Playoff chances for Wild on the rise
Wild playoff chances (⬆ UP)
You might want to check those updated NHL playoff standings. Suddenly, a team that traded away Jason Zucker and fired head coach Bruce Boudreau just two weeks ago is one point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Winners of six of their last eight contests, the Wild leapfrogged Nashville into third place in the wild-card race with 73 points. Minnesota has two games in hand over Winnipeg, which currently holds the second wild-card spot with 74. As of Wednesday morning, The Athletic gives the Wild a 56% chance to make the postseason. PlayoffStatus.com currently offers a 53% chance for Minnesota to crack the playoffs and a 31% chance — better than any other team — to claim the seventh seed.
Malik Beasley, Timberwolves guard (⬆ UP)
Zion who? Minnesota’s 139-134 victory Tuesday night over the rookie phenom Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans was all about Beasley. The 23-year-old drained 4 of 5 attempts from downtown and 11 of 13 from the field en route to a game-high 28 points. Beasley has knocked down multiple 3-pointers in all 10 games he’s played with Minnesota. He’s already drained more 3-pointers (39) than fellow guard Josh Okogie has managed over 58 games and ex-Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague sunk in 34 games.
Kevin Fiala, Wild forward (⬆ UP)
The biggest reason for the Wild’s sudden rise in the standings has been Fiala. Fiala tallied a goal and an assist Tuesday night against Nashville, marking his fifth straight game with multiple points to break a franchise record. He’s also one game away from tying Nino Niederreiter and Brian Rolston for the longest goal streak in team history (six games). Since his two-goal outburst against Chicago on Feb. 4, Fiala ranks third in the NHL in goals (12) and second in points (23).
Devin Smeltzer, Twins pitcher (⬇ DOWN)
In the hunt to claim the Twins’ fifth spot in the starting rotation behind Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda and Homer Bailey, Smeltzer’s outing Monday afternoon didn’t help his cause. He was shelled for four runs on five hits over two innings of work to bump his ERA to 5.68 in spring training. Meanwhile, right-hander Randy Dobnak has allowed just one run and two hits over six innings.
Naz Reid, Timberwolves center (⬆ UP)
In his return to Louisiana (where he starred for one season at LSU), Reid notched his first career double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds in 27 minutes against New Orleans on Tuesday evening. The undrafted rookie also added three assists, three steals and two blocks to his stat line. Let’s Geaux.
Marwin Gonzalez, Twins infielder (⬆ UP)
Gonzalez made his spring-training debut Tuesday and went 2 for 2 with a home run, a double and three RBI. Not bad, Margo. Not bad.