Another year of playoffs is arriving and the Canucks are not participating again. The organization believes that other teams should have a shot at the title keep interest alive south of the 49th parallel. Since our fans have some extra time to cheer for other teams to win Lord Stanley’s Cup, some of us contributors at NucksMisconduct are going to try and find another place for you to get your fix of winning hockey. We know it sounds weird, actually cheering for another team, but it beats the hell out of sitting around and rehashing arguments about how bad things are for this team’s fans. The playoffs are a time of magic, and you can enjoy the hell out of them, especially without the deep emotional bond of your regular team complicating things. But you shouldn’t just give your loyalty away. We are going to ask members of other SBN hockey blogs why you, a Canuck fan, should cheer for their team during the playoffs.
How a team that might as well be in Canada since most of its residents have a similar accent to us, eh. The Minnesota Wild had a quiet 101 point season this year. I’m kinda surprised by this as they were bah on the road and their special teams were average at best. The Wild will go against the Jets without Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon.
I sent off some questions to our friend Joe Bouley at Hockey Wilderness, to see if he can convince you to cheer for the Wild.
1. The Wild have had a tough time with the Jets this year. What will it take for the Wild to beat the Jets? I mean besides going all Tonya Harding on them.
The Jets are faster, bigger, and have deeper scoring talent than the Wild do this season. That wasn’t always the case, though. The Wild’s offseason, expansion draft, trades, and free agent signings all picked away at the top end speed of the team (Erik Haula) and scoring (Alex Tuch, Jason Pominville, Haula) from the depth lines. Instead, Minnesota relies on Marcus Foligno, Daniel Winnik, and Tyler Ennis to fill that void. If the Wild are going to beat the Jets, it will be because the Jets can’t figure out ways to contain the top line of Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Nino Niederreiter. Not to mention that the Jets just three years ago flirted with almost 400 minor penalties. This season was their first under head coach Paul Maurice that they were under 300 minors with 289. With emotions running hot, the Wild defeated a St. Louis Blues squad that wanted to goad Wild players into extra curriculars and Minnesota didn’t bite. That will need to happen so much more with the stakes this high. If they can keep the Jets in their own zone on the PK, they could squeak this one out.
2. Canuck fans have a long history of cheering for players who have minimal talent, but a lot of “potential”. Can you point a player on the Wild that fits that mold and explain why Canuck fans should fall in love with him?
If there’s a player that comes to mind that might fit that mold, I’d have to say Nick Seeler. Seeler is an Eden Prairie, MN native that played college hockey with the Gophers. He came up from the AHL this season when Jared Spurgeon went down with an injury. He showed toughness and played a strong, yet simple game to keep the crease clear for Devan Dubnyk. Never much of a scorer, he has quietly made himself a factor to be a pivotal member of the Wild’s defense because he can make the pass north, skate with the puck, and play a tough game.
3. What is about your team succeeding in the playoffs that Canuck fans should be drawn to….I mean, besides the whole winning part
If Canuck fans are looking to hop on the Wild bandwagon, the biggest storylines to follow are that of 41 year old Matt Cullen searching for his 3rd consecutive Stanley Cup (previous Pittsburgh the last two seasons) and Eric Staal finding the fountain of youth. Both Cullen and Staal won the Cup as a part of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 over the Edmonton Oilers. Now as their careers wind down, especially Cullen’s, can they find some post-season magic one last time?
As for players to watch, Jason Zucker scored over 30 goals for the first time in his career this year and his weapon is his speed. He’s fun to watch. Mikael Granlund has the hands and vision to make so much happen on the ice. Meanwhile, with Ryan Suter lost to a broken fibula and talus bone, Matt Dumba is a fun, dynamic defenseman that can dazzle and shine with the best of them. However, Dumba can be a wild card defensively, so he will need to keep his errors in check.
Not many people are giving the Wild a chance in this post-season and there’s very many reasons for that. But hockey is a funny game, and things always tend to happen for one team. Maybe the Wild catch lightning in a bottle and surprise people. Or maybe they won’t and we get the two Western Conference favorites in a great showdown series. Who knows?
So, was Joe able to convince you to cheer for Minnesota? I know it is a hard sell since they face Winnipeg.