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Wilderness Walk: The Hardest Part

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Wild watch rivals rack up points as they wait for Friday’s game versus the Golden Knights, plus NHL news and notes

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Today is day three of no games for the Wild. Yet another night for their opponents in the standings to rack up points. Tuesday saw the Coyotes catching the Avalanche, meaning there are now two teams for Minnesota to leapfrog in the standings to make the playoffs. Wednesday night saw both Dallas and Colorado earning wins and points, making the Wild’s road even tougher.

There wasn’t much margin for error before. There is none now. The Wild will likely need to go a perfect five-for-five in order to have a chance of making the postseason now, and even then, they’ll need help.

At least today, there isn’t much scoreboard watching to be done. Dallas plays, but the Wild won’t be catching them. Arizona and Colorado are idle.

That doesn’t make it any easier on the heart. The waiting, truly, is the hardest part.

In the meantime, you know the drill. NHL and NCAA news and notes. Let’s walk.

Wild News

Wild seems to always go to the wire with playoff pushes - StarTribune.com
Team has built much of its six-year run by keeping fans on edge.

'A helpless position.' Wild can't make playoffs without assistance - StarTribune.com
With five games to go, the Wild is loitering outside the playoff picture with 79 points, which makes scoreboard as important as winning.

Analysis: Wild's biggest problem? They can't bury their chances
The MN Wild have been historically bad at Xcel Energy Center since December, the question is why? The easy answer is clear to anyone who has watched Minnesota season: the Wild can't bury good chances, shooting 8.4 percent as a team this season. Only three NHL teams have had worse aim.

Wild winger Joel Eriksson Ek could return this weekend. Is he too late? – Twin Cities
Wild winger Joel Eriksson Ek could return this weekend. Will it actually help?

Remembering the life of Victoria Mason, the rock behind the Wild’s goalie coach – The Athletic
Bob Mason's wife died this month after a battle with cancer. The Wild assistant shares memories about the 'one of a kind' love of his life.

Bigger changes needed if Minnesota fires Boudreau, but is that possible?
Earlier this week, Bruce Boudreau hinted that he doesn’t expect to be around Minnesota much longer.

Dowd, Pellerin reflect on their chapter in Wild lore
Donato assist on Greenway goal in Washington was 10,000th point in franchise history, nearly two decades after its first

Tending the Fields

WILD BITTER AFTER LOSS TO GRAND RAPIDS, EYE UP WEEKEND SERIES WITH TEXAS | Iowa Wild
When the Iowa Wild skated off the ice Tuesday night, no one had to mention it was the club’s third straight loss, coming at the most critical time of the 2018-19 season.

On Frozen Pond

Traditional powers missing from NCAA hockey tournament field - StarTribune.com
In addition to the Gophers, blueblood programs including North Dakota, Boston College and Boston University aren't a part of the field. What happened to the once powerful?

NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton talks formats, finances and expansion - StarTribune.com
At the Frozen Faceoff, Fenton was pleased with the state of the league and said he's focused on the eight teams in the conference. Expansion isn't a priority, he indicated.

A top seed again, Minnesota State hopes this is the year for NCAA breakthrough – The Athletic
Still after their first NCAA tourney win as a Division-I program, the Mavericks have the right blend of talent and experience for the job.

6 storylines to follow in the 2019 NCAA men's hockey tournament | NCAA.com
These are 6 of the the best storylines to follow as the 2019 men's college hockey tournament begins.

Off the Trail

Bourne: How elite stars produce by both ‘getting lost’ and becoming pseudo-grinders – The Athletic
Why the league’s most elite talent must not only ‘get lost’ but also embrace their inner grinder to produce on the scoresheet.

Head injuries sent Keith Primeau toward ‘the breaking point’ and back – The Athletic
Keith Primeau reflects on seven years of darkness where he woke up every day wonder when he would feel better.

Future Watch 2019: the NHL's top 10 rising prospects - TheHockeyNews

Around the League

LeBrun Notebook: Agent JP Barry blasts the ‘code’ after Paul Byron’s injury during a fight – The Athletic
Plus, why the current playoff format is unlikely to change by next season.

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid & Leon Draisaitl on the Verge of History
Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are close to becoming the first teammates to each score 100 points at age 23 or younger since 2008-09.

Tomas Tatar has been the equivalent of found money for the Montreal Canadiens - TheHockeyNews
He was a throw-in, an afterthought, a necessary evil that had to be brought aboard in order to pry Nick Suzuki out of Vegas. But Tomas Tatar has been excellent in his first season as a Canadien, and that might already make the Pacioretty swap a win for Montreal.

Getting Jon Cooper for three years at $3.5 million-$4 million per season is a huge bargain for the Lightning - TheHockeyNews
The Lightning have locked up bench boss Jon Cooper for another three years, and given his standing as one of the best coaches in the NHL, Tampa Bay couldn't have landed him at a better price.

After losing Landeskog, Rantanen to injury, Avalanche remain in playoff hunt thanks to depth, goaltending - TheHockeyNews
Injuries to key forwards could have easily sidetracked Colorado's season, but the Avalanche have come together to keep themselves in a wild-card spot with time ticking down.

Ducks fail to reach playoffs following several long losing streaks
Scoring woes, poor special teams among reasons Anaheim not in postseason for first time since 2012

Barkov says Panthers should have made Stanley Cup Playoffs
Captain having breakout season, frustrated Florida eliminated again