Souhan: Almost predictably, castoffs decided Game 7

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 1, 2014 - 10:56 AM

– They were castoffs, of different sorts, traded because they held little value for their previous teams.

Nino Niederreiter, 21, was a bust with the New York Islanders, given a second chance by the Wild, which saw size and a slapshot.

Ilya Bryzgalov, 33, had played for four other teams, becoming part laughingstock and part irritant in Philadelphia, but the Wild needed a goalie at the trading deadline, and the goofy goalie was very available.

Wednesday night in Denver, the bust and the journeyman combined to make the winning plays as the Wild beat the Avalanche 5-4 in overtime of Game 7 of a series almost as confounding as it was thrilling.

Nothing that happened over the past two weeks could have been expected, and the Wild’s 5-4 victory on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center confounded even more than everything else that happened in this seven-game, four-overtime series.

What seems like months ago, the series began in Colorado with Bryzgalov in goal.

Deep into Game 7, five games after he had been benched, the series ended in Colorado with the prodigal goaltender back between the pipes.

Was Bryzgalov’s forced return the most unpredictable aspect of this series? Or was it Dany Heatley, Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon scoring tying goals as a dramatic Game 7 became a dramatic Game 7-plus? None of the three had scored before Game 7.

Game 7 reprised the tumultuous series, with the Wild being victimized by a bad call that cost it a goal, and with the Wild repeatedly staving off elimination.

For most of the series, the Wild dominated the puck and appeared to be the superior team, and that would have been cold comfort had it lost.

Instead, four times it came back to tie the score, with Spurgeon’s goal late in the third period sending it to overtime, and when, for the second time, Niederreiter ripped a shot past Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, you could hear only the sounds of silence in Pepsi Center.

“Nino’s got himself in some trouble now,” Yeo said. “He’s raised the bar. We’re going to expect that now.”

The Wild had not won a playoff series in 11 years.

Think about what we’ve been missing.

There are purer sports, and certainly there are more popular sports, but there might not be another sport that makes you believe, from the moment the game begins, that the next play could decide the game, or series.

Niederreiter should not have been the star Wednesday night, not in a series in which Zach Parise asserted himself, and Nathan MacKinnon starred, and so many veteran Wild players stepped forward. But he was the star, unleashing a wicked shot that it appears only his coaches and teammates knew about.

“This is something we can build off of,” Yeo said. “But we know we have more work to do. We’ve got a busy night ahead of us tonight. We have to get re-set and refocused for that next task.”

Bryzgalov should not have been the star Wednesday night. He had started Game 1, and helped the Wild blow a two-goal lead and lose in overtime, and he had been benched in Game 2, giving way to a young goalie who had faltered late in the season and been waylaid by a concussion.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - T. Bauer 12:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Cincinnati - M. Leake 1:10 PM
Milwaukee - K. Lohse
Kansas City - J. Shields 1:10 PM
Chicago WSox - J. Quintana
Washington - S. Strasburg 2:10 PM
Colorado - J. De La Rosa
NY Mets - B. Colon 2:40 PM
Seattle - T. Walker
Detroit - A. Sanchez 2:40 PM
Arizona - T. Cahill
Los Angeles - D. Haren 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - A. Burnett
Texas - Y. Darvish 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - D. Phelps
Boston - C. Buchholz 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego - I. Kennedy 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Houston - B. Peacock 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Chavez
Baltimore - C. Tillman 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Calgary 7/24/14 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connecticut 55 3rd Qtr 2:00
Washington 51
New York 9:30 PM
Los Angeles

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which uniform will Kevin Love wear next season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close