Back to Work: Minnesota Wild To Resume Practice Wednesday

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2010

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 26: Chuck Kobasew #12 of the Minnesota Wild handles the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 26, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 3-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

While some NHL players remain in Vancouver fighting for Olympic Gold, the Minnesota Wild will resume normal practice on Wednesday.

The Wild will practice every day until Sunday to recover from the long Olympic break.

Chuck Kobasew who suffered a knee injury back on Dec. 26 is expected to return to the lineup for Minnesota.

The Wild have 21 games remaining in the regular season including 10 home games.

Minnesota is 21-8-2 at home this season which is sixth best in the league, and every home game must be a win for the Wild if they are to catch eighth place Calgary for a spot in the playoffs.

Out of the 21 remaining games, nine contests are against teams not in playoff position, which are games the Wild must take advantage of to surge ahead in the Western Conference.

Every game will have to be a "must win" for the Wild considering their not so impressive road record this season.

However with Kobasew healthy and the recent addition of Cam Barker, Minnesota should feel confident going into the home stretch.

After taking six of a possible 10 points away from a five game homestand including a 6-2 win over Vancouver, Minnesota will be playing teams it needs to catch in order to make the playoffs, which can work in their favor if they can pull out the wins.

The Wild will open post Olympic play at Calgary on March 3 before heading north to face the last place Oilers on March 5.

Minnesota will host Calgary on March 7 and then Florida on March 9 before traveling to Detroit to face the Red Wings on March 11.

These first five games are the most crucial, and for Minnesota these five games will make or break the season.

Calgary is trying to hold on to the eighth spot in the Western Conference, Edmonton is playing the spoiler role, and both Florida and Detroit are in similar positions as Minnesota trying to make the playoffs.

The Wild will have to take both games against Calgary and defeat the Red Wings to not only spring them up in the standings but gain some confidence.

This is the best time for any NHL team to get hot, just before the playoffs. If Minnesota can hit a win streak and role with it they could be the sleeper team in the Western Conference playoffs.