Of all the years for the Wild to miss the playoffs … this was a bad one.

It doesn't happen every postseason, or even most postseasons in the NHL. But every few years or so, the NHL playoffs turn into a ridiculous free-for-all where seeding doesn't matter. When the opportunity for upsets is so prevalent, being a team consistently good enough to squeeze into the playoffs is a decent strategy for trying to win a championship.

Unfortunately for the Wild, it couldn't take that strategy far enough in its six straight seasons making the playoffs from 2013-18. Minnesota advanced twice to the second round as a lower seed but was stymied by Chicago both times.

This season, though, is the widest of wide open. After the games of Jan. 2, the St. Louis Blues had the worst record in the NHL.

But the Blues are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals to face Boston.

Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. michael.rand@startribune.com.