You know what GMs and coaches love? Playoff experience.
Much like Depeche Mode, they Just Can't Get Enough of it. You see teams make moves all the time to get guys with playoff, or better, Stanley Cup experience.
And it's easy to see why. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a different game, in terms of both strength of opponent and intensity. Playing only the best teams playing their hardest puts a lot of pressure on a player, and those who have experience dealing with that pressure are valued.
The Wild have just snapped a streak of 4 years not making the playoffs. This usually means a dearth of playoff experience. But, weirdly enough, this isn't as big of a problem as you'd think. The Wild, through their player acquisitions in the last few years, have players on their roster who have valuable postseason experience.
But don't take my word for it- let's take a look and see what the current Wild have done in the playoffs before last night's game, in ascending order of their postseason games played.
Jonas Brodin, Kyle Brodziak, Cal Clutterbuck, Charlie Coyle, Justin Falk, Tom Gilbert, Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Clayton Stoner, Jason Zucker: 0 games
Most of these guys are either ELC guys, or in the case of Brodziak and Gilbert, edmonton imports, which explains the lack of playoff experience in their cases. A huge concern: Only one of last night's defensemen had NHL playoff experience. One. Wowza.
Josh Harding: 1 game
0-0; 11 Sv; 1.000 Sv%
Harding only got 20 minutes of playoff experience in his one game, after Backstrom was pulled in Game 4 of the 2008 WCQs. Backstrom had been shelled by Colorado, allowing 5 goals on 29 shots.
Heroic moment: Harding's perfect 11-save third period allowed the Wild to close the gap from 5 goals to only 4.
Zenon Konopka: 6 games
0-2-2; +2; 2 PIM
The toughest guy ever with a bunny named Hoppy got a cup of playoff coffee last year for the Senators, racking up almost 10 minutes per game during their ECQ series against the Rangers. His two points in last year's 7 playoff games are two more than he gave the Wild this season.
Heroic moment: His assist on Nick Foligno's goal sent the Senators to OT, where the Sens capitalized and went up 1-0 series lead.
Niklas Backstrom: 11 games
3-8; 2.55 GAA; .911 Sv%
Backstrom had one good-but-not-good-enough series against Anaheim (.924 Sv%), and one generally bad series against Colorado (.900 Sv%). His stats would have been better if Lemaire tried the unorthodox strategy of pulling Backstrom within the first minute of every other game.
Heroic moment: Backstrom stopped 44 of 46 Colorado shots in Game 3 the 2008 WCQ to propel the Wild to a 3-2 OT victory and a 2-1 series lead. It was too bad he allowed 8 goals on his next 46 save attempts over the next two games.
Mikko Koivu: 11 games
5-1-6; 28 shots; -1
For a player known for his playmaking (some would say second assists), Koivu has shown more of a tendency to put the puck in the net. I don't know why that is, but my guess is it's because he wasn't wearing the "C".
Heroic moment: Koivu scored a 3rd period goal in each of the first 3 games of the 2008 WCQ. All three of those games against Colorado led the Wild to OT.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard: 16 games
3-4-7; 18 shots; -3
Bouchard's playoff stats are somewhat depressed by the fact that he played 5 playoff games as a rookie. But even if you take out those games, and he's still had a middling 6 points in 11 games. He fared better against the Avalanche than the punishing Ducks.
Heroic moment: In the Game 3 victory against the Colorado Avalanche in the 2008 WCQ, Bouchard assisted on a third period goal, and went on to score the OT winner.
Brett Clark: 28 games
3-4-7; -1; 10 PIM
Clark's playoff experience isn't going to matter, because he'll likely be passed up, along with Falk and Prosser, for Scandella in this playoff run, assuming everyone stays healthy. Thanks for hanging out with us, though.
Heroic moment: Clark scored a SHG (assisted by former Wild Antti Laaksonen!!!) in the third period to tie Game 2 of the 2006 WCQ and get the Avs to OT. Clark's Avs ended up winning 5-4.
