Minnesota squeaks into the playoff at the 8th slot in the final week. Koivu, Granlund and Bouchard are all out with injuries (thank you Shanahan!). Setoguchi continues to slide down the depth chart as he simply cannot replicate his offense but people will still make excuses for his uneven play. Harding is also placed on the injury reserve, sadly. Hackett will be called up.
Minnesota also searches for ANY depth on defense as Spurgeon can't handle top line minutes and Gilbert has to take over. Stoner is injured. Fletcher sets out to rebuild the defense with Brodin, Gilbert and Suter as his three pieces to build around.
Minnesota does get hot and gets a needed boost of offense with Koivu back.
For me, it's tough to have expectations in such an unnatural season. I think they should definitely be in the mix for a playoff spot but there's too many factors that are going to play into this season that we've really never seen play out before to be all that certain about anything.
Bit of an off-topic, but I see Chicago being one of the worst teams in the league this season. Although they have some high end talent, they're very thin everywhere. And then you take into account their goaltending, I just don't see how anyone could like their chances.
After Meaningless Win - 3/29/12 - Game 77 | SoH-"Who knows, that could have cost us a Cup tonight." | Dooohkay
2nd round of playoffs if healthy. Look around the Western Conference:
Kings will be good.
Phoenix, Hawks, and Sharks are flat-lined. Nucks, Detroit, and Nashville are going to be worse.
Oilers, St. Louis, and Wild are going to be better.
Colorado is a wild card.
Dallas, Anaheim, Calgary, and Columbus aren't going to be factors.
I like the Wild's chances in that middle bolded group to make the playoffs and I think they have a chance to beat anybody in the group above them in a playoff series.
I really want playoffs and a competitive 1st round. Get in, and anything can happen. However, success in shortened seasons can be swung very easily. Missing the playoffs in a 48 game season with hardly any prep time isn't going to be the end of the world. Essentially, I really just want to see a reason to be optimistic about the coming years.
I think it will take time for the new key players to get into the groove of playing in a new system, players and environment. Factor in that the Wild will have the longest distance traveled out of ANY team in the league. Hopefully that will not lead to injuries and off nights with back-to-backs and playing every other night in different cities. I see them .500 with all statistical categories increasing compared to last year but it will take until end of February to mid March for them to come into their own and then they will start to knock off other teams and climb into the playoff picture around the 6 spot +/- 2 finishing within 5 points of the division title.
When/if they make the playoffs anything can happen but they will have to be playing hot closing out the season to make it past the first round.
I think that no matter the outcome of the season nobody will be (or should be) disappointed with this team but much more excited for the '13 - '14 season with a full regular offseason, camp and pre-season games.
I have expectations of the Wild making the playoffs- the seed does not matter to me. They had better make it. If injuries are not a big issue, I think they make the playoffs in the top 5 in the West. We play a million games against our own weak division- VAN will continue to be injured, COL is looking good, EDM will not be good, CAL will not be good, and then there is us. I think we take most games against EDM and CAL, and do OK vs VAN and COL.
As many said, this team has to make the playoffs no excuses. If the Canucks have injury problems and if the Luongo situation becomes a distraction, I could see a possibility for the Wild to challenge for the NW Division. But I am going to go low and going to say a 4-6 place finish.
I will also say that if the Wild are swept from the playoffs it will be a little disappointing. About as disappointing when the Wild lost the Avalanche after winning the NW Division.