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Wild Ready For Another 'Playoff Game' Against Kings

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Defenseman Matt Dumba said no one needs to key the Minnesota Wild into the situation it currently faces.

"We're all aware of it," Dumba said. "Just looking at the standings each night, we see what it is. It's us versus Colorado, and we know that there are a bunch of big games in front of us, and we just have to focus on one at a time. "

On Tuesday, hosting the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild will again have a chance to move into the top eight in the Western Conference. A win in any fashion would see Minnesota pass the Avalanche for the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Colorado leads the Wild by a point, and has three more regulation and overtime wins than Minnesota, the first tiebreaker. The Avalanche is idle until Thursday.

"It's about the process here, and you have to take care of business on your end," Dumba said. "You can't let it in the hands of someone else."

Although it may be temporary, with the standings changing day-by-day with how close the race is, the Wild has a chance to wake up on Wednesday back in a playoff spot.

It will have to do so by getting past a Los Angeles team that has already clinched an appearance in the playoffs, and one that, like the Wild's past opponent the Chicago Blackhawks, has lifted a Stanley Cup in the past five years.

"We're ready for the battles; that's the number one thing moving forward," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "Playing a team like LA right now, coming off the Chicago game, and the Carolina game, we're looking forward to it.

"I'm looking forward to seeing our response, and we know what type of game they play, and how heavy they play, so we're looking for a strong 60 minutes tonight competing-wise."

The Kings, like the Blackhawks, have figured out whatever it takes to win hockey games not only in March, but also all the way through June. 

Jarret Stoll, who won two Cups as a King, said it's hard to pin down exactly what changed for those teams late in seasons.

"You realize the magnitude of each game, and you definitely hear about it from outside of the dressing room, and how important the points are," he said. "You look at the standings, and people start talking about matchups, and it's tough hockey, it's harder hockey, it's tighter hockey, and it's a battle."

One thing Stoll said the Wild has going for it on Tuesday, like it did on Sunday, is Minnesota tends to play better against the NHL's best.

"It's unfortunate that we do that, but any way possible to try to get some wins, and some confidence, and you beat teams like Chicago, or LA, or Washington, or teams like that, it definitely does a lot for your team, and individually," Stoll said. "Hopefully we can elevate our game against a very good team."

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Zach PariseMikael GranlundDavid Jones

Nino NiederreiterErik HaulaJustin Fontaine

Chris PorterJarret StollJordan Schroeder

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Marco ScandellaJonas Brodin

Mike ReillyMatt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

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