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RandBall: An NHL playoff run on our hands

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • March 19, 2013 - 10:14 AM

 

On the morning of Feb. 26, the Wild woke up on the outside looking in when it came to the NHL playoff chase. The squad was six points behind Vancouver in the Northwest Division and bunched with a lot of other middling teams. The Wild had "38" in the "goals for" category, and while that also counts 1 for every shootout wins -- and therefore isn't a perfect representation of the offensive output -- it was the lowest mark in the NHL at the time.

 

That night, Minnesota played Calgary at the X. After two periods, the Wild trailed 1-0. Sometime around the 10 minute mark of the third period, it was still 1-0, and we tweeted this:

Despite @fsnorth's valiant attempt to show us all the near-misses, I am starting to wonder if it's the system. #mnwild.

We mention this as coincidental timing, not to suggest we spurred some sort of turnaround. The Wild scored once near the end of regulation and again early in overtime to take a 2-1 victory.

Since then, Minnesota has scored 34 actual goals in its past 10 games (35 in the goals for because of one shootout win in that span), getting 14 points in that span (seven wins, three losses). The two most recent games were back-to-back road victories at Colorado and, more importantly, 3-1 last night in Vancouver, where the Wild hadn't won since Sid was born (or something like that). The standings show the Wild now in sole possession of an admittedly weak Northwest with 34 points, two more than the hated Canucks. The team's 16-10-2 record is even actually four games over .500 (if a shootout win is a win, a shootout loss is a loss. Sorry Gary Bettman). In a normal season, the Wild would be on pace for about 100 points.

Just as notably, this team is not just winning. It is, in many cases, playing dominant hockey. And it is getting that domination from multiple lines, while Niklas Backstrom has found his form. There are 20 games left in this truncated regular season, and we are going on record to say this: the Wild will make the playoffs and should even win at least one series. Gear up for some May hockey, everyone. It's coming.

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