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For Minnesota Wild, It's Win or Go Home

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 25: Eric Belanger #25 (2L) of the Minnesota Wild congratulates teammate Owen Nolan #11 on his goal at 16:57 of the second period against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum March 25, 2009 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IApril 1, 2009

With five games left on the regular season and three points out of the playoffs, Minnesota will have to pull points out of every game if they are to make it into the western conference playoff picture.

The Wild have reached the playoffs the last two seasons but after countless injuries this year Minnesota may be watching the playoffs at home after winning the northwest division title last spring.

Minnesota (36-32-9) have earned 81 points so far this season. Last season the Wild finished with 98 points and two years ago the team finished with 104 points.

So what is Minnesota missing this year that they have only produced 81 points?

It is no secret that the Wild have little depth at offense, especially this season.

Last year, Minnesota had Marian Gaborik tally 42 goals with Brian Rolston putting up 31 goals. This season you would need to combine the top four Wild goal scorers to equal the mark set by Gaborik and Rolston last year.

However looking at the past two years and the stats compared to this year are rather similar in terms of goals for and against as a team.

This season the Wild have actually allowed less goals against compared to last year.

So is it really just an injury problem for Minnesota?

No, in fact the Wild do need more offense. With only maybe two consistent scoring lines at most, any teams needs more than that in order to be a threat in the playoffs.

There is a silver lining. Cal Clutterbuck even though offensively has not added lots of points, his presence around the league is making its mark, and the Wild have a young secret weapon in this rookie.

His forechecking is creating offense and turnovers from his physical play and if the Wild can use that to their advantage and create a more physical and aggressive offensive forecheck, they might be able to solve some of their offensive troubles.

In reality this season however injuries will unfortunately be the highlight of the year. With as many injuries the Wild had it was difficult for the coaching staff to get all the new faces working together, and keeping consistent lines together.

With all the juggling the front office and coaching staff had to do, it was an extremely difficult year to have the consistent play every NHL teams wants to achieve.

Minnesota will face Detroit, Dallas, Columbus, Calgary, and Nashville to close out the regular season and there is no question it will be a tough race to the finish.

If the Wild are to get into the playoffs, they need to win and get some help with a team falling before the finish line.

The first match-up is against Calgary on Friday in St. Paul where Minnesota is 0-3-2 against the Flames this year.

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