NHL Push for the Playoffs: Wild might have league’s best goalie tandem

wild goalie tandem
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Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2021-22 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

It is time to start paying attention to the Minnesota Wild as a major contender in the Western Conference. And if you already were, congratulations you are ahead of the game.

The Wild have been one of the best teams in the league in recent weeks and are in a fight with the St. Louis Blues for home ice advantage in the First Round. No matter where that series starts it is going to be an awesome matchup between two of the NHL’s more exciting teams.

Minnesota took a huge step forward a year ago with the arrival of Kirill Kaprizov, immediately transforming the team into a high-powered, must-see team. He and Mats Zuccarello have become one of the best top line duos in the league and still are this season. Add in the development of Matt Boldy and Kevin Fiala and the Wild have two dominant scoring lines to go with a rock solid defense.

They also have an outstanding goalie duo thanks to the trade deadline acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury and Cam Talbot give the Wild two legitimate starting goalie options and could be the final puzzle piece this team needs this season to potentially make a meaningful playoff run.

Fleury has looked rejuvenated since joining the Wild and getting away from the mess that was the Chicago Blackhawks and both goalies seem to be thriving on the internal competition for playing time. It remains to be seen which goalie will emerge as the primary start in the playoffs (smart money is on Fleury given his track record and experience) but having two capable goalies is a very big advantage. It not only gives you a Plan B and a safety net in case of an injury, but it also creates the flexibility to keep goalies fresh and give you multiple options.

Since the NHL trade deadline Talbot is 6-0-3 in his nine starts with a .927 save percentage and two shutouts. Fleury is 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage. For the season both goalies are over .910 in all situations and playing their best hockey of the season right now. You can win with that level of goaltending. Especially when the rest of the team is so solid from top to bottom.

The Wild’s long-term outlook is a little cloudy given the upcoming salary cap situation (Fiala needs a new contract after this season and that will be tight) so this was a perfect year for the Wild to go all in on trying to win. The Fleury addition helps them do that and makes them a very intriguing team going into the playoffs.

Minnesota hosts a Vancouver Canucks team on Thursday night that is clinging to its slim playoff hopes.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

ATLANTIC DIVISION
Panthers vs. Capitals
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

METROPOLITAN DIVISION
Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Rangers vs. Penguins

CENTRAL DIVISION
Avalanche vs. Stars
Wild vs. Blues

PACIFIC DIVISION
Flames vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

TODAY’S KEY GAMES

Bruins vs. Penguins, 7 p.m. ET
Jets vs. Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
Rangers vs. Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET
Canucks vs. Wild, 8 p.m. ET
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning, 8 p.m. ET
Stars vs. Flames, 9 p.m. ET
Blackhawks vs. Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Panthers – clinched
Maple Leafs – clinched
Lightning – clinched
Bruins – clinched
Red Wings – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated
Senators – eliminated
Canadiens – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – clinched
Rangers – clinched
Penguins – clinched
Capitals – clinched
Islanders – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Avalanche – clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference
Blues – clinched
Wild – clinched
Predators – 96.9%
Stars – 78.7%
Jets – eliminated
Blackhawks – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Flames – clinched
Oilers – 99.99%
Kings – 90.2%
Golden Knights – 28%
Canucks – 6.2%
Ducks – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Kraken – eliminated

draft lottery
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DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via Tankathon)

18.5% – Coyotes
13.5% – Canadiens
11.5% – Flyers
9.5% – Kraken
8.5% – Devils
7.5% – Blackhawks (*conditional)
6.5% – Senators
6.0% – Sabres
5.0% – Red Wings
3.5% – Sharks
3.0% – Ducks
2.5% – Blue Jackets
2.0% – Jets
1.5% – Islanders
0.5% – Canucks
0.5% – Golden Knights (*conditional)

“Beginning this season there will be a limit on the total number of selections (10) a team participating in the lottery can move up in the event it wins one of the lottery draws, a change announced by the NHL on March 23, 2021. Only the top 11 seeds will be eligible to receive the No. 1 selection in the 2022 draft.”

The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery drawing will be held May 10

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 113
Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers – 111 points
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames – 108
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 106
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 102
Matthew Tkachuk, Flames – 99

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 58 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 54
Chris Kreider, Rangers – 50
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 50
Kyle Connor, Jets – 43
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild – 43
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 43