Hockey Wilderness Round 1 Series Predictions

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We asked the Hockey Wilderness Staff their predictions for the first round series against the Avalanche.

While the Stanley Cup Playoffs officially commenced Wednesday night with three games, the series you've all been waiting for starts in just a few short hours, Wilderness. Your 7th seeded Wild will take on the Central Division Champs in a first round series that, as editor/writer Tony mentioned on Episode 2 of the Hockey Wilderness Podcast, both teams are probably very happy that they drew each other. There are a number of predictions out there by the national media that differ from eventual series winners and the amount of games it will take for the winning team to dispatch the loser. Either way folks, it's playoff hockey in the State of Hockey, and nothing is greater than that, am I right?

Felix: @Fel0096

Why the Wild will win:

The Wild should be able to take advantage of the Avs' key players who can't play for the start of the series at least. I'm thinking about guys like Duchene, Mitchell, and Tanguay who are all injured for instance. Also, let's not forget that both teams haven't met since January 30th; meaning that some new and different players will get to play for the Wild.

Why the Wild will lose:

Obviously, goaltending will be a huge factor for both teams. I'd say that Varlamov has the current advantage. The PK will also be an important factor. The Wild will definitely need to find a way to improve it and have to stop taking stupid penalties. They've ended up having the 4th worst penalty kill in the league this season. Not to mention, Colorado had the 5th best PP this season.

Prediction: It's going to be a great series. Wild in 6.

JS: @JSLandry20

Why the Wild will win:

First of all, the Colorado Avalanche still have a date with regression. Advanced metrics show that the Avs haven't often be the dominant team, and when coach Patrick Roy says he would give the Hart to Semyon Varlamov, that's basically like saying, "We wouldn't be anywhere without this guy." Another reason the Wild will win is because they have a lot more offensive weapons than they did last year against the Blackhawks. Erik Haula has stepped up nicely in the absence of Mikael Granlund; Jason Pominville is healthy; Matt Moulson provides a true scoring touch on the second line; and Jared Spurgeon is having a good season on the blueline. Speaking of the blueline, it has been very strong on the Wild's 6-1-1 run to end the season, except for that last game against the Predators in which everyone was in ''Don't get hurt'' mode. Ilya Bryzgalov has been strong in net and there's the possible returns of Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper to look forward to. The Wild may be the underdog in this series, but not by all that much. #WhyNotUs? #BecauseTheWild.

Why the Wild will lose:

Patrick Roy and Semyon Varlamov. Roy should win the Jack Adams trophy for bringing this garbage team to the top of the Central Division. Of course, drafting Nathan McKinnon helped a lot too. This kid will probably be the player to watch in this series, because he will either flourish in the playoffs, or crash and burn under the pressure. The Avs have also had the Wild's number this season, winning 4 of the 5 matchups, but the playoffs are a whole other beast.

Prediction: Wild in 6.

Tony: @tonywiseau

Why the Wild will win:

The Wild will win because of two reasons: 1) The Avalanche are a much inferior team to last season's Blackhawks in terms of their forwards and particularly their defense. Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, and Ryan O'Reilly are very good players, to be sure, but they're no Kane, Toews, Sharp, and Bolland. And the defense? Not even comparable. 2) The Wild have much improved depth over last season. Not only do they still have their top line from last season of Parise-Koivu-Coyle, but in Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville, and Matt Moulson, they have an entire scoring line that wasn't around for last season's series. And with Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, Matt Cooke, and Justin Fontaine joining Kyle Brodziak on the lower-6 lines, the Wild have depth they lacked last season on their lower lines.

Why the Wild will lose:

"Enigmatic" is usually just a code word for undesirable perceived traits in Russian players. But not for Ilya Bryzgalov. Out of every Russian player, none actually earns to be called a word that means "mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand" more than Ilya Bryzgalov. While flourishing playing behind an Anaheim defense that boasted Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, Bryzgalov has failed to attain any success in the postseason since leaving the Ducks - mustering only a pitiful .892 SV% over his last three postseasons (22 games). The Wild's bottom-pairing defense has been rocky all year, and Mike Yeo appears to be dead-set on sitting its only bright spot, Jonathon Blum for Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser. The Wild's 27th-ranked Penalty Kill appears to be a gigantic mismatch with Colorado's 5th-ranked Power Play, while the Wild's PP is too inconsistent to be counted on. If the Wild don't put the Avalanche out of reach by the time Matt Duchene gets back, this could get ugly.

