This could be their year
One of the Wild’s most successful regular seasons is now complete, and again the team has reached the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Thursday night in St. Louis the Wild begin their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
The Wild finished the regular season with 100 points. Of the 16 NHL teams that qualified for the playoffs, no fewer than 12 had 100 points or more. The New York Rangers captured the Presidents Cup Trophy with the most points, 113. The 12 teams with 100 or more points is a new NHL record.
The Wild were led in scoring by Zach Parise, with 33 goals and 29 assists for 62 points, and by goalie Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk is such a great story. He came to the Wild in a January trade with Arizona and has been the major reason this team played so well the second half of the season.
Dubnyk has been nominated for League MVP; his 2.07 goals against average and .929 save percentage is the second best in the NHL. This Wild team is loaded with experience and speed and with Dubnyk won a franchise-record 12 straight games on the road.
That will be important, because the Wild do not have the home ice advantage in this best-of-seven first-round series against the Blues. The series starts Thursday in St. Louis and shifts back to St. Paul on Monday, April 20 for game three at Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild set a new franchise record for regular-season attendance.
Coach Mike Yao appears to have his team playing its best hockey right now. The Blues are a little bigger and more physical, but with the Wild speed advantage and hot goal tending like Dubnyk’s, don’t count the Wild out. This could be their year to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.