The Minnesota Wild just blew this thing wide open.
In a 6-5 shocker of a regulation win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night, the Wild opened the door for the Colorado Avalanche to make a Division championship push late in the season. MoneyPuck.com’s playoff predictions estimated that a regulation win would drop Vegas’s chances to win the division by about 10%, and this swing was magnified by Colorado’s victory on the same night. Going into Monday night, Vegas had a 64% chance to win the division; now, it’s dropped to only 42%.
The way that the Honda West Division has shaken out this year, it’s actually pretty easy to figure the Wild’s opponent based on MoneyPuck’s predictions of the chances in which each team finishes in which place. St. Louis has a 99% chance to take fourth place, so they’re essentially locked in to play the division winner on the road. Minnesota has only a 1.5% chance to win the division, so we almost certainly won’t play St. Louis, and we also won’t play the division winner since St. Louis is locked into that matchup. So, all you need to do in order to find the chances of Colorado or Vegas playing Minnesota in round 1 is add up each team’s chance to be in 2nd or 3rd place.
Right now, it’s pretty close with a slight edge in favor of Vegas drawing against the Wild. Colorado has a 43% chance of finishing in 2nd or 3rd in the division, while Vegas has a 57% chance of playing the Wild. With one more Wild vs. Vegas game scheduled for Wednesday night, as well as a head-to-head Colorado vs. Vegas showdown five days after that, it’s likely that the division championship and the Wild’s playoff opponent will be determined by the outcome of just those two games.
If the Wild take care of Vegas tomorrow night, it drops Vegas’s chances at winning the division to only 29%. On the other hand, if Vegas wins they’ll have around a 54% chance of winning the division. If Minnesota takes that game, it becomes fairly likely that we’re looking at a friendly first round playoff matchup, as it would bring the season series against Vegas to a final record of 6-2 with around a 70% chance of meeting VGK in the playoffs.