Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
It is a big night in the state of hockey as the Minnesota Wild will take on the Philadelphia Flyers tonight looking to clinch their fifth-straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The magic number for Minnesota currently sits at two, meaning if they defeat the Flyers tonight in any fashion (regulation, overtime, shootout) they will lock up their spot in the playoffs. The Wild can still clinch a playoff berth should they lose, but they would then need some help from their Central Division foe Winnipeg Jets. Should the Jets beat the Los Angeles Kings tonight in regulation, the Wild will punch their ticket to the postseason. Minnesota can also clinch if they earn a point against Philadelphia and the Kings then lose to the Jets in any fashion.
Despite their poor play over the last few weeks, Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, speaking to KFAN's Paul Allen on Thursday morning, says that the players aren't getting down and that the stretch of losses has not negatively affected the locker room.
"Individually they're probably down a little bit because when you lose you're not happy but the locker room has been fine," Boudreau said. "The leadership has been great. There's no controversy at all, in any shape or form about our locker room."
Boudreau spoke after practice regarding any potential celebration upon clinching their playoff berth and the Wild head coach said simply, "Not anymore. My expectations are much higher."
Minnesota is coming off a big 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks that snapped a five-game losing streak and calmed some of the fears about a potential 'collapse' for the team. They'll now look to build off that small bit of success against Philadelphia tonight.
The Flyers, much like the Wild, have also struggled of late, losing six of their last 10 games and falling far out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. They now sit six points behind the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot and, because they are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, will be fighting for their postseason lives.
Philadelphia is led by Jacob Voracek (55 points in 72 games) and Wayne Simmonds who was named to the All-Star team this season and has scored a team-high 29 goals.
Devan Dubnyk (37-18-3, 2.17 goals allowed per game) will get the start in-net for the Wild - his seventh straight start - and will be opposed by Flyers net-minder Steve Mason who boasts a 21-21-7 record this season while allowing 2.77 goals per game.
The puck will drop tonight at 7:08 P.M. CST and can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM.