This is what hockey fans live for. The Minnesota Wild play the game 7 that everyone wanted to see tonight against the Avalanche with everything is on the line. This is a “do or die” situation in every sense of the phrase. Minnesota lived up to expectations in an emotional game at Xcel Energy Center in game 6 to set up the most anticipated hockey game in the state since 2003. It’s only fitting that the most even series in the first round go the distance and be settled in game 7.
The biggest storyline tonight is the full return of Avalanche superstar Matt Duchene. Playing in what was expected to be a limited role in game 6, the center amassed 18:52 in ice time and tacked on an assist in his first game in nearly a month. Expect to see Duchene’s role increase further tonight as neither team will hold anything back since tomorrow is not guaranteed.
If this series stays true to its history, Colorado has to be happy that game 7 will be played in Pepsi Center. Each team has defended home ice thus far in the series which should give Colorado a small boost of confidence.
Nathan MacKinnon has been the difference when the Avalanche has played at home. He has 10 points in 3 games at Pepsi Center and the Wild simply haven’t been able to keep him at bay outside of Xcel Energy Center. Keeping MacKinnon and Duchene under control is easier said than done, but that task is highest on Minnesota’s to-do list tonight.
Any outside fan that has watched this series has seen the ups and downs. Injuries, suspensions, and heartbreak have all made an appearance and it has been taxing. The Minnesota Wild have had the upper-hand in the last 4 games, winning 3 of the last 4 and outplaying the Avalanche in game 5 which it lost in overtime. If it wasn’t for the Wild’s inability to close out games late, this series would be over and eyes would be on Chicago.
Game 7 in hockey has a different energy in comparison to other sports. The energy, physicality and grit required to win an NHL Playoff series is without equal. Every team hits snags along the way, but it’s the team that can get over those snags without letting it affect them that ultimately prevails.
PREDICTION: Minnesota moves on with a 3-2 overtime win
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