Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Game: Behold The Power Of The Streak

By Nick

The Wild's out-of-nowhere 12-game streak came to an end yesterday at the hands of the Bluejackets.  But, while some in the Twittersphere were quick to jump off the bandwagon(!), others took a more circumspect approach.

What does the streak mean?  I could sit here and tell you it means the Wild has turned a corner, or over a new leaf.  I could try to convince you that it means Boudreau has proven he's the real deal.  I could even try to say that Fletcher's moves are suddenly paying dividends.

I could say all those things, but the bottom line is that none of that is definitive.

What is real though, what cannot be taken away from the Wild, is the points that they accrued during that streak.  Those they get to keep.  They are definitively in the Wild's possession for the rest of this season. So, what do THEY mean?

The Wild has 50 points in 36 games played.  That means they have 46 remaining games, or a total of 92 possible points still on the table.  Let's say 98 points gets you into the playoffs in the west this season.  That means the Wild needs 48 more points the rest of the way, to safely get to a place where they can consider themselves in.  48 out of 92 is 52.17%.  Put another way, the Wild needs to go 24-22 the rest of the way.

Now, the Wild may not finish the season winning 64% of its games, as it has done to this point of the season.  That puts them on a 104-point pace.  Attainable, but let's draw out the worst case scenario here.  Even if a 64% wining percentage is unattainable, is it equally unreasonable to think they could finish with a 52.17% winning percentage?  I don't think so.  Put another way: it better not be.

Of course, the calendar did just flip over into January...

Look, the bottom line is that the streak has put the Wild into a playoff position, if they can just play mediocre hockey the rest of the way.  Think about the possibilities!  We discussed this very thing on the last 5 Minute Major.  If the result of the streak is that the Wild's playoffs don't start in mid-January, and that they're not fighting tooth and nail for every point all the way down the stretch - especially with the bye week making them play 20 games in the final 35 days of the season (which is totally obnoxious), where maybe you would benefit from an opportunity to not overplay some of your vets because you're in a game where it's not totally critical that you get a point or two - those are real, tangible benefits of the streak.

So, no, we don't need to ascribe any greater metaphysical value to the streak than is warranted, for the Wild.  We don't need to stretch credibility by waxing poetic about how great Boudreau or Fletcher is - after only 36 games together.  The streak provided a real live good thing for the Wild, they earned that.  And that's certainly enough.

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