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A Wild Season… And Playoff Picks

Todd Varga


blog-0879521001334187065.jpgA Wild Season… And Playoff Picks – 4/11/2012

This is a great week to be a hockey fan. We have some great first round match ups that are going to create some classic hockey moments (and undoubtedly some future commercial spots for the NHL and NBCSN). Alas, this week can also be a very cold reminder that your team came up short, and is now a spectator just like us. Such is the case for the Minnesota Wild. The team has missed the playoffs for the past 4 years, and will be drafting 7th overall at the draft in Pittsburgh (How incredibly lucky are the Edmonton Oilers when it comes to the draft?! Absolutely ridiculous odds for them to have the first pick again…). But as much as this season looks and feels like a disappointment and a letdown, it isn’t totally a loss.

This year was not supposed to be the year the Wild broke through and started leading the Western Conference, or the NHL as it were. The Wild were supposed to finish in the 8th to 10th place range this year. With that said, the historical meltdown the Wild suffered after December was brutal and very hard to watch. The Wild became the first team in NHL history to be leading the NHL after December 1st to completely miss the playoffs. Their hot start completely raised the modest expectations set upon the team and rookie head coach Mike Yeo, and left us all feeling saddened and disheartened as the Wild were officially eliminated from the playoffs. In hindsight, the start of the season is very encouraging. When healthy and playing the game the way Mike Yeo wants his team playing, the Wild are a good hockey team. The story of this season, whether anyone wants to say it or not, was injuries. December saw the Wild lose Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard to concussions, Mikko Koivu to a shoulder injury, and Devin Setoguchi to a knee injury. The injuries crippled the Wild. This team was having trouble scoring as it was, taking away all of those guys is crippling. The Wild didn’t have the depth to replace the scoring from any of those guys, much less all of them. That however, is where next year is going to be very interesting.

The genesis of what will ultimately become the Minnesota Wild will start next season.

-Mikael Granlund

-Zack Phillips

-Charlie Coyle

-Jason Zucker

-Brett Bulmer

-Johan Larsson

-Jonas Brodin

All of these guys will be able to play for the Wild next year. Most of them will probably start in Houston, and provide the depth that the wild will need to overcome the injuries that a team endures over an NHL season. Add to that, whoever the Wild draft this summer, whoever comes to the team through free agency, and that Latendresse and Bouchard should be back and healthy (reports have said Latendresse is symptom free, and will should be good to go for training camp- Bouchard is said to be feeling better, but with his history of concussions, I would not put all my eggs in that basket). This team is going to be younger, faster, and much more exciting to watch next season. The competition that these young men will create in camp and throughout the season should help the Wild get back into the playoffs and be competitive next season.

Now…. Playoff picks.


Rangers V. Senators- Rangers in 5

Bruins V. Capitals- Caps in 7

Panthers V. Devils- Devils in 6

Penguins V. Flyers- Pens in 6


Canucks V. Kings- Kings in 7

Blues V. Sharks- Sharks in 7

Coyotes V. Blackhawks- Hawks in 5

Predators V. Red Wings- Preds in 6

The only real upsets I think are here are the Caps over the Bruins, and the Kings over the Canucks. I know that New Jersey, Chicago, and San Jose winning are technically upsets, but I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see the Hawks, Sharks, and Devils advance. With that said, I have no statistical or realistic reason to believe in the Caps. There is just something about that team as of late that gives me a hunch. I do not think they can make it to the cup, but I think they get out of the first round. The Canucks and Kings is a different beast. Jonathan Quick can flat out steal games. If the Kings can find that groove that had them leading the division before Carter got hurt, I think Quick will be more than enough to help them upset Vancouver. Quick is ridiculously underrated nationally, and should be a finalist for the Vezina trophy.

As for the Stanley Cup finals, I’m going with a Penguins V. Predators finals- Predators in 7.

Thanks to all who read. Please leave comments and questions, and subscribe to the blog.

I’ll be back later this week with my grades for the Wild this season. I’m going to grade everyone who suited up for the team… all 47 of them.

Have a good day.

Todd Varga

On Twitter @Wild_Halo


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