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Playoff bubble watch — Wild edition

Mar 26, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

Mike Yeo AP

When we last checked in on the Wild, almost two weeks ago, they were sitting pretty comfortably with an 83.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, per Sports Club Stats.

Today, those odds are even more comfortable, at 92.5 percent, with a chance to bump them up even higher with a victory tonight at home versus Vancouver.

The Wild got a big win Sunday versus Detroit, beating the desperate Wings 4-3 in overtime after trailing 2-0 early. But like with any team that hasn’t officially clinched, there’s always some reason for concern that it could go all go sideways. For Minnesota — which has won just three of its last 10 games — that reason may be goaltending.

With neither Josh Harding nor Niklas Backstrom available, coach Mike Yeo has a choice between rookie Darcy Kuemper and much-maligned veteran Ilya Bryzgalov in the final 10 games of the regular season.

From the StarTribune:

Yeo said today that he’s not going to say these games will serve in determining the Wild’s No. 1 goalie if it makes the playoffs, but he said there’s no question the Wild will use these next 10 “days” to sort things out.

Kuemper’s game hasn’t been as strong as it was before the trade deadline. He has allowed three or more goals in four of his past six starts, but Yeo said he doesn’t think Kuemper is that far off from his “A” game.

As for Bryzgalov, who is 2-0-2, Yeo said, “He’s got experience being deep in the playoffs, which can be a real positive. Kuemps and his personality and his situation as far as being part of our future is going to play into it. He shows signs of being a guy that could be not only a good goalie, but a really good goalie in the playoffs because of his mental makeup, because of how he’s handled pressure, because how he’s been able to stay focused and stay in the short term and not get too wrapped up in what’s happened.”

If it’s not goaltending that’s cause for concern, Minnesota’s remaining schedule may be. After tonight’s game, the Wild face a daunting four-game road trip to St. Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Chicago, before returning home to play Pittsburgh. And that’s not all, because home games against Boston and St. Louis are also on the slate.

Granted, it’s not like Minnesota has to run the table to get into the postseason. Not even close. With a six-point lead over ninth-place Dallas, a record of, say, 4-6-0 would almost certainly do the trick. Beating the Canucks tonight would be a good place to start.

  1. credible316 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    The upcoming schedule is BRUTAL. But if we want to make a run, we need to beat teams like this. Lets go WILD!!

  2. luvmnsports2012 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    I would have to agree with the above statement^. This is the push to the playoffs, love the Wild but now it’s time to get a glimpse of what they are made of! Let’s finish strong boys!!! **GO WILD**

  3. tlow97 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Need to at least break even the next 10 games I’d say.

  4. jmuis - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    Vancouver is one team they should not have to worry about as far as playoffs. I have always rooted for Vancouver but I think they are out this year.

  5. purpleguy - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    If anything, this schedule will prep the team for the games they’ll have in the playoffs. If they can’t hold their own and win their fair share of these last games, they’ll get what they deserve.

  6. vstar1us - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    The Wild have a chance to make a statement, the only thing in there way is the coach! He just seems out of touch with the leadership of the team. The Wild have just a bit better than average players and seem to be able to get the puck down the ice, but just lack some toughness. I am a Wild season ticket owner and don’t miss a game, but somehow they have to dig deep to move forward. Go Wild……

    • getadealdonealready - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      I’m sure you know more than the coach who’s livelihood hangs on the decisions that he makes, and who spends most likely every waking moment with the team or trying to figure out how to make the team better. Let the season play out, and if the team fails than I’m sure you will get your wish of a new coach, but at this level it’s up to the players to perform (and stay healthy), this team is in control of their destiny all while playing a 3rd and 4th string goalie.

  7. hennessey1200hp - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Yeo puts together losing streaks the last 3 years the last half of the seasons and plays Heatley every game. What more evidence is needed unless the Owner and GM are telling him who to play.

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