We can finally let go of all the anger from the frustrating collapse of the Wild in the month of March. We can do the same about the doubts of the Wild not being able to make the playoffs. The Wild are in the playoffs, and they have a fresh start. Every team has a record of 0-0 right now. The regular season does not matter anymore, except for home ice advantage. Minnesota will be taking on Vladimir Tarasenko and the St. Louis Blues in round 1. Game 1 takes place on Wednesday night, and the Wild have home ice advantage for games 1 and 2 (also for games 5 and 7, if necessary) for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. Minnesota was able to defeat the Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs 2 years ago, so they will be looking to do the same this year. Here is what the first round playoff schedule looks like for the Wild:
Game 1 — Wednesday, April 12, St. Louis at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. on Fox Sports North and NBCSN
Game 2 — Friday, April 14, St. Louis at Minnesota, 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and NBCSN
Game 3 — Sunday, April 16, Minnesota at St. Louis, 2 p.m. on NBC
Game 4 — Wednesday, April 19, Minnesota at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m. on Fox Sports North and NBCSN
Game 5 — Saturday, April 22, St. Louis at Minnesota, TBD (if necessary)
Game 6 — Monday, April 24, Minnesota at St. Louis, TBD (if necessary)
Game 7 — Wednesday, April 26, St. Louis at Minnesota, TBD (if necessary)
This is the 5th year in a row that Minnesota has made the playoffs. They have earned a playoff birth in all 5 seasons during the Parise/Suter era, but they have only advanced to the 2nd round twice and failed to advance any further. This is the first season with head coach Bruce Boudreau so it is good to see that the playoff streak has continued, but Wild fans want more: The Stanley Cup (fingers crossed) or at least a deeper playoff run. Mike Yeo was Minnesota’s head coach during the last 5 seasons, which included 4 straight playoff appearances, and he will now be on the opposing team’s bench, as he is the head coach for the St. Louis Blues.
“The only thing I’m thinking about is they’re our competition,” Yeo said. “We’ve had all the games to get over all the other stuff, and now it’s the playoffs. Their goal is the same as our goal… We know what we’re up against.”
Devan Dubnyk will be looking to deliver the same dominant performance that he had for most of the season, excluding the month of March of course. He finished the season 40-19-5, and set a franchise record by becoming the only Wild goaltender ever to get 40 wins in a season. He will need to be solid between the pipes if he wants to shut down Vladimir Tarasenko, who had 75 points this season.
In the entire history of the franchise since they started in 2000, Minnesota has only been to the Conference Finals once (2003) and has never been to the Stanley Cup Finals. Recent playoff runs have not been successful, and the Chicago Blackhawks have been a big reason why. This is a new year though. The past is the past and it does not matter anymore. We hope the Wild will be celebrating in a couple months.