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The Outlook for the Remainder of the Season

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There are two sides to my Wild fandom.  There’s the objective side that I try to use while writing about the team and there’s the optimistic side that, ultimately, tends to come out.  Due in large part to the Minnesota State Hockey Tournaments, the month of March just flat out stinks for this team.  They have a rough schedule, though not insurmountable, so I thought I would take a couple looks at the team’s schedule the rest of the way.  Both from a pragmatist’s standpoint and from an optimist’s standpoint.

Pragmatic Outlook
James Mirtle of FromtheRink.com has placed the magic number to the playoffs at 92 this season.  The Wild are currently at 65 points with 19 games remaining.  Based upon this number, the Wild would need to earn 27 points in their last 19 games to make it there.  For the mathmatically challenged, like myself, that’s about 1.4 points per game.  So here’s what I came up with from a pragmatic standpoint.

Mar. 5 @ San Jose – OTL – The Wild have played San Jose very tightly this season.  In their first game, they were right with them until a 5 minute span in the third where the wheels came off.  In the second, they won in OT at home.  The Sharks won’t lose this game, but it’s realistic to think that the Wild can squeeze out a point.  66 pts

Mar. 7 @ LA – W – While the Kings have had the Wild’s number this season, the Wild will find a way to win this game and snap their longest losing streak since December.  68 pts

Mar. 8 @ Anaheim – L – Anaheim didn’t get any worse at the deadline and the Wild didn’t get any better.  This could really go either way, but Anaheim is dangerous with Whitney on the blueline now. 68 pts

Mar. 10 vs. San Jose – OTW – A must-win for the team and the second time they will have faced San Jose at home this season in a must-win situation.  They win in OT. 70 pts

Mar. 12 @ Colorado – W – Colorado is the bottom of the barrel, Minnesota has had their number for the most part the last couple seasons (with the exception of one playoff series).  Losing Leopold won’t help either.  72 pts

Mar. 14 @ Dallas – L – Dallas has had Minnesota’s number this season and Minnesota has played pretty poor against Dallas in recent years.  Even a Dallas team without Richards won’t save this game.  72 pts

Mar. 15 @ St. Louis – W – Minnesota is typically pretty strong in at least one of the two games of back-to-back games.  St. Louis has a strong team, but the Wild also match up well against them.  74 pts

Mar. 17 vs. Colorado – W – Minnesota knows it has to take advantage of its home games in March and Colorado, again, has been historically weak against Minnesota recently.  76 pts

Mar. 20 @ NJ – L – The Devils are easily one of the top teams in the league and the Wild have not really had an answer for Brodeur ever.  76 pts

Mar. 22 vs. Edmonton – OTL – Edmonton got much better at the deadline.  They have a team that is capable of giving the Wild fits.  That said the Wild are historically good against the Oilers and should squeeze out a point.  77 pts

Mar. 24 @ NY Rangers – L – The Rangers got better with Morris, Antropov and Avery and should give the Wild fits.  This could be a game that goes either way, though, as the Wild do play their best games against the East.  77 pts

Mar. 25 @ NY Islanders – W – The Isles are one of the worst teams in the league and have lost some of their best offensive weapons.  79 pts

Mar. 28 @ Calgary – OTL – With the exception of the debacle a few days ago, the Wild do play Calgary very close and are very capable of squeaking out a point against them.  80 pts

Mar. 29 @ Edmonton – OTW – Again, the Wild have Edmonton’s number.  The Oilers match up a lot better against the Wild, but the intangible is just that the Wild know how to beat them.  82 pts

Mar. 31 vs. Vancouver – W – Luongo struggles against the Wild and the Wild, again, knows that it needs to win at home.  By this point, Gaborik should easily be back in the line up as well.  84 pts

Apr. 3 vs. Calgary – L – Again, struggles against Calgary will continue.  84 pts

Apr. 5 @ Detroit – OTL – The Wild have played very well against Detroit this season.  They should squeak out a point on the road.  85 pts

Apr. 7 vs. Dallas – W – At home in what will be a must win, the Wild will come out on top.  They’re capable of beating Dallas; they just haven’t shown it.  87 pts

Apr. 10 vs. Nashville – W – The Wild typically have success against Nashville and it will be another must-win home game.  89 pts

Apr. 11 @ Columbus – W – This could very well be a 1-game playoff for both teams.  The Wild play well against Columbus and they should win this game.  91 pts

Verdict: As this shows, the Wild should be a bubble team this playoff season.  If the magic number fluxuates at all, the Wild could see themselves fall into or drop out of the playoff picture.  All-in-all, there’s still a chance for the team to make it in, but it is a slim one at best.

Optimist’s Outlook
I thought, along with a pragmatic outlook, it would be good to look at the schedule optimistically as well.  So here it is:

Mar. 5 @ San Jose – OTL – 66 pts
Mar. 7 @ LA – W – 68 pts
Mar. 8 @ Anaheim – W – 70 pts
Mar. 10 vs. San Jose – W – 72 pts
Mar. 12 @ Colorado – W -74 pts
Mar. 14 @ Dallas – L – 74 pts
Mar. 15 @ St. Louis – OTL – 75 pts
Mar. 17 vs. Colorado – W – 77 pts
Mar. 20 @ NJ – L – 77 pts (I consider this to be optimistic because I will be at this game and I’m hoping that this is the game that Brodeur breaks one or both records.)
Mar. 22 vs. Edmonton – W – 79 pts
Mar. 24 @ NY Rangers  – W – 81 pts
Mar. 25 @ NY Islanders – W – 83 pts
Mar. 28 @ Calgary – OTL – 84 pts
Mar. 29 @ Edmonton W – 86 pts
Mar. 31 vs. Vancouver – W -88 pts
Apr. 3 vs. Calgary – W – 90 pts
Apr. 5 @ Detroit – OTL – 91 pts
Apr. 7 vs. Dallas – W – 93 pts
Apr. 10 vs. Nashville – W – 95 pts
Apr. 11 @ Columbus – W – 97 pts

Verdict: Even optimistically, the Wild is a 6th seed at best, but the team is certainly capable of putting together a run like this in the last month.  The question is: will they?

In my opinion, right now, the Wild are a good team playing bad hockey.  This has caused them to become a bubble team, at best, and has given fans and management cause for concern.  If the Wild can string together even a few wins, it will give them confidence.  The big question though, is can they?


Written by bcbenzel

March 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

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