The Wild's first playoff appearance in five years is a strange double-edged sword. The team played itself into the postseason with a victory on Saturday over Colorado, but it also played itself into the predicament of having to face the No. 1-seeded Blackhawks in the first round by virtue of a late-season slide.
If there is good news here -- aside from just making the postseason -- it is based on history. Seeding has often meant little in the NHL playoffs of late; when the Wild made the 2003 West finals it was as a No. 6 seed, where it lost to No. 7-seed Anaheim. Also: The Wild played Chicago three times this season -- a 3-2 shootout victory, a 5-3 loss that involved one horrible period and a 1-0 loss earlier this month.
Our brain tells us that, based on the way the Wild played down the stretch, a Chicago sweep is as likely an outcome as anything. But the collective exhalation that seemed to occur after the Wild potted the empty-netter against the Avalanche to finally guarantee their postseason berth makes us think there could be more to this series.
As such, we arrived at this:
Game 1: Playing fast and loose, and with good goaltending, the Wild stuns Chicago in a 4-2 victory.
Game 2: Chicago comes out hot and never lets up in a 5-1 victory.
Game 3: Chicago keeps momentum going with a 3-1 win at the X.
Game 4: In what amounts to a must-win game, the X is rocking and the Wild steals a 3-2 victory.
Game 5: Back in Chicago, there are some tight moments but eventually Chicago takes a 3-2 victory.
Game 6: Back at the X, backs to the wall, the Wild runs out of gas in a 4-2 loss.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.