Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Minnesota Wild

Wild Clinches Spot In 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

After waking up on Feb. 14 in 11th place in the Western Conference, 51 days later, the Minnesota Wild clinched a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It was a rollercoaster season for Minnesota, who accrued 52 points in its first 41 games, a record-setting first half.

But the Wild would earn four points over games 42 through 56, going 1-11-2, and seeing it slip in the Western Conference standings.

Since then though, the Wild has climbed back into the postseason picture, one of the winningest teams in the NHL since Feb. 14 when interim Head Coach John Torchetti was promoted from Iowa.

It happened — and the Wild's success on the season — came from many of the avenues Minnesota expected it would need to carry the load.

Devan Dubnyk, the NHL's Second Star for the month of March, over which he won 11 games, has been an anchor for the Wild in its crease.

Entering Tuesday, since Feb. 14, Dubnyk's 14 victories were first among NHL goaltenders. He was also eighth in the league in save-percentage (.921), and seventh in goals against average (2.23). His 548 saves topped any other goaltender.

The Wild's forward depth, one of its strengths on paper entering the 2015-16 season, has emerged and helped balance and pace Minnesota's production.

In that Feb. 15 game, Torchetti's first as the Wild's coach, forwards Erik Haula, Nino Niederreiter, and Jason Pominville were put on a line together. Minnesota's new third line has been effective at both ends of the ice: it draws the defensive assignment against the other team's top line every game, and also has 25 goals and 30 assists in the 25 games. Pominville missed seven of those due to injury.

Forward Zach Parise got hot at a crucial time, and has come up with timely goal scoring. Entering Tuesday, he had six goals in the Wild's past six games. That included a hat trick against the Calgary Flames, and two goals against the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-0 Wild win at Pepsi Center in a game that was one of the final hurdles to Minnesota's playoff race.

Parise has been effective against Colorado all season, and while every point has inched the Wild closer to its fourth trip to the playoffs in the past four seasons — one of six teams to do so — the ones earned against the Avalanche seem all the more vital.

On opening night, Parise had a hat trick and the Wild erased a three-goal, third period deficit to defeat Colorado, 5-4, in regulation.

Parise scored the lone Wild goal in a 2-1 overtime loss at Colorado in early December, securing the Wild a point. He had two assists, including one on the game-winner in a 6-3 Wild victory against Colorado to begin March that saw the Wild temporarily overtake the Avalanche in the standings.

The Wild's youth has also played a major role, adding production and rounding out that aforementioned depth.

Minnesota had nine players begin this season 25 years old or younger who skated in at least 65 games. Of that group, there were six career-highs established in goals scored, six in assists, and seven in points.

Entering Tuesday, 52 percent of the Wild's goals this season had come from that group of nine players.

All of these ingredients, thrown into a mixer and blended over the first 81 games of the season has pureed into the Wild finding its way back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

View More