The Minnesota Wild were eliminated last night by the Chicago Blackhawks and have taken their rightful place in the footnote section of the 2013-14 NHL season. That is where they belong, and for the second time in as many seasons, Zach Parise and company watched as Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, and the defending Cup champs skated off the ice knowing that they get to play at least four more games.
There is no doubt that Blackhawks fans/people unfamiliar with the Minnesota Wild underestimated their ability to skate and challenge the Hawks, but there was very little the Wild could do to sway opinion in their favor in a seven game series. All one had to do to feel relieved about favoring Chicago was look at the person in net for the Wild, Ilya Bryzgalov.
The 33-year old Russian had a decent series, but was far from excellent. Aside from an okay 19 save shut out, Bryzgalov was jut as busy making saves as he was making sure they hadn’t slipped past him and into his net. ‘Bryz’ won’t be getting starting minutes with a healthy Darcy Kuemper in net in 2014-15, so it will be interesting to see if he decides to re-sign in Minny or try to get a shot starting with another club.
If Bryzgalov is smart, he’ll stick with that team where he was able to get some semblance of normalcy in his play. Ever since he signed his monster contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, he has played as well as Marc-Andre Fleury has in the playoffs.
Matt Cooke, your rocket is set to take you to the sun.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are overpaid, but you already knew that. There could be a very good chance that the Wild’s best forward/defenseman combo is not them by the end of next season.
If Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, Nino Niederreiter, and Jared Spurgeon would have been the root cause of Chicago’s demise, (dumb) fans in Chicago would be calling for infinite heads to roll. Thankfully, the kids for Minnesota let the kids in Chicago end the series Tuesday night. It is scary to think that the Minnesota Wild are just a few players away from being as talented as the Blackhawks. The Minnesota Wild have a chance to be a force in the Central Division and Western Conference, and that is a terrifying thought. Who would have thought once the North Stars left Minnesota that anything good hockey-wise would happen to the state on a professional level.
There have been too many nice things said about Minnesota. That has to change now.
Dino Ciccarelli is still a jerk.
Farewell, Minnesota. Looking forward to seeing you eliminated in the Western Conference Finals by Chicago next season as part of your natural progression that leads to failure. Oh wait, the NHL mucked that up by changing the playoff format. There’s always the chance you stink it up enough to have to take out the Pacific Division before seeing the Chicago Blackhawks. Let’s all hope for that, and your eventual demise.
Jeff is a production assistant @120Sports and contributor to hockey, football, and baseball for The Sports Bank. Follow him on Twitter @skcih_ffej.Follow paulmbanks