MINNEAPOLIS - For the first time in more than a year, Minnesota sports fans will be in arenas Monday night to watch their favorite teams in action, live and in-person.
The Minnesota Wild is set to host the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center, and up to 3,000 fans will be in attendance in downtown St. Paul. It’ll be the first time the Wild have had fans since March of 2020, when the NHL suspended its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wild eventually got back to playing, and finished the 2020 season in the playoff bubble in Edmonton, losing in four games to the Vancouver Canucks.
The Wild is currently 36 games into its 56-game 2021 season, and they’re third in the Honda West at 48 points (23-11-2). The top four teams in each division at the end of the regular season make the playoffs. The Wild is two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the No. 2 spot, and six points behind the Avalanche.
The Wild is 13-3 at Xcel Energy Center this season, one of the best home records in the NHL. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, and are coming off a pair of road wins over the Golden Knights.
"We like it here for sure, and we’re so excited about having our fans, at least a few of them back in there. It shouldn’t matter where we play, but definitely we’re happy to play here and we’re really looking forward to playing in front of our fans. We are jacked," Wild coach Dean Evason said after Monday's morning skate.
It’s a bit of a different story over in Minneapolis for the Timberwolves, which will have up to 3,000 fans at Target Center as they host the Sacramento Kings Monday night. It’s been another lost season for the Wolves, who have dealt with injuries and COVID-19 issues all year and are last in the Western Conference at 12-38.
They’re 3-7 in their last 10 games, and will be severely short-handed Monday night. The Wolves will be without Malik Beasley (left hamstring soreness), Jaylen Nowell (right tibia contusion), D’Angelo Russell (left knee surgery) and Ricky Rubio (back spasms).
The lone real bright spot for the Wolves this season has been rookie Anthony Edwards. The No. 1 overall pick was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March, and with LaMelo Ball out injured, Edwards is now the favorite to win Rookie of the Year.
Both Xcel Energy Center and Target Center will have protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including digital ticketing, socially-distanced seating pods and ordering concessions from your phone to limit standing in line.
Later this week, the Minnesota Twins will welcome up to 10,000 fans for the April 8 home opener at Target Field against the Seattle Mariners.