Funny how it can all change on a moment.
The Wild beat the Avs 3-1 in game 48 tonight, to clinch the 8th spot in the Western Conference and advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It was dicey in the third when the Avs started to press. But Butch scored the ENG with three seconds left, and then it was just about Cullen paying respects to Hejduk who was sent out for what the Altitude guys calling the game guessed was his fifth career faceoff.
This will be the fourth and final time the Wild made the playoffs as members of the Northwest Division.
The Wild is 1-for-1 in playoff appearances in the Parise/Suter era.
Backstrom - as he has done his entire NHL career - had a big bounce back game after getting pulled last night. He's not the type to steal too many games, but he was the difference tonight, out-dueling Varlamov who also played a strong game.
I have said all season that success for this season was based on making the playoffs. Well, they did it. So this season is a success.
This is an up-and-coming team. They have some star power, some good role players, some good rookies and prospects behind them. They get above-average goaltending, and they have a coach whose best days as a coach are likely ahead of him. They have a GM with elan and an uncanny ability to plan ahead. They have an owner with deep pockets and a willingness to mine them.
This sounds a bit like a pre-season scouting report. And that's because it may as well be.
Oh, sure, there's the playoffs. But, uh, it's the Blackhawks.
Look, the story of the night is that the Wild took care of business. This is a step in the right direction. This shows progress. This shows that the plan is working. This is good. Wasn't always pretty, but then it rarely is. Hockey's not always pretty. Doesn't pretend to be.
It took the Minnesota Wild 47 games, 59 minutes and 57 seconds, but Goddamn if they didn't make the playoffs.
For this season? I'm good.