Throughout an up-and-down season, the Minnesota Wild lagged behind the leaders of the Central Division. With an extended test against two of the top teams in the playoffs, though, the Wild clearly passed.
It’s been a stomach-churning couple weeks for the Minnesota Wild and their fans. The team was decided underdogs against the Colorado Avalanche, and much more so against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig was suspended for two games Saturday by the NHL for boarding Minnesota defenseman Keith Ballard in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series. Bollig received a minor penalty for boarding in the second period of Chicago’s 4-2 road loss Friday night.
Two hours before Game 7 in Colorado, Nino Niederreiter sat alone in the stands. Just a man, his thoughts and his hockey sticks. It’s a routine he started a few years ago and does before every game; sitting in the seats, taping his sticks and getting focused.
The Wild left St. Paul, Minn. on Saturday with a very different feeling than when they arrived earlier in the week. “Obviously our guys are feeling pretty good right now,” coach Mike Yeo said.
in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Keith Ballard helped the Minnesota Wild limit the Chicago Blackhawks, which is a big part of the game plan. “I think with their personal … there’s more shots that become dangerous. They don’t always have to be odd-man rushes or back-door plays or stuff like that – they’ve got a lot of skill in their lineup,” Ballard said.
History has a tendency to repeat itself. For the third playoff series in a row, the Minnesota Wild went into Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center looking for their first win, being down two games to none. And thanks to a pair of Finns, the Wild got that victory on home ice, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. Chicago now leads the series two games to one with Game 4 on Friday night.
The Minnesota Wild have done a good job of putting the brakes on Chicago’s high-flying offense through the first three games of the Western Conference semifinals. The Wild trail 2-1 in the series, but they have not allowed the Blackhawks to get more than 22 shots on net in a game yet. Now they get tough guy Matt Cooke back to help keep the defensive pressure going.
The Minnesota Wild are at a point where they are counting on the home ice carrying them. “That’s the plan. We know in the first round we played pretty well here and we’re excited to play here. But, you know, that doesn’t guarantee much,” said forward Zach Parise.
Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw is questionable for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday because of a lower body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday he doesn’t expect Shaw to be out for an extended period.
After a thrilling overtime win Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, hockey fans have been rushing to get their hands on anything with a Wild logo on it. “This city is pumped. I mean this state’s pumped. We are ready to go,” said Corey Reding, one of many fans with an arm-full of merchandise Friday at The Hockey Lodge inside the Xcel Center.
One Minnesota Wild fan has been getting a lot of buzz on social media for her passionate support of the team during game six. Cameras caught the so-called “Lady in Pink” banging on the glass and using some choice words after she saw Charlie Coyle get punched in the face.
In Game 6 of the series versus Colorado, the best players for the Minnesota Wild proved to be just that. Zach Parise had a four-point night (2G, 2A) including the game-winning goal. Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter added two assists as Minnesota defeated Colorado 5-2 to even the series at 3-3, forcing Game 7 in Denver.
Mikael Granlund is the soft spoken, high-profile number-one pick who’s putting up numbers for the Minnesota Wild. He has thrived this play-off series, and maybe because he loves the play offs.
Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy says leading scorer Matt Duchene won’t play in Game 5 against Minnesota on Saturday night even after skating with the team in a morning practice. Roy says he will know more about Duchene’s potential playing status Sunday.
Jamie Benn scored in the second period, Carey Price made 31 saves, and Canada beat the United States 1-0 Friday night in the semifinals of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament.
Icy stares, bone-crunching checks, even a skirmish or two in front of the net. USA faced off against Russia on Feb. 15, 2014.