NHL Playoffs: Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche Preview

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

The Stats

Minnesota Wild Colorado Avalanche
Record 43-27-12 12th 52-22-8 3rd
GF/Game 2.43 24th 2.99 4th
GA/Game 2.42 7th 2.63 14th
5-on-5 Close SF/60 26.2 28th 28.6 20th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 27.3 6th 30.6 22nd
Fenwick Close 48.60 21st 46.80 27th
5-on-5 Close Save % .928 11th .936 2nd
5-on-4 GF/60 6.1 16th 6.3 11th
# of PP's/Gm 3.07 24th 3.07 24th
4-on-5 GA/60 7.0 27th 5.9 12th
# of PK's/Gm 3.05 8th 3.04 7th

Background

Back-to-back playoff appearances have the Minnesota Wild hoping that they've established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, and they do have three dangerous forwards up front in Jason Pominville, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, backed up by our old pal Ryan Suter on the blueline. There's an unusual situation in goal, however, where illness and injury have caused the Wild to install a rotating door in the crease. Ilya Bryzgalov was picked up at the Trade Deadline and represents the wild card in this series.

Yes, we know the Avalanche have talented, exciting forwards in Nathan McKinnon, Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny, but the real guy to watch in this series is raving egomaniac Patrick Roy, who is drawing consideration for the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL due to the way he took a last-place team from last season, with one of the lowest payrolls in the league, and beat out the mighty Blackhawks and Blues for the Central Division title. A mind-boggling achievement, isn't it?

These teams have met twice in the playoffs before (the first round in 2003 & 2008), with each taking one series win. This season, Colorado won four of the five meetings between the two, losing only by shootout.

OTF Staff Picks

Dirk: Colorado in 5, it's just hard to find a reason to think Minnesota will put up a major fight here. The one weakness the Avalanche have, puck possession, is one the Wild aren't particularly well positioned to exploit.

Jon: Colorado in 6. I don't have much hope for either of these teams past the second round, but the Avs are going to extend their incredible season for at least another round. Bryzgalov should quiet critics (as he's been doing recently) but Colorado's scoring depth is going to be too much for the Wild to handle.

Jason: Colorado in 5. This pick is based mostly on spite.

George: Colorado in 6. They've been mostly rolling all year, and they've got more firepower, that hits more consistently, than Minnesota has capable, veteran defensemen. Still, the Wild's goaltending has been their strength this year, and that may frustrate the Avs just enough to help the Wild win a few games in the series.

Jeremy: Colorado in 6. They're young, fast and they have a formidable bench boss in Roy. A fitting first round win for a coach many have penciled to win the Jack Adams. They also have MacKinnon, Stastny, Duchene, Varlamov...etc.

Wild vs Avalanche Schedule

Game Date Time (ET) Western Conference First Round National TV
1 Thu, Apr 17 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado CNBC, TSN
2 Sat, Apr 19 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado NBCSN, TSN
3 Mon, Apr 21 7 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota NHLN U.S., TSN
4 Thu, Apr 24 9:30 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota CNBC, TSN2
5* Sat, Apr 26 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TSN
6* Mon, Apr 28 TBD Colorado at Minnesota TSN
7* Wed, Apr 30 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TSN
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