Before the Wild came back not once, not twice, not three times ... before Nino Niederreiter made Chuck Fletcher look like a genius and made Semyon Varlamov look like Dan Cloutier ... before an entire state celebrated like crazy ... there was a lot of anger.
So much anger.
The refs were out to get us again -- that was the mantra coming from virtually every corner of our Twitter feed after the Avalanche scored first after an objectionable non-call for goalie interference. We tried to enter the fray with what proved to be a minority opinion: Bad calls happen on both sides and the sooner we all realize that and get over it, the better. Minnesota fans tend to have a persecution complex when it comes to officiating. We've been there. We've yelled. Now we save our shouts for the guys in uniform, not stripes. But you definitely do not need permission from us or anyone else to watch differently.
To our larger point: we tend to forget the good breaks over the years, or even enshrine them as part of our sports lore (the Twins made a bobblehead and a commercial celebrating Kent Hrbek's wrestling move on Ron Gant in the 1991 World Series). And we tend to magnify the grievances. That said, there was a cumulative effect at play in this series that is undeniable. Rocket perhaps said it best in a subsequent group text message discussion about our larger point:
99.7% of the time I agree with Mike. But considering the magnitude of that call, the egregiousness of the mistake, and what happened in game five this might be one of those moments in the .3%.
Fair enough. The cumulative effect of those calls ... plus the heartbreaking way (for the Wild) that both Games 1 and 5 ended ... and the unbelievable emotional wear and tear from the tension of this series made it feel like Vikings vs. Saints, 2009 NFC title game, spread over seven games. Sure, it was only an opening-round series. But it still had that feeling. The Wild, like the Vikings, dominated many of the statistical categories and the play. The Wild, like the Vikings, came undone at key moments because of brutal mistakes. The Wild, like the Vikings, showed fantastic perseverance. And yes, the calls in both cases could have been more favorable to Minnesota.
It felt like it could be another one of those classic Minnesota gut punch losses ... and then the script flipped. Didn't it feel so nice to be on the other end of something like that? (It did).
Now we can (hopefully) leave any lingering resentment from that series behind. In the end, the struggle only added to the drama and the payoff. Let's start this all again tomorrow night because it's way too much fun.