After the opening two 2nd Round games versus Chicago, the Minnesota Wild returned home to St. Paul without a win in either. And, with one more loss, they’d face a nearly insurmountable 3-0 series deficit.
And if they did so be it, right? The Wild could still look back on a successful season. Minnesota made the playoffs by placing eleventh out of the sixteen post-season qualifiers. Then right out of the gate they sent the third-overall Colorado Avalanche home for the summer with a fantastic Game 7 overtime victory.
And their reward for that accomplishment? A fresh set of games against Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. To whom, as mentioned earlier, they promptly dropped the first pair of contests.
The Wild could have treated Games 3 and 4 as little more than a way to allow their fan base the chance to give them an extra-long wave goodbye until October.
But that’s not what they did.
It’s hard to believe that any team with players such as Zach Parise on its roster would ever simply roll over, no matter the odds of success, as long as there are still any games left to play.
Parise, rising-star Mikael Granlund and the rest of the Wild combined to paste the Blackhawks 4-0 in Game 3 and, just like that, they were back in the series.
Some may say that perhaps Chicago took its foot off the accelerator for a moment, and won’t make that mistake again. While others might opine that the Wild has at last found its footing in this series and are now prepared to bring it from here on out.
Who is right and who is wrong will likely be revealed in Friday night’s pivotal Game 4, also in St. Paul. A Wild loss would probably spell ‘vacation.’ But another win and it becomes a Best of 3 and a whole new ballgame.
I’m of the opinion that no matter how good any team is, familiarity with them erodes the intimidation factor. We’re seeing that in the Boston-Montreal series. And, like the Habs-Bruins, these two squads are division rivals who have already faced each other several times this season before the playoffs even began.
In the playoffs, regardless of your opponent, the longer you can push a series the better it is for the underdog. If you can turn an 0-2 deficit-into a series tie-into a Best of 3-into a Game 7 then, suddenly, there’s nowhere left for the favorite to go; as the Colorado Avalanche recently discovered.
In a Game 7 anything can happen. It’s where a 4th line winger can become an instant hero, or when any NHL goalie can temporarily transform into Patrick Roy.
Of course, we’re a long way off from that. In fact this entire article is basically little more than a lot of overly-worded speculation.
However as a writer I’ve got to write something, and as a hockey fan you’ve got to have something to read, because unfortunately for both of us these fantastic games are only on a few hours each day.
Though In all honesty, while the Blackhawks remain the favorites, it wouldn’t take a Minnesota-native Herb Brooks-style miracle for the Wild to find a way to take this series. After all, anything can happen in the State of Hockey.