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Wild Weekly Preview: April 11th-17th Edition

The Minnesota Wild may be on a five-game losing streak, but they're in a spot 14 other teams would love to be in. It's all about perspective.

No longer a playoff rookie, it's time for Devan Dubnyk to take control.
No longer a playoff rookie, it's time for Devan Dubnyk to take control.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Thirty-one seconds. That was all it took for the Calgary Flames to turn a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 lead in Game 82 of Minnesota's 2015-16 regular season schedule. While a storybook ending for long-time Wild great Niklas Backstrom in what was likely the final game of his NHL career, it closed the books on a regular season that was both disappointing and confusing, and most definitely wasn't the best way to transition to a fourth straight playoff appearance. That said, like they say - the postseason is a different season entirely, even if it is against the Wild-slaying Stars (I added that last part).

This Week's Schedule

Thursday, April 14th - Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars 8:30 PM CT (NBCSN, TVAS, SN360)

Saturday, April 16th - Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars 7:00 PM CT (NBCSN, TVAS, SN)

Game of the Week

The outcome of Game One will have a huge effect on how both teams approach Game Two. Dallas would love to come to St. Paul up by two games, while Minnesota, who has struggled mightily against the high flying Stars offense, will want to get ahead and stay ahead early. A little off topic, but Saturday is also the day I've mentally predicted to get the call for a heart transplant, so say a prayer and keep your fingers, toes (almost typed "Toews" ha!) and eyes crossed for both the Wild and I.

Key Player of the Week

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk didn't see much action in his half of the regular season finale, but he was as sharp as Michonne's katana when he needed to be. Head coach John Torchetti will need him to be if he's going to lead Minnesota past the intimidating Stars, or at least get a leg up on the Western Conference regular season champs.

In three games against Dallas this season, Dubnyk has gone 1-1-1 with a 2.64 goals against average and a very respectable .922 save percentage. He should be fine with consistent goal support, but whether or not he'll get it is the question. Fortunately for the Wild, the hulking netminder is no longer a rookie when it comes to the postseason, so he should improve upon the .908 save percentage he collected in 10 games against St. Louis and Chicago last spring.

Key Opponent of the Week

There are three of them, but only one is returning from injury - franchise center Tyler Seguin. Having last played back on March 17th against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Seguin (Achilles) is expected to make his return to the lineup early in Dallas' first round playoff series. The former second overall pick was scoring at above a point-per-game pace this season before the injury, scoring 33 goals and 73 points in 72 games played, and will be the tip of the Stars' very sharp, talented and swift offensive spear.

He doesn't just score and create goals. Seguin drives the puck north and keeps it there, dominating possession with a 54.9 CF% and 54.6 FF%. When the former Bruin is on the ice, the odds are good he'll quickly get the puck and make you work to get it back. How soon he returns, and how effectively Dubnyk and the Wild defense can shut him down, could go a long way in determining who advances to the conference semis.