By Luke Morrey – [email protected]
The Minnesota Wild have clinched their fifth consecutive playoff berth. But they are backing into the postseason again, not having won consecutive games in regulation since mid February, before their bye week.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are making a strong charge toward the postseason, overtaking the Wild in the Central Division standings and leaving Wild fans wondering: Why are they always better than the
Blackhawks when it doesn’t matter and never when it does? Did their forwards forget how to score and defensemen forget how to protect the net? Why then, are flashes of brilliance followed by entire periods of
sluggish play? Are the Blackhawks so good they can turn it on like the flip of a switch and suddenly win games only when it counts? Perhaps scheduling is a better answer to trends of winning and losing streaks.
For most of the season, the Wild have played a significantly fewer amount of games than the Blackhawks. One reason is NBC and NBCSN will take any opportunity to nationally televise a big market team like Chicago. Possibly because of the pressure to attract viewership early in the season, the Blackhawks’ schedule tends to be front-loaded.
Prior to the season, the Blackhawks were slotted for 10 games on NBC or NBCSN from October to January. The Wild were slotted for just four in that span. For a while, in the middle of the season, Minnesota looked better. This may have been because of Chicago’s compressed schedule.
Now Minnesota faces a compressed schedule.
The final 20 games of the Wild’s 2016-2017 season come in a span of 35 days. The final 20 for the Blackhawks cover 40 days. That means five more days available for rest, practice and travel.
To make matters worse, the Wild entered this grueling stretch only a week after their bye week, a mandatory week of no practice and no games. To go from no practice and no games to four games per week for five weeks might be a reason the Wild players look a little flat.
The Blackhawks deserve every bit of the Central Division title they seem likely to capture. Every team must face difficult stretches at some point during the season and Chicago certainly did in earlier months. But Wild fans should accept their team’s recent skid as understandable given the circumstances of the schedule and stop pointing internally as the only explanations for losing.
In a given playoff series, both teams will be equally rested. Save the stress for game seven.
This is the opinion of Luke Morrey, SJU senior.