Scouting the Wild’s potential playoff opponents

The playoffs are almost here.

The Minnesota Wild are all-but locked into the No. 2 spot in the Central Division, and will likely draw the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs unless the Nashville Predators can make up some ground over their next three games.

With a two-point lead and a game in hand the Blues have a significant advantage, and could easily win out with games against the Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche left on the schedule.

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The Predators have a more difficult road again, with points to make up and games against the New York Islanders, Dallas Stars and Jets up next.

Both teams are surging, and will look to capitalize on the struggles of a Wild team that has won just three of its last 10 games.

Check out our breakdown of the competition below:

St. Louis Blues

RECORD: 43-28-7

PLAYER TO WATCH: Vladimir Tarasenko

OUTLOOK: Led by former Wild coach Mike Yeo, the Blues appear to be peaking at just the right time. They’re 12-3 over their last 15 games, but that streak includes just five games against current playoff teams, and features three games each against the Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes. The Blues are expected to get center Jori Lehtera back Tuesday, but fellow centerman Paul Stastny is week-to-week with a lower body injury, while left winger Robby Fabri is out for the season. Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo are also banged up, a situation that could lead St. Louis to turn to some untested rookies in the playoffs. Still, Tarasenko is on the cusp of another 40-goal season and can score from just about anywhere, while Patrik Berglund, Jaden Schwartz, David Perron and Alexander Steen have provided solid scoring as well.

Nashville Predators

RECORD: 40-28-11

PLAYER TO WATCH: Filip Forsberg/Viktor Arvidsson

OUTLOOK: Ryan Johansen centers one of the best scoring lines in the league, a top unit that features two 30-goal scorers in Swedish wingers Forsberg and Arvidsson. Nashville went on a tear in mid-March, winning seven of eight, while goaltender Pekka Rinne has stepped up following a tough stretch mid-season. Rinne has a respectable .930 save percentage since March 1. The Predators’ defense has struggled this season alongside their goaltenders, but P.K. Subban remains one of the most dangerous puck-moving defensemen in the league, while Roman Josi ranks fourth on the team with 48 points on the season.