Fifth place. Fifth, and it is all on the line. Tied at 70 points with these very Kings, and two other squads, and just two points away from just three other teams. All of which are in action tonight. Win, and stay in fifth, lose and they could drop out of the race completely.
And you thought this was going to get easier.
Tonight, the Wild face a strong Kings team, and one that has shown some severe fluxes in play. Early favorites for the Pacific crown, the Kings are now in the thick of playoff hunt, and yet on the bubble. Just like the Wild. The Kings are hungry, they are desperate, and they are very, very good.
If the Wild hope to win this game, they will need to find a way to overcome the loss of not only Mikko Koivu, but now Kyle Bridziak as well. The physical style of play will not allow the Wild to triple shift centers, and Todd Richards counters by sliding Nystrom over.
How all of this adds up for the Wild will be interesting to watch. They have overcome a great deal, and yet they have never faced this situation before. High pressure, their leader down, and now one of the hottest hands on the team is down. It will take a Herculean effort, and one this team is more than capable of. Cal Clutterbuck will need another big game to counter that of Wayne Simmonds and Dustin Brown.
Clearly, the defense will have its hands full, will even less scoring punch than the Wild had before. Huge games will be needed from everyone on the blue line. Defending Backstrom from the net crashing Kings, and they will need to help with some offense as well. Every little bit helps.
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