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Playoff bubble watch — Wild edition

Mar 13, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild Getty Images

The Wild would need to collapse in a fairly calamitous way to miss out on the postseason. Heading into tonight’s home game with the Rangers, Minnesota held down the first wild-card spot in the West, three points up on the other current wild-card team (Dallas), and four points clear of the first team on the outside looking in (Phoenix), and with a game in hand on the Coyotes.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Wild have an 83.2 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Comfortable, right?

But here’s what’s worrying — Minnesota’s remaining schedule is a beast, with road games in places like Boston, New Jersey, Detroit, St. Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And that’s not to mention home games versus the likes of Pittsburgh, Boston, and St. Louis. All of them with a likely goaltending tandem of rookie Darcy Kuemper, who’s looked a bit shaky lately, and wild-card veteran Ilya Bryzgalov.

On Tuesday, the Wild blew a 3-0 lead in Edmonton, losing 4-3 to the woeful Oilers in a shootout. After a five-game winning streak, it was the third straight contest Minnesota had failed to win.

“Those things happen from time to time,” said coach Mike Yeo, per the StarTribune. “We have to have the mentality this time of year that we can’t let it happen anymore.

“It doesn’t matter whether we won, we lost, shootout or overtime, whatever, we have to come to the rink every day trying to get better. When we’re doing that, when we’re on top of our game, that’s when we’ll start to see things start to come together and start to see consistency in our game.”

After hosting the Rangers tonight, the Wild have another home game Saturday versus Columbus, before heading out on the road to play the Bruins, Islanders, and Devils.

  1. lowenni - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    I can’t help but feel like the Wild should do more with their roster. I still don’t like Yeo as the coach, Laviolette would be a good fit for them. Moulson, Parise, Pominville, Koivu, Granlund…they should be one of the better teams.

  2. 7mantel - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    NYR need a win tonight !

  3. mp1131211 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    They are one of the better teams. And Laviolette? Good lord, no. Yeo’s doing fine.

    • lowenni - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      I’m sorry, they’re good, but “playoff bubble” does not make them one of the better teams. Neither does giving up a 3-0 lead to the Oilers the other night.

      • getadealdonealready - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        I agree with MP, playoff bubble is better then they should be when you look at how they have played while missing critical pieces of the lineup. Find me another team playing their 3rd string goalie and has 2 of it’s top three players miss more than a month each that is in control of their playoff hopes (especially in the west). Calm down let the new players gel with the team, and hope that our tending will be good enough to surprise some teams in the playoffs. Kuemper is getting valuable experience that he needs, as he is the future in net.

      • getadealdonealready - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        One more thought, while a playoff run would be great this year, it shouldn’t be expected. This team is built to win in the next 3-4 season’s.

        This year is about letting our young players grow up and learn to excel at the NHL level, which I think is happening. The goaltending situation while unfortunate, I think we will see what Darcy is made of in the next couple months, so while they have a ton of money coming off the books this year, they will now know if they need to look for a tender in addition to a player like Vanek to complete a roster that should be able to contend for a title in the next few seasons.

        I’d say while winning is fun, and a long playoff run would be fabulous for this community, enjoy the process of building a championship team, they are headed in the right direction. Yeo is learning on the job as well, and is a solid young coach. What I appreciate about him is he came in with his systems, tried it last year (box and 1) in D zone, realized it didn’t work and has adapted his style to fit the players he has.

      • ignath - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        My god, the Ducks lost to the Flames 7 – 2 last night…does that make them “not one of the better teams” out there too?

      • mp1131211 - Mar 13, 2014 at 8:39 PM

        ??? No being, 10th in the league does.

      • mp1131211 - Mar 13, 2014 at 8:39 PM

        Right, and Anaheim is worse than the Flames because Calgary mopped the floor with them last night, too.

  4. nicofthenorthstar - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    That loss to the Oilers the other night may have been the beginning of the end. Total melt down and a classic “unable to play with a lead” scenario. On home ice, no less. A signature loss if ever there was such a thing.
    Goal tending is a big problem, Kuemper has been a nice surprise this year, but is unreliable. After him? Nothing that inspires confidence, to say the least.
    The team also lacks leadership. Koivu, the long time captain, does many things well, nothing extremely well. The team has taken a downward turn since he came back from his injury. Coincidence? Perhaps.
    And then there’s the guy standing behind the bench. I am not one who subscribes to the knee-jerk fire the coach mentality, but if they don’t get into the playoffs I have a hard time believing he will keep his job.

