Wild Week in Review

By Chris Kitching

Playoffs are out of the question but that doesn’t mean the Minnesota Wild
have nothing to play for.

The Wild need just one more victory this season to break their first-season
record of 25 victories and 68 points. With a record of 25-32-11-7, Minnesota
sits last in the Northwest Division, five points behind the Calgary Flames.

As mentioned before, the Wild have a perfect opportunity to put a dagger
into the playoff hopes of some teams this month. All of their remaining
seven games come against Western Conference foes, but six of the seven games
are against teams who are fighting for the fourth to eighth playoff spots in
the West.

Looking at this month’s schedule, the Wild may be a deciding factor in which
teams will advance to the first round of the playoffs, and which teams will
hit the greens early.

By the Numbers

79 – Faceoffs were taken during Sunday’s game in Chicago.

2 – Home games remaining for Minnesota.

1 – Points shy Marian Gaborik is of 100 for his young career.

The Week That Was (2-2-0-0)

Tue, Mar. 26: W 2-1 at St. Louis Blues (24-30-11-7)
– Blues playoff run in question thanks to Wild victory.

Minnesota kicked off the week with a big win in St. Louis, striking a major
blow to the Blues’ playoff drive thanks to some stellar netminding by Manny
Fernandez, who let in a late goal by Scott Young, with an extra attacker on
the ice.

Wed, Mar. 27: W 4-2 at Atlanta Thrashers (25-30-11-7)
– Minnesota drops National Hockey League’s worst team.

The Wild won their second consecutive road game with a 4-2 win over the
last-pace Atlanta Thrashers. Andrew Brunette led the charge with the
game-winner and an assist, extending his point streak to 10 games. Marian
Gaborik and Stacy Roest also had a goal and an assist for the Wild. Dwayne
Roloson picked up his 14th win of the season in net for the Wild.

Fri, Mar. 29: L 1-3 vs. Chicago Black Hawks (25-31-11-7)
– Michael Nylander’s three-point game sinks Minnesota.

Marian Gaborik kicked things off by scoring the first goal of the game, but
it was all Chicago – mainly Michael Nylander – after that. Nylander scored
the game-winner and assisted on two others while Steve Passmore got the win
in net for the Hawks. Fernandez stopped 19 shots for Minnesota in the loss.

Sun, Mar. 31: L 1-2 at Chicago Black Hawks (25-32-11-7)
– Wild drop the second game of a home and home series.

Minnesota fell behind 2-0 on goals by Alexei Zhamnov and Tony Amonte and
came close to tying it in the dying seconds when Marian Gaborik hit the iron
with an extra attacker on the ice. Jason Marshall’s fifth goal of the season
pulled the Wild within one but it wasn’t enough as Jocelyn Thibault blocked
18 shots for the win, while Fernandez stopped 23 shots for the losing side.

The Week Ahead

Minnesota has a three-game Canadian road trip ahead of the them, with all
three games coming against Northwest Division rivals. Edmonton and Vancouver
are playing very well as of late, and are both in the hunt for the final
playoff spots in the Western Conference, while the Flames’ play has dropped
increasingly since mid-season.

Tue, Apr. 2: at Edmonton Oilers (35-26-12-3, 2nd Northwest)
– Wild head north to face the surging Edmonton Oilers.

Thu, Apr. 4: at Calgary Flames (29-31-12-3, 4th Northwest)
– Minnesota defeated Calgary 4-2 March 18.

Fri, Apr. 5: at Vancouver Canucks (37-30-6-3, 3rd Northwest)
– Wild’s Canadian road trip continues against another hot team.

Player of the Week

RW Marian Gaborik was one of the lone bright spots over the weekend against
Chicago, scoring Minnesota’s lone goal in Friday’s loss and nearly sending
the game into overtime in Sunday’s loss.

The second-year forward had a goal and an assist against Atlanta on
Wednesday and assisted on Wes Walz’ game-winner on Tuesday in St. Louis.

In all, Gaborik has played in 71 games and has recorded 29 goals and 34
assists, two points behind linemate Andrew Brunette for the team lead.

Trainer’s Room

D Ladislav Benysek was scratched from the lineup on Sunday after receiving
10 stitches when he was hit under the right side of his mouth by a puck
flipped by Gaborik during Saturday’s practice.

Wild Briefs: Before Dany Heatley convinced college standout Mark
Hartigan to sign with Atlanta, the WCHA scoring champion considered signing
with the Wild….LW Andrew Brunette had his 10 game point-streak snapped in
Friday’s 3-1 loss to Chicago. Brunette had five goals and 17 points over
that span. Brunette has been chosen by Jacques Lemaire to remain team
captain for the remainder of the season….Rookie Tony Virta was a healthy
scratch in Sunday’s loss to the Black Hawks.