The Minnesota Wild lost in four games to the Vancouver Canucks. Now that our season is over, who do you root for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Now that some time has passed since the Minnesota Wild were eliminated from the Stanely Cup Playoffs, let’s discuss who you might casually root for now. We’ll address personal tastes and relationships with the Wild to determine who you may root for going forward.
If you Can’t Root for a Team in the Central Division…
By not wanting to see the Stanley Cup hoisted by a Central Division team, you are eliminating rooting for the Colorado Avalanche (which to be fair who would?), the Dallas Stars (NORM GREEN), the St. Louis Blues (2017 Jake Allen haunts my memory), or the Chicago Blackhawks (the Achilles Heel to the 2010s Minnesota Wild).
So, you could go to any Eastern Conference team, but we’ll address those teams later. In the Pacific Division, you can choose from the Calgary Flames, the Arizona Coyotes, the Vancouver Canucks, or the Vegas Golden Knights.
Now, I’m going to eliminate three teams from contention. First, the Calgary Flames. Oddly enough, during 2018-2019 the Wild and the Flames had a bit of a rivalry. In 2018, the Flames gave Mikko Koivu his first injury during the season (reaggravated and worsened against the Sabres and ultimately ended his season), and Matt Dumba helped defend Koivu, and in doing so, ended his electric season by rupturing his pectoral. It feels weird rooting for them to succeed. I can’t do it.
Second, the Vancouver Canucks. We just wrapped up a HEATED series (and season series for that matter). I can’t bring myself to root for the Canucks. They’re young and fast, but the blood is still bad. And don’t do that thing of, “I’m RoOtInG fOr ThE CaNuCkS bC iT wOuLd MeAn ThE WiLd LoSt To ThE StAnLeY cUp WiNnEr.” It’s lazy and a weird way to try to convince yourself that the team is better than it is.
Lastly, the Coyotes. There isn’t anything overly significant between the two teams, but the Coyotes goaltender is one Darcy Kuemper. Former Minnesota Wild Goaltender, Kuemper has been fantastic for the Yotes. If he doesn’t get injured, he could very well be in Vezina conversation. Weirdly enough too, Kuemper and WIld players who were on the roster while Kuemper was still in the organization, got into chirping matches often during matches.
It isn’t anything against the Coyotes teams, but it would make the goaltending situation look that much worse knowing how much Darcy Kuemper succeeded, winning a Stanley Cup.
So that leaves you with the Vegas Golden Knights. And why not root for the Expansion team? Sure Dumba and Reaves had a bit of spice during their game this year, but you could co-opt them because they didn’t have to struggle like we did when the Wild entered the league.
Plus Alex Tuch is a very good piece for that team. It would be great to have him, and I don’t entirely blame Chuck Fletcher for doing what he did for the Expansion Draft. He wanted to protect what he believed was a Contending Team by sacrificing a promising prospect. It happens.
So if you’re fine rooting for a team in the Western Conference, but not the Central Division, root for the Vegas Golden Knights.
If You Can’t Root For a Team in the Western Conference…
This is where the conversation becomes interesting. You have several former Wild players who were traded to the Eastern Conference by an unpopular General Manager. You could root for the character development arc of a Regular Season Record team to exorcise their demons. You could root for the lunch pail, hard-working underdog.
Let’s trim the herd a bit. Unless you are incredibly enamored by Charlie Coyle, why root for the Boston Bruins? They’ve been contenders and in the Stanley Cup conversation forever. They’ve had their chances right? Move on.
We’re also going to remove the New York Islanders from contention because I can’t root for the incredibly boring style of hockey they play.
I’m also going to remove the Washington Capitals from consideration. If you recall, in the 2018-2019 season, Tom Wilson was suspended early in the year for a dangerous hit he threw in the preseason.
It was a lengthy suspension, but due to arbitration, was shortened and his first game back was against the Minnesota Wild. In that game, he managed to score a goal and take a goalie interference penalty in the same play. That goalie interference penalty was a rather dangerous run on Devan Dubnyk.
Later in the season, Tom Wilson would go knee on knee with Zach Parise. Despite feeling like he could play, team doctors would keep him out, with good reason: He had injured his MCL and torn his meniscus on that hit.
Can’t root for the Caps with that. Sorry TJ Oshie.
If you’re looking for a fun team in the East, the Lightning could be that team. But selfishly, it may be better for the Wild if the Lightning has a disappointing postseason.
Well, why’s that? If the Lighting has another poor playoff and early exit, maybe the organization looks to shake some things up, and the Minnesota Wild and Bill Guerin would be primed to take advantage of the opportunity.
Fine, how about Columbus? They’re scrappy but have been pretty fun to watch so far. They’re a contender for winning our recommendation, they work hard, don’t have too much success recently, and they’re underdogs. Tortorella is a polarizing figure, you either love him or hate him. He isn’t the deciding factor, however.
Philadelphia is interesting as well. They look incredible, they play a fun, aggressive, heavy style. And they’re the team you’re somewhat okay with being pests and rats because that’s the Philly brand. Carter Hart is young and fun. Could root for Oskar Lindblom’s team and his successful battle with cancer. Wouldn’t shame you for doing that.
