Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
The NHL Regular Season is coming to a close and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are fast approaching and that is good news for the Minnesota Wild.
They are one of the hottest teams, not only in the Western Conference, but in the league having won three-straight games and maintained their hold on the second spot in the West.
The Wild will play their final regular season game on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes and will look to break the franchise records that they tied on Thursday night.
With their 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild tied the franchise-record most wins (48) and points (104) in a single season.
"It's exciting. It also gives us an opportunity to pass it on Saturday, not just tie it on Saturday," Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk said after picking up his franchise-record 40th win of the season Thursday night. "It's been a great season for us. You know, the talk hasn't been what we wanted it to be over the last little while. This is what we've been doing for 90 percent of the year, this is what we're used to and this is what we're expecting."
"It tells you we're doing something right this season and winning games," Mikael Granlund said. "Obviously it's nice to break those records, but we want something more from this season and we'll go for the next one."
The "more" that Granlund is referring to is a deep playoff run that would hopefully end in hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup. The pursuit of that dream can start soon, but not until after Saturday's game.
The Coyotes are very similar to Minnesota's previous opponent in that they have little to play for as they were eliminated from playoff contention a long while ago. Yet, they remain a dangerous opponent because, as the Wild know well, a team with nothing to play for is still a dangerous team.
The Coyotes enter Saturday's game having beaten the lowly Vancouver Canucks 4-3 Thursday night and will look to potentially play spoiler and drop the Wild from second to third in the West.
Arizona is led by Winger Radim Vrbata who has 55 points on the year (20 G, 35 A) and scored two of those goals against the Canucks. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a solid, young defenseman who has helped the Coyotes on both ends of the ice despite the team's poor record. If the Wild hope to end their season with a win, slowing these two guys down will be extremely important.
Back-up goaltender Darcy Kuemper will get the start Saturday night as Dubnyk will get rest before the postseason as Mike Smith will likely be in net for Arizona.
The puck drops Saturday night at 8:08 P.M. CST and can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM.