Before this month, many Minnesota Wild fans believed the team wouldn’t have their seemingly annual slump and that Head Coach Bruce Boudreau was experienced enough to help adapt the team if they did begin to struggle. Unfortunately, the Wild have lost 10 of the last 12 games and have essentially dropped out of the race for the Central Division title. As the Wild have had plenty of slumps in recent memory, how does this season’s slump compare to those of the past?
Last season, the Wild entered the new year (2016) with 46 points for fourth place in the Central Conference. With multiple games in hand, they were 2 points behind Chicago and 3 points ahead of Nashville. Then the team lost 16 of the next 19 games to fall 7 points out of a playoff spot. The slump ended after then Head Coach Mike Yeo was fired and the team rallied under interim Head Coach John Torchetti to make the playoffs. While the team had a winning record under Torchetti, they lost the last 5 games of the season to back into the playoffs.
The 2014-2015 slump started a little earlier in the season as a 5-3 loss to Chicago on December 16th, 2014 sent them into a downward spiral where they lost 12 of 14 games. The slump only ended once the Wild traded for Devan Dubnyk. By then, the Wild were last in the Central Division and had to go on a stunning 28-9-3 stretch just to make the playoffs.
In the 2013-2014 season, the slump started only a day later than this year’s slump on March 8th, 2014 as they lost 9 of 12 games. Before the slump, the Wild had traded for Ilya Bryzgalov, who only played four games during the slump and won two of them. Bryzgalov played in 7 of the last 8 games of the season as his solid play helped stop the Wild slump and get them into the playoffs.
Despite the 2012-2013 season being shortened by the lockout, the Wild still found a way to fit in a slump. As the playoffs didn’t start until June that year, the Wild lost 8 of the first 11 games in April and only won 5 games in the whole month. The slump never got a chance to end as the Wild faced Chicago, the eventual Stanley Cup Champions that year, in the first round and lost 4 out of 5 games.
Mike Yeo’s first season as Head Coach of the Wild was entirely defined by its slump. After a win over Arizona on December 10th, 2011, the Wild were first in the Northwest Division and the Western Conference overall with 43 points through 30 games. The team then went on multiple losing streaks as they lost 34 of the next 45 games to drop out of the playoff race.
In comparison to the past 5 slumps, this season’s slump has the third highest losing percentage, but is otherwise not so bad. While losing so many games just before the playoffs isn’t great, at least the Wild don’t require any inhuman heroics just to make the postseason. Similarly to last year, the Wild have backed into a playoff spot as Los Angeles’ loss a few nights ago clinched the Wild’s playoff spot.
The Wild’s performance before the slump is what has separated it from the pack, as they had essentially already earned a playoff spot. If the Wild want to go far in the playoffs this year, they’re going to have to break out of this slump soon, and they won’t be getting a new goalie or a new coach to help them do it.
Thanks to Shrp Sports for the previous years’ rankings.