Sansevere: The Wild can learn from how the L.A. Kings went from middling to masterful.
By BOB SANSEVEREFS North
Good news for the Wild and other fair to middling NHL teams. You don't need a spectacular regular season to win the Stanley Cup.
You don't even need an exceptional one.
You just need to get into the playoffs and get hot, as the Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings did as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.
The Kings offer hope to teams such as the Wild that a Stanley Cup might not be that far off if you can just heat up at the right time.
And it's not just the Kings offering hope. The New Jersey Devils, the team the Kings beat for Lord Stanley's prize, were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The key to it all is getting into the playoffs. That has been a difficult chore for the Wild these last four seasons.
This past season, the Wild had a nice start, a very nice start, and had the league's best record for a bit. Then injuries and inconsistencies took a toll. The Wild struggled and their postseason chances frittered away.
There is talent on this team. Even more since the season ended because the Wild were able to sign Mikael Granlund, their top pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft. This young man can develop into an offensive star, and the Wild's playoff prospects became more promising the instant they signed him.
Those prospects will improve even more if they are able to sign at least one touted free agent. Such as Devils star Zach Parise.
This 2012-13 season could be an interesting for the Wild, and it would become even more interesting if, like the Kings, they get into the playoffs and get hot.