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Wilderness Walk: Watching the Scoreboard Edition

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The Wild sit idle for days while the group of teams within 7 points of the wildcard spots play. But, the road isn't easy for the Wild's neighbors in the standings as they face some of the league's toughest opponents.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild face a bit of a layoff with 3 days off before Saturday's high-impact matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.  With all of their key players and nearly the entire roster healthy (come back soon, Fonz) the team could use the rest to prepare for a strong push through some of their nearest opponents.  The Wild face The Avs, Canucks and Jets in the next 7 days.  They face Colorado (twice), Vancouver (twice), Winnipeg, Calgary and Dallas by the end of the month.  This is an incredibly intense run through their schedule with heavy faceoff implications on a nightly basis, and promises to be a compelling story to follow.  The three-point game has become their worst enemy.

The Wild, riding their second 4 game winning streak of the season, have started to show signs that they are shedding the first half of the season and finding the identity we all expected to see throughout the year by dominating possession and playing shut down defense.  But they must be careful not to let the break affect the sense of urgency that has carried them through the streak.  The hole is so deep and the challenge ahead of them is so formidable they can't afford to not show up for an entire 60 minutes.  They have to focus on winning each period, because that is where they have found success.

With the Wild inactive, they have no impact on the standings, but several heavyweight playoff teams do.  It won't be easy for the teams ahead of the Wild to capture many points from their games.  Each wildcard contender besides LA faces teams that are ahead of them in the standings, teams in the top three in their divisions.  Here's a look at the wildcard contenders schedule and onto the Walk with a sermon by Father Axl:

Winnipeg Jets (61 points +7 from Wild) vs Chicago Blackhawks (64 points) on Friday

Calgary Flames (61 pts +7)  vs Penguins (64 pts) on Friday

Vancouver Canucks (59 pts +5) vs San Jose Sharks (61 pts) on Thursday

Colorado Avalanche (55 pts +1) vs Detroit Red Wings (67 pts) on Thursday

Dallas Stars (54 pts +0) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (69 pts) on Thursday

Los Angeles Kings (54 pts +0) vs Florida Panthers (54 pts) on Thursday

Wild News

Confident Wild dominates Blackhawks, wins fourth in a row but still has lots of work to do | Russo's Rants | StarTribune.com
#RussoRadio this week on KFAN 9 to 12 in place of PA.   Tries to add perspective to a very excited fanbase.

It's Been a Wild Ride for Devan Dubnyk
A nice feature on the Wild's rising star

Tom Powers: Vegas gets assist as Jason Zucker, Wild skate circles around Blackhawks - TwinCities.com
Tom never fails to entertain. #BecauseVegas

Tending the Fields

Iowa Wild Hockey: News Releases
Iowa Wild back in action after a few days off.

The Ice Hole

Gophers women top Ohio State, secure WCHA home ice - TwinCities.com
Great effort for the No. 2 GWH

Men's hockey: Cultured Russell plays power game for SCSU
Well-traveled Danish freshman has competed internationally, played juniors in Sweden, US

Girls hockey: Paige Voight, Kate Hallett among Ms. Hockey semifinalists - TwinCities.com

Off the Trail

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Marc-Andre Fleury, Tyler Seguin and shootout haters | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
A VERY different power ranking. Make sure you check out PD's 3rd Defensive pair on the all-rookie all-start team.

Las Vegas Aces Concept Hockey Jersey
Infinity times Infinity better than the All Star Game jerseys.

Pekka Rinne set to return after knee injury | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
He's baaaaaaa-ack...

Canadiens D P.K. Subban fined $2,000 for diving - CBSSports.com
The league continues to dip into players' pockets for embellishment, I wonder when FIFA will get that figured out

Report: Evander Kane was benched for dress code violation - CBSSports.com
Just wow.  #Doghouse.

WATCH: Hacksaw Jim Duggan knocks out fake Maple Leafs mascot - CBSSports.com
#IfNHLwasWWE is actually happening.

Recaps

NHL Recap - San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames - Feb 04, 2015 - CBSSports.com

NHL Recap - Boston Bruins at New York Rangers - Feb 04, 2015 - CBSSports.com

NHL Recap - Pittsburgh Penguins at Edmonton Oilers - Feb 04, 2015 - CBSSports.com