Show of hands: who knows that the NHL playoffs are starting tonight? Monkey, you don\’t count.
Anyway. For the first time since the 1991 season (Norm sucks!), I\’ve watched a lot of Minnesota hockey this year. As such, I will offer up a few talking points before tonight\’s series opener against the Colorado Avalanche.
Talking Point #1: The Wild are pretty good.
The won the Northwest division title for the first time ever, in a year where all five division teams were in the race for the playoffs down to the season\’s final weekend. Essentially, the Wild have been playing playoff-type games for a month now. Of course, since Colorado is also in the NW, so have the Avs. Whatever, the talking point still stands.
Talking Point #2: The D is a little banged up.
(And that\’s me being polite about it.) The Wild are minus top defensemen Kurtis Foster (out for this year\’s playoffs, and perhaps next year\’s playoffs with a broken leg, due to the most recent exhibit for the elimination of touch-up icing), and Nick Schultz (out for at least this series with an appendectomy). This means we\’ll be seeing a lot of Brent Burns and Kim Johnsson on the blue line. That\’s not so bad. We\’ll also be seeing a lot of Marty Skoula, so cross your fingers that increased ice time doesn\’t also increase the number of bafflingly awful giveaways (he tends to have one per game). Petteri Nummelin should be a solid minutes-eater against Colorado at least. And (with a nod towards the Russoville commenter who coined this one), we\’ll be seeing a lot of
Statler and Waldorf Carney and Hill. Oy.
Talking Point #3: The offense needs to score.
Yeah, that insight is right up there with \”the team that scores the most goals will win\”, but so be it. The Wild have struggled to score goals this year. Quite simply, the onus is on Misters Gaborik, Demitra, Rolston, Koivu, and Bouchard to step up. That\’s your key to the series, IMO.
I\’m not going to offer any predictions. It\’s been a fun season of puck watching, and I\’m hoping for at least one series win out of the guys. The West is a killer conference, though, so they gotta go earn it.