Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
Tuesday night was a big night for the Minnesota Wild as they not only defeated the Carolina Hurricanes but clinched a second place finish in the Central Division and, more importantly, home-ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (NOTE: Home-ice advantage, for those that don't know, means that in a seven-game series the Wild will play four of those seven at home).
With their first round opponent likely being the red hot St. Louis Blues, the Wild will need every advantage they can get, and Wild players hope that playing on their home ice will make all the difference come postseason.
"Hopefully that'll be the difference for us," Ryan Suter said after Minnesota's win Wednesday. "We played really solid earlier in the year here and we're starting to get that mojo back at home. I think any team that has success has success at home in the playoffs."
This season the Wild are 27-12-2 when playing at Xcel Energy Center compared to just 20-13-6 when on the road.
Minnesota was dangerously close to losing home-ice as they had, at one point, lost 13 of 18 games and teams such as St. Louis and Nashville were hot on the team's trail, however, the Wild have fended them off and clinched their date with home-ice, though win that date happens, the Wild will be in for a challenge.
Eric Staal said clinching home-ice was a goal the team had at the beginning of the week and now that said goal is accomplished, they're gearing up to perform their best in the postseason.
"This is a great building and a great atmosphere. We're a good home team and we gotta use that to our advantage," Staal said. "Keep trying to build our game and be smart about what we do with our bodies to be ready and perform at the top of our game once Game 1 starts."