Last night was a game many within the Minnesota Wild organization and fan base would like to forget.
Though it outshot the Vancouver Canucks 31-19, the Wild fell 5-2 to a struggling team that–for now–still has hopes of making the playoffs for its sixth season in a row. The Canucks have only missed the playoffs twice since the 2000-2001 season not including the lockout of 2004.
Tonight, the Wild takes its subpar past-10 record of 3-3-4 to St. Louis, a place where it hasn’t even been able to buy a regulation win within recent memory. With nine games left, it’s absolutely imperative Minnesota manages to steal at least a point against the rough and tumble Blues. Even that is by no means an easy feat. The Blues are the best team in the entire league and have been dominant at home having lost just five times in regulation in St. Louis this season. In their past 10 game, the Blues have gone 7-2-1 in the process of becoming the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth.
The lineup for tonight doesn’t look much different from yesterday:
In goal, Darcy Kuemper will be thrown to the St. Louis wolves as the hulking rookie has yet to face the Blues in his short NHL career.
Minnesota has a tough schedule on their hands. Tonight is the start of a four-game road swing that will see the Wild also make stops in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago. Minnesota will then play four of their five remaining regular season games at home, however, with three of those matchups coming against Pittsburgh, Boston and St. Louis, not a single one will be a cake walk.
In addition, if the team loses tonight and Phoenix beats New Jersey, the Coyotes will be just one point behind Minnesota for the top wild card spot with a chance to overtake the Wild when the two teams drop the puck in Glendale on Saturday night. That’s a very dangerous position to be in with Dallas and Vancouver charging at Minnesota’s heels.
In other news, both sophomore winger Jason Zucker and longtime franchise netminder Niklas Backstrom underwent successful surgeries to repair a torn left quadriceps and core muscle, respectively. Both players are expected to be back and ready for action by the start of the 2014-2015 season.
Intriguing Swedish defenseman Gustav Olofsson, Minnesota’s top selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, skated and worked out with team strength and conditioning coach Kirk Olson yesterday. He is expected to join the Iowa Wild at some point today.
I’m not going to say it should be a good game tonight, because I’ve certainly got my doubts. However, the appropriate response after last night’s humiliating home loss should be a Minnesota team fighting desperately for goals and a rare win in St. Louis. The game starts at 7:00 PM CT on Fox Sports North. We’ll see you right back here afterwards.