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Kuemper, Wild keep rolling against Flames

Mar 3, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT

Darcy Kuemper AP

The Minnesota Wild are winning in part because of a surprisingly effective goalie, and this time, it isn’t Josh Harding. Instead, it’s Darcy Kuemper enjoying unexpected success, as the netminder and Wild won their fifth game in a row by beating the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Monday.

Kuemper, 23, was named the third star of last week after he only allowed one goal in two wins. He’s undefeated since the Olympic break ended and his winning streak extends two games before players departed for Sochi.

With this streak, the Wild find themselves with an increasingly comfortable hold on a wild card spot:

Two wild card teams

Minnesota: 75 points in 62 games played
Dallas: 68 points in 61 GP

Bubble teams (cutoff at 60+ points)

Winnipeg: 66 points in 62 GP
Vancouver: 66 points in 63 GP
Phoenix: 65 points in 61 GP
Nashville: 62 points in 61 GP

The Wild remain far behind Colorado (83 points in 61 GP) in the Central Division, so it looks like Minnesota might need to continue fighting for this spot. As of this moment, they appear positioned to win that fight.

The other bit of good news for Minnesota is that Mikko Koivu was able to (nervously) return:

  1. greej1938l - Mar 3, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Is a 4 game swing that far behind the Avs? I don’t know the way the wild have been playing

    • lordfletcher - Mar 3, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      Points and colorado has games in hand… Along with a team that has looked a bit stronger. Im a Wild fan and would be surprised if they catch the Avs. No one is talking about the but colorado is looking like a team that could be very tough to beat in a series.

      • mp1131211 - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:39 AM

        The Avs have 7 games this month against a team with a better record than them. And 11 left this season. That’s about as hard of a finish as you can get! The Avs will likely slide a bit.

    • mp1131211 - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:23 AM

      I’ve been thinking about that too. Look at the Avs schedule. Its really tough over the next 5. If they are going to have a losing streak, now would be the time.

  2. greej1938l - Mar 3, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    Good point. Colorado does have head to head. I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened personally. There’s obviously no reason to not hang on to that wild card spot though.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      The way they are playing, Aves have a reasonable chance of finishing 2nd in the Central (clearly the top conference in the NHL, and thus essentially the world), but most likely 3rd. Not too bad.

      I can’t imagine them finishing lower than 5th in the west.

      Too bad for Avevs and Wild they play in the central. Think of what their record would be if they played in the EC?. In the current Sagarin rankings, they’d only train the Bruins.

      • helloname01 - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:15 AM

        I’ve been drinking all day, and I can’t catch this.

  3. endusersolutions2013 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    The thing not mentioned that their injury satus has significantly improved recently – Parise and Koivo back, Grunland recovered from the head shot, Backstrum is only out with soreness. Very good chance Of making the playoffs, and finishing perhaps with the 6th or 7th best record in the WC.

    Big challenge is that once again, they are pretty well assured of taking on one of the top 3 teams in the 1st round, and if they somehow win, another of the top 3 in round 2.

    Solid team defensively, 7th overall, and would most likely place higher if they had a more potent offense. I did not try and figure it out precisely, but somewhere between 23rd to 20th offensively. Without more scoring, their playoff upside is very limited.

    • mp1131211 - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:29 AM

      They aren’t well assured of anything. They need to *get there* first, which they have a nasty habit of failing to do right at the end. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this year!

  4. endusersolutions2013 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    And while I really appreciate the way Darcy has stepped up, I’m still hoping Josh can come back, at least as a quality backup.

  5. atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    This was one of the first chances I’ve had to watch Minnesota this year, they seem like a pretty good team, all of that youth they’ve stockpiled seems to finally be paying off. Hopefully the Flames Marcus Granlund turns out to be as good as his brother looks like he’s going to be!

    Kuemper played well, what’s going on with Backstrom, will he be back anytime soon? If not you’d have to think the Wild will consider trading for at least a veteran backup for the playoffs, I know Harding has played well this year, but given the nature of his MS and that you never know when it will flare up, it would probably be a good idea to bring a third guy (Halak?) who has had playoff success and can step in if needed.

    • mp1131211 - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:33 AM

      This is ridiculous. The Minnesota Wild have never had freakish goalie injuries.

      • lordfletcher - Mar 4, 2014 at 8:08 AM

        that was a bad game last night too, very boring IMO.

        I really hope Fletcher does not bring in another goalie unless he can unload Backs in return. The Wild will go as far as Kuemper will take them, hopefully they can average near 3-3.5 goals a game in the playoffs “if” they make it to give em an honest chance.

  6. mnjoemama - Mar 4, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Darcy “the Duke” is the next Broduer ! Teams can’t handle that giant body and cat like speed n quickness in the net . Go wild …. ROY nation

  7. jcphitman - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Kuemper has been amazing! He deserves to keep playing, but I do worry about him playing too much to a point that he starts struggling or breaks down (like Backstrom did last year). We do need a back-up option to spell Kuemper and keep him ready for the playoffs. I like the idea of Halak as he is proven enough to cover us. It would be wonderful if we could trade Backstrom, but why would Buffalo or another team trade for him and keep a broken down goalie on their roster/cap?

    We’ll probably have to give up a second round pick or a good young player for Halak. We’ll see what happens.

  8. purpleguy - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Word has it Harding won’t be returning and it sounds like Backstrom will need abdominal surgery again. If they can’t count on Backstrom’s health, like last year, they’ll be undermanned in the playoffs again unless they trade for or sign someone. And with Hossa out, I’m wondering if the Hawks aren’t a more likely team to decline at season’s end than the Avs.

  9. greej1938l - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Everything I’ve heard on Harding isn’t good either unfortunately

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