We’ve seen the Wild fall behind a series 2-0 only to come back and win it. We’ve seen the Wild look completely hopeless. And most importantly, we’ve seen the Wild wait until things looked their absolutely bleakest before they played their best.
We’ve seen it throughout the Wild’s history, and we’ve seen it particularly in the second half of this season — a roller-coaster of streaks in which the best way to predict if the Wild was going to start winning was to ask, “Is the Wild currently losing?”
In this way, the Wild is a maddening, frustrating bunch. But like a friend you’ve known for way too long, at a certain point maybe you just have to shake your head and roll with it? Wild players have shown that this is what they do. They know it. If they could change it, they would.
Losers of seven in a row, including the first two in the playoffs to Dallas, and down 2-0 five minutes into the first home game … I asked Nino Niederreiter how this keeps happening — how the Wild keeps jumping into the lion’s mouth only to escape right before the jaws are about to close. How do you explain it, Nino?
“That’s a good question,” he said with a laugh that expressed half-sheepishness, half-amazement. “I feel like we always in a do-or-die situation finally get things going. Tonight was exactly one of those moments. We knew we had to find a way to win that game.”
So you’re keenly aware this keeps happening, right?
“Yeah,” Niederreiter said, again with a laugh. “We’ve done that a bunch of times even this year. Eventually the change has to come.”
He meant the momentum changing, not the Wild changing.
Jason Pominville, who scored twice Monday, added: “We don’t make it easy on ourselves. We have a history of that. … We’ve got to dig ourselves out of holes. But for the most part we’ve responded pretty well.”
And that’s why you have to live with it because he’s absolutely right. As hard as it might be for fans to live on the edge with this team, at least there is often a payoff.
I wrote somewhat vaguely today about confidence — how the Twins had found theirs and how the Wild just might be on the verge of doing the same. This sentiment was rooted in psychology but also history. Again, to repeat: you can tell the Wild is about to play its best right when it is playing its worst.
For the extra challenge Monday, of course, it spotted Dallas not just the first two games but the first two goals. Fans were ready to turn on this whole product but one goal — Chris Porter’s redirection with less than a minute left in the first period — might have changed the whole season. At the very least it changed the game and momentarily changed the series. (Great photo of Porter by our Carlos Gonzalez)
Dallas was going to run away with this, the fans were going to boo and the Wild players were going to fishing … right up until none of that happened.
Now Dallas is just another mortal team with shaky goaltending, the perfect foil for Wild rallies in previous playoff pushes. The only question now is how long the good times last.
Knowing the Wild, nothing from this point forward should surprise us.