The Canadiens are a perplexing bunch. I had no faith in them against the Penguins and they battled incredibly well. Likewise, I don’t think they have much of a chance against the Flyers, but they kept it tight in Game 1. (as I Similarly to Tampa Bay, it may be more beneficial for the Wild for the Canadiens to make an early exit and try to retool, which could help solve some of the Wild’s current issues. I won’t give them my endorsement, but wouldn’t blame you for rooting for an underdog.
My recommendation and endorsement will fully go to the Carolina Hurricanes. They’re young, fast, incredibly fun to watch, clearly have grown as a playoff team from last year’s run, had a Zamboni Driver in net during the Regular Season AND WON. They also have the best social media manager in the game. They just are likable and fun. The Canes also have Nino Niederreiter who was my favorite Minnesota Wild player. So a bit of a boost for them there.
Wait, You Don’t Care About Conference or Division? Well…
If you’re indifferent about the division r conference a team competes in, just want to watch something enjoyable, boy do we have some opinions.
Alright, so we already mentioned Vegas and Carolina as our recommendations with a combination of history with the Wild and satisfaction watching them play hockey. Looking at teams we previously eliminated because of rivalries/history/etc, we have the Bruins, the Capitals, the Flames, the Coyotes, the Canucks, the Stars, the Blackhawks, the Blues, and the Avs.
The Bruins have the “Perfection Line” of Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand who play great hockey, with a supplementary cast of McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, and more. They’re pests up and down the lineup and are the epitome of taking advantage of playoff officiating, doing antics that are childish, sometimes dangerous, and frankly gross (see Marchand licking Leo Komarov or Ryan Callahan). If you’re into that, sure root for them I guess…
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The Capitals are interesting. They have Ovi and some fun players, but they haven’t been overly exciting to watch in the Postseason so far. They struggle to score 5v5 right now and Holtby has struggled to hold some needs.
The Flames are fine. They have some fun moments, but I still have that horrible series lost to the Avs in my mind, and they didn’t look like they had fun playing hockey. It was dreadful.
I don’t have much faith in the Coyotes against the Avalanche, so I’m not going to endorse them. Sorry Yotes fans (As I write this, they just got scored on to make it 3-2 Avs with 3min to play. To be fair, they’ve kept it tight with the Avalanche.).
The Stars play a suffocating and rather boring style. They managed to keep up with the Flames in Game Two and win 5-4, but it isn’t their style. Much like the Wild, their strength is in their defense, with the bonus of a solid goaltender in Ben Bishop. They’ve also fully invested in veterans rather than trying to build with youth which helps the methodical, controlled game they play. Isn’t that fun or entertaining.
Everything we said about the Stars pretty much applies to the Blues. They do have Tarasenko back who creates some excitement, but otherwise… Heavy hockey I guess can be fun, but their offense isn’t awe-inspiring. By no means does that mean it’s bad by the way.
Chicago is interesting. Kane can open eyes with snipes or dangles that paint highlight reels. Kubalik has been having a strong postseason. Same with Kirby Dach. They have moments, but not enough to secure our support.
Wild fans got a first-hand look at how much fun the Canucks can be. They’re youthful, skilled, and they’re getting incredibly important minutes. They’re rebuild has gone very well and it looks like they could be nearing the end of it if they could get out of some cap trouble. They have certified pest Antoine Roussell for those antics fans out there and a skilled goaltender in Jacob Markstrom. If you are looking for fun, they can provide. Currently giving St. Louis a run for their money.
What I’m about to say is going to be near sacrilegious to say as Minnesota Wild fan. If you want to enjoy watching hockey and see a team that looks like they have fun playing the game, and you do not care about rivalries, history, division, or conference, you should root for the Colorado Avalanche.
They are so much fun. They fly on the ice with MacKinnon and Makar, they play physical with Calvert, Zadorov, Landeskog, the goalies are sometimes a firesale but make spectacular saves with Grubbauer and Francouz. They have great depth, they have a wonderful mix of youthful talent and veteran leadership, they’re depth is phenomenal.
Want to know a crazy stat? Nathan MacKinnon has 43 more points than the next closest skater on the Avalanche, and that individual is Rookie Defenseman, Cale Makar. MacKinnon has 48 more points than the next closest forward. That fact alone tells me two things: First, Nathan MacKinnon should win the Hart Trophy as the Most Valuable Player. Second, Cale Makar should win Rookie of the Year.
The Avalanche were bad through much of the 2010s but Joe Sakic has helped construct an incredible team.
And Wild fans, I have really bad news.
They’re only going to get better over the next few years.
So if you do not have any druthers about division or personal rivalries, the Colorado Avalanche play must-watch hockey and you should hope for a long postseason from them.
Ugh. Didn’t feel good writing that last bit. The Avalanche (and somewhat the Canucks) have provided a model for how the Wild should want to play hockey in the future, just watch how they play in the postseason. If you can’t bring yourself to root for a Rival, (I don’t blame you), you have the Vegas Golden Knights and the Carolina Hurricanes to pull for. Or, you could completely disregard any of my recommendations and root for whoever you like.