SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

With Wild's season on the brink, it's not outrageous to expect two more high-drama playoff hockey games

The first-round playoff series between Minnesota and St. Louis may come to an end on Thursday, as the Blues most recent win pushed the Wild to the edge of elimination. And after five contests that have had a bit of everything, anything less than seeing all seven games would be unfortunate.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) is congratulated after scoring his second goal of the game in the first period on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 against the St. Louis Blues in game five of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL – If it all ends on Thursday, that will be a shame.

After Tuesday night’s come-from-behind win by the St. Louis Blues, they head home with a 3-2 series lead and a chance to end the Minnesota Wild season in the shadow of the Gateway Arch. In seven-game series that are tied 2-2, as this one was, the winner of game five wins the series something like 80% of the time. And if that happens on Thursday, it will be too bad.

That’s not just because this has been a history-making Wild season, with the real promise of a deep playoff run for the first time in nearly a decade. It is because the first five playoff games have been wildly (no pun intended) entertaining, for fans of both teams. And after all that fans of this sport and all sports have suffered through since the start of the pandemic, 120 more minutes of Wild and Blues should not be too much to wish for.

We’ve had goaltending of stellar quality and questionable quality. We’ve had one goalie change and it’s not unrealistic to expect another on Thursday, as Marc-Andre Fleury might finally get a coach-mandated night off.

In this time of international tragedy on the other side of the world, both fanbases have found Russians that they can cheer for. Minnesota star Kirill Kaprizov has seven goals in five games, including two more on Tuesday. Not to be outdone, his countryman in blue, Vladimir Tarasenko, broke out of a slump just in time on Tuesday, scoring twice early in the third period on Tuesday and adding an empty net goal to put a damper on the fun the Wild fans had enjoyed up until that point.

ADVERTISEMENT

MORE MINNESOTA WILD COVERAGE:
NHL
After finishing the regular season with 33 goals and 52 assists, Fiala did not score a goal in the playoffs.
NHL
It sounds like Fleury would be open to coming back to Minnesota and Talbot is already under contract for next season.
NHL
It’s pretty clear Dumba wasn’t at 100% for the opening-round series against the St. Louis Blues.
Pro
After falling behind 3-2 in the series against the St. Louis Blues, the Wild turned to Talbot on the brink of elimination.
Pro
Now the 2021-22 Minnesota Wild will be remembered similarly to many of their predecessors: a regular-season team that flamed out far too early in the postseason.
NHL
Matt Dumba scored for the Wild and goaltender Cam Talbot, making his first start in place of Marc-Andre Fleury, made 22 saves.
Pro
Like so many teams before them, the Wild once again bowed out in the first round
NHL
With his team facing elimination, Wild coach Dean Evason expects to see a better team-wide effort in Game 6.
NHL
The Minnesota Wild have been a franchise for more than two decades. And no matter who the face of the franchise has been, he historically hasn't had a lot of help in the postseason.
NHL
Vladimir Tarasenko's third-period hat trick quiets Xcel Energy Center crowd.

We’ve had intrigue caused by the guys in black and white stripes, who have called everything some nights (good for St. Louis, with a power play that’s scored at better than 30% through five games) and have swallowed the whistles – like NHL officials have historically done come playoff time – on other nights.

We’ve had injures that have so battered the Blues defensive corps that they had to pull up Scott Perunovich, the former Minnesota Duluth star and Hobey Baker winner, just two months removed from a surgery on his wrist. Perunovich, so adept at running the Bulldogs’ offense from the blue line, recorded an assist in each of his first two NHL playoff games, both of which the Blues have won.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild left wing Marcus Foligno (17) checks St. Louis Blues center Robert Thomas (18) in the second period on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in game five of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

We’ve had what a pressbox colleague so perfectly labeled “good stress” for a week and a half now. On Tuesday, with 20 minutes to play in the fifth game these teams have played, there was no discernible tell as to how this series would end. No distinct advantage for either team, save for home-ice advantage, which the Wild have earned, twice, and St. Louis has now taken away, twice.

So we follow the southerly flow of the Mississippi once again down to Missouri, for a game six that will either mean the end of this most promising Wild season or one more night in downtown St. Paul for a winner-take-all series finale on Saturday.

You don’t need to own a bar or restaurant near the rink to hope for two more games in this series. You just have to be a fan of great, intriguing hockey, of which we have already seen plenty.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90) scores on Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) in the first period on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in game five of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

After seeing the 2020 playoffs contested in empty buildings far from here, and all of the limited-capacity hockey fans endured in 2021, two more games in 2022 should not be too much to expect.

Related Topics: THE RINK LIVEMINNESOTA WILD
Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
What to read next
NHL
Special teams were a large factor of the outcome of the game as the United States gave up three power play goals in the first two periods.
NHL
After an early 2-0 deficit, Team USA clawed their way back into the game and tie things up late in the third period and later on would win it in overtime off a Luke Hughes breakaway goal.
NHL
In their first game of the 2022 IIHF Men's World Championships, Team USA skates past Team Latvia
NHL
While Nick Leddy, Robert Bertuzzo and Marco Scandella all missed games, Faulk averaged 27:43 of ice time in four playoff games