The Minnesota Wild came into tonight’s game against the Colorado Avalanche not really needing a whole lot. Earning a home-ice advantage in the first round would be nice, but it is not some season-ruining catastrophic event if that didn’t end up happening.
Well, this team just decided to do everything perfectly regardless.
With the momentum of getting back to almost full health as Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba bolstered the blue line after lengthy absences, Minnesota immediately went on the attack. Pumping away in their hard forecheck and getting into the rhythm of their game within seconds. Less than a minute of actual work, and the Wild got on the board with their very first shot on goal.
BIG F'N RIG. Greenway opens the scoring in the opening minutes. Let's GO. 1-0 MIN. pic.twitter.com/Ev86N7rsUu— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 30, 2022
Jordan Greenway — in just his second game back after recovering from another injury on this roster — gets to shake off the rust straight away with a wonderful spin move and a shot that was converted into a goal by sneaking through Pavel Francouz. If any of us were concerned how this game would turn out, this calmed nerves instantly.
The energy was noticeable. There was a familiar feeling in the first couple of minutes of this game that gave us a sense of the typical classic modern Wild games that have been so damn memorable. In Game 82 of the regular season, it was still there and a fire was lit.
Brandon Duhaime beats the wheels off of Logan O'Connor pic.twitter.com/H667gm2RSk— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 30, 2022
Brandon Duhaime reacted to a poor hit by Logan O’Connor and just absolutely nailed him down to the ice. Jersey pulled over his head, the entire bench screaming at Duhaime to hype him up. It was an entertaining first few minutes.
And to make things even worse for the Avalanche, the former player that they were facing tonight scored on them after he was brilliantly set up by Kirill Kaprizov.
TYSON JOST REVENGE GOAL. What a play by Kaprizov to dizzy the entire Avs defense. 2-0 MIN. pic.twitter.com/Wl7mxf7VqW— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 30, 2022
Tyson Jost was in Mats Zuccarello’s normal spot on the top line and honestly, did not look out of place one bit. He was on the receiving end of a lot of Kaprizov passes, as the star went into more of a playmaking role, and got enough chances to have that possibility open, just in case injuries turn for the worse.
And speaking of injuries...
MacDermid lays a knee on Foligno, gets a five-minute major here. Foligno was prone on the ice for a while. pic.twitter.com/8MuSfLmJs2— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 30, 2022
Kurtis MacDermid (stupid name, stupid dude) stuck his knee out and had a horrible collision with Marcus Foligno. It left the Wild winger on the ice for a substantial amount of time and he was ruled out for the rest of the game. MacDermid got a five-minute major, but it still doesn’t feel enough for such a stupid and bone-headed move in literally the last game of the regular season. It was simply gutless, and head coach Dean Evason more or less agrees.
Evason on Foligno: “What a terrible hit. What a terrible, terrible hit. Not a hit.”— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) April 30, 2022
He just went to town on MacDermid and O’Connor for their hits and saying you don’t do that “crap,” especially in Game 82. (I’ll tweet full quote)
No update on Foligno, but he’ll be evaluated.
Honestly, after the hit and resulting injury, it was difficult to focus on what was happening on the ice. The mentality and general feeling was on the future — what a substantial loss Foligno could be in the first round of the playoffs, and who might be able to step up.
Oh, yeah, later, Kaprizov scored his 47th(!) goal of the season.
Kirill just wants to put the puck in the back of the net all the damn time. There is no off switch when it comes to Kaprizov’s nose to the net. None.
Nazem Kadri ended up scoring the Avalanche’s only goal, and Greenway got his second of the night as an empty-netter.
Overall, it was an extremely good game to win. After last night’s similar victory over the Calgary Flames, the Wild just took the two top teams in their conference back-to-back and won them both. Albeit, Colorado rested basically all of their good players except a few, but it still counts.
Minnesota finished the season with a 53-22-7 record, earning 113 points — just about the best season you could have imagined 82 games ago. And now the true fun begins against the Blues. This might be a hell of a series, but it will be entertaining nevertheless.
Well...did the Wild clinch home ice?
Yes! With the Wild earning two points, they automatically got that precious home-ice advantage and the team will be lacing up in St. Paul to start off their hopeful post-season. And for a little bit of a cherry on top, the Blues dropped both points against the Golden Knights, so the Wild finished with a four-point advantage on the stupid team that they will be facing.
Does Fleury’s performance tell us anything about who will start Game 1?
Marc-Andre Fleury was wonderful tonight. The veteran netminder made spectacular saves and every single one of them looked so damn easy for him. There was not an ounce of concern in my entire body when he was in between the pipes. I think that he would have been the automatic Game 1 starter regardless of how he played tonight, but stopping 27 of the 28 shots he faced and some of those being truly difficult, he should be named the starter in the first game next week.
We’ll see you then.