Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Minnesota Wild eliminate the Saint Louis Blues in round 1…now on to the next round against the Chicago Blackhawks

The Minnesota Wild did something at home for the first time in their 14-year history—they clinched a playoff series on home ice. They sent the Central Division Champions St. Louis Blues out of the playoffs in game six with a 4-1 win.

It was the first time in over 20 years that a Minnesota NHL team won a playoff series on home ice. The last time it happened was in 1991 when, ironically, the Minnesota North Stars eliminated the Blues.

Just three months ago, the Wild were in 12th place in the Western Conference. Devan Dubnyk was acquired by the Wild and we all know what has happened since.

It is also the second consecutive season the Minnesota Wild has eliminated the Central Division Champions in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Last year, the Wild knocked out the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

According to NHL.com writer Dan Myers (from his column Five Reasons Wild advanced to the second round), one of the top five reasons the Wild beat the Blues was how the Wild were winning on the road.

Myers wrote:

Dubnyk blocking a shot from the Blues' Paul Stasny
(courtesy of twincities.com)
“Over the final few weeks of the regular season, no team was better than the Wild at winning away from home. Minnesota tied an NHL record with 12 consecutive road victories from mid-February until the regular season finale in St. Louis, a game where several regulars from each team sat out...That trend continued into the postseason.” 

The Wild also had not lost back-to-back games and that continued into the playoffs, especially after losing game 4 by the score of 6-1. Dubnyk and the Wild responded by winning games 5 and 6, both by scores of 4-1. 

Devan Dubnyk stated to the press:

"I was thinking about it over the last couple of days...It just feels right. It feels right for our group to be where we are and to continue to move forward. That's why it's easy to go out and play and feel like we're going to win because we've done it all year. Hopefully we can continue doing that." 

It's been quite a roller coaster year for Devan Dubnyk, considering last year he was a "playoff extra" for Montreal. Now, he has been named as a finalist for the Vezina trophy last Friday and yesterday was named a finalist for the Masterton award. 

(All I am going to say is that Chuck Fletcher better sign Dubnyk to a new contract!!) 

Myers included in another article about the Minnesota-St. Louis series that:

“While the Blues have been beasts in the regular season the past four seasons, they’ve gone cold in the playoffs. And all four early exits came in series where the Blues had home ice advantage…While the Blues have dominated in the regular season, they have failed to reach anything close to that level in the postseason.” 

For the Wild, it also helped greatly that they were able to actually score on the power play during this series. Matt Dumba scored a power play goal in game 1 to give the Wild a two goal lead, while Jason Pominville scored a power play goal that happened to be an empty-netter to secure Minnesota's 4-2 win. Mikko Koivu scored a goal late in the second period on the power play to give the Wild a two-goal lead going into the third period of game 5. (We ALL know how horrible the power play was for the Wild during the regular season).  

Now, for the second straight year, the Wild will open round two against the Blackhawks in Chicago. It's going to be quite a series, and this isn't the same Wild team the Blackhawks have run into in the playoffs before....

Hopefully, this is the year the Wild beat the Blackhawks in the playoffs. 

To read Dan Myers' article Five reasons Wild advanced to the second round, link is here.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stanley Cup Playoffs Round of Favorite Hockey Memes


**I apologize for not posting any articles for the past couple of weeks. I started a new job last week and had been really busy with that. I do plan on getting some new articles up on here soon. I appreciate the patience.~Shannon**


It's the NHL's second season--the Stanley Cup playoffs! The Wild have made it for the third consecutive year and sent the Saint Louis Blues home, defeating them today in game 6. 

And now, on to the memes:


Enough said!
We all know how big of an idiot Steve Ott was in this series with two game misconducts and being tossed...

Self explanatory! 



I found this on Facebook after game 5. This is one of my favorites!!

For the THIRD straight year, the Wild and the Blackhawks meet in the playoffs....


Yes, the Stanley Cup IS the best trophy in all of professional sports!

This next item is NOT a meme, but I had to share...