Prediction: Wild in 6

Aaron: @The_Noogie

Why the Wild will win:

By scoring more goals than Colorado in 4 games out of 6.

Why the Wild will lose:

A black hole opens up in the center of the Earth and we are sucked into oblivion, but then really, don't we all lose?

Prediction: Wild win series in 6 games.

Eric: @goon48

Why the Wild will win:

If the Minnesota Wild are going to beat the Colorado Avalanche they‘re going to have to play sound defensive hockey. The Av’s are a fast skating team and the Wild need to keep their speedy forwards in front of their defense. The Wild blue liners can’t let the Av’s forwards get behind them. It’s Ryan Suter time. Also, the Wild must keep the number of odd man rushes to a minimum. I think the Wild need to play a conservative brand of hockey. While this brand of hockey is very boring to watch, playing conservative hockey works. The Wild need to slow the Avalanche forwards down, they don’t want to get into a track meet with the Av’s. Counter attack off miscues. They need to cash in off the Av’s miscues in the defensive zone. I would like to see a relentless fore-check. Take their time and space away. Get in their face. Frustrate them. I think it’s time to turn Matt Cooke loose. The guy can drive the opposition players mad and cause them to take undisciplined penalties.

Why the Wild will lose:

The Wild also need to stay out of the penalty box and play disciplined hockey. Colorado has the fifth ranked power-play, scoring on 19.8 percent of their power-play opportunities. On the other side of the ice, the Minnesota Wild are ranked 16th ranked power-play scoring on 17.9 percent of their opportunities. The Wild don’t want to get into a special team’s contest. Keep Danny Heatley in the press box, there’s no reason for him to play in this series. The guy’s a turnover factory and a defensive liability. If I was the head coach, the only way Heater plays – if someone gets hurt.

Lastly, the Wild are going to need Ilya Bryzgalov’s to continue with his strong play, if the Wild are going to be competitive in this series.

Prediction: Wild in 7

Agnes: @brigid22

Neither team will win, neither team will lose. During a pivotal game 6, deadlocked in the second overtime, the fans, rather disgruntled with each other, will begin attacking each other in the stands. The melee will eventually spread until the fans overtake the ice and begin attacking the teams. There are no survivors for a game 7. This is the largest mass bloodshed the city of St Paul has ever seen.

However, with the blood of its enemies staining the ice at the X, the reborn Wild are triumphant the following year.

Ger: @GerDevine

Why the Wild will win:

For all their success this year, I think the Avs have some serious underlying frailties that can be exposed. Their defence is particularly mediocre and their forward lines are very top heavy. If Varlamov's form slips, they could be in trouble. They are one of the worst puck possession teams in the league riding some pretty unsustainable percentages and that house of cards has to come down at some point.

Not that the Wild are all that great but they have turned it on at times this season and looked like a really strong team but if they want to beat the Avs, the offensive play needs to drastically improve.


Why the Wild will lose:

If the Avs keep riding the luck they've had through the regular season with their goaltending and shooting percentage then the Wild could find it hard to beat them. Also, the Wild have really disappeared at times this year and drastically underperformed their talent level. Bryzgalov has a reputation for poor performances in the playoffs.

Prediction: Wild in 5 games


Joe: @JoeBou15

Why the Wild will win:

The shutdown line of Cooke-Brodziak-Niederreiter does a fantastic job of containing the high flying kids of Colorado. My guess is that each game will be a close scoring game and the third line will absolutely have to on top of their game in order for the Wild to pull off the upset. Bryzgalov will have to be a brick wall between the pipes for the Wild and the Wild special teams will have to have improved in the two days of practice since Sunday's regular season finale. Minnesota has a better team GAA at 2.41 compared to the Avalanche's GAA of 2.63. I think it will be a race to three goals and the team that gets there first will win.

Why the Wild will lose:

The Wild power play and penalty kill is below average and the trend continues against a pretty lethal power play. That, or Patrick Bordeleau really makes the Wild pay for giving up on him. This series will be a fast, and speedy type series rather than one filled with physicality and bruising hits. Sure they'll mix it up from time to time, but mostly predicated on trying to out-run the other team. These games will be tightly contested and will go right down to the wire and even to a Game 7.

Prediction: Avalanche in 7 games


But you never know what can happen! Chip, Chair, and a Chance!

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