Minnesota Wild Get Ready for Playoffs


Photo from Dinur

Will Schiffler, Contributor

Minnesota Wild fans were able to see what they should expect for their first-round playoff matchup, which will begin May 2, 2022. Currently, Minnesota sits one point behind the St. Louis Blues for the second seed in the central conference. With seven games remaining, the Wild will hope to recapture the second seed to have a home-ice advantage against the Blues in the inevitable first-round matchup. The Wild and Blues played for the third time this season on April 16, 2022, which resulted in an overtime loss for Minnesota after a significant comeback in the third period after being down three goals. Minnesota’s comeback was offset in overtime by Brayden Schenn, who scored his 22nd of the season in the overtime game-winner. 

Despite the resiliency put on by the Wild, it was alarming for coach Dean Eva

son that Minnesota has not been able to put together a full 60-minute game in any of the three matchups against the Blues this season. In the past 14 games against the Blues, the Wild have been 2-7-5 and have not won a game in the past seven games against St. Louis. The rough stretch of games against the Blues is not ideal for Minnesota, but they will need to figure out a way to come out ahead in the best of seven series to prevent another first-round exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Minnesota will have a whole new issue to address this offseason with the exceptional play from Kevin Fiala. Fiala, a pending restricted free agent this offseason, is expected to have a big payday, and Minnesota will need to do whatever it takes to keep him in a Wild sweater. With the buyout constraints of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Bill Guerin will have an abundance of moves he will need to make to keep Fiala with Minnesota. Next season, the buyouts of Parise and Suter will combine to $12.743 million, which is a heavy chunk of the $82.5 million salary cap. 

Minnesota has continued to rely on its one-two punch of goalies between Cam Talbot and Marc-André Fleury. Recently, goaltending has been extraordinary since the arrival of Fleury in a Wild uniform. On Wednesday, April 19, 2022, Cam Talbot became the second goalie in Minnesota Wild franchise history to record at least one point in 14 straight games. Talbot has played outstanding in his past 14 starts and has not faced a regulation loss throughout that stretch of games. Along with the exceptional play from Talbot, Marc-André Fleury has put together some great goaltending during his time in Minnesota. In Fleury’s seven games for the Wild this season, he has won six of the seven games he has started. Also, he has recorded a .921 save percentage since the Wild acquired him from Chicago at the trade deadline. 

Minnesota Wild head coach Dean Evason will have a big decision to make with how he will decide who will be in net for the Wild during the playoffs. This is a decision that every coach wants to make, which means he has two goaltenders to rely on for a deep playoff run. With the acquisition of Fleury, Minnesota now has a goalie that is fourth all-time in playoff wins. Fleury has started in 160 playoff games throughout his 18-year career, where he has won 90 of the 162 games he started in the net. During his 160 starts, he has recorded a save percentage of .912. Also, Cam Talbot has a lot of playoff experience under his belt, where he started in 30 games and won 15 of the 30 starts. Talbot, who is still chasing his first Stanley Cup ring, has a significant save percentage in the playoffs of .923. A year ago in the playoffs, Fleury and Talbot went head-to-head against one another, and both goalies played impressively. In Talbot’s seven games in the playoffs last year, he went 3-4 with a save percentage of .923 with two shutouts. Fleury went 4-3 in the best of seven series against Minnesota, where he recorded a save percentage of .931 with a shutout in game four with 35 saves.

The Minnesota Wild will be ready for their deep playoff run, which will likely start May 2, 2022, against the St. Louis Blues.