Thursday, May 01, 2014

Oh baby, baby, it's a Wild world...

For the first time in 11 years, the Minnesota Wild has won a Stanley Cup playoff series.

On Wednesday evening, the Wild went on the road for the decisive Game 7 and defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in overtime.

I can't help but be struck by the parallels between this year's series win and the 2003 first round triumph.

In only their third season of existence, the Wild faced off against the Avalanche in the opening round. Just two years removed from a Stanley Cup championship season, the Avs were once again a powerhouse coming into this series against the upstart Wild. After falling in Game 1 in Denver, the Avs won three straight to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a chance to close out the series in Game 5 at home. But the Wild prevailed. Then Minnesota won in overtime in Game 6, setting up a winner-take-all Game 7. And like Wednesday evening's contest, this too went into OT.

Before Wednesday, many Wild faithful would argue that Andrew Brunette's game-winning goal past Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy (in what would be his final NHL game) was the most memorable moment in Wild history. Wednesday's contest had a similar feel to that '03 Wild-Avs finale in that the Wild never held a lead until the final shot. Oh, and speaking of Roy, he happens to be the current head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Wild now move on to play the defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks.

I don't know if this Wild team has a similar run in them as the '03 version that reached the Western Conference finals. All I know is as a fair weather hockey fan, I'll be with them every step of the way this postseason.


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