The St. Louis Blues are doing it the other way around this time, but winning in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs won't be any easier as a result.
The Blues finished the regular season winning five of their final six games to climb into first place in the Central Division. It was a near 180 from last season, when they lost their last six games and fell out of first place and into a first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The reward for winning isn't much better than the price for losing was last season because the Minnesota Wild have been the best team in the NHL since Jan. 15.
The Wild are the first wild card from the Western Conference after going 28-9-3 since goalie Devan Dubnyk made his Minnesota debut on that date. Minnesota was eight points out of a playoff spot when Dubnyk debuted; they finished with a five-point cushion.
The Wild, who had 100 points for the second time in their history, were first in points among Western Conference teams with 59 from Jan. 15 through the end of the season.
Despite high expectations and strong regular seasons, the Blues have not advanced past the first round in each of the past two seasons and haven't gone past the second round since coach Ken Hitchcock was hired early in the 2011-12 season.
St. Louis' past two series losses followed the same script: The Blues won the first two games and then lost the next four to teams (Los Angeles Kings in 2013 and Blackhawks in 2014) that eventually lost in the Western Conference Final.