The Minnesota Wild have been dominating lately (there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d write this year) and these guys don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. The Wild take on the Vancouver Canucks Monday night, but before then, here are three things you need to know:
1. Goaltending is the Answer
The Minnesota Wild always seem to have some sort of goaltender malfunction halfway through the season. Luckily for them, recently-acquired Devan Dubnyk is here to save the day. Dubnyk has worked his way to four shut-outs in nine games, a 7-1 record and a 1.30 goals-against-average since being traded to the Wild on January 14.
Going in to Monday night’s game, Dubnyk will be coming off of two consecutive shutouts, one against the Chicago Blackhawks and one against the Colorado Avalanche. Although Vancouver has a good netminder in Ryan Miller, Dubnyk has been a brick wall for Minnesota. His stellar play also seems to have given the rest of the team a much-needed boost of confidence. With a streak like this, I wouldn’t expect anything to change Monday night.
Dubnyk also has a fancy new mask, so maybe that’ll make him even better.
2. Don’t Stop the Streak
The Minnesota Wild is currently on a five-game win streak. This team hasn’t won five successive games in regulation since March 25, 2013. Yes, you read that right. March. 2013. That’s almost two years of hockey without five straight regulation wins. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Bad that it’s been that long, but good that Minnesota is apparently playing some of the best hockey they’ve played in years.
If the Wild have finally gotten to the point where they can win five straight games, they must be playing pretty well. The team, the fans, the entire state knows that the Wild are finally playing good hockey. This has to instill some confidence in these boys.
On top of their current streak, Minnesota also has a winning record at home against Vancouver. In the series record, the Wild has gone 21-19-2 at the Xcel Energy Center versus the Canucks. Although that’s not a crazy statistic, it’s still a winning percentage and everything positive helps. This team has a lot going its way heading into Monday night.
3. Playoffs are Possible
I don’t want to jump the gun, but the Wild could still possibly make it into the playoffs. Obviously nothing in hockey, or any other sport for that matter, is guaranteed, but Minnesota has a chance to make up some serious points here.
Minnesota currently sits in ninth place in the Western Conference, five points behind eighth-place Calgary and seventh-place Vancouver, who are both tied with 61 points. The Wild play four games this week, so they have a chance to gain some ground if they continue to stay hot. I’m sure it’ll come down to the wire, but this team certainly looks like they have a better chance now than they did a month ago.
Keep your fingers crossed, Minnesota Wild fans. Anything is possible.
Alli covers the Minnesota Wild and has been a contributing writer with THW since August 2014. She is currently a journalism and sports management student at the University of Minnesota. For all of your Minnesota Wild news and updates, follow her on twitter: @allibaker23