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Todd Varga


blog-0972634001332865677.jpgThe Countdown is on... 3-27-2012

The Minnesota wild were officially eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday by way of a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Washington Capitals (I stress the word officially). The Wild have now officially become the first team to have lead the NHL on December 1st that missed the playoffs. And the cherry on top: Matt Cullen broke his finger blocking a shot Saturday in Buffalo, and is more than likely done for the year. This isn’t unexpected; the Wild have won 12 games since the second week of December. That’s obviously not going to get it done. With that said, most Wild eyes will turn to the NHL Entry draft, where the Wild will more than likely have a lottery pick. As it stands now the Wild have the 4th pick, and are only one point put of the 2nd pick. The possibility of having the 2nd pick are very good, taking into account the way the Wild are playing and their remaining schedule.

Picking in the top 5 at the draft would be a big help for a team that has a severe need for some elite talent right now (A lot of people are speculating about what the Wild may try to do in free agency, which could certainly help the team significantly, but is by no means guaranteed). A lot has been made of the Wild’s good line up of prospects (Mikael Grandlund, Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips, Jason Zucker, Johan Larsson, Jonas Brodin, and Erik Haula- Go Gophers J, among others), but this is a team that needs help now. I know having a top 5 pick obviously doesn’t guarantee that, but the odds are significantly better than picking 9th or 10th. This is the problem the Wild have been enduring for the last several years. They have been mired in that 8th to 12th draft spot that yields talent, but not immediate impact talent (For the record, the Wild have done an amazing job at the draft over the past few years. They have gotten great talent in their draft position and in the later rounds. This is just a critique of circumstance and not a knock on the Wild at the draft for the past few years under this new regime of ownership). Now, with all of that said, the Wild will go out there and try to win games as best they can. Mike Yeo is not a guy who is going to coast to the end of the season. That will all start tonight in St. Paul as the New York Rangers roll into town…. So that’s looking promising.

For tonight’s game:

-Josh Harding will get the start and Nicklas Backstrom will back up- This is Backstrom’s official return from injury, so emergency call up Matt Hackett will be sent back to Houston. Harding has looked very good as of late, and may be trying to show the Wild how important it may be to re-sign him (He wants to stay with Minnesota).

-Jared Spurgeon (Concussion) and Matt Cullen (Broken Finger) are both likely out for the season- Chad Rau (brother of Kyle Rau- Go Gophers J) is an emergency call up for Cullen and Kurtis Foster (Back) will play in tonight’s game.

- The Rangers have the Penguins hot on their heels for the one seed in the Eastern Conference, so expect them to come out and play their best- This is the first night of a back to back for the NYR, who are in Winnipeg tomorrow, so it could be Biron or Lundqvist, but my money will be on Biron.

Have a good day everybody- feel free to leave comments and questions.

Todd Varga

On twitter @Wild_Halo

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Zucker signed an entry level contract today. Looking forward to watching him play. Good to see Koivo back on the scoreboard tonight.

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