With only six games remaining in the Wild’s regular-season schedule, it’s hard not to pour over the schedule, standings, points—thinking of different scenarios—and the push to the postseason.
Here’s a suggestion: Don’t. It will drive you mad and you might end up like John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” with a wall full of newspaper clippings from NHL cities across North America, trying to piece together conclusions and scenarios with different colored yarn.
Trust me, it’s better to just enjoy the ride and take things game by game. That’s what Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo is doing tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, as the club tries to sweep Alberta on back-to-back nights.
Speaking to the media after today’s very, very optional morning skate, the bench boss said he is just going to put out the best lineup he has every game; the lineup that can win that night’s game.
So, tonight Niklas Backstrom will get the nod in net. He participated in the morning skate and is sticking to his routine because he has been hot against the Oilers this season. The netminder is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and a .939 save percentage against Edmonton this season. Lifetime against the Oilers, he’s been decent (understatement) going 24-3-1 with a 1.79 GAA and a .933 SV% in 30 starts.
The Wild’s penalty kill has returned to form in its last 6 games, killing off its last 13 penalties. Torrey Mitchell has been a key contributor to the success of the club’s shorthanded unit and spoke to WildTV about the team’s return to form. He also talked about balancing the lines and what it’s like playing center as opposed to wing.
The club expects to use the same forward lines as yesterday’s game, a 4-3 victory against the Flames. Last night, Matt Cullen rejoined the lineup and the veteran’s presence brought balance to the Wild’s lineup, which I wrote about in yesterday’s Five Takeaways.
As for the blue line, expect to see the same six as yesterday. WildTV spoke to Brett Clark about skating with his new D-partner Jared Spurgeon. Having played for the Oilers’ farm team, the Oklahoma City Barons, before signing with the Wild, Clark knows a lot about the Oilers’ young forwards. He shared his thoughts about the group, as well.
Great news out of the State of Hockey today, Josh Harding was assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, on a conditioning stint. This is another step in his continued progress in his treatment of multiple sclerosis. He was place on Injured Reserve on Feb. 12 after feeling off from taking new medications in treatment, but has felt great lately and skated with the team before it left for the current road trip. I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the hockey world is pulling for Harding and hope to see him in a Wild uniform soon.