A couple of nights ago, I made a smart aleck remark about playoffs and other playoffs other than the Stanley Cup playoffs to Dan Flynn on Twitter (from my personal twitter account). Dan is a paramedic in New Orleans, LA and is one of the stars of  A&E's new hit reality show, Nightwatch (which just finished its first season in March). I also happened to be on the phone with a friend of mine, Brianah (who lives in California).  This was Dan's response to Brianah and I on twitter....




Brianah and I laughed so hard when we both saw that....

Until next time...

















Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Wild DID turn things around in the second half of the season…and clinched a playoff spot

Flashback to January 29, I wrote this:

“…the Wild are going to need about 46 points in the remaining 36 games of this season (with a record of 22-10-4). Can the Wild pull it off? It will be interesting…I would like to believe the Wild could possibly turn things around and make a push towards getting into the playoffs. However, I think the Wild have dug themselves into quite a hole and I can see them possibly playing spoiler towards the end of the season.” (From Can the Wild turn things around in the second half? January 29, 2015). 


Back to the present, the Wild managed to clinch their playoff spot with a 2-1 over the Blackhawks at the Madhouse on Madison last night.


Yes, I will admit, this die-hard Minnesota Wild fan was skeptical that the team was going to be able to pull this off.

There is one person who I would like to thank for this Wild turn-around, Devan Dubnyk. 

Dan Myers from NHL.com wrote this in the article “Five reasons Wild clinched playoff berth” (nhl.com) under the number one reason of Dubnyk’s Brilliance:


The Wild were a battered and beaten group the morning of Jan. 14. They had lost 7-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before, and at 18-19-5, Minnesota was third from the bottom in the Western Conference standings…Later that day, general manager Chuck Fletcher traded a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft to the Arizona Coyotes for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The rest is history.”

Graphic Coutesy of NHL on NBC on Twitter
Nino Niederreiter gave this statement to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo:

…Let’s be honest: The Dubnyk trade changed everything…During that time, we just needed a new face in the locker room. Everybody was very frustrated, everything always looked the same. We called up players, but it never really felt different. We brought Dubnyk in, it was a fresh, new face, we got to know a new guy, we had a great start and there was trust right away in each other again.”  (startribune.com, April 1, 2015)
Russo mentioned in the same April 1 article:
The turnaround for the team and thus individuals since Devan Dubnyk’s Jan. 15 arrival has been remarkable. The most stunning statistic in the Wild’s NHL-best 26-6-2 second half is the fact its goal differential is an NHL-best plus-47. That’s 104 goals scored (3.05 per game) and 57 given up (1.67 per game)” 
It also doesn’t hurt that the Wild have been winning on the road.
Myers included this in his “Five reasons” article (under the fourth reason, Winning on the road):
"Minnesota has lost once in regulation on the road since the Dubnyk trade, going 15-1-2 over that span. The Wild have won 11 consecutive road games since a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 16, the longest road winning streak in the NHL since the San Jose Sharks won 10 in a row in 2007.
The Wild have already set team records for road victories (23) and road points (48) in a season, and they still have two games left away from Xcel Energy Center."
Going into the playoffs, I think those road wins are going to be key. The Wild have been winning on the road and teams are definitely starting to take notice. 
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said this after last night's loss to the Wild to NHL.com's Brian Hedger:

"We tried to make plays [in the third] and turned pucks over, and that led to plays in our own end…The Wild have gotten better the last three years. They've got some younger guys, they've got some depth, they've got some speed and skill throughout their lineup, and they check extremely well, and they can frustrate you. They'll make you pay if you try to take them on."

Courtesy of Kevin Lass from Facebook

The Wild did it. They clinched a play off spot this year after the roller coaster of a season they had. This is the third straight year the Wild will be in the playoffs.  As I stated before, I was skeptical and believed the Wild would be playing the role of "spoiler" this season. The Wild proved me wrong, and I'm happy about that. 



Link to Dan Myers's Five reason Wild clinched playoff berth here.

Link to Michael Russo's April 1st article from Star Tribune here