Can the Minnesota Wild Make the Playoffs?

Minnesota Wild players celebrate together on the ice.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Nobody has a crystal ball and the Minnesota Wild are in a tough spot. Not high enough to guarantee a playoff spot, but not low enough to count themselves out of it. While some fans have called for them to tank for a better draft pick, battling for a playoff spot aligns more with the Wild’s style. The Wild have a few key elements that will help them down the stretch.

Willing to Do Anything It Takes

Coach John Hynes proved that he will do whatever it takes to get the team to the playoffs—like pulling Marc-Andre Fleury out of the net during overtime for an extra attacker. Most fans didn’t realize what a risky gamble that was. If the Wild hadn’t scored, they would have lost the one point they otherwise would have gained in the playoff standings.

With such a close race, Hynes knew that getting the two points was important. He trusted his top players to get out there and get it done. So not only is he willing to take risks, but he trusts his players to get the job done.

The Locker Room is a Family

Some fans like to argue that a tight locker room is not necessary or important for a hockey team, but it is a key element. You could put together a team of the best hockey players in the world, but if they cannot get along or care about each other, that dysfunction will make its way onto the ice. 

The Wild have a great locker room. We hear it all the time from reporters and players alike. And that comes across on the ice. It’s important to point out that being a tight-knit group won’t mean that the hockey team is good. What it will do is bring a team to the next level.

When the Wild were going through their rough patch, the companionship didn’t suddenly make them win. But it did motivate them to keep trying. Losing Dean Evason as their head coach was devastating for them as was losing Brandon Duhaime and Connor Dewar at the Trade Deadline. But these losses can galvanize the team and push them to play even better and get a playoff spot.

The Goalies Have Each Other’s Backs

Filip Gustavsson and Fleury have both struggled this year. Even when they were good, they were behind players who couldn’t quite get their acts together. Their stats are horrible, even after having a good run of games. But Fleury has been through a lot in his career and he’s been a good mentor to Gustavsson as he struggles to find his game again.

The Top Line is on Fire!

Matt Boldy and Kirill Kaprizov had a hard time at the beginning of the season. It even got to the point that people were calling Kaprizov a bust. But, as expected, they found their footing and, along with Joel Eriksson Ek, are one of the hottest lines in hockey right now. This trio picked exactly the right time in the season to go on a tear.

Kaprizov is the leading scorer in the NHL in the last month. And despite his lack of goals at the beginning of the year, he still has 73 points in 59 games. Even on nights when he doesn’t score, he is usually on the scoresheet with assists.

A Ragtag Blue Line that Works

The defensive core of the Wild has been a bit of a mess this season. Not that they are making bad decisions or even playing consistently bad. But two of their best defenseman Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon were sidelined for long periods of time with injuries. Spurgeon is out for the rest of the season. So who stepped up in that time?

Rookie Brock Faber deserves to win the Calder with how incredible his season has been. Jake Middleton had been skating on the top pairing anyway. But he played more minutes than ever in his career and even managed a career year in goals so far. Zach Bogosian was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning and has revitalized his career, even earning a two-year contract extension mid-season. And pulling Dakota Mermis up from the Iowa Wild has given him his first real shot at an NHL one-way contract.

How Far Could the Wild Go in the Playoffs?

Being optimistic doesn’t mean being separated from reality. Winning a Stanley Cup or even making the finals this year would be a miracle. But miracles happen. And with a Stanley Cup coming for sure in the future, making it past the first round or even just making it into the playoffs with the tough wild card race this season would be a good first step.

For more Minnesota Wild news and vibe checks, listen to Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast.

Hockey, Hockey, Everywhere! That's Why I've Been So Busy! Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast

In this episode, Mikki talks about the abundance of amazing hockey between the NHL Playoffs and the IIHF Men's World Championships. She also touches on a few fun facts and rambles a bit too much after too many days between podcast episodes. Links:Her Wild Side Merch Shop!Ticketmaster Affiliate LinkSocial Media:TwitterInstagramFacebookFor more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR   
  1. Hockey, Hockey, Everywhere! That's Why I've Been So Busy!
  2. It's The Playoffs, Baby!
  3. Hockey Culture is Disgusting and Needs to Change
  4. A Post-Mortem for the MN Wild Season
  5. Trading Gustavsson Would Be the Dumbest Idea Ever

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