When the current month is February, you try not to oversell a particular game as meaning too much (at least most do, but here at Wild.com we like to think every game is huge, because that’s what players and coaches tell us). But sorry, tonight’s game is huge, especially if you compare it to, oh, the January 19th game in Toronto.
The Wild may be in 12th, but it has a game in hand on tonight’s opponent (8th place Dallas) as well as 9th place Calgary, 10th place Los Angeles and 11th place Colorado. The only team that can improve it’s position tonight other than the Wild and Stars is Colorado (a safe bet since they’ve got Columbus).
So, here’s what we know. The Wild win in regulation and Minnesota would close to within one point of (likely) four teams that are all tied for eighth place. On the flip side, a regulation loss leaves the Wild five points back of Dallas and that game in hand is gone in a Texas tornado. Plus, then you have to keep worrying about Anaheim, which currently sits just one point back of the Wild.
Does that illustrate that this is a big game? When the weekend is over, the Wild will be down to 20 games remaining in the season. And keep in mind, 10 of the final 14 will be played at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild did not hold a morning skate today, so tonight’s starting goaltender is still a question mark. Before the trip began, signs pointed to Matt Hackett getting the start tonight, but we’ll have to see if another stellar outing from Niklas Backstrom has Mike Yeo staying with the hot hand. The thinking here is Backstrom gets the start.
Also, some of you may have seen that Antti Miettinen was put on waivers today by the Winnipeg Jets. “Mittens” played in 27 games for the Jets since coming over from Russia, but he mustered just four assists.