With the NHL shortened season likely to begin on January 19th, every game will be ever so important and critical in the standings. The Minnesota Wild re-tooled this summer and expectations are sky high for this club to not only make the playoffs but to potentially contend for the Stanley Cup. With that being said, let’s take a look at how many wins the Wild will need in order to pass the first step: making the playoffs.
The last time the NHL had a 48-game regular season was back in 1995 when the game returned after the work stoppage. Back then the league was comprised of 26 teams with the standard 16 making the postseason dance. In the Western Conference that year, oddly enough it was the Dallas Stars who secured the eighth and final playoff spot before being eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in five games.
That year, the Stars went 17-23-8, good for 42 points and a berth in the chase for the cup. Keep in mind that was before there were points for overtime losses and the shootout was not yet introduced, meaning if the game ended in a tie after five minutes of overtime, that’s the way it stayed. Now a days, one team will pick up that all important second point in overtime, so using the 42 point mark isn’t a great representation of what it will take to make the playoffs this year.
But let’s dig a little deeper into this shall we?
Last season, the Los Angeles Kings snuck into the playoffs with 95 points, good enough for eighth place in the West. They had a record of 40-27-15 which accounts for them winning 48.7% of their regular season games. Granted they did have 15 overtime or shootout losses, meaning they picked up points in 18% of their games they lost.
Back to this year and the 48-game schedule. If we use the same math but on a shorter season, the Wild need to win 23 games. Add in another 8-9 points for overtime losses and that puts the team at 54-55 points. One would think this would be more than enough to get into the playoffs, but when you look back at last year, six of the eight teams in both conferences had over 100 points which is incredible.
There are a total of 96 points available for the Wild this season. By no means are they going to go 48-0 on the year. But if we consider the Kings had 95 points or 58% of the possible 164 available last year, the Wild needing 54-55 this year is bang on with that ratio, coming at 56% of the points available.
Confused? It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers so to recap. The Wild need 23 wins along with another 8 or 9 overtime losses to give them 54-55 points on the season. That should be enough to get them into the playoffs, providing they can win 48% of their games; certainly attainable in my humble opinion.
Anything more than that means they will secure a higher seed in the Western Conference, but as the Kings proved last year, all you need to do is get in and then anything is possible.
Of course these numbers are pure speculation based on what happened last year and could have no merit what so ever with this season. But it is entertaining to at least look at what the Minnesota Wild will need to do in order to have a shot at the Cup.