NHL Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild Streaking Towards Playoffs

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

If you take a look at the standings in the NHL as the calendar turns to April, there is one team that appears to be making themselves a clear contender for the Stanley Cup. The Minnesota Wild has taken over first place in the Northwest Division and has won eight of their last nine games going into Monday’s play. Minnesota is starting to look more and more like the team to beat in the Western Conference.

The Wild can throw a goalie like Niklas Backstrom out there and be successful on a nightly basis. Backstrom has won a league-high 19 games on the season, but he’s not the only player who is tearing it up right now in Minnesota.

There’s also the team’s free-agent pickup Zach Parise, who has four goals and three assists in his last five games. Parise was signed to bring a ton of offense to the Wild, and he is delivering even more than he had in the past.

The defense is quite stable with Ryan Suter back there to help out Backstrom with keeping the opposition off the scoreboard. Minnesota has gone from a team that was very mediocre to start the season to one that could win the Western Conference.

I knew when the season started that this team could have early trouble coming together into one unit. It has obviously happened now, and that is not a good thing for the other teams in the conference. Minnesota is on a roll and that snowball appears ready to trample every team in the path of the Wild for the remainder of this season.

Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports, like his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google.