On April 2, the Minnesota Wild will square off against the New York Rangers in what some people think could be a preview of the Stanley Cup Finals. The game will be played on Minnesota’s home ice at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This will be the second time the two clubs have faced each other this season, with the last game ending in a heartbreaking loss for the Wild, as the Rangers scored three goals in the third period in a come-from-behind win. The Wild hope their fate for this game is better, as each victory earns them two points and gets them closer to a playoff berth. The Rangers have already clinched a playoff spot in what is widely considered a weaker Eastern Conference.
Both clubs are playing extremely well as of late. The Wild, who are 8-2-0 in their last ten games, currently hold the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Rangers, with a record of 6-4-0 in their last ten games, currently hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have six games left on the regular season schedule.
The Minnesota Wild are enjoying a much deserved four day break after back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, and hope to continue their recent hot streak, after their two wins against the Calgary Flames and the Los Angeles Kings over the weekend. After missing three games due to injury, Kyle Brodziak will be back in the line-up for the Wild and it is likely he will replace Erik Haula as the team’s fourth line center. The Rangers will also get a key player back from injury for Thursday’s game. Veteran star, Martin St. Louis, has been out of the lineup since the middle of March. St. Louis will provide a scoring boost, as he had posted 47 points in the 68 games prior to being injured.
Both teams’ success has largely revolved around excellent goaltending and that should continue in Thursday’s meeting. Devan Dubnyk will make his 35th consecutive start for the Wild, while Henrik Lundqvist will make his third start in the four games after coming back from a two-month injury.
With both teams gearing up for the playoffs and a lot on the line, a highly intense game is expected. The Wild need a win to keep their edge in the Western Conference Wild Card race, while the Rangers are looking to maintain their position as number one seed, which will give them home ice advantage for the playoffs.