With football in the rear view mirror, it is time to focus on basketball and hockey.

Up north there was a lot of optimism about the 2017-2018 season for the Minnesota Wild after a great season a year ago, but those expectations haven't been fulfilled so far.

Currently the Wild are in 8th in the Western Conference and have 61 points.

That puts them 13 points out of first place in the conference and 10 points out of first place in their division.

What most casual observers have noticed this year with the Wild is their inconsistencies and lack of good starts.

The slow starts have happened in a macro way with the overall record early and in a micro way with the way they begin individual games.

Back in November, I was in attendance when they rolled back against the Nashville Predators in the third period to score four goals and win 6-4.

I truly thought that would be the catalyst for Minnesota to get their groove and make their way up the Central Division standings.

For the time being that was true, but more inconsistencies in December and January put them into a similar position they were in during November and that was looking up at a lot of teams.

Regardless of the season so far, I believe the Wild will be a playoff team but making the playoffs and making a run in the playoffs are two different stories.

Will this team make a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? I doubt so, but once you are in, especially in hockey, it can truly be any ones game.

Three things must happen for the run in the playoffs to come to fruition.

First, they must get stellar goalie play. Second, they must be aggressive from the time the puck drops and third, they must find a way to be better than middle of the pack in scoring as they currently rank 15th overall in goals per game.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are one of the most exciting times in all of sports and I hope the Wild and their fans get to experience it again this spring.