Last season marked the first time the Minnesota Wild had made the playoffs since winning the Northwest Division in 2008, but would be matched up with the Stanley Cup favorite, Chicago Blackhawks.
This season, just squeaking in again, Minnesota is in a battle with longtime rival, Colorado, after the Avalanche won the division for the first time since 2003. I wonder how that season ended up for them.
Looking back to the first three games of last seasons playoffs for Minnesota and comparing them to this years, I see a lot of things similar in the ways the games have been played.
Starting with both game one's, an overtime post would cost Minnesota that important game one victory to gain momentum in the series. Last year it was Jason Zucker hitting the crossbar, and this year was Jason Pominville ringing one off of the far post. One big difference in each series first games is that Minnesota would dominate the first two periods and much more scoring in the game because of it.
In game two, the Wild looked like they were in awe of the young and speedy Avalanche. Seeming to not get anything together, even after scoring the first goal, Colorado would score three unanswered to skate to a game two victory and take a 2-0 series lead going into game three at Xcel Energy Center, just like the Blackhawks would last year.
Although game three between Chicago and Minnesota was played pretty even and Minnesota would dominate the Avs last night, the result was still the same between the two games, young guns scoring in dramatic fashion in overtime. Last year was Jason Zucker who fired a rocket from near the goal line and would beat Corey Crawford for the victory. This year, it was Granny's turn. In a play that was dominated by him, Granlund would fight off a check, take the puck to the slot, and score laying flat on the ice with the Avalanche goaltender having no chance at making the save, giving the Wild a game three victory once again.
Compared to last season, this Wild team is much stronger, much more skilled, and have much more chemistry then they did at this time last season. I would expect another strong showing for Minnesota Thursday night and for the rest of the series. If they play like they did last night for the rest of the series, Colorado will be going home early this playoff season.