Here’s an interesting thing to consider: As good as the Wild was for much of this season, and as bad as the Wild was from the beginning of calendar year 2016 until last weekend, when Mike Yeo was fired, Minnesota with 24 games left in the season is pretty much right back where it started before the puck even dropped on the regular season.
In fact, the Wild is slightly better off now than it was back in early October when the chosen metric is the percent chance that the team will make the playoffs.
This calculation is done by Sports Club Stats, and it is fairly complex. Per the site:
Sports Club Stats calculates each team’s odds of making the playoffs, how each upcoming game will impact those odds, and how well they have to finish out to have a shot. It knows the season schedule and scores for past games. Each time (a new score is added) it simulates the rest of the season by randomly picking scores for each remaining game. The weighted method (the one that I’m using) takes the opponents record and home field advantage into account when randomly picking scores, so the better team is more likely to win.
And it runs those simulation millions of times to come up with an aggregate outcome.
For the Wild, it’s been a season of peaks and valleys. You already knew that, but it’s particularly true if we look at the playoff odds.
At the start of the season, Minnesota had a 57.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to the site. That’s slightly better than if we were treating all teams equally, since 16 of the 30 teams in the NHL (53.3 percent) make the postseason.
Those odds steadily improved in the first two months of the season — with a few small spikes and drops — until the point on Dec. 7 when the Wild’s playoff odds reached 89.6 percent. From that point until Jan. 15, the percent chance never dipped below 87 percent and reached a season-high of 97.1 percent on Jan. 9 when the Wild beat Dallas. Minnesota was 22-11-8 at that juncture — 52 points in the first half of the season.
It’s hard to believe that was barely a month ago. From there, of course, the true free-fall started. Minnesota lost 13 of its next 14 games — and almost importantly, only two of those losses went to overtime to at least give the Wild a point in the standings.
From that high of 97.1 percent on Jan. 9 and from still being above 90 percent on Jan. 15, the Wild dropped all the way down to a 33.4 percent chance of making the playoffs on Feb. 13, the day it lost to Boston and Yeo was fired. So basically the Wild went from being almost a sure thing to make the playoffs to having a 1 in 3 chance in a month.
The equally amazing thing is that it’s taken just three wins under interim coach John Torchetti to boost that percentage back up again — all the way to 59.8 percent after last night’s win over Edmonton.
So yes, the Wild is better off now than it was at the start of the season — at least according to Sports Club Stats. The Wild trails Nashville and Colorado by two points in the Wild Card race — but Minnesota has also played two fewer games than Colorado. So the Avs are at just 46.1 percent right now.
The Wild is done playing Nashville but has two games left with Colorado — March 1 and March 26. Go ahead and circle those right now.