By the end of the night, the Wild could know if it's playing the St. Louis Blues in the first round.
The Blues can clinch third tonight in the Central with a win at Florida and any loss by Nashville, or a regulation loss by Nashville and the Blues going to overtime.
Wild visits the Avalanche here in Denver for its penultimate game of the season.
Mikko Koivu will get a rest tonight. That likely means Erik Haula moves to center. Chris Stewart is back home recovering from strep throat. Jared Spurgeon skated this morning but won't play with the lower body injury.
The Wild's out of post-deadline callups (maximum of four), so nobody can come from Iowa unless there's an emergency. So that's why Ryan Suter has to play tonight.
Now, if Stewart can meet the team in Arizona, coach Bruce Boudreau could rest two forwards against the Coyotes. My guess is Eric Staal won't play there regardless, but we'll see. I know Staal would like to continue growing the chemistry with his linemates, Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter.
Devan Dubnyk, looking for his 40th win, starts tonight for likely the final time in the regular season. I'd think Darcy Kuemper starts at Arizona. I have a good story for Saturday on Kuemper from a Dubnyk perspective, so please read that one in a few days.
As for not playing tonight, Koivu said, "I'm fine with it. We still have one more game after this one, and then it's not going to be too long of a break either, so this is fine by me."
The Wild is 3-1-2 in its past six overall, 14-4-2 in its past 20 at Colorado and 10-3-1 in its past 14 overall against the Avalanche, including six shutout victories. A win would give the Wild 48 wins and 104 points, matching franchise records.
Staal has a point in eight of his past nine games. Niederreiter has two two-goal games in the past four. Martin Hanzal has three goals and 12 points in 18 games with the Wild. Parise has 14 goals and 31 points in 28 games against Colorado.
Minnesota has 105 points against Colorado all-time, its second-most against any franchise. … The Wild has outscored Colorado, 42-19, and has outshot the Avalanche, 472-363, in the pastt 14 games.
It's Colorado's final home game, so Boudreau said, "I think they're going to want to to go out the right way. Coming off a win against Chicago [with 51 shots on goals], they're probably feeling pretty good about themselves. They'll play as good as they can.
"We still have a lot to play for. We want to ramp it up for the playoffs, we haven't won three in a row since January. And if we ever get deeper [in the playoffs], the most points has home-ice advantage, and we want to do that, and hopefully we can accomplish that."
If the Wild wins and Anaheim loses to Chicago, the Wild would clinch home-ice in the Western Conference Final if it advances that far (because for the Wild to advance that far, it means Chicago has also been eliminated).
Boudreau said if the Wild breaks its franchise-record for wins and points in the next few games, there will not be a big "hooray." He also noted that the Wild has lost to Colorado twice this season and if the Wild takes the Avs lightly, "you're gonna get bit."
Talk to ya later.