A mere 2 1/2 weeks ago, the numbers we looked at still favored the Timberwolves against the Wild when it came to the question of which was more likely to make the playoffs. The Wolves were at 60 percent. The Wild were below 50 percent.
If the last few weeks were politics, however, the Wolves' recent stretch would be the equivalent of a sex scandal while the Wild has been staying the course and kissing babies.
Now, unlike certain elections these numbers aren't yet locked in stone. But we are still ready to concede to commenters Rocket, Clarence Swamptown and co. that yes, this year's Wild is in a much better place than this year's Timberwolves.
What it comes down to, really, is the ability to win close games and the ability to withstand injuries. While the Wolves at their best are more dominant than the Wild at their best, that isn't what adds up over the course of 80-plus games. What matters is how many games you can win when you are not at your best -- when you are not getting maximum production, when key players are injured, or both.
It should also be noted that the NBA's Western Conference is tougher than the NHL's West, thus giving the Wild a somewhat more favorable path, but we would not say that is the most significant factor in their respective rise and fall.