It was not an ideal way to make the playoffs, but the struggling Minnesota Wild will be playing post season hockey, despite being 2-7-1 in its last ten games.
The weekend did not treat the Wild well either after getting embarrassed on home ice Saturday vs the Vancouver Canucks. They also lost in overtime to the second worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Redwings on Sunday. However, there is good news, but also some bad news.
The good news is that the Wild clinched its fifth straight playoff berth early Sunday morning. The New York Rangers defeated the Los Angeles Kings to clinch a spot for Minnesota. The bad news is, this is the second straight season where the Wild have virtually backed into the playoffs.
In the 2015-16 season, Minnesota had lost their last five games of the regular season. The team trying to catch them, the Colorado Avalanche, lost their last six. The Wild stole the last wild card spot with a sub-par 38-33-11 record and 87 points. Those totals were the least amount of wins and points compared to the 15 other playoff teams.
Back to the current 2016-17 season. After losing their 11th game in the month of March, the Wild have done the same thing as last year’s team. In reality, yeah, the Wild are better than last year’s team. However, they just have not looked sharp in any part of their game lately. The passing has not been tape to tape, the defense has been spotty and the team’s best scorers have been in terrible scoring slumps. Captain Mikko Koivu has two goals in his last 24 games, winger Nino Niederreiter has zero goals in his last 15 games and Zach Parise has two goals in his last 12.
Hopefully the postseason can act as a fresh start though. Teams that have dominated in the regular season can flame out; it happens. That is what Wild fans are witnessing now. Minnesota better hope the playoffs act as a reset button or the 6:1 favorites to win the Stanley Cup according to Vegas will be making another first round exit.