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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Winnipeg

Back-to-back home games for Wild commences Saturday against division-rival Jets

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Winnipeg Jets (22-16-3) at Minnesota Wild (19-17-5)

Puck drop: 1:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports App

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild, @mnwildscribe; GameCenter


The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling


ST. PAUL -- The Wild will begin a busy weekend at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday afternoon when it hosts the Winnipeg Jets, the first of back-to-back home games against Canadian foes. 

Minnesota welcomes the Calgary Flames to town on Sunday.

First things first, however, as the Wild aims for a bit of retribution for a 6-0 loss to the Jets in St. Paul two weeks ago. Patrik Laine scored twice and Blake Wheeler had two assists as Winnipeg snapped the Wild's 12-game home points streak. 

Video: Rink Report: Wild vs Jets

The Wild would appear to be in better position this time, however. The team is coming off consecutive practice days and has been at home for a week.

Regardless of the circumstances, a home game against a divisional opponent, means points are at a premium. The Wild begins the day four points back of the Jets, who currently hold the top wild card position in the Western Conference. 

Even though half of the schedule remains, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday there is something special about these divisional games.

Video: Seeler heads to Iowa for conditioning assignment

"I think of a 4-point game when we played Nashville on Opening Night. I think all of those games are vital," Boudreau said. "I think you get a little more serious once you come into the second half of the season and it sort of dawns on you that, 'hey we're in the second half and 20 games of trade deadline,' so it gets closer and closer."

Minnesota currently sits 3-8-1 inside the Central, by far its worst winning percentage against any division. That's a trend that must change if the Wild is to make it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The good news for the Wild is it is coming off its most inspiring win against a division foe this season, a 6-4 win in Colorado last Friday night. 

"I think initially we started off with three in a row in division on the road, and we got off to a bad start on that thing," Boudreau said. "I think there's lots of time to make amends for eight losses, I think it is, within your division right now."

Winnipeg enters 3-6-1 in its past 10 games overall, including a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. The Jets have lost four of its past five since its lopsided win in St. Paul on Dec. 21.

Mark Scheifele leads the Jets with 27 assists and 46 points. Kyle Connor has a team-high 21 goals and Laine is one of three Jets (Scheifele and Connor) with at least 40 points.

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 18-12-3 in 32 starts with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. 

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