Every year, there is that team that does everything they can to squeak in to the playoffs. They may not have been the best team, but they persevered and manage to make it to the post season. This year, that team was the Minnesota Wild. By a solid final week’s performance, the team had scrapped their way to the eighth seed.
The Wild were an expansion team that was founded in 1997 after the Minnesota North Stars left to become the Dallas Stars. They first played as a professional team during the 2000-2001 season. This team has had its ups and downs during the last decade. While the Wild won the Northwest Division in 2008, it had failed to earn a spot in the playoffs for the last four years. Wild management decided to put its future in two players during last year’s offseason. They offered identical ninety eight million, thirteen year contracts to forward Zach Parise and Ryan Suter .
The big gamble worked. (For the most part.) Minnesota ended up with a 26-19-3 record. Those fifty five points put them in second place in the northwest division, just four points behind the division winning Vancouver Canucks. Sadly though, this placed the Wild up against this year’s President Trophy winner, the Chicago Blackhawks. As soon as the match up was finalized, people were already using the ‘sweep’ word to express their thoughts on the Wild’s hopeless situation.
The Wild did do their best to silence the naysayers. Their first game forced the Blackhawks into overtime, and while they did lose that game 2-1, it did prove to hockey fans outside the Twin cities that this team was not going to roll over and die quietly. While game two showed Chicago’s dominance, the Wild dug down deep to take game three from the Blackhawks in overtime, beating Chicago 3-2. After that win though, it seemed like the Wild had been domesticated. Two consecutive Chicago wins (3-0, and 5-1 respectively) forced the Wild out of the playoffs.
This makes Minnesota the third club to pack it in for the postseason. I got to watch a few of their games this season. While I’ll always bleed black and gold, I had to respect what Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold was attempting to do for his team. He took a big risk, and he was awarded with his first postseason run in five years. It’s just a pity they had to run into the force of nature that has been the Chicago Blackhawks.