The Wild improved its chances of claiming the Western Conference’s final wild-card spot after Saturday’s 4-0 shutout victory over Colorado.
The Wild has six games remaining to lock up what would essentially be the No. 8 seed, though the NHL no longer ranks the top eight seeds in the new league alignment.
Sneaking in as the second wild card will mean a date with the West’s top team. However, building momentum in the final month of the season historically has been the boost low seeds use to build in the postseason.
The Kings won the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the No. 8 seed in 2012. The Kings were 10-5 in March 2012 leading up to the postseason and only lost four games during the playoffs.
They beat No. 1 seed Vancouver in five games in first round, swept No. 2 St. Louis in the second round, beat No. 3 Phoenix in five games in the conference finals, then finished off New Jersey in six games to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.
New Jersey advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals as No. 6 seed out of the East. New Jersey won its last six games of the regular season and 13 of the final 20. The Devils then upset No. 3 Florida, No. 5 Philadelphia and the No. 1 New York Rangers.
The Kings won another Stanley Cup in 2014 after finishing in third in the Pacific Division and with the sixth-best record in the Western Conference. They, however, were 11-4 throughout March and won 13 of their final 21 games.
Philadelphia got into the 2010 postseason by winning its final regular-season game in a shootout and rode the momentum to the Stanley Cup Finals. The No. 7 seed overcame a 3-0 series deficit in the second round against No. 6 seed Boston and won four straight games to advance to the conference finals against No. 8 seed Montreal. The Flyers’ Cinderella run was spoiled by Chicago in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Montreal won seven of its first eight games in March 2010 before struggling through the next two weeks. The Canadiens won their first two playoffs series in seven games before falling in five games to Philadelphia.
These teams have proven “Cinderella” runs are possible with enough momentum. The Wild is 14-7 since snapping an 8-game losing streak in mid-February and is 9-4 throughout March.
Some players argue seeds or wild-card status don’t matter in the postseason. SportsNet broke down the “Top 7 NHL Cinderella stories” and quoted New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle saying:
''At this point, I just kind of throw the seeding out,'' New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle said. ''We have home ice. That's what the seeding dictates, but other than that, it's pretty close for a lot of these teams."
SportsNet’s top-seven list includes the 1991 Minnesota North Stars, labeling them as “one of the most inconsistent teams in the NHL." They upset Chicago, St. Louis and Edmonton during a postseason run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in six games.
This year's Minnesota club has arguably been just as inconsistent, forcing the mid-February coaching change.
Among SportsNet’s other top-seven Cinderellas are the 1999 Buffalo Sabres, 2003 Anaheim Ducks and 2006 Edmonton Oilers.