The Wild and Avalanche both have 34 points. Tonight, after they meet in Minnesota, that tie in the standings will be broken. But tomorrow, after they play in Colorado, they could be tied again. Or, one team could be four points up on the other. Or, one team could be three points up on the other. Sorry, pulling a bit of a rambling Darryl Sutter here. Here’s what both teams have been up to:
The Wild (15-7-4) have lost two straight, 3-0 at St. Louis and 3-1 to Phoenix. So yeah, scoring goals has been an issue of late. On the bright side, Minnesota could have Zach Parise (foot) back in the lineup tonight, which would help. Parise practiced yesterday on the first line with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, but we’ll have to wait until later in the day to find out if he’s in for sure. One forward who definitely won’t be in the lineup is Mikael Granlund, who’s out at least a week with an upper-body injury.
The Avs (17-6-0) are a modest 5-5-0 in their last 10. They did, however, earn consecutive victories over Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles before losing to St. Louis on Wednesday. Patrick Roy’s troops still have a lot to prove, but they haven’t completely fallen apart like some were expecting them to. The high number of shots they allow (an average of 32.0, the seventh most in the NHL) will only be an issue if their goalie tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere can’t maintain their high level of play.
With 34 points each, both teams are three points clear of ninth-place Vancouver in the Western Conference standings. But both have to be cognizant that the Canucks, despite a 3-4-3 record in their last 10, have in fact been playing quite well. The race for the playoffs is going to be a fascinating one in the West.