    • guitarhunterdude - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      I’m not one to stand up for captains, but I’ll stand up for Koivu here. The team, despite the results of games lately, is playing better now that Koivu’s back than they have since he went out. He’s the main possession-driving guy on the team; he can essentially carry a line by himself. He’s the reason the line with Moulson (a solid player, but a complimentary guy) and Coyle (no better than a third-liner at this stage) has been effectively shutting down other teams’ top lines while getting a few chances themselves. This allows the Parise-Granlund-Pominville line to play soft minutes and really tear things up against lesser players. The only reason the Wild were successful in January-February was because Kuemper stood on his head game-in, game out. Now that he’s coming back to earth, people think the team’s playing worse, when it’s really only Kuemper (which was to be expected, really.)

      The losing streak has nothing to do with Koivu lacking “leadership” or making the team worse’ it’s as simple as a couple of lackluster performances by Kuemper and a shaky start to a game by Bryzgalov. The Wild played neck-and-neck with the Blues (best team in the league) and Stars (a top-ten possession team with an on-fire Seguin), and largely dominated the Oilers, but had just a couple costly mistakes that cost them those games. I’m as big a pessimist as you’ll find, but as long as they get decent goaltending, I think they’re going to start winning games again, enough that they’ll lock themselves the 7-seed over a heating-up Stars team. And Koivu is a huge part of that.

      Yeo…that’s another issue entirely. If they miss the playoffs, he’s history. If they get kicked out of the first round in 4-5 games, I’d like him gone as well.

  5. nolockoutpricks - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    oh my god get over it, just because he wears the c doesn’t mean other people can’t speak up or lead. you people are so annoying, and obviously have never played a sport in your life

  6. rebekah319 - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    I have kept my comments to myself the best I can this week but enough is enough with the constant Mikko Koivu bashing. How long has he been here? His whole career no one ever said anything until he got the “C” put on his jersey. Does it really matter who wears the “C”??? GET OVER IT! Its so annoying how fans just do not appreciate what he does night in and night out for a team is seriously cares about. I have never been around a fan base that complains more about the guy with the C on his jersey than other any other fan base. He has been back for a total of 4 games missed 2 months of action and you all expect him to go out of the gate flying. It takes time to get his timing back, his game back. Give him a break.. the team survived many hurls without many guys this year so to sit here and say that because he came back all of a sudden its his fault. What I do not get is why its all his fault all the time and no wild fans point fingers at Parise, Pominville, Suter, the other “leaders” in that room they have to put to the guy with the C on his jersey because its so easy to do. It amazes me how many times I have to remind fans of what a player Mikko truly is and he can only do so much. He has never been a flashy guy and will not change!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish you all could see the big picture and actually appreciate him but its far from that and its sad. He does not deserve the finger pointing just because you all feel he is not doing his job in all sense he really is doing his job just not the way you all wish he would- which is even more sad.

    • guitarhunterdude - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      Captain-bashing is pretty common everywhere. Yes, Koivu’s good, but wearing the C means he’s going to catch the blame when the team doesn’t perform well, even when it’s not his fault at all. Again, it’s that way everywhere. Calm down.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Mar 13, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      See, the thing is, Rebekah, he shares at least some of the blame. He plays a solid game, no doubt. There are worse or less deserving players who wear or have worn the C (Ference? OTT??) so you could certainly do worse. HOWEVER, he does not always step up his game when it needs to step up. I say this because there have been instances when Angry Mikko shows up and stomps the ever-living shyte out of the opposition with some mindblowing plays and rage-filled forechecking. Why doesn’t this player show up more often? Where is this guy night in and night out?

      The only time I ever see you comment is when someone has a bone to pick with your beloved Captain Suomipants. You represent a part of Wild fandom that looks on certain players with a doe-eyed, wet-in-the-pants affection that ignores an individual’s deficiencies. Mikko ain’t perfect, and fans are allowed a level of critical analysis that more than likely identifies a player’s shortcomings. This does not always constitute “bashing.” Some folks do engage in bashing, but it is usually a combination of ignorance, misunderstanding, and mean-spiritedness. You don’t have to pay attention to every twit with internet access. I like Mikko, but he is not the Wild’s Messiah. That designation goes to Mikael Granlund 😉

  7. rebekah319 - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    I am calm thank you very much!!! Yes Captain bashing here in MN is a 24/7 days a week non stop thing here I have a right to vent I just wish people would see the other side of the picture

    • getadealdonealready - Mar 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      rebekah – if captain bashing is 24/7 then I’d say you are hanging out with & listening to the wrong people.

  8. purpleguy - Mar 13, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    With the Wild stuck with Heater’s contract this year due to his injury last spring, Fletcher wasn’t able to use the cap space to get another blue-liner or a top 6 scoring forward. Instead, they have had to rely upon the younger guys, who have developed okay (which may be a blessing in disguise). Heck, how many players do they rely upon under the age of 23, not to mention both starting goalies out for the year and two top six guys out a total of 60 days? I’m hardly an apologist for this team, but under these circumstances, its hard to whine about Yeo and the team’s record.

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