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RandBall: Give the keys to the Wild's kids

Posted by: Michael Rand under Wild coaching Updated: May 6, 2014 - 11:35 PM


It's become half-mantra, half running joke on Twitter thanks to the evil genius of Clarence Swamptown: "Give the keys to the kids."


Decoded, it means simply this: the Wild should be leaning heavily on its young players and turn them loose because they are not only the future, they are the present.

The confidence of the collective seems to be growing, as does the confidence Wild coaches have in the young forwards -- Charlie Coyle (22), Mikael Granlund (22), Nino Niederreiter (21) and Erik Haula (23).

The players seem undaunted, a fact that was mentioned to Mike Yeo after Game 3 on Tuesday, a 4-0 victory in which the kids played a starring role.

"They can't be. We've got a young group," Yeo said. "These guys play prominent roles, and we need these guys to be really good. They're learning on the fly, and this whole experience through this entire playoffs we're growing right now. This game is another opportunity for us to grow, and so is the next one."

He's right, and we'll take it a step further: these playoffs have been defined by the kids. The most memorable goals -- the playoffs-saving moments -- have come off their sticks: Granlund in overtime of Game 3 against Colorado, Niederreiter in overtime of Game 7, and Haula breaking a scoreless tie on a gorgeous feed from Justin Fontaine on Tuesday, followed by another pretty Granlund goal to provide some breathing room.

Zach Parise found the net Tuesday, and most reasonable people would say he has been good-to-very-good for most of the playoffs. Yeo also praised Mikko Koivu's effort Tuesday and didn't seem at all surprised that Ryan Suter came back to finish the game after taking a nasty spill late in the second period.

That's a big part of the veteran core, and certainly those guys are important. But it's those kids that are really turning this into a memorable postseason. The keys are in good hands.


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