Who Was The Minnesota Wild's Series MVP?

Nino Niederreiter was last night's big hero. But who was the biggest hero this series? - Doug Pensinger

Dishing out credit for the Wild's Round 1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche.

It's always a team effort whether you win or lose, but what kind of fun is that? We wanna know who you think deserves Series MVP honors.

The Candidates:

Charlie Coyle- Charlie Coyle was a beast this series, continuing a streak of excellent play that included the last month or so of his season. He scored 5 points (3-2) in the 7 games, including the game-winner in Game 4 (the 2-1 victory over the Avs). He was even stronger in the possession side of things.

Mikael Granlund- Both Granlund's point totals (2G-3A) were respectable, as was his possession game (56% CF%; -3.6 CorsiRel), but what stands out in this series are Granlund's heroics. The overtime-goal in Game 3 may get overshadowed by Nino Niederreiter's goal, but it should be remembered how amazing Granlund was in carrying the puck through traffic to score in overtime. The end of Game 4, where he blocked 3 shots while the Wild were down 6-on-4 was almost as impressive, as well.

Mikko Koivu- Mikko Koivu led the NHL in Corsi for the first round, and scored 6 points. His goal against the Avs tonight was huge, as the Wild needed to strike back quickly after that first horrendous, waved-off-due-to-goalie-interference-but-wait-it-stands goal Colorado scored.

Darcy Kuemper- From Game 2 until Game 7, where he was run twice, and probably injured by immensely skilled dirt-bag Matt Duchene, Kuemper went toe-to-toe with Varlamov, rivaling him in Save% (Varlamov had a .916, Kuemper with a .913). It's tough to know how much of Game 7's mistakes were due to Kuemper, or whatever injuries forced him to leave the game. Regardless of his (possibly injury-caused) subpar performance last night, he was a huge factor in this series, and the Wild will want him back badly for the Chicago tilt.

Zach Parise- Parise led the team in shots (27), goals (3), and assists (7), and tied for the first round points lead (with 10). His four-point performance in Game 6 carried the team to Game 7, and even did the impossible- got Jim Souhan to write a non-bile-filled article about someone.

Ryan Suter- Quick- who was second on the Minnesota Wild in shots this series? If you guessed anyone but Ryan Suter, you're bad at guessing, because it's super obvious that the fact that I brought this question up here means it was him. But I bet you wouldn't have guessed that before-hand. Suter looked like his old self throughout most of the series. He still munched all of the minutes, leading the playoffs in TOI/Game, but the Wild took steps to reduce his workload at times, and it paid off offensively for him.

Honorable Mention:

Erik Haula- Haula only had a goal and an assist on the series, but where he really made a difference was defensively, and he was tasked with matching Nathan MacKinnon's speed, and shutting him down. After MacKinnon torched the Wild for 7 points in the first two games, Haula was promoted to the third line. After that, the team shut him down, he only scored 3 points in the final five games, all three coming in Game 5. It's a team effort, of course, but Haula being able to match MacKinnon's skating proved to be quite valuable.

Nino Niederreiter- El Nino was very good throughout the series, but he didn't get to shine on the scoreboard until Game 7. We don't think he minds. He ended up scoring two goals and an assist last night, including the most important goal in Wild history since 2003.

Jared Spurgeon/Marco Scandella- Spurgeon had a high-profile mistake in Game 1, but either of the two could be in with the main candidates. Both of them were integral to the Wild, as they ate valuable and tough minutes while both being able to contribute on the score-sheet. Scandella's empty-netter in Game 6 shut down all hope of another pulled-goalie miracle for Patrick Roy's Avalanche, and Spurgeon had the big goal to send it into overtime in Game 7.

Dishonorable Mention:

Ryan Miller- I don't think any deadline acquisition has benefitted a team that neither acquired nor matched up against in the postseason more than Ryan Miller benefitted the Wild. It wasn't all his fault, but Miller's shaky goaltending was a large part of the Blues' massive slide to end the regular season, which caused Colorado to leap-frog the St. Louis in the standings. This meant the Wild went from getting one of the worst match-ups they could get in the physical Blues to a much weaker team in Colorado. That makes Miller a dark-horse candidate for series MVP honors. Good thing Fletcher went out and got Bryz instead, eh?

The Referees- They only failed to win the Series MVP because the Wild won. A litany of blown calls in Game 5 was quite bad enough to deal with, but in a playoff series, there's bound to be one game that just doesn't go your way. But having that disaster of a Game 5, combined with Game 7's first goal, despite literally everyone else (and even one ref!) thinking that was goalie interference? Those two things stung, and almost conspired to ruin the Wild. Be happy they didn't.

Oh, and don't think we didn't see you zebras conferring to figure out a way to disallow Nino's OT goal.

Matt Cooke- Yes, Matt Cooke's hit on Tyson Barrie was super dirty, and has no place in the game. But when you look at what happened before and after that hit, well... Barrie was easily the most dynamic of Colorado's defensemen, and without him, the Avalanche had a much, much harder time moving the puck, and the Wild were able to contain Colorado's explosive offense to a large extent. Do I think this was entirely because of losing Tyson Barrie? Do I think that it was a good thing that Barrie got injured? No, and of course not. But I do think Matt Cooke made an impact on the series, whether anyone wanted him to or not.

My Pick

I gotta go with Granlund. Without his heroics in Games 3 and 4, the Wild may never have made it to a Game 5.

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