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Wild Looking To Get The Most Out Of Game 82

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

It's a strange situation, and all the questions are valid, according to Head Coach John Torchetti.

Playing its final regular season game and wrapping up its home schedule on Saturday, the Minnesota Wild will host the Calgary Flames before it begins the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.

The Wild is locked into the eight seed, and awaits its first round opponent, either the Dallas Stars or the St. Louis Blues.

Minnesota wants to escape game number 82 unscathed, and bring a clean bill of health into the postseason. Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Wild also wants to play the type of game that can build momentum and catalyze a long playoff run.

"Everyone gets (these questions) at the end of the year," Torchetti said. "A lot of players sometimes sit there and think about that they don't want to get hurt going into the playoffs, and staying fresh, and that's when bad things happen.

"Just play the game the way you've been playing all year, and good things will happen."

For the Wild, playing the game 'the way they've been playing' means getting back to a consistent, aggressive forecheck, one that Torchetti and his players think will be easier to sustain after getting some rest over the past week.

"Our identity is to be really good defensively, and we have to be smarter with the puck, and get those pucks deep," Mikael Granlund said. "That way we're going to get some chances, and draw some penalties."

The power play is another area the Wild identified as needing improvement. Minnesota has gone five games without scoring a power-play goal, going 0-for-11 in that stretch. Over the same span, the Wild's penalty kill has gone 8-for-12.

Minnesota spent a large portion of its morning skate on Saturday working on the power play, an area of its game Torchetti said he would like the Wild to find itself on more frequently.

"We want to get that net-front presence," Torchetti said. "We've only had 11 power plays in the last five games, and then 12 kills on the other side.

"We've got to work a little harder and get the number up to 3.5 a game, instead of (2.5). That's not a lot, but in the playoffs, sometimes you only get two. You have to be dialed in right out of the gate. It starts from the faceoff, and you might only get a minute of power play tonight, so you better be ready for it."

Back in the Wild's lineup will be forward Ryan Carter. Out the past nine games with an upper-body injury, Carter and wife Erin also welcomed their third daughter, Lillian Grace, last week.

Carter has battled two separate upper-body injuries, and then got additional time to recover being at home with his family.

"The little extra time was probably a good thing," Carter said. "We've got some guys that are a little banged up too, so it's nice to get in, and maybe give some guys some rest."

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Nino NiederreiterErik HaulaJason Pominville

Chris PorterMikael GranlundDavid Jones

Ryan CarterZac DalpeJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Marco ScandellaJonas Brodin

Christian FolinMatt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

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