wild2006Members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins — the only team in the NFL’s Super Bowl era to go undefeated, including playoffs, for an entire season — were famous for popping champagne each season when the final unbeaten team in the league lost, ensuring their run to perfection remained a singular accomplishment.

One would imagine, or at least hope, that there are no similar bubbly rituals with the members of the 2006-07 Minnesota Wild.

But that Jacques Lemaire-coached team, led by 30-goal scorers Brian Rolston and Marian Gaborik, veteran Pavol Demitra, a young Mikko Koivu and a stifling defense, has an interesting if oft-overlooked distinction: it had the best regular season of any team in Wild history, finishing with a team-record 104 points.

A few versions of the Wild have challenged the mark. The 2007-08 squad racked up 98 points on the way to the Wild’s only division title in team history. Mike Yeo’s squads in 2013-14 and 2014-15 had 98 and 100 points, respectively, en route to reaching the second round of the playoffs both seasons.

And yes, the 2002-03 Wild, which reached the Western Conference finals as a No. 6 seed, had 95 points before the scoring system was tweaked to include shootouts — making it more likely to get two points instead of one in an overtime game.

But a fact is a fact: that Wild team of a decade ago has remained the gold standard for points in a season by a Minnesota team.

For about three-fourths of this season, it looked like that record would be obliterated by the current Wild. The Wild’s record entering March, through 61 games, was 41-14-6 — good for 88 points. Minnesota, then, needed just 17 points in its final 21 to beat the team record.

A massive March swoon, though, has left the Wild at 47-25-8 — and 102 points — with just two games, both on the road, left in the season and with the Wild locked into a playoff seed and likely to rest players. With three wins in its past four games and points in five of its last six, the Wild actually had to play catch-up to threaten that 2006-07 team.

It leads to the inevitable conclusion that the Wild team of a decade ago was pretty underrated. Whereas Vikings fans of a certain age immediately recall the 15-1 season of 1998 as the best of the post-1970s era and Timberwolves fans immediately know 2003-04 was that franchise’s best season, the 2006-07 Wild squad doesn’t hold that same place in our minds.

Maybe it’s because that team didn’t even win its division and fizzled out quickly in the playoffs, losing a five-game series in the first round to Anaheim? Indeed, the Wild was only the seventh-best team in a loaded Western Conference that season.

Maybe it’s because the season looked pretty pedestrian halfway through? Minnesota was 21-18-2 at the midpoint, then went 27-8-the rest of the way (to finish at 48-26-8) after some fans perhaps lost a little interest?

Regardless, that team has earned the right to call itself the best regular-season squad in Wild history. We’ll know in a few days whether that improbable distinction continues or whether this year’s more celebrated team stakes that claim.

Older Post

Fleck meets his match at the U, sent to crushing defeat

Newer Post

It's only been two games, but what's gotten into the Twins?