Many Minnesota Wild fans have been ripping their hair out lately. The team played very well in March surging to first place in the Northwest Division and third in the overall playoff standings. But as fans know, since April started, the team has been in major free fall. The slide has been so catastrophic that this team is hanging on for dear life, clinging to the seventh seed in the playoffs over a handful of rivals only a few points away. With only three games left in the season and teams jockeying for position, a game versus the defending champion Los Angeles Kings would be a difficult and extremely important one.
The Wild beat the Kings in St. Paul, 2-1, and went out and performed like they knew what was on the line -- a potential playoff spot and a chance to show the home crowd that this team is a real contender when the 16 team tournament begins.
Coming into the game, the Wild had lost 5 straight home games. They had a 3-7-1 record in the past 11 games. The Kings on the other hand, had only failed to net a point in 2 of their last 14 games. This was a match up of two teams headed in opposite directions.
But tonight the Wild proved they had some fight in them. Cal Clutterbuck and Charlie Coyle got the Wild up early scoring within 16 seconds of one another late in the first period. From there, the Wild relied on their defense and the stellar goaltending of Niklas Backstrum to pull off the hard fought and much needed victory.
With only three games left before the playoffs, each game counts. This was definitely the biggest test in the final three games as the Wild's final two opponents (Edmonton, Colorado) will not be featured in the playoffs this season. Like the Minnesota weather, the playoff picture looked dreary for the Wild and their fans over the past couple of weeks. But this win not only boosts morale, it scores Minnesota much needed points to keep their lead over the opposition biting at their heels. If the Wild can take care of business in one of the next two games, the 2013 playoffs should feature this team. But really, Minnesota should just do themselves a favor and beat both inferior opponents to roll into the playoffs on a winning streak.
While the Wild will most likely only be in the 7th or 8th seed, last year's Stanley Cup Champion was an 8th seeded team. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, any team can win it all.