There is no foolproof way to determine this early in the year which NHL teams are going to make the playoffs.
Sure, it’s easy to say that the current leaders in each conference, Boston and Vegas, likely will make the playoffs again after also leading their respective conferences last season. Minnesota sports betting is not yet legal, but nationally both teams are -1500 or shorter to make the playoffs this year at most sportsbooks. That, of course, makes them a virtual certainty to reach the postseason.
For most of the league, it is still too early to determine which teams will experience the regular season success they are after. However, there is an upcoming date that historically gives us a pretty good idea. Thanksgiving has been looked at as a time when teams have shown who they really are. In the salary cap era, almost 80% of teams who hold a playoff spot at Thanksgiving end the season retaining that positioning.
With this late November date holding such meaning, teams such as the Minnesota Wild know that their next few games are of vital importance as their current 5-6-2 record has them sitting outside of a playoff spot.
There are no Minnesota sports betting apps, but the Wild still are -160 favorites to make the playoffs at bet365 and DraftKings. Still, if they remain below .500 at the end of November those odds undoubtedly will shift.
Minnesota has not been below .500 at the end of November in any of the previous nine seasons, qualifying for the playoffs in all but one of those years. Unfortunately for Wild fans and bettors the team has rarely managed to get past the first round in those seasons. Minnesota has not reached the second round since 2014-15 when they started the season with a 13-9-1 record.
What Needs to Happen This Season
This season’s Minnesota squad has some work to do to get close to that 13-9-1 mark, but they recently snapped a four-game losing streak with a thrilling comeback win over the New York Rangers. It was the kind of win that could spur a much-needed turnaround for the team.
Just like last season, a lack of scoring depth has hurt the Wild. It was evidenced by their paltry record when young sniper Matt Boldy was out of the lineup for seven games. Superstar Kirill Kaprizov has yet to find his form from last season. The top line of Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman and Mat Zuccarello has been unable to form any consistency.
Goaltending, one of last year's strengths, has been a weakness, especially with last year's breakout star, Filip Gustavsson, languishing in the league basement with a 4.89 GAA. Gustavsson finding his form from last season is an absolute must for a team that struggles to generate offense.
It is still too early to write the Minnesota Wild out of the playoff conversation. With the unofficial Thanksgiving deadline approaching, a turnaround must happen sooner rather than later if Minnesota wants to extend their postseason streak.