Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators

It's been a long, tepid journey this season for the Wild. They burst out of the gate with a 14-7-1 record in the first two months. Then the troubles started. Injuries took the wind from their sails, and it has been a mediocre year ever since. There were highlights like rookie Cal Clutterbuck igniting fans with his enthusiastic play and bone-crunching hits, and lows like when the squad dropped a team record six losses in a row during an utterly dreadful December. But the Wild have hung tough and played themselves into the playoff hunt, and at the time of this writing, are only a couple of points out the postseason. This makes their final home game of the regular season, of course, all the more important. A win over the Nashville Predators could get them over the hump and into battle for the Stanley Cup. Marion Gaborik's return and immediate offensive boost should help, but the Wild will need goalie Niklas Backstrom to prove he was worth the $24 million contract he signed in February.
Fri., April 10, 7 p.m., 2009

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