Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weighing The Options

There are two nights left in the regular season. 16 teams have clinched playoff spots, but now its putting them in their appropriate place to determine the postseason matchups.

The Wild are locked into the top Wild Card position in the Western Conference. What that means, is that they will be playing either the winner of the Central or Pacific division. The division winner with the lower amount of points, will draw the Wild in round one.

Standings after last nights games
There are only three teams who could potentially get the Wild to open the playoffs next week. They are the Anaheim Ducks (Pacific Division winner), St. Louis Blues, or Colorado Avalanche. The Blues and Avs are currently tied with the same 52-22-7 record. Should the two remain tied at the end of the regular season, the Avs would be the division winner having more wins in regulation or overtime.

So as we sit here and discuss among ourselves as to who the Wild better match up with in the first round, lets take a look at the pros and cons of playing all three of these teams.


  • Despite the season record against the Ducks being 1-1-1, the Wild were the better team in two out of the three games they played against Anaheim. Two of the three meetings also came when the team was lacking confidence, so a more confident Wild team could fare considerably better against Anaheim in a seven game series.
  • Anaheim won their division last year, but were upended in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau has a track record of fielding great teams, but then they get upset in either the first or second round of the playoffs.


  • The Ducks have Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, two of the best even strength scorers in the league.
  • After looking like they wouldn't even win the Pacific, the Ducks are 7-2-1 in their last 10, and look like the team that came out of the gates on fire to open the season.
  • Minnesota has not fared overly well in their two previous playoff meetings against Anaheim (2003 Conf. Finals-lost 4-0, 2007 Qtrs-lost 4-1).


  • The Avs field a moderately inexperienced playoff team. Their star players Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Ryan O'Reilly, Nate Mackinnon, and Gabe Landeskog all have a combined 21 games of playoff experience. 
  • The Avs are one of the worst puck possession teams in the league. It has surprisingly taken them to the cusp of a division championship, but how far will that luck take them in the playoffs?
  • Minnesota fared well the last time they were underdogs against Colorado in a playoff series.


  • The Avs dominated the season series against the Wild, winning four out of five games this year,.
  • Colorado has gotten unbelievable play from their goaltender, Semyon Varlamov this year, as he has posted a 41-14-6/2.57/.927 line this year.
  • Their coach knows a thing or two about winning playoff games.


  • The Blues injury report gets bigger and bigger every day. David Backes and TJ Oshie are currently sidelined and their status for Game One of the playoffs are up in the air.
  • Ryan Miller has been mediocre since coming over from Buffalo. In the past 10 games, the Blues netminder has yielded 30 goals to the opposition. 
  • The Wild finally snapped a nine game winning streak against St Louis last week, and perhaps showed that they can finally played with these guys.


  • Before last Thursday's meeting, the Blues have OWNED the Wild. Nine straight wins, and most of those games were not that close.
  • When healthy, the Blues are arguably the best team in the league. They have done very little wrong up until six games ago.
  • St. Louis employs more of a physical game, so if one were to upset them in the playoffs, how much left in the tank would they have for the next round?

Three very good hockey teams. One of them will get matched up against Minnesota next week.

Pick your poison.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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