• Remember how the Wild played a ridiculous number of road games to start the year (20 of its first 30, to be precise)? Well, somehow Minnesota also has to play 14 of its last 24 away from Xcel Energy Center, starting Wednesday in Vancouver. The trade deadline is one week away, which is something you will want to monitor.

• The Gophers men's hockey team has a chance to take charge of first place in the Big Ten with a huge series Friday and Saturday at Penn State. The teams are tied atop the conference standings with 36 points, but Minnesota has this big edge: two more league games left to play after next weekend, while Penn State is done after that series.

• After a lengthy layoff for the All-Star break, the Wolves return to action Friday in what is actually their only home game left this month. But it's a good one against the Celtics, with plenty of subplots in play. This is the biggest one: the health of Karl-Anthony Towns, who missed the last game before the break with a left wrist injury.

• It's hard to believe, but it's true: The Twins have their first spring training game Saturday at Pittsburgh and their first spring home game in Fort Myers a day later against Toronto. It's just practice, but the anticipation for this year is palpable.

• Also opening up spring play on Saturday: the Astros, who have turned into baseball's biggest villains with the offseason sign-stealing scandal and their lukewarm apologies for cheating. Their spring opener is a 2019 World Series rematch against the Nationals, which could be pretty fun with the bad blood brewing.