Last night, the Minnesota Wild made a statement. That statement was pretty straight forward and simple: Look out.
By the tune of a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, where they once held a 3-0 lead heading into the last handful of minutes, the Wild didn’t want any of the noise that doubts them as a team that can actually garner enough of that necessary momentum through the post-season. Can they still be knocked out of the first round? Yeah, definitely, but this year it feels more remarkable than the previous seasons where we have seen them fall out of favor so quickly in the spring.
Maybe it’s at the top with Kirill Kaprizov, or miraculously shifting their blue line into a two-way mobile group that have the freedom to be anywhere on the ice, or maybe it’s just the ability for any line to have an incredible night like the trio of Frederick Gaudreau, Matt Boldy, and Kevin Fiala did against Carolina.
It might be a tad dramatic just unleashing a bunch of highlights on you, but truly, that line was seemingly everywhere and against one of the best defenses in the league. Creating enough scoring chances to put the rest of the team on their collective backs and carry them to a commanding mid-game lead. Both Gaudreau and Fiala finished their nights with a well-deserved goal and an assist.
While any two points are great, it is certainly more of a defining moment for them to so handedly get a regulation win over a team that has been heralded as champions for multiple seasons now. A team that’s only expectations are to win the Stanley Cup, with anything else being a disappointment; getting absolutely tossed around by one that is surging to the front of a conference race and only has the Colorado Avalanche ahead of them for the West season title.
Fiala knows how important this win was, to make the Wild get noticed.
“They’re a good team, but so are we,” Fiala said. “We expect … to win every night. Doesn’t really matter who we play. And tonight was just a good challenge for us. If they’re contenders, so are we. That’s what we feel like.”
Getting the expectations sorted and organized should be a crucial step at this point of the season. There are now doubts that the Wild are aiming for the title — they have the record for it and some game-breaking talent to unleash in whatever round they need to. Will this change GM Bill Guerin’s original plan and potentially go for a large rental to reward these players for their months of effort so far? It’s still to be seen, but with just over a month away from the trade deadline, the players on the ice are showing that they are for real.
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