Scoggins: Wild's No. 7 seed offers shot to overachieve

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 17, 2014 - 12:24 AM
hide

low seed, high hopes: The Wild won six of its last eight games to head into the first-round NHL playoff series against Colorado with some momentum. “We’re right where we want to be,” said captain Mikko Koivu. The Avalanche won four of five meetings with the Wild in the regular season.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– If playoff seedings matter, the Wild technically begins its first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche as an underdog.

If common sense is applied, the Wild absolutely has a good chance to win the series and advance to the next round.

Why? Because success in the NHL playoffs often is determined by matchups, a team’s health, its frame of mind and a peculiar thing called puck luck. A team’s seeding sometimes becomes irrelevant.

The Wild enters as the No. 7 seed and confident in its circumstance. The Wild earned the No. 8 seed last season and had little chance of defeating Chicago in a best-of-seven series.

That’s a difference of only one seeding slot. In reality, those two situations feel a universe apart.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu said.

The Wild found itself in the exact opposite spot last season. The team coughed and wheezed to the finish line, finally securing a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season.

That team wasn’t primed for the playoffs, and certainly not equipped to handle the mighty Blackhawks. The Wild was beat up physically, fragile mentally and limped into the postseason. Seeding mattered that time, though it’s hard to imagine the Wild having success against any team in that condition.

The Wild now faces a Colorado team that produced the NHL’s third-best record and is blessed with top-end skill. The Avs won four of their five meetings this season and are a formidable opponent, but they don’t seem invincible in the way Chicago did. That’s because the Wild arrives from a different direction this time.

The team’s playoff push resembled a crescendo rather than a death march. The Wild played inspired, desperate hockey the final two weeks to build the kind of momentum that creates optimism and a belief that this team isn’t just happy to be here. The team didn’t back into anything.

The Wild is remarkably healthy and confident its defensive system and structure can lead to playoff success if executed. The roster has more proven scorers. If goalie Ilya Bryzgalov continues his save-the-day act and doesn’t crumble under playoff pressure, the Wild can win this series and it won’t feel as if something fluky just happened.

“Obviously you earn what you get in the regular season,” Koivu said. “But when the puck hits the ice [in the playoffs], you never know what’s going to happen, in one game or even in one series.”

Momentum cannot be overstated in playoff hockey. It’s a great equalizer, something that happens all the time. A team gets hot, a goalie steals a game, pressure on the favorite mounts and voilà, an upset occurs. Except the term upset is relative in playoff hockey.

That’s what makes the NHL postseason so tense and compelling. A No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup isn’t a gimme.

The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup as a No. 8 seed in 2012. They beat the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils in the finals.

Philadelphia made the Cup finals in 2010 as a seventh seed. Edmonton did the same thing as the No. 8 seed in 2006. Anaheim lost in the finals as the seventh seed in ’03.

Remember that year? A scrappy bunch of sixth-seeded overachievers from St. Paul upset the Avalanche in the first round, a team that by most measures appeared vastly superior.

“Just the way you feel mentally about your game, that’s the most important thing, regardless of what seed you are,” said Zach Parise, captain of that New Jersey Devils team in 2012. “The home ice is nice, don’t get me wrong. But you’ve got to win on the road anyway so it’s more so about how you feel about your own game.”

  • related content

  • Wild pins playoff hopes on Bryzgalov

    Thursday April 17, 2014

    Labeled eccentric and divisive in the past, Ilya Bryzgalov has been rock-solid for the Wild leading up to the playoffs.

  • Scouting the Wild

    Wednesday April 16, 2014

    key playersIlya BryzgalovBluntly, the positional goalie must stand and deliver. The Avs are loaded with firepower, so he is going...

  • Scouting the Avalanche

    Wednesday April 16, 2014

    key playersNathan MacKinnon ‚The dynamic, lightning-fast forward has a shot that explodes off his stick and is Colorado’s most formidable...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close