Tonight, the Minnesota Wild, losers of eight out of their past eleven games, will take to the ice at Xcel Energy Center against the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Los Angeles Kings. The Wild enter the game tied with Columbus for 7th in the West at 51 points and are up 1 point on 9th place Detroit, after dominating the Coyotes 4-0 last night.
The Wild are coming off an embarrassing 4-1 loss to Calgary at home on Sunday. The loss now makes tonight's game a MUST win for the home squad, if they want to remain in the hunt for a playoff berth.
I know many of you have just given up and said this team is finished. Yesterday, I went against the grain and went over some positive thoughts about the final week of the season for this team. For those who still think negatively, please, don't give in to those thoughts.
In the team's remaining three games, they play LA at home, Edmonton at home, and Colorado on the road. The final two games are games the Wild SHOULD WIN and CAN WIN. I know, I know, we learned that games they should win are no easy wins, on Sunday. But the fact is, the Wild have owned Edmonton at home in recent years, and Colorado is just a joke. If the Wild can bring the same effort to those games like they did in the first half of the Calgary game on Sunday, they should have two easy wins right there.
But that brings us to tonight's game, against the Kings. The season series is tied between the two, as Minnesota won a 4-3 shootout game at home, then five days later lost in LA 3-0. The Kings enter tonight with a 6-2-2 record in their last 10 and are holders of the 4th seed in the West, with a two point cushion on fifth place San Jose. LA has been playing very outstanding hockey lately, and they will give you a very tough 60 minutes. They do the little things in a game so well (Getting sticks in the passing lanes, creating turnovers in the neutral zone, etc), that its just frustrating to play against them. After all, they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Tonight, you should expect a bit of desperation in Minnesota's game, something they did not bring on Sunday. That will help them, if they can use that the right way against Los Angeles. But, this is a team that lost just FOUR games last postseason, so they have a way of channeling a team's desperation in their favor.
The Wild win this game, if they can get 3 or more goals past Jonathon Quick tonight. If its a 1-0 or 2-1 game, the advantage goes to LA. Minnesota is too snake bitten offensively lately to win those close low scoring games. As was the case with their victory earlier in the year against the Kings, four goals would be a good number to get the two points. They just need to catch a break or two along the way.
If Minnesota can pull out a victory tonight, you can lock them into the postseason. A big win during a bad stretch will greatly help the team's confidence going into their final two games of the season, especially when those two games are against bottom feeder teams. They will certainly roll over Edmonton and Colorado, after gaining the confidence from a victory tonight.
So sit back, and try to watch the game peacefully tonight. All you can do, at this point, is hope that this team can rise up in their darkest hour...
"They are the team Minnesota deserves, not the one they need right now."
Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell