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Wilderness Walk: Opening Night

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PLAYOFFS... and a couple other things

St Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild - Game Six Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The playoffs begin tonight. 16 teams will vie for the greatest trophy in professional sports, and all of them start with no wins and no losses. It’s a level playing field on which anything can happen. This morning as I was heading out to work, I realized that a tight, nervous little knot had settled in my stomach thinking about the uncertainty of the playoffs. It reminded me of a scene for a frankly lousy Western directed by Sam Raimi (worry Mr. Raimi, but stick to films about evil books and superheroes) titled The Quick and the Dead. In it, Gene Hackman, the villain, and Russell Crowe, the reluctant hero, are set to face each other at the climax of a showdown tournament. At the start of it, Gene Hackman (who is the only person worth watching in this film) speaks with Crowe about the upcoming duel and says, "How do you feel? I’m nervous. It takes a lot to scare me. I love the sensation." The exciting uncertainty that promises either the ecstatic joy of victory or the numb, hollow crush of defeat makes me feel a little more alive today. I love the sensation.

Wild News

For Wild's top veterans, window for playoff success may be closing -
The Wild have the best chance to win with this current group, but that's true for the Washington Capitals, the San Jose Sharks, and the New York Rangers too.

Wild's Coyle peaks in time for playoffs -
Chowdah is much better heated up than cold.

5 years later, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter lead Wild on Stanley Cup pursuit
Both Parise and Suter have already had hockey careers of which they can be proud, but let's not kid ourselves. Their legacies will hinge on the Wild's playoff success.

Wild rookie Joel Eriksson Ek preps for NHL playoff debut
JEE could be an under-the-radar X factor for the Wild.

SCHREIER: The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues are a Match Made in Hockey Heaven | Zone Coverage - Cold Omaha
Best write up of the rivalry narrative I've seen, courtesy of our friends at Zone Coverage.

Because it’s the Cup

2017 Stanley Cup playoffs first-round preview: Blues vs. Wild | The Hockey News
A matchup of opposites: The Wild came back down to earth after a tremendous start while the Blues were one of the best teams in the league in the second half of the season.

2017 Stanley Cup playoffs first-round preview: Predators vs. Blackhawks | The Hockey News
It's Chicago's deep, talented group of forwards against Nashville's stingy defense. This series could simply come down to which goaltender is better.

2017 Stanley Cup playoffs first-round preview: Blue Jackets vs. Penguins | The Hockey News
The first round’s most unfair series pits two of the NHL’s elite teams against each other thanks to the league playoff format, setting up what should be a close and vicious series.

2017 Stanley Cup playoffs first-round preview: Bruins vs. Senators | The Hockey News
One team got hot with a new coach down the stretch. The other team kept winning all season but never earned respect. Who will come out on top?

Sportsnet's analytics experts share their Stanley Cup Playoffs brackets -
The Wild get some love. The Capitals get more.

Down Goes Brown: Ranking NHL's best bandwagon playoff teams -
This is one of the times where I really can't stand Sean McIndoe.

Down Goes Brown: Five times regular season skids didn't matter in the playoffs | The Hockey News
And this is one of the times I appreciate Sean McIndoe's work.

Why "Your Team" Won't Win the Cup
I can already hear a chorus of, "Yeah, but..." in response to this article.

Off the Trail

Two Russian free agents nix NHL contract talks, and the Olympic decision is to blame | The Hockey News
I doubt this puts much additional pressure on the NHL to change its decision, but at least a few GMs have another reason to be disappointed.

Areas each of the playoff-less teams should address this summer | The Hockey News
Retool, rebuild, or blow it all to smithereens?

Stick around the Wilderness today as we have loads of content to keep you busy until the late night puck drop.