Wild veteran Thomas Vanek will miss the start of the playoffs with an upper-body injury, coach John Torchetti said after this morning's practice.
Vanek was injured March 29 when cross-checked by Chicago's Viktor Svedberg on a power play. He will miss his fourth game of the final five during Saturday's regular-season finale against the Calgary Flames.
Torchetti said Vanek would miss "more than a week."
Production-wise, this will end up being the lowest of his career. Including the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season amazinginly, Vanek's 18 goals are the lowest of his 11-year career. His 41 points are also a career-low, tying his ridiculous 20-goal, 41-point season when he played only 38 games after the lockout.
Zach Parise, who has been banged up all second half, will miss Saturday's finale to rest up for the playoffs. That'll mean he'll have to wait until next season to hit the 300-goal regular-season milestone.
The Wild was 56 seconds last night from knowing it was playing Dallas in the first round of the playoffs. But then Vladimir Tarasenko forced overtime and ultimately won things for the Blues.
The Wild plays at 6 on Saturday, the Stars host Nashville at 7, the Blues host Washington at 7.
They have identical 49-23-9 records with 107 points. Dallas owns the tiebreaker.
So, the Blues must earn more points than the Stars on Saturday to win the division and play Minnesota.
In other words,
-- If the Stars beat the Predators, the Wild plays the Stars.
-- If the Stars lose in regulation, the Wild would play the Blues if they get at least one point against the Capitals.
-- If the Stars lose in overtime or a shootout, the Blues must beat the Capitals for the Wild to play the Blues.
-- If both teams lose, the Wild plays the Stars.
Saturday could be Niklas Backstrom's final NHL start.
"It’s crazy how that happens that he could finish it here possibly," ex-teammate Charlie Coyle said. "Pretty cool. I don’t think a lot of people really noticed it because he didn’t play this year, but his preparation, he prepared everyday like he played everyday this season. That was pretty cool to see for a younger guy. Young guys coming up, to see a guy take the game so seriously and prepare that hard, pretty cool and makes you want to do the same thing and prepare and have a career as long as he did. Everyone here notices it. Outside people don’t see that about him. Just every drill, pretty cool to see everyday."
Lastly, according to sources, first-round pick Alex Tuch will take a few days to let the emotions die down before deciding with his family and advisor if he should turn pro with the Wild.
Not sure on Adam Gilmour.
I'll be on KFAN with Dan Barriero at 4:55 p.m. and on Dawn Mitchell's Fox 9 sports show tonight.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, I'll be hosting the Russo-Souhan Show at Tom Reid's. My guest is Mark Parrish. Please stop on by.