The Minnesota Wild likes to play fast, and thinks that, when it does so, it can be successful.
Opposite the Wild in its first round playoff series will be the Dallas Stars, the NHL's highest-scoring team, and a transition goal waiting to happen.
"It’s crazy," Matt Dumba said. "They have a very high-octane offense. We’re aware of that. We’re going to have to take time and space away from them so they don’t make plays. Have to play extra tight. We’re going to defend with a lot of detail, good sticks, boxing out hard and take away time and space so they don’t have their push."
For the fourth consecutive season, the Minnesota Wild is headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From a three-goal, third period opening night comeback, to the first-ever professional outdoor hockey game in the State Of Hockey, to its drive back to the postseason, Wild.com relives some of the best and biggest moments from the 2015-16 regular season.
Of the near 310 minutes the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars have played against each other this season, close to 210 have been played with the score tied or within a goal.
If that's any indicator of how the first round 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs could be between the Western Conference and Central Division rivals, the Wild is in for a dogfight.
But it already knew that.
It's a strange situation, and all the questions are valid, according to Head Coach John Torchetti.
Playing its final regular season game and wrapping up its home schedule on Saturday, the Minnesota Wild will host the Calgary Flames before it begins the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.
The Wild is locked into the eight seed, and awaits its first round opponent, either the Dallas Stars or the St. Louis Blues.
The Minnesota Wild is locked into the second wild card into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference. Minnesota finishes its regular season schedule, at home, against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
Two out-of-town scores will be of the upmost interest to the Wild, when an hour after Minnesota and Calgary drops the puck (6 p.m. CT) the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues, tied atop the Central Division and the Western Conference, begin their season finales.
Each at 107 points, the Stars and Blues are the remaining first round potential opponents for the Wild. Here is what can happen Saturday to lead to the Wild playing either team, via the NHL.
When Devan Dubnyk said he first met 15-year-old Josh Karels, he would have never known something was wrong. "Anybody that's able to show that kind of strength," Dubnky said, "it’s special."
Karels' story, which has not only inspired the State of Hockey, but also an entire country of hockey fans and observers is one that, like so many people, caught Dubnyk's attention.
So Dubnyk went to Karels, wanting to do something to help out the 15-year-old local Bantam A player. Karels suffers from a terminal immune-deficiency disease, but has kept playing hockey despite being in-and-out of hospitals.
With the Minnesota Wild preparing for a new season of sorts, its practice on Friday took on the feel of a training camp session.
The Wild will play game number 82 against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, its regular season and home finale. Akin to a preseason game, while there's nothing to be gained in the standings against Calgary, there's plenty on the line, both physically and mentally.
"You want to be playing the right way, and want to be playing fast, and it's a regular season game, but it's really tough," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "You don't want anything to happen during the game, but you want to be playing the right way."
As interim Head Coach John Torchetti stood behind the visiting team's bench at Rogers Arena during his first game in charge of the Minnesota Wild, he took a whiff of smelling salts. It's something Torchetti does before every game to help get him fired up.
Come next week, Torchetti will experience another first: being the head coach of a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the Wild practicing Thursday for the first time since clinching a playoff berth on Tuesday, Torchetti needed no stimulants when expressing his excitement for that feat.
Though the Minnesota Wild has been playing games over the past seven or so weeks with major postseason implications, none of them have been playoff games.
"A lot of people throw the term, 'these are playoff games' out there in the regular season, but the fact of the matter is they're not really," Ryan Carter said.
Luckily for the Wild, its locker room is filled with players who have been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that experience and past success is something it thinks it can draw upon as it heads to the postseason for the fourth time in as many seasons.
After waking up on Feb. 14 in 11th place in the Western Conference, 51 days later, the Minnesota Wild clinched a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It was a rollercoaster season for Minnesota, who accrued 52 points in its first 41 games, a record-setting first half.
But the Wild would earn four points over games 42 through 56, going 1-11-2, and seeing it slip in the Western Conference standings.