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If you haven’t already, it’s time to start taking the Minnesota Wild seriously.
With Tuesday’s win over the San Jose Sharks, they pulled into first place overall with 39 points in 28 games played. And it’s not just the point total, but how they’re piling them up.
Josh Harding was forced to leave Tuesday’s win just over a minute into the game with a neck injury, which could have spelled disaster with Niklas Backstrom already on the shelf with a groin injury. Instead, rookie Matt Hackett stepped in and stopped all 34 shots he saw in a 2-1 win.
“I think it’s a good sign that there’s a lot of character in the room,” Wild forward Kyle Brodziak told reporters about Minnesota’s comeback wins. “It’s happened so many times this year, and it seems like every single time everybody’s talking each other through it, saying to each other to stick with it.”
Backstrom and Harding are both considered probable for Thursday night and the Kings continue to struggle to find the back of the net.
PICK: Minnesota Wild
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames (-130, 5.5)
Early prediction: there’s going to be a lot of talk about defensive assignments in both dressing rooms before this one.
The Avalanche were just destroyed 6-0 by Vancouver, while Calgary slipped past the lowly Hurricanes 7-6 on Tuesday. Calgary had a 4-2 lead heading into the third period before the floodgates opened, while Colorado was down 2-0 after the second before the Canucks poured it on.
“We let down at the end, we got sloppy, and it cost us some goals,” Calgary associate coach Craig Hartsburg told reporters. “But we’re at the point here where we have to build on the positives. We’ll look back at that part of the game and say, ‘This can’t happen,’ but there’s a lot of really good things in that hockey game we’ll have to build on.”
Colorado has won just one of the last 11 meetings between the two teams and Calgary will be fired up after its latest barnburner.
PICK: Calgary Flames