If the NHL playoffs started today, the Minnesota Wild would sneak in as the second wild card in the Western Conference.
With just one win in seven games since the All-Star break, the Wild have the look and feel of anything but a playoff team, much less a team that will be difficult to oust in a best-of-seven series.
But don't tell Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau.
"I can tell you right now, I'm not Joe Namath but we're going to make the playoffs," said Boudreau on KFAN Thursday morning, echoing the famous guarantee Namath made before leading the Jets to an upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
"We're going to be somebody hard to deal with. I'm making that prediction right now," Boudreau added.
Bold prediction? Meh, not really. The Wild are benefitting from playing in a top-heavy Western Conference. If Minnesota played in the East they'd be eight points out of the playoff picture.
According to the playoff probabilities from Hockey Reference, the Wild have a 43.3 percent chance to qualify for the postseason.
Reality is that Minnesota has played up and down to its competition, often beating teams ahead of them in the standings while losing to non-playoff teams. And they've been far from consistent this season
Minnesota is the most Jekyll & Hyde team you'll find in the NHL.
- Oct. 3-Nov. 23: 30 points (14-7-2), 5th in the NHL
- Nov. 24-Dec. 27: 7 points (3-9-0), 31st in the NHL
- Dec. 29-Jan. 23: 14 points (9-5-0), 4th in the NHL
- Jan. 24-present: 4 points (1-4-2) 27th in the NHL
They've literally gone from being a top five team the first month and a half of the season to playing the worst hockey in the entire league for more than a month, back to a top-five team for nearly four weeks and now back to the bottom since the All-Star break.
Playoffs? Maybe, but what if Wild general manager Paul Fenton hits the sell button and starts trading key players before the Feb. 25 trade deadline? It could happen, and if it does Boudreau's guarantee might feel a little different.