Minnesota Wild vs Dallas Stars Preview


With a win tonight, the Minnesota Wild can move into the second wild card spot in the playoff race.

As the Miracle On Ice team celebrates their 35th anniversary of winning the gold medal in Lake Placid as apart of Hockey Day in America, the Minnesota Wild and the Dallas Stars will showcase the night game in a day of premier matchups.

Last night, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks which jumped them into the third spot in the Pacific Division. The Sharks, who have played three more games than the Wild, are tied with the Calgary Flames with 68 points. With a win tonight, the Wild will jump both teams and be only two points behind the Winnipeg Jets, who currently own the first wild card spot. Should the Boston Bruins defeat the Chicago Blackhawks and the Wild beat the Stars, the Wild will not only be two points behind the Jets, the Wild will only be 6 points behind the Chicago Blackhawks. Just let that marinate for a little bit.

Feb 18, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu (9) celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during the overtime period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Minnesota Wild won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Speculation aside, we need to take a piece out of Mike Yeo’s playbook and ignore the standings and focus on the game at hand. As I have been saying these last couple weeks, you aren’t going to move in the standings if you aren’t winning your games. As obvious as that may be, it is important to take care of business instead of hoping other teams ahead will lose games of their own. Not only will a win against the Stars move the Wild into the playoff picture, it will also drop the Stars’ odds of making the postseason by 11%. Read Dustin’s current playoff odds here.

As impressive as this winning streak has been, we all knew the Wild were capable of playing this level of hockey, even without some of their top players out of the lineup in Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker. With these players out, Matt Dumba, Justin Fontaine, and Jordan Schroeder have provided a spark that has completely revitalized the team. “Fonzie” scored twice against the Oilers and got robbed on a third in what was one of the best saves I have seen all year. Schroeder is continuing to pile on the points with two goals and two assists in his last four games.

Watch Mike Yeo’s pregame presser here:

The Dallas Stars who are on the outside looking in with 63 points have dropped three of their last four games, including a 7-6 loss last night to the Detroit Red Wings, and are playing without all-star forward Tyler Seguin who is currently on IR. The Stars are 3rd in the league in scoring averaging 3.1 goals per game but are 27th in goals against at 3.2 goals per game. The Wild have beaten the Stars four straight times at the Xcel Energy Center but lost their last matchup in Dallas  7-1 on January 3rd.

For the Wild to defeat the Stars tonight, they will have to continue doing what they have done so well lately, be strong defensively and allow Devan Dubnyk the ability to see the puck. Since January 10th, the Dallas Stars have only shot fewer than 25 shots in a game one time. Dubnyk will have to be the Wild’s best player in order to earn the two points in tonight’s matchup.  The Wild will also need Zach Parise to find the back of the net which he hasn’t done since the Wild played the Carolina Hurricanes on February 14th, which was an empty-netter. Don’t expect any changes to the lineups tonight, as Michael Russo, of the Star Tribune, reported, all lines will remain the same.

Here are my three bold predictions for tonight’s game:

1. Cap-Fin Koivu: Mikko Koivu has really put the team in his shoulders lately. With two assists in the Wild’s victory against the Edmonton Oilers, the Wild is now tied with the most multi-point games in Wild history. Koivu has 11 points in his 9 games and will be all over the ice tonight with a goal and an assist.

2. Dumba. Matt Dumba has improved tremendously since the all-star break playing better defensively and eliminating turnovers. He is also showcasing his monster slap shot which is showing to be very effective. Look for Dumba to have another big game tonight as he scores his 4th goal of the season.

3. Pommer. Since Jason Pominville‘s three game goal streak, he has been held pointless in the last four games. Look for Pominville to get some open looks on the power-play and net his 13th of the year. Pominville’s population will be growing at a rapid rate as the Wild continue to fight for the playoffs.

Wild 4, Stars 2

In honor of the Miracle on Ice team, I am going to end this post with you in goosebumps. Enjoy.