THE WILD WIRE - #22Mar 18, 2019
Alright, here’s the deal. The Iowa Wild have just 13 games left.
Currently situated tied for second place in the Central Division with the Grand Rapids Griffins, if the Wild earn seven wins down the stretch, they basically can’t be caught in their chase for a playoff spot. In fact, any combination of 14 standings points over the last 13 games should get it done because the Texas Stars, currently in fifth place (just outside of the playoff bubble) can only finish with a maximum of 91 points.
However, the Manitoba Moose (currently in seventh place) can reach as many as 92 points due to 13 games left on their schedule.
Those improbable scenarios require both the Stars and Moose (or Milwaukee and San Antonio for that matter) to run the table and for the Wild to falter down the stretch.
With 78 points heading into their four-game road trip through Tucson and Stockton, the math for Iowa is simple. Earn 14 points and it’s almost impossible for them to miss the postseason.
Officially, the club’s magic number to clinch is 15.
POWERFUL POWER PLAY
On Friday night, the Wild’s man advantage logged a franchise-record five goals in the 6-3 home-ice win against the Rampage.
The performance was impressive as the top PP unit tallied each of the goals in a variety of ways – set plays, rebound scrambles in front of the Rampage net, back-door deflections…it was an absolute clinic.
Entering Monday’s action across the AHL, the team’s man advantage was sitting tops in the league at 24.6 percent.
At home, the power play jumps to an insane 29.0 percent (38 goals on 131 chances), which is almost three percent higher than the next closest team, the Syracuse Crunch.
Here are the top home power-play percentages across the AHL the last five seasons (prior to this campaign):
- 2017-2018 – Charlotte Checkers, 25.1 percent
- 2016-2017 – San Jose Barracuda, 26.5 percent
- 2015-2016 – Providence Bruins, 25.5 percent
- 2014-2015 - Providence Bruins, 24.3 percent
- 2013-2014 – Texas Stars, 28.0 percent
Kudos to David Cunniff, Iowa Wild associate coach, who runs the team’s power-play units. Obviously, the players deserve a ton of credit as well for executing the scheme.
The top unit (Brennan Menell, Sam Anas, Kyle Rau, Cal O’Reilly and Gerry Mayhew) has been absolutely rolling as of late. Rau has taken over the league lead with 16 power-play goals, while O’Reilly ranks second across the circuit with 23 assists on the man advantage. Menell has racked up five helpers – all on the power play in the last two games, and Mayhew has three power-play goals this month and seven on the season (he had just one all of last year).
Overall, the power play has cashed in at least once in six of the last seven games.
Ask most hockey pundits and they’ll list out two things which can help push a team over the top in the playoffs: goaltending and special teams.
With a top-10 power play and penalty kill (at this point in the season) plus two goaltenders who have proven they can shut down the opposition, the Wild will be a team no one wants to face come late April. Now, it’s just a matter of locking down that ever-elusive first playoff berth.
- Wild Joe Radio