The Wild will enter the postseason with a maximum of 89 points. This underwhelming number will mark the first time in 17 years a team from the Western Conference qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs finishing below 90 points in the standings.
San Jose shut out the Wild 3-0 Tuesday night. The Wild are stuck at 87 points after a fourth consecutive loss, but still managed to clinch the final wild-card spot with one game remaining on the regular-season schedule.
The target to secure a postseason berth is often considered to be 95 points.
The West has been consistently strong since the NHL changed its point system in 1999-2000 to reward an overtime loss with one point. The bottom seeds out of the West averaged 93 points and had at least 90 points in each of the last 13 full seasons.
The conference’s last bad year of sorts was 1999-2000 when Edmonton and San Jose clinched playoff berths with 88 and 87 points, respectively.
San Jose advanced to the second round, while Edmonton won only one game in a first-round exit.
Los Angeles won the 2012 Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed out of the West, but totaled 95 points in the regular season.
Philadelphia is the last organization to finish the regular season sub-90 points and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers compiled 88 points in 2010 and didn’t secure a playoff spot until the final game. They eventually lost to Chicago in the Finals.
That same year, Montreal advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after totaling just 88 points in the regular season to claim the No. 8 seed.
These examples argue there might be hope for the Wild. We also considered that late-season momentum, something that fueled Philadelphia and Montreal in 2010, can propel low seeds deep into the postseason.
The East has produced more 80-point playoff teams than the West since the implementation of the extra overtime/shootout point. Six teams from the Eastern Conference with fewer than 90 points clinched playoff berths from 2000-2004.
The 2015-2016 Wild will be the only team, in the West or East, under 90 points that will make the cut this year.
Note: The addition of shootouts after the 2004-2005 lockout season did not affect the point system implemented in 1999-2000.
Fewest points in the West
2015-2016: Wild, 87-89
2014-2015: Calgary 97
2013-2014: Dallas, 91
2012-2013: Wild, 55 (partial season)
2011-2012: Los Angeles, 95
2010-2011: Chicago, 97
2009-2010: Colorado, 95
2008-2009: Anaheim, 91
2007-2008: Nashville, 91
2006-2007: Calgary, 96
2005-2006: Edmonton, 95
2004-2005: Lockout season
2003-2004: St. Louis/Nashville, 91
2002-2003: Edmonton, 92
2001-2002: Vancouver, 94
2000-2001: Vancouver, 90
1999-2000: San Jose, 87 (Edmonton also made the playoffs with 88 points)