THE WILD WIRE - #23Mar 25, 2019
STUNNED IN STOCKTON
Flip a coin.
On one side, you find yourself trailing 3-0 on the road, rally to pull even late in the third period, but eventually lose in regulation 5-3.
On the other side, you lead 3-2 in the third period and then with the game tied down the stretch, a ridiculously bad bounce goes against you and moments later, you’re down 4-3 with less than one minute to play.
Those two scenarios were what the Wild witnessed on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
Both games resulted in regulation losses. Both were hard-luck and tough pills to swallow. But any way you slice it, the Wild came up empty in Stockton.
NO NEED TO PANIC
Don’t freak out, Wild fans.
Despite a 1-3-0-0 road trip (the lone win coming by a 2-0 score in Tucson on Wednesday), the Wild are still in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
The team’s magic number sits at 11. With nine games left in the regular season, if Iowa goes 5-3-1 they’ll achieve 91 points and they can’t be caught by the teams currently outside of the Central Division playoff picture.
The Wild are on home ice for seven of their remaining tilts, a spot where the team hasn’t lost in regulation since January 18.
Of their remaining games, two are against the Texas Stars and one comes against the Rockford IceHogs as well as the Milwaukee Admirals. All three teams are clinging to their playoff lives. Beating them –really more so Texas (since those games are later this week) – allows Iowa to keep control of its postseason destiny while effectively burying the playoff hopes of the opposition.
Forwards Mitch McLain and Will Bitten both hit the double-digit goal plateau on last week’s road trip, making them the 10th and 11th skaters (including the since-traded Justin Kloos) with at least 10 goals.
Bitten, by the way, has a goal in three straight outings.
That type of offensive balance is huge as the Wild prepare for a potential trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs.
A few weeks back I blogged about the offensive struggles of some of the first-year players, so it’s nice to see them chipping in offensively as the games are tightening up with the postseason looming.
LOOKING AROUND THE CIRCUIT
Two teams in the Eastern Conference have already clinched a playoff spot.
The Charlotte Checkers, who lead the AHL with 45 wins, punched a playoff berth last week as they sit atop the Atlantic Division.
Ditto for the top team in the North Division, as the Syracuse Crunch have sealed up their spot. They have 90 points with nine games to play.
In three of the AHL’s four divisions, there’s an absolute battle going on for the final playoff spot.
In the Central Division, where the Wild call home, four teams are separated by just one point! Right now, the Manitoba Moose sit in the final playoff position, but Rockford, Milwaukee and Texas are all in clear contention.
In the Pacific Division, Tucson is just four points back of the Colorado Eagles for the last spot. Those two teams play two more times before the regular season concludes.
Meanwhile, Belleville and Cleveland each have 74 points in the North Division. The Monsters have one game in hand, which puts the Senators in fifth place.
- Wild Joe Radio