Minnesota Needs a Wild Finish to Make Playoffs

Published on 22-Apr-2013 by J Square Humboldt
NHL / NHL Daily Update

This is one of the all-time great Rorschach Test logos in sports history.

Looks like the Minnesota Wild are the latest team to learn that money can't buy happiness.

It buys expectations, though, and the pressure is now escalating for them to get some bang for their bucks.

After their ironic summer signings -- ironic because the NHL lockout was all about alleged league-wide financial issues -- of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, three things seemed certain. Minnesota was set to rise as a force in the West, Nashville's ascent had been signficantly damaged, and New Jersey's how-do-they-do-it-every-year luster had taken a serious hit.

Well, two of those three became apparent. The Predators have known for a while they'll have to buy a ticket to see a playoff game this season. The Devils, defending Eastern Conference champions, just got bounced from the picture on Sun 21 April by the hated Rangers, who were returning the favor from last season, when the tables were turned.

And until the Ides of March, the Wild were looking true to assumptions, too. Et tu, Brutal offense?

Since then, they've become the Minnesota Mild. They're 3-7-1 in April alone. In the process, the Northwest Division has been all but ceded to Vancouver, and there is only the slimmest of cushions between their current position and a seat beside the Devils and Preds in playoff purgatory.

Here's the current state of play for the final two spots in the West:

    Pts Wins Games Remaining
  7 Minnesota  51   20 Kings, Oilers, Avalanche
  8 Columbus  49   16 Stars, Predators
  9 Detroit  48   18 Coyotes, Kings, Predators, Stars
10 Dallas  47   20 Sharks, Blue Jackets, Red Wings
11 Phoenix  46   15 Red Wings, Sharks, Avalanche, Ducks
        (*Note: Home games; Road games)

Minnestota would seem to have the most favorable schedule; they're the only team with no four-pointers on the line. That would infer that they just have to avoid beating themselves. However, such inferences haven't held true for the past few weeks, as evidenced by the egg they laid on Sun 21 April against the flickering Flames.

To be fair, Parise and Suter have done their jobs and have done so all season long; they combined for 15 shots in the Calgary game alone, and Suter was +1. But it's not been enough, and if Minnesota somehow manages to complete this tank job, perhaps these two should cash out their accounts in small bills and bundle them into a pile at center ice.

Maybe that would help take the sting out of a hard landing.

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