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It is rare when one's strange pet project intersects with one's strange hill upon which to die, but the early part of the Minnesota fall/winter sports season has given us that very opportunity.

The strange pet project: My incessant fascination with comparing the Timberwolves and Wild, while trying to discern which will win more games in a given season. Different sports. Largely different fan bases. Apples and oranges. Who cares? I do, for some reason.

The strange hill upon which to die: A crusade against the manner in which the NHL standings are constructed, whereby it bothers me far more than it should that a distinction is made for a shootout or overtime loss but not for a shootout or overtime win. The losses get their own special category. The wins are just wins. It's trading intellectual honesty for tidy appearances, which troubles me in the world but particularly in the NHL standings.

The way I think of things — and talked about things on Friday's Daily Delivery podcast — is that the Wild are not 11-9-2. They're either 11-11 or they're 8-3-9-2.

The former is more simple and useful for the task of comparing to the Wolves, who also happen to be 11-11.

Both teams having the same number of wins in the same number of games is about as fair an opportunity as we will have in-season to project which one will fare best in the long run.

Hockey Reference gives the Wild a 57% chance of making the playoffs and estimates they will finish with 41 wins. Basketball Reference is less optimistic about the Wolves, giving them only a 45.6% chance of being in the top-10 for a play-in spot and just a 21.4% chance of getting to the actual playoffs as a projected 38-win team.

Long-term projections are often persuaded by short-term results, though, and the most recent wins by both teams offer examples of how things could change.

In a 5-3 win over the Oilers on Thursday, the Wild used a tremendous effort from Kirill Kaprizov (one goal, two assists) plus secondary scoring. That was the formula last year, but the secondary scoring has been harder to come by this year. More games like that and I like the Wild's chances.

In a 109-101 win over Memphis on Wednesday, the Wolves had great energy and a very mature effort from Anthony Edwards. If we see more of that, even as Karl-Anthony Towns recovers from a calf injury, I like the Wolves' chances.

We'll add them up 60 games from now and see where they stand regardless, inevitably with a mental asterisk next to the Wild's record.