The Minnesota Wild enter the week atop the Central Division standings.
It’s an envious position to be in. The question is, can they stay there over the final nine games of the regular season?
Minnesota, coming off a 3-1 win over Chicago on Saturday afternoon, begin a stretch of four-straight games against teams that are battling for postseason positioning in the Western Conference.
That challenge begins Monday night with a home matchup against Seattle, a team that currently sits in four place in the Pacific Division and seventh overall in the conference. That is followed by a showdown with Colorado on Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center, and then a home-and-home series with conference-leading Vegas.
Minnesota has an 8-1-3 record in March, and the 19 points is tied with Edmonton, Colorado and the New York Rangers for the third-most in the NHL in that span. Vegas has the most points this month (22) and Boston and Vancouver are tied for second (20 points).
The Wild are also 14-1-4 in their last 19 games overall, and have 12 points in the eight games the team has played without leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov. The team has done more than just stay afloat without their superstar, and it appears they will have to attempt to do so for the near future as well.
Minnesota is third in the NHL with 37 goals since Kaprizov was injured on March 8, an average of .4.11 per game..
Matt Boldy has been the Wild’s top scorer in that same stretch with eight goals and 12 points. Ryan Hartman, who had the game-winning goal against Chicago, and Marcus Johansson are next with nine and eight points, respectively.
The Wild have also got it done defensively.
Minnesota has allowed an average of 3.50 goals per game in March, tied with the New York Islanders for fourth in the league.
In addition, Filip Gustavsson was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday. Gustavsson posted a 0.96 goals against average in winning both of his starts over the past week in which he stopped 69 of the 71 shots he faced.
The Wild will look to continue its torrid play on Monday in their third matchup of the season against the Kraken. The teams have split the previous two games, which includes Seattle’s 4-0 win at the Xcel Energy Center on Nov. 3.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who will get the start in net against Seattle, has a 3-1-1 career mark against the Kraken and a .926 saves percentage.