Alright, yesterday's post was negative...but the positivity is back! So here is why I think the Wild beat the Avs in the 1st round:
- We're younger. The big stars for Colorado are downright old. Sakic, Forsberg, Foote...they all have one foot on the retirement golf course. Marian Gaborik, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brent Burns, Mikko Koivu - all of the Wild's main guys will have more legs if the series goes long.
- Marian Gaborik. Since getting the "C" at the beginning of March, Gabby has begun to step it up. He's taken on another dynamic as more than just a scorer. He has other responsibilities in being the captian, and it seems to be keeping his intensity in the game. Look for a big series from Gabby.
- Mikko Koivu. Since coming back from the broken leg on the slash by Vancouver's Mattias Ohlund, Mikko has played with a firey edge. That edge has made him a better player, and it is a an edge that will make him successful in the playoffs.
- Brian Rolston is due. He was nonexistant last year v. Anaheim so Rolston has something to prove. And if he wants a nice contract from whoever signs him next year, he needs to show he can produce in the playoffs.
- Wild penalty kill. The Wild were 4th in the NHL in the regular season on the kill, at 85%. The Avs powerplay was 29th, at 14%. If the Wild can stay out of the box and don't get worn out by taking too many dumb penalties, they should be able to keep continue this trend.
- Xtra grit. The toughness the Wild picked up this year in Aaron Voros, Todd Fedoruk, and Chris Simon joining Derek Boogard will help the Wild muscle up against a smaller Avalanche team, in much the same way Anaheim bullied the Wild last year.
- Xcel Energy Center. We will have crowds of 19,000 plus at each home game, and we have a better goal horn than in Colorado.
- Hunger for winning. The Wild were blown out v. Anaheim last year. The team is largely the same, so they should carry the bitterness of that loss with them for an extra edge.
- Kurtis Foster will be in attendance for an emotional lift (I assume...he showed up to practice today).
So, taking all this into consideration, I'm going with a Wild win in the series. I hope in 5, but it'll probably be in 7. At any rate, this is the most wonderful time of the year.