The Columbus Blue Jackets have just propelled the Minnesota Wild into the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Although the Jackets-Phoenix game continues on in Ohio’s capital as I type these very words, by failing to win in regulation the Coyotes have themselves ensured the Wild are no longer within their reach.
There are other scenarios in St. Paul and/or Dallas tonight that could have produced the same result, but this circumstance now renders those others moot.
It also allows you to read this news a half hour sooner. Please don’t thank me; it was nothing, really. I simply wrote most of the article ahead of time. But I digress.
While Minnesota’s first round opponent is not yet determined, all that really matters now is that they’ve reached hockey’s Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive season.
Sure, the Wild will serve as underdog to whomever they open against. However once the second season begins all that came prior becomes irrelevant.
Just as a winter snowstorm conceals the imperfections of the landscape upon which it descends, the playoffs represent a clean, blank slate from which any result may emerge.
The questions now become can the Wild catch lighting in a bottle? Can Pominville and Parise continue to provide the points? Will Moulson and Heatley produce a productive playoff on their way out the door? If they draw St. Louis, will the Wild’s trio of key Sabres’ castoffs be able to help their new team overcome the dynamic duo Buffalo just shipped to the Blues? Will I be able to think up any more idiotic wordplay by the end of this piece? Each of these queries will of course be answered in due time.
In what couldn’t possibly be better timing, Ilya Bryzgalov has really stepped up his game. Can he outduel Miller or Hiller? While the odds may suggest no, reality suggests that in the NHL post-season it’s not necessarily the better goalie who wins a series but rather the one who gets hot at just the right time.
As the old saying goes: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” No, wait. That was Ben Franklin. I meant: “that’s why the play the games.”
So tonight may not end up being the last time Wild fans get to celebrate in 2014, because when the post-season puck drops, anything can happen in the State of Hockey.