ST. PAUL — Momentum, the Wild promise, is not an issue with the NHL playoffs starting Thursday in Dallas. Since closing the regular season with a fifth straight loss Saturday, the team has hit the reset button. But playing without three regulars? There’s no dodging that as the eighth-seeded Wild take aim at upsetting the Western Conference champions in Game 1 at American Airlines Center.
MINNEAPOLIS — Perhaps even more remarkable than the Twins’ franchise-worst 0-7 start is the utter lack of defeatism in their clubhouse. If any players are beaten down or nearing their personal breaking points, they have done a marvelous job of disguising it in public.
ST. PAUL — As Nino Niederreiter sat on his couch watching the Blues play the Blackhawks Thursday night, he began to mentally prepare for a playoff series against the Dallas Stars. The Blues trailed 1-0 with a minute left in the game; had they lost, the Wild would have been locked into a first-round playoff series against the Stars.
The Minnesota Vikings learned on Thursday the foe for their first game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The NFL announced San Diego will visit for a noon preseason game on Aug. 28 that will be televised nationally by Fox. The Vikings are returning to playing indoors at the downtown Minneapolis site of their longtime Metrodome home after two years at TCF Bank Stadium.
ST. PAUL — With an “x” next to their name in the standings for making the playoffs, the Wild can officially turn their attention to the postseason, if not their opponent — the not-yet-determined Western Conference champs. Technically, three teams still can win the conference, but for the Wild’s purpose, it’s really a two-team race between the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues.
ST. PAUL — A few minutes after the Wild clinched a fourth straight playoff appearance Tuesday, interim Wild coach John Torchetti defiantly defended his team’s achievement. So what if they clinched following a fourth straight loss? The real story is a 15-10-1 record in the seven weeks since he took over for Mike Yeo, fired on Feb. 13. When Torchetti took the reigns, the Wild were five points out of a playoff spot with 27 games to play.
MINNEAPOLIS - Minneapolis police are investigating an apparent road rage incident this week in which a motorist was shot four times but survived her injuries. According to police, the woman reported that she was driving south on Hennepin Avenue near Groveland Avenue at about 5 p.m. Tuesday. When another southbound vehicle cut her off in rush-hour traffic, she honked her horn. The driver of the other vehicle pulled alongside her, and a passenger shot a gun into her car.
MINNEAPOLIS — Plenty of things went right for the Twins last season, a return to respectability after four straight seasons of 90-plus defeats. While 83 wins were an encouraging sign, the Twins still finished three games out of the second wild-card spot in the American League, and 12 games behind the eventual World Series champions from Kansas City in the AL Central.
ST. PAUL — Charlie Coyle said he was “stunned” when Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith swung his stick into Coyle’s face during the Wild’s 4-1 victory Tuesday night. The play, which resulted in Keith’s ejection Tuesday and a looming suspension, left Coyle with a black eye and stitches on his nose. He said Wednesday that his nose, which took the brunt of the stick, wasn’t broken.
EDEN PRAIRIE — The Vikings’ offensive line rebuild is complete. Free-agent tackle Andre Smith agreed to a one-year contract on Thursday, joining guard Alex Boone as new additions to a unit that surrendered 45 sacks last season. Smith announced the deal on Twitter; a source said it’s worth $3.5 million, and as much as $1 million more in incentives.