Maple Leafs at Wild: What to expect from Saturday’s marquee matchup

Wild coach Dean Evason doesn’t allow his players to overlook any opponent. As cliche as it sounds, it’s one game at a time throughout the 82-game regular season, and the whole team has bought in.

Need proof? With a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs looming on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center, center Ryan Hartman only recently became privy to the magnitude of the marquee matchup

“Honestly, I thought we were playing (the Florida Panthers) until the other day,” Hartman said with a laugh. “I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead.”

That said, now that the game his here, there’s something to be said about how well the Wild (16-6-1, 33 points) and Maple Leafs (17-6-1, 35 points) have been playing this season. This will be a good measuring stick for both teams as they continue to establish themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

“It’s obviously going to be a huge test,” goaltender Cam Talbot said. “They’re playing probably the best hockey in the NHL right now. They’ve got a lot of firepower up front and their goaltender is playing unbelievable. It’s going to take a full team effort, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to see how we measure up against a really good team in the Eastern Conference.”

The Maple Leafs very well could be the best team in the Eastern Conference. And with the Wild currently the best team in the Western Conference,…

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