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Preview: Putting a bow on it in Minnesota

It’s time to determine the playoff field after tonight’s games.

NHL: MAR 27 Avalanche at Wild

The Colorado Avalanche wraps up the regular season with Game 82 in the Twin Cities. This calls for a match-up with the Central Division rival Minnesota Wild. While the Avs’ fate is set and in the hands of others to see who they will play in the first round, the Wild have plenty to play for.

For the Avs, it’s lining up to be a first-round series with the Dallas Stars. Unless the Nashville Predators lose to the Arizona Coyotes and the Stars beat the Anaheim Ducks tonight, it should be a rematch of the second-round series from the 2020 bubble Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The last time these two played, it was in controversial style in the extra period. After a debatable penalty was called on Erik Johnson, it allowed the Wild to win 3-2 in OT. The Wild will be looking towards a similar fate as that game turned out to be on March 27.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs are coming off of their home finale last night. It left the home fans disappointed after a 5-4 OT loss after blowing a two-goal lead to the Nashville Predators. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, the Avs were the better team for the majority of the game but didn’t end up on top.

On a 1-5 record in the last six games, it’s certainly not the ideal way to head into the playoffs. Jared Bednar has tried to light a fire under the boys, but it hasn’t worked fully. It will look to continue as it’s already been determined some names will sit out this game.

Cale Makar said yesterday in his post-game presser that it’s unlikely he’d play tonight. Darcy Kuemper’s regular season has come to a close as well. Both players will rest up tonight as the Avs called up Jacob MacDonald and Justus Annunen to slot in. It also wouldn’t be a surprise if Alex Newhook returns to the lineup for another big name but we will learn of that at a later time.

Projected Forwards

Valeri Nicuhshkin (13) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)

Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nazem Kadri (91) - Andre Burakovsky (95)

Nicolas Aube-Kubel (16) - J.T. Compher (37) - Logan O’Connor (25)

Darren Helm (43) - Nico Sturm (78) - Andrew Cogliano (11)

Projected Defenders

Devon Toews (7) - Bowen Byram (4)

Samuel Girard (49) - Josh Manson (42)

Jacob MacDonald (26) - Erik Johnson (6)

Minnesota Wild

The Wild are coming off of a big 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames last night at home. While they’re locked into the playoffs and already in a match-up with the St. Louis Blues, there’s still plenty to play for.

Home ice advantage is on the line for the Wild. They currently sit on 111 points, two over the Blues at 109. If the Wild take at least one point, they will be getting home-ice advantage in the first round, crucial to their playoff hopes. If they fall to the Avs, they have to hope the Blues lose to the Vegas Golden Knights.

The former Av Tyson Jost will look to lead the Wild to a win to secure home-ice advantage in the first round. With him along with the help of Kirill Kaprizov, they will be battling all 60 minutes to get the win in what could be a possible second-round preview tonight.

Projected Forwards

Kirill Kaprizov (97) - Ryan Hartman (38) - Nick Bjugstad (27)

Kevin Fiala (22) - Frederick Gaudreau (89) - Matthew Boldy (12)

Jordan Greenway (18) - Joel Erikkson Ek (14) - Marcus Foligno (17)

Nicolas Deslauriers (44) - Tyson Jost (10) - Brandon Duhaime (21)

Projected Defenders

Jonas Brodin (25) - Dmitry Kulikov (7)

Jacob Middleton (5) - Alex Goligoski (47)

Jon Merrill (4) - Jordie Benn (8)

Goaltenders

It’s a toss-up for who will be in the net for the Avs, whether it’ll be Pavel Francouz or Annunen - we will find out once the team comes out for warm-ups. For the Wild, it should be Marc-Andre Fleury after Cam Talbot played last night.