Final Stretch of Games: Key to Keeping Playoff Hopes Alive
By Aaron Heckmann
The trade deadline is over. The Wild need success in the final six games to make it to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Wild are tied for second for the highest active playoff streak in the NHL, but with Anaheim missing the playoffs this year the Wild hope to keep the second highest active playoff streak alive. The Wild are desperate for wins considering they are out of a playoff spot by a single point. The Wild are one point behind the Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche. The Wild should be motivated to make the playoffs because defenseman Matt Dumba, who has been out since December, could return in the first round since he has resumed skating which means he is a little ahead of schedule. Dumba is arguably Minnesota’s best defenseman and adds a ton of offense from the blue line. The Wild have six games remaining and five of them are against playoff teams. The Wild probably need wins in at least four of their remaining games if they want a shot at the final wild-card spot. The real question is, “Can a younger Minnesota Wild team, with top defenseman Matt Dumba possibly returning for the playoffs, make a deep playoff run?”
Since the trade deadline, newly acquired Ryan Donato has easily been the best forward for Minnesota with 15 points in the last 16 games. Also, newly acquired Kevin Fiala has six points in 13 games and has shown his speed and creativity. Zach Parise leads the Wild with 26 goals and 59 points. Eric Staal has 50 points this season and was rewarded with a two year 6.5 million dollar contract extension. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon has had his best season in his career this year with 14 goals and 42 points. Jared Spurgeon also leads the Wild with a +5. Marcus Foligno has 18 points and has once again been Minnesota’s most physical player with 194 hits which tops last year. Devan Dubnyk has 29 wins with a 91.1% save percentage and 2.60 goals against average. Minnesota sits one point out of a playoff spot.