From The Ice

Minnesota Wild Hold Key to the Western Conference

Minnesota Wild Hold Key to the Western Conference
Cat Silverman

Friday night, the Minnesota Wild took home a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.

With the loss, the Flames remained where they sit outside the post-season — they’re a point down on the third place Los Angeles Kings, who passed them earlier in the week in one of the tightest playoff races this season.

With the win, though, the Wild pulled within a point of a third-place spot themselves — only instead of competing for a spot with the Kings, the Wild have the opportunity to overcome the Chicago Blackhawks. The Original Six powerhouse dropped a 5-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and have a tough schedule sitting ahead of them — while the Wild had once been looking more like competitors for Connor McDavid, they now seem like a legitimate threat to earn home ice advantage in the post-season.

Much of the Wild’s success has been credited to newly acquired netminder Devan Dubnyk — since being acquired for a third round pick from the Arizona Coyotes back in January, the lanky goalie has gone 25-6-1. He’s posted a .938 SV%, earned five shutouts, and made a record-breaking 33 consecutive starts to pull the Central Division team out of obscurity.

Although Dubnyk is having an insane back stretch to his season, though, the rest of the team is far from useless in the Cinderella story they’re living.

In Friday night’s win, alternate captain Zach Parise took seven shots against Calgary netminder Karri Ramo and recorded a late third period goal — but close behind him was newly acquired Chris Stewart with six SOG and an assist of his own. The team has held their opponents to some of the fewest shots against in the league, and they’ve managed to look imposing regardless of who’s on the ice — whether veterans or rookies, most of the skaters for Minnesota have looked impressive night in and night out.

Plenty of the team members have credited Dubnyk with more than just playing well — they assure fans and media members alike that the netminder has renewed their confidence in themselves as a group, and the family mentality that seems to come with it has worked wonders for the franchise. They take on the Los Angeles Kings next, and a win over the defending Stanley Cup Champions could both help the Calgary Flames push their way back into the post-season and pull the Wild themselves into third in the Central Division. From there, they have the opportunity to sneak ahead of the St. Louis Blues if the final few games turn in their favor — and that would award last year’s underdogs home ice advantage in a wide-open Western Conference.

There’s no guarantee at this point, but things look good for Mike Yeo’s skaters — and the other Western teams are starting to get nervous.

From The Ice
Cat Silverman
@catacarryon

Catherine is the first American in a long line of Canadians, making her the black sheep before she even decided she wasn't going to be a Leafs fan. Her cousins may never forgive her for the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, but they're at least glad she's a rink rat, too. She's a pretty terrible goalie, but she's got a good grasp on the game from her seat on the bench.

More in From The Ice

27 April 2015:  Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) celebrates his game winning goal against the New York Islanders at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. where the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders, 2-1 in the deciding game of Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Evgeny Kuznetsov Gets Two Year Deal

Cat SilvermanJuly 6, 2015
11 APR 2014: New Jersey Devils center Ryan Carter (20) goes for the puck in front of New York Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson (45) during the second period of the game between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders played at the Prudential Center in Newark,NJ. The New York Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout.

Anders Nilsson Sees Rights Dealt Yet Again (Updated)

Cat SilvermanJuly 6, 2015
11 April 2015: Boston Bruins right wing Brett Connolly (14) during the NHL regular season game between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL.

Bruins Lock Up Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes With Deals

Cat SilvermanJuly 6, 2015
14 March 2015 : Vancouver Canucks Center Shawn Matthias (27) attempts to check Toronto Maple Leafs Defenceman Dion Phaneuf (3)   during a game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.   ****For Editorial Use Only****

Shawn Matthias Gets Shot With Rebuilding Leafs

Cat SilvermanJuly 6, 2015
Cap

Interview with Hockey’s Cap: Searching for a CapGeek Heir

Sean TierneyJuly 6, 2015
10 May 2015:  Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) in action against New York Rangers center Derick Brassard (16) at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. where the New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals, 4-3 to tie the Eastern Conference Second Round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at 3 games apiece.

Evgeni Kuznetsov Should be Easy Extension

Cat SilvermanJuly 5, 2015
31 March 2015:  Carolina Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin (28) warms up at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. where the Washington Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2.

Alexander Semin Weighs Options, KHL Not Currently One

Cat SilvermanJuly 5, 2015
April 4, 2015: Toronto Maple Leafs Center Nazem Kadri (43) [7142]. The Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 (SO) in a regular season NHL game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Nazem Kadri Gets Unexpected One Year Deal

Cat SilvermanJuly 5, 2015
18 Jan 2015  Jets Andrew Ladd (16) chases Coyotes Mikkel Boedker (89) during the Winnipeg Jets vs Arizona Coyotes game at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg MB.

Mikkel Boedker Files for Arbitration With Arizona

Cat SilvermanJuly 5, 2015