The Minnesota Wild have eight games remaining against the St. Louis Blues this season and have the opportunity to prove whether or not they are for real. What they do with this could be a signal of whether their performance this year is an outlier or a sign of the progress made on this team.
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The Minnesota Wild are about to play the St. Louis Blues for the first time in over a calendar year. The last time they played one another was February 23rd, 2020, Dean Evason’s fourth game as Interim Head Coach.
The Minnesota Wild are in the midst of a ten-game winning streak when playing at home and followed up a disappointing weekend in Denver with two wins against the Anaheim Ducks. Since their COVID-19 Pause, the Wild are 15-4-1, which is an incredible twenty-game stretch.
The perspective needed on that stretch is how many of those games were against playoff-contending teams. Of those twenty games, only seven of those games were versus teams currently sitting in a playoff spot with a record of 3-3-1, which is right on NHL .500, but on the season, they are 4-5-1 against teams in a playoff spot, which is below NHL .500.
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Those games are solely against the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights, two bonafide Stanley Cup Contenders, so being sub .500 in those games isn’t overly shocking. Those teams are odds on favorites to win the Cup by season’s end.
The Minnesota Wild have eight games remaining against the St. Louis Blues in thirty-nine days. These eight games can determine whether or not Minnesota has made significant steps forward this season or if the Wild have just managed to dominate some of the weaker teams in the division.
This isn’t the same St. Louis Blues teams from years past. This Blues squad doesn’t have the same defensive talent from years past. Alex Pietrangelo and Joel Edmundson’s departures from the team have made the defensive group weaker.
Jordan Binnington has regressed a bit from previous seasons. In his breakout year (2018-2019), he posted a .927 sv % in thirty-two games played. The next year, he was around the league average with a .912 sv % in fifty games played. Now, in twenty-three games played, he has a .905 sv %.
Tonight’s game may be much slower because it’s the second of a back-to-back, but the importance of the opportunity the Minnesota Wild have in the eight games they have remaining against the St. Louis Blues in proving they are a serious playoff team is difficult to overstate.