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Wild Looking For Right Balance Against Avalanche

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

DENVER – The Minnesota Wild has been talking in clichés lately. Amid a four-game winning streak, its third such stretch in the past six weeks, it's hard to argue with changing the formula.

Now with its Thursday game behind it, a 6-2 win against the Calgary Flames in Saint Paul, the Wild can shift its attention to a Saturday showdown against the Colorado Avalanche.

And the Wild would be darned not to be cliché when it comes to how it's approaching what essentially amounts to a playoff game.

"We can't think too much about it," Charlie Coyle said. "We have to go out and play the way we know how. It's another game, an important one, but they're all important from here on out."

Interim Head Coach John Torchetti said, "I haven't even thought about the Colorado game until tomorrow," during his postgame on Thursday.

But now, with the Calgary game behind it, the Wild's focus is squarely on the rival Avalanche, and widening the gap between the two teams and the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to five points.

"Every game is big, like I tell everybody," Torchetti said. "It just happens to be a four-point game, and we just go from there. We see what the results are, and then we move on."

That's the other element to the storyline: It's game number 76 on the schedule, meaning there will be six that come after it. It's a four-point game in the standings, but, quite literally, one game.

"It's a big game for both teams," Zach Parise said. "For us to widen that gap a little bit would be nice, and to get a little bit of breathing room. We're looking forward to the game, and the challenge, because they've been playing well lately, and they're a tough team."

It's why the Wild is treating its last meeting against Colorado this season as 'one game that's not just another game.'

Not allowing a game or moment to carry over too much is something Torchetti has preached. It's in part what has allowed the Wild to reel off a four-game winning streak in wake of a 7-4 loss last week against the New Jersey Devils that had Minnesota dejected, but only temporarily.

"It's an emotional rollercoaster," Ryan Suter said. "All year it's been up and down. Hopefully now we can just get some stability and some steadiness in our game, and in our emotions, and build the thing the next couple of weeks here, and be ready for the playoffs."

But, as Torchetti said, each 'one game' is also important, no matter when it comes. In the very first game of the season, the Wild overcame a three-goal, third-period deficit to defeat the Avalanche in regulation, 5-4.

Had that game gone the other way, and Colorado would currently lead the Wild by a point. It's one of the many 'what-ifs' that can come up when analyzing a schedule.

"There's a lot of different things you can point to, but at the time, it was a good way for us to start the year," Parise said. "Looking back on it, it was a big two points, and not allowing them to even get one out of it was big now."

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