The Wild made their way back to the Xcel Energy center for their first home game in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs yesterday. There has been a lot of talk about the veteran presence that the Wild needed, but not a lot of talk about how the youngest of the young have stepped up their games to help the Wild in their first playoff appearance since 2008. So today, we bring you the Minnesota Super Rookies. Apologies on the lame name, we'll take suggestions in the comments.
Scandella is the most surprising addition to the Super Rookies team. In Houston this season he was remarkably hot and cold. He would have a couple of great games, and then a large string of bad games. He also battled injuries for the last half of the season. Scandella was expected to make the team straight out of training camp and shocked a lot of fans when he was sent back to Houston after only a few games.
Luckily, Scandella has shown that he fully plans on making up for lost time during the playoffs. He's been paired with Jared Spurgeon, and hasn't looked out of place. Scandella scored his first NHL playoff goal in game 2. He's averaging over 19 minutes a game, for 8th most minutes on the team and 4th most minutes on the blue line.
Technically, Scandella's rookie season was last year. But due to his age, and the fact that he only played a few games with the Wild this season, he was included in the list.
The playoffs have been a shining moment for Zucker. I have had the pleasure of watching him play since October, and yesterday's game was the best I have seen him play.
Scoring the GWG in OT isn't anything new to Zucker (this is his 5th OT goal in the last year, 3 in Houston and 1 with DU). But he has taken the advice given to him by the coaches in Houston and in Minnesota to heart, and stepped up his game to another level.
His hit on Brent Seabrook last night was nothing short of amazing. Often times, rookies come into the league a little skittish and want to defer to veterans (on their team, and opposing teams even), but Zucker has shown he has the confidence and skill to prove that he belongs in the playoffs as much as anyone else.
The late breaking news this morning was that Brodin was snubbed as a Calder finalist. We'll have an article discussing this more in-depth later today.
Anyone who has actually watched Brodin play knows that he is spectacular and plays well beyond his years. Playing no sheltered minutes against the toughest competition, playing more minutes than any other rookie, being a stable partner for Ryan Suter (which has allowed Suter to take risks and be phenomenal this season) and being a large reason that the Wild made it to the playoffs? All at the age of 19? There is zero reason that Brodin shouldn't have been a finalist.
That being said, Brodin hands down wins the title of most surprising this season. He played relatively few games in Houston due to his broken clavicle in November, so most people were unsure of what to expect from him. Very few people had the foresight to expect this much skill, this quickly from him.
Charlie Coyle has also surprised many people this season. I will admit, I was concerned when he was called up and placed on the top line. It was never about lack of skills however. Coyle has shown that he knows how to use his body to get at pucks, protect them, and make smart plays. Opposing players have learned that knocking him off the puck is pretty difficult.
Plus, you can't talk about Coyle without mention THE SHIFT.
Charlie Coyle's monster shift (via MegalodonBOC)