Could the Minnesota Wild be a dark horse Stanley Cup contender?
The NHL will be having an expanded postseason to help make up for the fact that they couldn’t finish the regular season. There will be 24 teams because there were several teams that were very close to having a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with more than 10 games to go. One of those teams is the Minnesota Wild.
With 68 games played, the Wild entered the season’s hiatus just one point out of the second wild card spot. In a traditional setting, this would leave them just out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But nothing about the 24 team format is traditional. The 24 team format will give the Wild the chance to make some noise in the playoffs.
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Unless the format changes (which possible), the Wild will be playing the seventh-seed Vancouver Canucks. It will most likely be in a best of five series, but that’s not set in stone yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done before the postseason can safely start, but it’s quite likely it will happen.
If the Stanley Cup Playoffs occur, the Wild could be a dark horse Stanley Cup contender. Here’s why they have what it takes to surprise some teams.
1. The Wild Are Actually Good
No matter which metrics you look at, the Wild are a surprisingly strong team. Since New Year’s Day, they have one of the top 10 records in the NHL. Meanwhile, the Canucks have the 19th-best record.
New Year’s Day has been a bit of a turning point for the Wild. They also have the 10th best CorsiFor%, sixth-best 5v5 GoalsFor%, and third-best 5v5 Expected GoalsFor% since the start of 2020.
Also, the Wild have a strong record against the Canucks, winning two of their three games against them this season. The Canucks are a good team, but the Wild have been playing excellent hockey in 2020. If they can keep the momentum going, they have a shot at going far in the postseason.