And to think the Minnesota Wild were in jeopardy of missing the playoffs just two weeks ago. A gritty shootout victory against the Boston Bruins propelled the Wild to the 7th seed in the Western Conference late Tuesday evening and this squad looks capable of pulling a first round upset. Forward lines are beginning to mesh at just the right time and Ilya Bryzgalov continues to shine as the starting goalie.
Down 3-2 against the Boston Bruins, the top team in the NHL overall, the Wild emerged from the dressing room and went toe to toe with the Beasts of the East. A late goal from defenseman Ryan Suter sent the Wild bench into frenzied jubilation and highlighted yet another comeback win. If not for Boston goalie Tuukka Rask’s performance in overtime, the game would have never made it to the shootout. Rask robbed Wild players numerous times and was the sole reason for the night being extended further. Mikko Koivu’s patented backhand shelf move was the lone goal in the second frame of the shootout and Bryzgalov shut down all three Bruins shooters en route to a victory and a playoff berth.
The victory against the Bruins is just the latest in what has been the Wild’s best stretch of hockey all season. In the previous 5 games, Minnesota has played the 4 past Stanley Cup winners in Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Boston and taken 7 out of a possible 8 points. Needless to say, playing the best teams in the NHL has proven to be beneficial as the Wild look to be rounding into from just in the nick of time.
The season long success can be attributed to stellar goaltending and defense, but the forwards have earned their praise as of late. Even without playmaking center Mikael Granlund, the Minnesota Wild has found a way to get pucks in the net with more grit than flash. Every line has played a significant role in either scoring or toughness and chemistry is building when the team needs it the most.
The Wild have restored confidence in a fan base that was biting its nails as recently as the end of March. Regardless of what team it faces in the playoffs, the Minnesota Wild’s recent play has shown it is a team capable of a first round upset.