Teams are fighting for their playoff lives and with only a few games left in the season they will fight hard to push themselves over the finish line and make it to the post-season. Tonight’s game features a team just like that who is knocking on the door in the Western conference but will have to get through a Goliath team tonight to prove themselves worthy.
Nashville vs. Minnesota
The points that Minnesota Wild has to make up to win a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs isn’t impossible but their margin for error, however, is almost zero.
The Wild who are 35-32-9 will host the Nashville Predators tonight, after coming off a bad loss of 5-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night which pushed them out of the playoff race for that last wild card spot. They only have six games left in the season – with each on against teams who are not in the playoffs, the only other one who has a chance is the Arizona Coyotes with whom they are fighting for the last spot. But the Wild cannot make any more mistakes since they’ve wasted precious games winning only twice in their last eight games (2-5-1).
“At this stage I firmly believe we have to win four out of six to have a shot at this,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said after his team’s loss in Carolina. “Again, just take it one game at a time and hopefully with the day of rest (Sunday), and then it’s not easy facing Nashville, but if we come up with something solid hopefully that will lead us through to the next week.”
The crucial loss in Carolina is one following a massive and important win they had 2-1 over the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, but unfortunately they weren’t able to use it to build momentum.
“We know where we’re at. Every game is huge and are desperate points,” forward Eric Staal said. “Coming off a big game (Saturday) night, we were hoping for a great weekend and a big result, but that’s a team (Carolina) that’s desperate as well. They’re playing really well. They’ve played well for a long time since December.”
So tonight will be a big test for the Wild crew who desperately want to punch their ticket to the big dance. It should be an exciting game full of chances, intensity and goals. Nashville who’s 42-28-6 has been on the verge of clinching a playoff spot for a while, but the Preds are not doing as well as expected these days, so the Wild have a chance, especially after they Winnipeg Jets beat Nashville 5-0 Saturday night. Minnesota can build off that if they hit the puck hard and start on time.
The only thing that could hold them back is the status of Zach Parise going forward. Parise, who has the team’s most goals (26) and points (59), missed the Carolina game when he suffered a lower-body injury against the Caps in a hit made by the notorious Tom Wilson. He stayed in the game and set up the winning goal but didn’t play Saturday, so his condition could make a huge impact on the team’s playoffs hopes. Now’s the time to come together, and this game will either make or break Minnesota tonight.
Pick: Wild win, 6 plus goals
Moneyline: Nashville Predators -120 / Minnesota Wild +100