Over the past month, the Minnesota Wild have been battling the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have bounced in and out of the playoff picture, but as things sit now, the Wild are in a good position for playoff hockey – if everything continues to go as planned, that is.
Bring on the Avalanche
On Saturday afternoon, Minnesota will have one last chance to take its playoff destiny into its own
hands. The Wild will face off against the Avalanche in the final meeting between these two teams in the 2015-16 season. Colorado is coming off a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, while Minnesota will look to keep rolling after a 6-2 trouncing of the Calgary Flames.
The Wild also has a four-game win-streak to build on, but none of that guarantees Minnesota a win.
The Avalanche are going to be desperate to get two points out of this matchup. Colorado is still very much in the hunt for a playoff berth, and Saturday afternoon is going to come down to which team wants those points more. Obviously this one game isn’t going to decide everything, but it is a huge matchup for both teams. In a tight playoff race, two points make or break the season.
After Saturday afternoon, the Wild only have six more games to lock up a that wild card spot. Colorado has the advantage of one extra game before the end of the season, but with the look of the Avalanche’s remaining schedule, that might not be such an advantage.
Remaining schedule; playoff teams in caps, road games in italics. pic.twitter.com/Om1GyrduRq
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) March 25, 2016
Luckily for Minnesota, the Wild’s end-of-the-season schedule is a lot simpler.
The Last Six
After the Wild face the Avalanche on Saturday, the team still has a handful of games left to build on its wild card lead:
- Tuesday, March 29 vs Chicago Blackhawks
- Thursday, March 31 vs Ottawa Senators
- Friday, April 1 vs Detroit Red Wings
- Sunday, April 3 vs Winnipeg Jets
- Tuesday, April 5 vs San Jose Sharks
- Saturday, April 9 vs Calgary Flames
Three days after facing Colorado, Minnesota will take on the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that has slumped as of late. Not to mention, the Wild are 4-0 against the Blackhawks this season. That looks awfully good for Minnesota.
In the past, Chicago might’ve presented a serious obstacle on the Wild’s path to two points, but this Tuesday, there’s no reason Minnesota shouldn’t be able to add to the wild card lead.
After Chicago, there really isn’t a team the Wild shouldn’t be able to beat. The only other playoff-
bound team in the remainder of Minnesota’s schedule is the San Jose Sharks. Colorado, on the other hand, has a stretch of rather difficult opponents (Nashville, St. Louis twice, Washington twice, Dallas and Anaheim). That being said, if Minnesota fails to secure the last wild card spot, this team really has no one to blame but themselves. The Wild might be able to count on Colorado’s opponents for a little help over the next week or so, but that’s no excuse for Minnesota to stop playing with 100 percent.
Minnesota has had a fairly rocky season, but despite the struggles, this team has somehow found a way to make it into the playoff picture for the fourth consecutive year. Looking ahead, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t be able to seal up the final wild card spot in the next couple of days. The regular season ends in 15 days, but that doesn’t mean it has to end there for the Minnesota Wild.