Ryan Suter: 39 games
4-9-13; -4; 22 PIM
Suter's been in the playoffs basically what Suter's been over his career- a steady puck-mover who's evolved into a regular contributor to the score sheet, as well as a workhorse (more on that in today's Noon Number). In his last two postseasons, he's scored 10 points in 22 games.
Heroic moment: In Game 2 of the 2011 WCS, Suter factored into both goals scored by Nashville. He scored the first on Roberto Luongo with 1:07 remaining in regulation, and then assisting on the game-winner in 2OT.
Jason Pominville: 45 games
12-16-28; 89 shots; +1
The Wild could have used the former Sabres captain last night. While Pom Pom doesn't have ridiculous numbers in the postseason, he's been in the Conference Finals twice, providing production from a secondary scoring role, not unlike the one he was filling with the Wild prior to his concussion.
Heroic moment: To punch the Sabres' ticket to the 2007 ECF, The Mayor scored a SHG in OT to defeat the Senators 2-1. The defeat of the Senators in 5 was revenge for the Senators knocking the Sabres out in 5 in the previous year's ECF. Also, not heroic, but incredible in it's own right- Pom Pom scored 3 Gs and 1 A in an 8-2 beatdown of the Philadelphia Flyers (Game 2, 2006 ECQ). In 7:44 of ice time. Not 17:44. 7:44. Good game.
Devin Setoguchi: 48 games
14-10-24; 152 shots; -7
Devin Setoguchi, despite being only 26 years old, Setoguchi is going into his 5th postseason. Like Pominville, he also has two Conference Finals runs under his belt. He's been about the player you'd expect him to be, based on his regular season performances- a streaky player who will dazzle you with his goal-scoring prowess.
Heroic moment: Setoguchi has had 3 OT goals to his name, but his most impressive example of him carrying his team was Game 3 of the 2011 WCS. Setoguchi scored 3 goals, including one of those aforementioned three OT-winners.
Torrey Mitchell: 55 games
2-9-11; -8; 89 shots
Torrey Mitchell is no stranger to the postseason. The energy bug has made it to the dance every year.
Heroic moment: While not having any game-tying/winning heroics, his best game (in terms of the scoresheet) was when he contributed a goal and assist for the Sharks in a 6-3 victory over the Kings. The contribution helped the Sharks take a 3-1 lead against the Kings in the 2011 WCQ.
Zach Parise: 61 games
21-22-43; 222 shots; -7
Parise doesn't have the star-type numbers you'd expect to see Parise put up throughout his career. This is mostly because of low production in his rookie season and last year's Stanley Cup Final.
Heroic moment: While Parise didn't do well in the Cup Final, he did very well in last year's ECF, scoring 6 points in the Devils' 4 wins.
Mike Rupp: 63 games
2-6-8; +5; 71 PIM
Mike Rupp is one of two Wild players with a Stanley Cup. His playoff career has been about what you'd expect, with one significant exception.
Heroic moment: In Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, Mike Rupp had a hand in all three of New Jersey's goals, including scoring the Game-Winner. It would sure be nice of him to show the rest of the Wild how to do that.
Matt Cullen: 63 games
11-25-36; 128 shots; -5
Matt Cullen has been in the postseason what he's been his whole career: Solid, steady. The kind of guy you want on your team somewhere.
Heroic moment: Matt Cullen earned the third star of Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, where he assisted on the first two goals of the 3-1 victory over edmonton.
Dany Heatley: 66 games
15-42-67; 192 shots; -9
Dany Heatley has the most playoff experience of any current Wild. This won't do very much good for the Wild because A#1) Heatley is injured, and most likely wouldn't be back until the Semifinals, which they Wild would have to beat the Blackhawks to reach and B#2) Heatley's been in decline for three years now. His last postseason only saw him get 9 points in 18 games. It's a shame, because a healthy, younger Heatley was basically an Übermensch.
Heroic moment: Heatley was integral to punching the Senators' ticket to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, scoring a goal, and assisting on two more in a 3-2 OT victory to eliminate the Sabres in five games.
The Wild are probably going to have to give their younger players a taste of postseason experience, as well as time to improve, before the Wild can make deeper runs into the playoffs. But the veteran core of the Wild currently have that experience, and will be getting more in the next week or eight.