As you may have read earlier, today is do-or-die day for the Minnesota Wild or, as we Minnesota professional sports fans and writers like to call it, “dia de los muertos”—the Day of the Dead.
All kidding or predicting aside, Minnesota is on the brink of clinching their first playoff berth since the Jacques Lemaire era with a win against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are coming off of a 5-4 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes last night, while Minnesota is licking their wounds after a 6-1 thrashing at the hand of the—gulp—Edmonton Oilers in the Wild’s final home game of the season.
Colorado has nothing to lose and is very excited at the chance of knocking a division rival out of the playoffs. Minnesota, on the other hand, needs to come out strong and aggressive and play the way they played Tuesday night in their 2-1 dominating victory against the Los Angeles Kings. Niklas Backstrom will no doubt be Minnesota’s man in net, as he has a history of top performances after an early pull in the game previous.
The Wild can’t get away from playing Head Coach Mike Yeo’s system; if they do that, it’s over, no question. Yeo’s system is exactly the way Minnesota played against the Kings—getting the puck past the opposing defensemen, winning battles along the boards, playing dominating shifts in the offensive zone for extended periods of time, clogging up traffic in the neutral zone, shutting down shooting lanes in the defensive zone and playing an overall aggressive and physical game. If they can do that, Minnesota should have a good chance of winning.
Other Clinching Scenarios
If Nashville beats Columbus tonight, the Wild clinch no matter what as they hold the tie-breaker between them and the Blue Jackets. That is very unlikely however as Nashville has struggled without All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter and has posted a 1-2-1 record against a red hot Jackets squad this season.
If Dallas beats Detroit and Minnesota beats Colorado, Minnesota will clinch 7th in the West. If Dallas beats Detroit in regulation, and Columbus wins as well, Detroit’s record 21-season playoff run will be over. The Star and Wings have split the series 1-1 up to this point.