Granlund made his Wild debut in the 2012-2013 NHL season, but fans were not treated to the impressive show they had promised themselves. Granlund would play just 27 games for the Wild during the regular season, notching a pair of goals and just 6 assists. In his time up with the Wild you could see he was outmatched. His small size allowed the opposition to knock him off pucks easily as he tried to adjust his game to a smaller ice sheet with bigger and faster competition.
As the season ended, the questions about Granlund were left unanswered. Would his game translate to the NHL? Can he survive as an undersized forward in a fast, physical sport? And just where was his beautiful Lacrosse-style goal anyways?
After the Olympics, and leading up to the final turn before the playoffs Granlund would be sidelined for the second time this season with another "upper-body injury" which has become the Wild training staff's code word for concussion. With the Wild trying to clinch a spot in the playoffs, Granlund's future was uncertain.
Fortunately for the Wild, they would clinch the 7th seed and Granlund was cleared to play prior to the playoffs and has once again shown his ability to elevate his game on the big stage. Although Granlund struggled through much of his 1st NHL playoff game in Colorado, he would not take long to find the spark he needed reaching the highest level we've seen of him in a Wild uniform in just the last couple games.
Did I forget to mention the part where FBJ pushed the puck in, while sliding across the ice on his side? It really doesn't get too much prettier than that folks. Through a ton of traffic, being taken down and the kid still has the wherewithal to get his stick on the puck.
Last night in game 4 at the X we were treated to more of the same as Granlund continued to frustrate the Avs. The team as a whole played out of this world, only allowing the Avalanche 12 shots on goal all game. That's right, 12 shots. Feel free to take a second and be impressed with that part of the score card.
Granlund would end up losing his stick even, but that would not stop the kid from turning into a brick wall. He would block 3 shots in the final moments effectively killing off the penalty as the Wild would grind out a win to even the series up at 2 games a piece. Now being dubbed, "The Shift 3.0", Granlund is starting to shine as a very bright light in these playoffs.
With playoff hockey, you expect the quality of competition to be better, the game to be faster, and the hits to be relentless. Mikael Granlund has found that next level. He has for the most part, been spectacular. Just as we saw in the Olympics, Mikael Granlund takes his game to a new level when the pressure is on. He has responded to every situation and is excelling through tough situations. He is not afraid to put the game on his stick and drive to the dirty areas, take the abuse and keep a level head about him. Right now, Granlund is seeing the game at half-speed, making for a very exciting playoff season for your Minnesota Wild.
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