with 58 points. Arizona is just one point behind with 54, Vancouver is next with 52, Calgary and Winnipeg both have 49 while Edmonton brings up the Western Conference rear with 47. The Central Division's top three teams are around the bend and out of sight with St. Louis being the closest at 68 points.

Two of Minnesota's top defensemen are injured, the team can't score and coaches are benching key players to send a message. That, of course, means there's no better time for a showdown with two of the league's top three teams than now!

This Week's Schedule

Tuesday, February 9th - Minnesota Wild vs Dallas Stars 7:00 PM CT (NBCSN)

Thursday, February 11th - Minnesota Wild vs Washington Capitals 7:00 PM CT (FS-N)

Saturday, February 13th - Minnesota Wild vs Boston Bruins 1:00 PM CT (FS-N, FS-WI, SN)

Game of the Week

Believe it or not, Minnesota actually does have a win against the powerhouse Stars (second in the Central with 33 wins and 71 points) this season. Ryan Carter and Thomas Vanek scored a pair to Dallas' Jamie Benn's one for a 2-1 road victory back on January 9th. They'll hope to do it again (or be slaughtered) Tuesday night on national television.

Key Player of the Week

The time has come for Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to made a decision about the team he has assembled. As it stands, particularly with Jonas Brodin (broken foot) out a month and Jared Spurgeon's injury status unknown, this isn't a team that can make it to the playoffs on its own. Nor can it win a playoff series. It especially can't beat the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, which is what it inevitably always comes down to at season's end.

The cap situation is tight, the team's supply of trade assets has grown thin (especially second and third round picks), and the hour is getting late for a season-saving move regardless. Something has to be done to break the endless annual December/January/February cycle of slumps. Continual bailouts only hold off the problem another season longer. It is time for Fletcher to a good long look at his team, decide which players aren't in the organization's long-term plans and see what can be had in return. That isn't to say he hasn't already been actively pursuing an arrangement - by all accounts he never puts the phone down - it's just time to face facts: this team won't win a playoff series (if it even gets that far), and it certainly isn't a Cup contender in any sense of the word.

Key Opponent of the Week

Alex "The Great Eight" Ovechkin and the league-leading Caps will look to continue their impressive season with a win in St. Paul Thursday night. With two injured defensemen out of the top-4, Minnesota's 25th ranked penalty kill unit will have a near impossible time stopping the Russian sniper and the league's No. 1 ranked power play. Fellow Russian Evgeni Kuznetzov leads the Caps with 53 points in 51 games, but Ovi's 30 goals pace the club and are good enough for second in the league behind Patrick Kane's 32. On the man advantage, the Caps' cap leads his team with 11 goals and 14 points. If there's anyone that could break open Thursday's night's game, it's Ovechkin.