Is this the year the Minnesota Wild make a playoff run?
That’s been a question put forth a number of times over the past decade.
Last year’s squad seemed to be a group that had potential. But the group that finished second in the Central Division and set a franchise record with 53 wins and 113 points. But that team folded quickly in the playoffs as the St. Louis Blues eliminated the Wild in six games.
The Wild finished this regular season with 46 wins and 103 points, but seem to have one advantage.
“I think this year’s team would’ve beat last year’s team,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin told The Athletic’s Michael Russo. “We are more detailed. We are harder to play against. We’re more disciplined. I think the team’s grown like that a lot. I do. I think this year’s team is better.”
But are the Wild good enough to beat the Dallas Stars in the first-round playoff series that begins Monday night, and with it, win a postseason round for the first time since 2015.
Many seem to think Minnesota is a long shot to do that.
Thirteen of 16 staff writers or editors at NHL.com picked Dallas to win the series.
Dallas is also the popular pick among The Athletic staff. as the Stars received 76.3% of the vote. A large percentage (42..1%) also think Dallas will wrap up the game in six games.
It’s easy to understand the numbers. Dallas was in control of the Central Division for the majority of the season and finished with 108 points, one behind the Colorado Avalanche. in the division standings.
The Stars have Jason Robertson, who finished tied for fifth in the league with 109 points, and also a load in Wyatt Johnston, Roope Hintz and Tyler Seguin among others. Also, goalie Jake Oettinger has a 1.67 goals against average in 13 appearances in the postseason.
Minnesota enters with a roster that was dinged up over the final weeks of the regular season. Kirill Kaprizov played just two games after suffering an injury on March 8, ‘Mason Shaw was lost for the season and Joel Eriksson Ek was injured late in the regular season. Eriksson Ek’s return for any point of the series is a question mark at best.
But,, Kaprizov can be magic.
Last year he scored seven goals in six games in last year’s series against the Blues. In addition, Matt Boldy had a strong regular season in his sophomore year in the NHL. Also, Filip Gustavsson finished with the league’s second-best GAA during the regular season.
Gustavsson also paired with Marc Andre-Fleury as the Wild finished sixth in the league with a 2.67 GAA. Dallas was third with a 2.62. GAA.
The Wild and Stars split four games during the regular season, so one would think it could be a long playoff series. Maybe.
Call me crazy but it also feels like Minnesota’s Then again, I’ve thought that before.
But why not give it another shot.
My prediction: Wild in 6