"Again, there's a very good chance that the Minnesota Wild, who are pretty terrible at almost everything to do with hockey, will make the playoffs"
As Dan mentioned in his blog on the subject Friday, perception is reality. And unfortunately for Wild fans not enough is done to combat the perception that they are an untalented team which is getting lucky. It may not be "Minnesota Nice," but sometimes you have to rile things up and take control of the situation. So with that in mind, here are things the Wild are not terrible at from Ryan Lambert's Puck Daddy article.
"Listen to this list of teams ranging from so-so to submediocre and realize that five of them will somehow pull into the playoffs: Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Los Angeles King, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes. None of these teams are even remotely exceptional. More than half will make the playoffs nonetheless."A couple teams which are underachieving, a couple which are overachieving and a couple which look to get knocked out in the first round. That sounds like the bottom four teams in the playoffs every year. At least it's not like the Divisional system where 16 out of 21 teams are playoff-bound still exist. By the end of the season, the worthy teams will be sorted out from the unworthy.
"But the truth is quite the opposite. A lot of teams out West are playing in an awful lot of three-point games, and in the middle of the pack, many are againstAs of Friday (the day the article was published) Minnesota was tied for 10th in the West in terms of OT losses. They've also only won a single shootout this season so it's not like they are taking advantage of all these three-point games. In fact, these are things the Wild are terrible at. However, they are pretty good with goaltending. Niklas Backstrom is fourth in the league (and second out of the teams mentioned) in save percentage and just had a two-and-a-half game shutout streak broken against Phoenix. That is the type of goaltending which can steal a series.
That's why they've all gone on mini-runs that lead you to believe they can be legitimate playoff threats. Get hot at the right time and anything can happen, right? But these teams are all deeply flawed in at least one important way, and very few have the type of goaltending and/or team defense that can steal a series or three."
"There's not one of these teams that wouldn't get gutted by teams like the Bruins, Capitals or even the Rangers."While their record against the East is below .500 (5-6-1), Minnesota has beaten two of those three teams along with Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. So it looks like they are terrible at being gutted by the top Eastern teams. But at least the Wild are good at winning as Minnesota was only 5th in points per game in as of Friday due to having two games in hand. They are also good at winning on the road as out of the nine teams mentioned, the Wild have the top road record. That could come in handy in the playoffs. Who knows?
So the real reality is that the Wild are not terrible at almost everything, but in the end, perception is reality. And that's unfortunate because not enough people are going to read this to combat the previous perception - that would take something like a larger national following or a star player that people actually want to watch - but then again it's not the worst thing in the world. Rome wasn't built in a day and taking control of the situation isn't either. But I tipped the boat a little and Minnesota can still sneak under the radar.
Come playoff time, everyone does love an underdog....especially a terrible one.