The Wild's sprint to the finish line is going to be a grind

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Hockey fans, get ready for what should be an incredible push to the finish line of the NHL season.

The Minnesota Wild is about to enter a stretch of the season that will feel like a marathon while being played out like a sprint. How do 23 games in 47 days sound? It's busy in NHL terms, but not nearly as busy as it's going to be when they're playing the final 20 games of the regular season over the course of 37 days.

It's a 6 1/2 week grind that will make or break them.

The Wild have been off for the Olympic break since Feb. 6, but head coach Mike Yeo has been pushing them hard in practice this week so they're ready for back-to-back games beginning Thursday at Edmonton and Vancouver.

“I don’t think we can wait until Thursday night to flip a switch, then all the sudden have the urgency that we need,” Yeo told the Star Tribune. “We have to practice that way, we have to compete and battle in practice and make sure that we’re doing things the way that we need to do them.”

In the same Star Tribune article, Wild beat writer Michael Russo listed four keys the Wild need for the stretch run.

  1. Darcy Kuemper must be the man in goal
  2. The Wild must win on the road
  3. No Olympic hangover
  4. Health is paramount

Staying healthy has been a major factor so far this season. Top scorers Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle have all missed time with injuries. Koivu hasn't played since breaking his ankle Feb. 4, but he's on the mend and there's a chance he could return to action on Thursday.

Kuemper was the man in goal before the Olympic break. Since January, the Wild has gone 8-3-2 in games started by Kuemper. Meanwhile, Josh Harding remains out with an illness and Niklas Backstrom is still limited with abdominal soreness, so the Wild will likely once again rely heavily on the 23-year-old Kuemper.

Next Up

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Nov. 29 COVID-19 update: 57 deaths, nearly 9,000 more cases

Nearly 100,000 tests were included in Sunday's report.

jim ramstad

Watch former Rep. Jim Ramstad's memorial service online

The ceremony will be live-streamed for the public on Sunday.

EDL1LeKXsAEeH32

How high can Rashod Bateman go in the 2021 NFL Draft?

The Gophers star receiver has plenty of praise heading into next April.

TCF Bank Stadium

15 more from Gopher football team test positive for COVID-19

That brings the total number of cases from this outbreak to 40.

Teddy Bridgewater

5 questions for Vikings-Panthers Week 12 NFC battle

The Vikings welcome Teddy Bridgewater back to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

police lights

Shelter-in-place in Albert Lea after police officer shot in the chest

The officer was able to drive to an emergency room.

En-KfRaXEAEbuE7

St. Paul officer shoots man who got out of dumpster, ran towards police

A report says the man was naked and had a steak knife.

Screen Shot 2020-11-28 at 6.58.11 PM

Gophers dominate second half to defeat Loyola-Marymount

Marcus Carr scored 26 to send the Gophers to 2-0.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Kandiyohi Co. man airlifted after hand caught in corn picker

Corn pickers are a common cause of farm accidents.

White tail deer

DNR: Passenger shot at deer out of driver's side window

The DNR said 'all sense of safety was disregarded.'

Related