What you need to know today.
5. LAK 57, 1
6. SJS 57, 1
7. DET 54, 1
8. MIN 53, 2
9. CBJ 53, 1
Since yesterday a couple new things:
A. St. Louis held the hammer over LA and San Jose in the form of the game-in-hand, and they used it last night. They jumped from 6th to 4th, and a win in their last game at home against Chicago - any kind of win - and they will lock up home ice in the first round because only one of LA or SJ is going to finish with 59 points. The Blues at home is going to be a very formidable opponent.
B. Detroit cruised last night putting them in a position to clinch a playoff spot with just one point in their last game, which would mean the best the BJs could do is tie them in points, but the Wings have the edge in ROW (21-18).
C. The Wild dropped to 8th place, but now hold the hammer because THEY are the only team with 2 remaining games. If the Wild wins out, the best they can finish is 6th. If they lose out, and Columbus gets one point in its last game, the Wild misses the playoffs.
Edmonton @ Minnesota - Win and they're in. In a way, I think it's a good thing the BJs won in Dallas last night. This Wild team has demonstrated a maddening willingness to play down to its opponent at critical times, and this game represents both a lesser opponent and a critical time for the Wild. So heading into this game with the pressure still on is preferable than heading into the game with the pressure off.
I know it's been reported that the net is Backstrom's the final two games, but if the Wild wins and clinches tonight, why wouldn't you give him a rest and get Hards an NHL game in Denver? Obviously if the Wild loses tonight it's a different story.
Sounds like Rupp might be ready, meaning the fourth line of Rupp, Konopka and Mitchell could be reunited. They were great, frankly, during the Wild's run earlier. And that's the kind of line that wins playoff games. Getting them rolling again would be very big for this hockey team.
If the Wild is comfortably leading late in the game, do you rest a Suter if you're Mike Yeo?
If the Wild is comfortably leading late in the game, do you give a Taylor Hall a little love tap if you're Cal Clutterbuck?
If the Wild is comfortably leading late in the game, do you switch Bax and Hards (assuming the Oilers have scored a goal)?
If the Wild is comfortably leading late in the game, do I keep drinking the Miller Lites that I tried last game in a desperate attempt to find some juju? I'm all for positive juju, but every time you open a Miller Lite a puppy goes blind somewhere in the world.