This is a two part post, first my I explain why the Wild take the 07-08 Stanley Cup Championship. The second I will highlight my first game day mock game, for this I will be playing against the opponent scheduled (today the Hawks) in a hopeful (or today, not so hopeful) representation of todays game.
Over the last few years the Wild have taken a good approach to signing and recruiting, they find young talented players and develop them. They also typically find scraps around the NHL to fill their roster (players like Radio, Skoula, Foster, Zholtok, etc.) They finally made a lot of moves last year signing proven players like Johnsson, Demitra and Parrish.
Last season that all came together and produced a solid team that made a run for the Northwest Division and enjoyed a short playoff run. During that playoff run all those young guys got to see what it takes, got to experience yet another level. Players like Burns, Koivu and Schultz.
Now this season that experience is added to an already potent mix of talented players to make the 2007-08 Minnesota Wild, the best Wild team we've seen yet. That right there makes it enough to be a good playoff team, but then you add in the fact that two of the top players, two premier forwards in the entire league are entering contract seasons. Both Pavel Demtira and Brian Rolston are playing in the final season of their contracts. That puts additional pressure on them to produce this season, and will give the rest of the team the realization that all this talent might not be back again next year.
When it comes down to it the youth and experience will come together to produce an excellent team that will hopefully 'be the class of the NW Division' and fight for the Western Conference championship and then the Stanley Cup Finals.
Tonight the Blackhawks are in town and that means a challenge for the Wild. Last season the Wild won the series 4-0, but that included two brutal shootout wins. The first was the PMB spin-o-rama which started a mini movement against those because he made contact with Khabibulin. That was followed by another MN win where Fernandez tapped the puck into the net after making the original save. The call went upstairs and to Toronto where the goal was denied and Minnesota got the win.
Anyways, onto my simulation, which was not a good one for the Wild. Just 10 seconds into the game it was 1-0 Blackhawks, before the end of the first period it was 3-0 Hawks with the shots at 15-5. I turned my game around quickly in the second period outshooting them 12-3, and getting a goal. It was hard work by Demitra and Gaborik that eventually lead to a rebound goal by Gabby making it 1-3. The third period was extremely even with the Hawks putting the nail in the coffin with 8 minutes left. Backstrom made 21 saves on the game. First star was Nikolai Khabibulin who made 23 saves on 24 shots, second star was Mikael Holmqvist and Marian Gaborik was the third star. Hopefully tonight turns out better.. my prediction 3-2 overtime with the game winner by Brent Burns.
Thanks for reading.