ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — In all his years coaching hockey, Bruce Boudreau has never seen anything like it.
“No,” the Wild coach said. “Not as close for as long as it’s been.”
The playoff race in the Western Conference is shaping up to be one of the most dramatic, ever.
The regular season is almost three-quarters over, and only 10 points separate the No. 1 seed from the No. 8. Three more teams are within three points of eighth.
So many teams are winning so often, it’s hard to make up any ground – or distance yourself.
“I wish I was in first place by 20 points,” Boudreau said. “That’s what you wish for, but it’s not. So every game is really exciting. And it’s a real challenge.”
The Wild currently sit on 68 points heading into Thursday night’s game against the Washington Capitals. If they were in the Eastern Conference, that’d be good enough for the fifth playoff seed. As it stands, in the West, they’re currently the No. 8 seed – the last Wild Card spot. And barely.
“You drive yourself a little crazy looking at the standings all the time,” forward Zach Parise said. “And you’d never think with 20-some games left you’d be scoreboard watching, but you kind of have to.”
The Wild are on pace for 99 points. If everyone else holds pace as well, that’d be the most points by a No. 8 seed, ever.
“I’ve always said it’s going to take 97 points this year,” Boudreau said. “But it might even take more than that, the way things are going.”
That’s how tight the race is, and how much every single game means.
“Nashville’s lost one game (in regulation) in the past 16, and they haven’t pulled away from anybody,” Boudreau said. “So we’re not the only one in that boat. Colorado won 10 in a row and they’re not in the playoff picture right now. That’s just the nature of the beast, that everybody is thinking every game is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup.”