It feels weird to say this, but there are just three weeks and change left in the regular season.
For Minnesota Wild fans, perhaps this is a 'finally' realization, as the long grueling season that this team has put them on is nearing a conclusion with the playoffs -- the place where this team will be solely judged -- right around the corner.
As the team preps for their first-ever visit to T-Mobile Arena on Friday night, let's do a little 3-on-3 with the Wild as they enter this final stretch of the season.
No one seems to be talking about this, but Ryan Suter is having a career year. Entering play Friday, Suter holds 47 points (6G-41A-47P) which is just four points shy of his career best 51 points (2015-16).
That also happens to be the Minnesota Wild franchise mark for points in a season by a defenseman.
With 12 games to go in the regular season, it seems all but a sure thing that Suter will eclipse that mark. It has not been flashy, but Suter has put together another solid season for the Wild. You might not notice him on the back end every night -- Wild fans will yell about the power play here -- but perhaps that is a sign of just how good he has been.
He just gets the job done.
After what has been a very underwhelming season, Charlie Coyle has finally put together a nice stretch of hockey in the past couple of weeks.
Coyle has a point in four straight games and has scored in eight of his past 12 games. Nine of his 32 points this season have come during this stretch, so it is a good sign that Coyle's game is picking up here in March.
Now if he can just carry that into and through the playoffs...
With relatively no news compared to other Wild prospects (*cough* Jordan Greenway), the Wild and defenseman Louie Belpedio appear to be on track to get a contract signed before the June 1 deadline.
Belpedio's senior season wrapped up last weekend as Miami (Ohio) was defeated by St. Cloud State in the NCHC playoffs, and since there was no chance of Miami getting in the NCAA playoffs without winning the tournament it effectively ended his college career.
The 2014 third-round pick is a right shot, something the Wild could use a few more of in the pipeline. As The Athletic's Michael Russo noted, look for Belpedio to sign an Amateur Tryout (ATO) contract this year before signing his two-year entry-level deal in the summer.
Beginning Friday in Las Vegas, the Wild schedule to end the season is downright terrifying.
Just two of the remaining twelve games are against teams who are not either in the playoffs or are in the playoff chase at this moment. And as Sportsnet notes above, they have an incredible quality of competition in those games.
It's also worth noting that seven of the remaining twelve games are away from St. Paul, and the Wild have not exactly fared well on the road this season.
Following the past two losses to Edmonton and Colorado, the Wild's playoff odds dropped from 95% to 84% via SportsClubStats. Entering play Thursday, Minnesota just sits three points clear of Anaheim -- the first team on the outside looking in should the playoffs have started.
It feels like that April 4 game in Anaheim will have plenty of meaning to it, won't it?
Maybe it's too early to sound the alarm, but Devan Dubnyk has not exactly looked great in his past two starts.
Tuesday's start against Colorado was not Dubnyk's finest, as there were some soft(er) goals allowed by the Wild netminder. He has started nine of the past 10 games for the Wild -- including a back-to-back last weekend -- with a majority of those coming against non-playoff teams.
Dubnyk could probably use a night off or two down the stretch, but given the Wild's playoff positioning and schedule to end the season that seems highly unlikely now.
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