Last season, it took 95 points to lock down the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
In 2016-17, the cutoff was 94; the campaign before that, it was 87.
This sample size suggests getting into the 90-point range should be enough to qualify, but amid a sluggish push for the pair of wild card berths from more than half the conference, this spring’s target is tough to gauge with roughly a quarter of the schedule to go.
“I have no idea,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Could be 72 the way everybody’s going.”
With more than 40 points still up for grabs, it’s possible the pace quickens the rest of the way.
What looks more likely, though, is that it will take less than the usual mid-90s trend.
How much lower, though, is unclear; the Wild, which is still occupying the second wild card, is on track for about 84 points — which would appear to be the benchmark if everyone else maintains their current rhythms.
But with seven teams chasing the Wild, that could easily change — even if no one has run away from the pack so far.
“You’d like to say parity,” Boudreau said when asked why the West has turned into a turtle trot. “But when you use the word parity, it’s always in a, ‘Wow, it’s really good,’ thing. I think there’s a lot of teams that are very similar in the West and very similar abilities in the West. That’s probably why we’re all milling around at the same juncture.”
While the Wild is aware it’s received breaks from other teams’ losses in staying ahead of the curve, players aren’t glued to the scoreboard between games.
“When you’re watching, you’re not thinking, ‘Oh, if we win tonight and these guys lose and these guys lose,’ ” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “… That’s all stuff that’s out of your control. The best thing you can do is go win, and if you get a little help a long the way, that’s a bonus.”
Center Eric Fehr won’t start paying attention to what’s happening around the conference until the final week of the regular season.
“I know the coaching staffs and some players, they really watch it,” Fehr said. “They know who’s playing before they’re playing and what their odds are of winning. It’s crazy. But I think for players it’s important to just take care of your own business.”
A day after he was traded to the Wild, winger Pontus Aberg was reacquainted with his former team when the Ducks visited Xcel Energy Center and Aberg was back on the ice for the rematch Tuesday against Anaheim after being out since Feb.1 with a lower-body injury.
“It’s bad timing,” Aberg said of getting sidelined. “Now I haven’t played in three weeks with [the] bye week there, too. It’s never fun to be out of the lineup, especially being injured.”
Aberg slotted on the fourth line alongside Fehr and defenseman Brad Hunt, who skated at forward for a third straight game. Before getting hurt, Aberg — who was added from the Ducks Jan.16 in exchange for minor-leaguer Justin Kloos — had three assists in five games and the team hoped he would capitalize on his shot and power-play minutes.
The Wild placed center Victor Rask on injured reserve, retroactive to Feb.12 when Rask suffered a lower-body injury.
“He’ll probably be another few days before he gets ready to play,” Boudreau said.
Meanwhile, veteran Matt Hendricks, who suffered an upper-body injury in that same Feb.12 game against the Flyers, participated in the Wild’s morning skate Tuesday after getting cleared to practice.
O’Reilly sent down
After recalling center Cal O’Reilly Monday evening from the American Hockey League, a move that gave the Wild another option up the middle while center Mikael Granlund awaits the birth of his child, the team returned O’Reilly to Iowa before Tuesday’s game.