Those who watched the Wild, with a chance to clinch a playoff spot by defeating lowly Edmonton, instead get clobbered 6-1 on Friday at Xcel Energy Center likely could not believe what they were watching 24 hours later at Colorado.
A team that went into the week with — to borrow a poker term — countless “outs” when it came to making the playoffs was down to its last one Saturday. Win and Minnesota was in. Lose and the Wild would have completed a slide from near-lock playoff team to idle spectator.
The Wild, of course, came through with a 3-1 victory. The reward is the eighth and final seed in the West and a date to play the juggernaut Blackhawks. Here is a brief look at the Wild’s situation as seen through the lens of previous seasons for various Minnesota teams.
AT LEAST THEY’RE NOT …
• The 2003 Vikings. That squad completed a stunning fall from a 6-0 start to 9-7 and out of the playoffs, losing the final game on the final play of the season to Arizona. The Wild would have needed to surrender the tying and losing goals in the final minute to equal that.
• The 1984 Twins. That squad had a 5½-game division lead in late August but sealed its fate by losing its final six games.
THEY HOPE THEY ARE …
• The 1987 Vikings. That squad was 7-4 at one point — 7-1 with non-replacement players — before losing three of its final four to finish 8-7. The Vikings squeaked into the playoffs and nearly made a run to the Super Bowl.
• 1987 Twins. They lost their final five games after clinching the division but proved momentum means nothing by winning the World Series.
• 2003 Wild. It lost four of its final seven regular-season games — three of them by shutout — and then lost three of its first four games in its first-round series against Colorado. But the Wild roared back to win that series and did the same against Vancouver to reach the Western Conference finals.
That Wild team was the No. 6 seed. Anaheim, which defeated the Wild in the Western Conference finals, was the No. 7 seed. It has been proven in countless situations that seeding is often not important in the NHL. Now that the Wild is in, at least there is a chance.