DENVER – The Minnesota Wild has been talking in clichés lately. Amid a four-game winning streak, its third such stretch in the past six weeks, it's hard to argue with changing the formula.
Now with its Thursday game behind it, a 6-2 win against the Calgary Flames in Saint Paul, the Wild can shift its attention to a Saturday showdown against the Colorado Avalanche.
And the Wild would be darned not to be cliché when it comes to how it's approaching what essentially amounts to a playoff game.
With all the talk about Niklas Backstrom facing his former team in the Minnesota Wild, the other piece of the trade deadline move that came back to the Wild is getting less press.
Forward David Jones did not spend 10 years in Calgary like Backstrom did in Minnesota (Jones played three season for the Flames), nor does he hold franchise records like Backstrom.
But in the three-plus weeks and 10 games Jones has worn a Wild sweater, he has impressed his teammates and coaches with his versatility and consistent performances, which they talked about prior to the Minnesota Wild hosting the Calgary Flames on Thursday.
The saying goes, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
On Thursday, an old friend will be turned into a foe when the Minnesota Wild hosts the Calgary Flames, looking for its fourth consecutive victory and a big two points heading into the weekend.
Former Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom is expected to start for Calgary. A Wild win in any fashion would see it maintain the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Minnesota sits one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche, who has played one fewer game than the Wild. Colorado plays the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
With the field announced, 16 of college hockey's top teams will compete for the right to travel to Tampa Bay and the 2016 Frozen Four, beginning this weekend.
There are four regional tournaments taking place across the country — including one at Xcel Energy Center — and seven Minnesota Wild prospects represented on five schools.
Forward Jason Pominville practiced in full with the Wild on Wednesday, and could possibly return on Thursday when it hosts the Calgary Flames in Saint Paul.
Pominville, who has missed the past seven games with a lower-body injury, took morning skate on Tuesday prior to the Wild's 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings. Wednesday was his first full practice with his teammates, the next step in drawing back into the lineup.
"It was nice to get an actual skate in, and a full practice, and not a morning skate," Pominville said. "I felt fine, and I guess we'll go from there."
Forward Jason Pominville and goaltender Darcy Kuemper each participated in morning skate with their Minnesota Wild teammates prior to the Wild hosting the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, though neither is expected to return to the lineup.
Pominville has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury. He's been skating on his own, and Tuesday marked the second time he has been out with his teammates since playing against the St. Louis Blues March 6.
"Throughout even the Buffalo game, I was pacing myself," Pominville said. I didn't want to get caught. I was just trying to be cautious. I didn't want to overdo things."
Defenseman Matt Dumba said no one needs to key the Minnesota Wild into the situation it currently faces.
"We're all aware of it," Dumba said. "Just looking at the standings each night, we see what it is. It's us versus Colorado, and we know that there are a bunch of big games in front of us, and we just have to focus on one at a time. "
On Tuesday, hosting the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild will again have a chance to move into the top eight in the Western Conference. A win in any fashion would see Minnesota pass the Avalanche for the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Today marks the culmination of the NHL’s first-ever Green Week, showcasing sustainability programs and initiatives that are reducing the league's environmental impact, while calling on fans and partners to accelerate a movement toward a healthier planet.
“Athletics depend on a clean environment,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a video prepared for NHL Green Week. “Clean air, clean water, are all aspects that are important for the world and for sports, particularly hockey.”
The Minnesota Wild looks like it will shuffle its lines again on Saturday when it hosts the Carolina Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center.
After making changes to its top-six forward combinations for the first time under interim Head Coach John Torchetti on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, the Wild again showed tweaks in practice on Friday.
NEW JERSEY – Earning a point against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday in a game the Minnesota Wild led in the waning seconds of regulation left a sour taste in the Wild's mouth.
With a final stop on its three-game road trip at the Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, the Wild can return to Minnesota on a high note, and with more points and a playoff spot in tow.
"We know we left a point behind in Ottawa," Nino Niederreiter said. "That's a game we should have closed out better than the way we did, but coming into tonight's game, we know what's at stake."