Games this week:
The first Wild-Blues games this year were postponed due to the outbreak of COVID in the Wild roster. One later meeting ended up getting pushed back due to Minneapolis curfews during the Chauvin trial and the protests of other police killings of black men. Finally, the Avalanche had a COVID outbreak and needed to reschedule some games against St. Louis, so the Wild-Blues games got pushed back one more time and consolidated at the end of the season schedule. So here we are. The Wild now have 9 games remaining, and 5 of them are against St. Louis.
It's been a strange season.
If the Wild win any one of those remaining five games against St. Louis, they will ensure that they finish above the Blues in the final standings, and can finish no lower than third in the division.
The three teams at the top have all clinched playoff spots and now are only playing for the opportunity not to have to face one of the other two good teams in the West.
(Quick reminder - the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs this year are series within the divisions. #1 in the West plays #4 in the West, while #2 plays #3 in the first round. Once the four divisions each have a playoff champion, they will be seeded and continue with the semifinal and final round of the playoffs).
Given the huge disparity between teams 1-3 and teams 4-8 in this division, the #1 seed is a pretty enticing reward. However, Minnesota needs a lot of things to go right to be near the #1 seed when this all shakes out.
Relevant games remaining for the #1 seed:
COLORADO @ VEGAS (April 28)
VEGAS @ MINNESOTA (May 3)
VEGAS @ MINNESOTA (May 5)
COLORADO @ VEGAS (May 10)
Las Vegas - 5 other games (2 home, 3 away - 2 ARI, 2 STL, 1 SJ)
Colorado - 8 other games (4 home, 4 away - 4 SJ, 4 LA)
Minnesota - 7 other games (5 home, 2 away - 5 STL, 2 ANA)
Unless the Kings or Sharks get really hot really fast, I don't see how Minnesota catches both teams. Here's a scenario that puts the Wild in first place:
MIN -- 8-1 (81 points)
LV -- 5-4 (80 points)
COL -- 7-3 (80 points)
Las Vegas as a .500 team and Colorado dropping multiple games to San Jose and/or LA just doesn't seem likely. Not to mention a projected 8-1 record doesn't leave much room for error.
Kirill Kaprizov Corner
Scoring when he's the only Wild player in the offensive zone? Yep.
— NHL (@NHL) April 22, 2021
Doing horrible things to this Kings defenseman? Check
(Watch his hips on this goal. Kaprizov convinces the D-man that he's going to try and cut to the middle by turning his hips without changing the direction he's moving. As soon as the defenseman slows to cut off that angle, it's a quick puck between the legs and turn on the jets to get to the net. It's like the anti-Shakira move. It's so pretty.)
— x - Sound the Foghorn Podcast 🚨 (@SoundTheFoghorn) April 24, 2021
Somehow finding a literal acre of space to set up and bury this Fiala pass? Check.
— Alex Micheletti (@AlexMicheletti) April 25, 2021