The Minnesota Wild is creating a buzz in Minnesota due their strong play in the past ten games. The Wild are heading into the playoffs as the Western Conference’s top wild card team. The team hasn’t backed into the playoffs. They have beaten some of the best hockey teams in the NHL including the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues (Thursday night).
While the media is talking about the need for Mikael Granlund to get back to the lineup (he suffering from an upper body injury) and I don’t disagree with that line of thinking but I believe the player who will be a game changer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is Charlie Coyle.
Charlie Coyle is Built for the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Charlie Coyle has been playing some of his best hockey in the past five to ten games and will enter the playoffs as one of the Minnesota Wild’s most improved players. In the past five games Charlie is a +2 and has tallied four points.
Why is Charlie build for the playoffs? Charlie’s work and tenacity along the offensive boards has yielded positive results as of late. Charlie never gives up on a play, out works his opponents along the boards and is extremely creative in the offensive zone. That’s the type of player that is successful in the playoffs.
Things tend to tighten up in the playoffs. There isn’t as much space on the ice to be fancy. Tough playing and hard work are the ingredients needed to be successful. Charlie Coyle is that type of player and if he can continue to play this type of hockey, the Wild will benefit from it.
The Wild can’t repeat last year’s performance in the first round.
The Minnesota Wild were bullied in the 2013 Playoffs
When the Minnesota Wild entered their first round match-up against the Chicago Blackhawks last season, fans of the team weren’t optimistic at all. The Wild were playing the best team in the league and the team had backed into the playoffs, playing some of their worst hockey down the stretch.
This season is different. The team has saved its best hockey for the end of the regular season and for the playoffs. The team took control of their destiny, winning games, in order to earn the top wild card spot. The Wild haven’t been bullied. They’ve been aggressive in both the defensive and offensive zones and they’ve been putting bodies in front of the net.
With Charlie’s strong play along the boards, he’s been able to feed the puck to the front of the net or around the back of the net to an opportunistic Wild player. His hard work often yields scoring chances. His speed and tough playing style causes fits and panic to opposing players as he often takes them by surprise, forcing them into turning over the puck.
The Skate Pass
The one play that exemplifies Charlie Coyle’s playing style occurred during the second period of the Boston Bruins game on April 8th. Coyle was along the boards, doing what he does best, fighting for the puck. Charlie saw a teammate along the side of the net, he flicked kicked the puck behind the net to the teammate to create a scoring play. The defender he was locked up with and other defenseman were totally surprised. It was a great play.
The Wild didn’t score on the play but it was a great play nonetheless. It showed me that Coyle is the type of player that can be a game changer. He thinks quickly and effectively on his skates. I love watching Coyle play. He’s always chasing the puck, doesn’t mind to get in battles along the boards and never gives up on a play.
Minnesota fans hope to see Charlie play this way starting next week when the Wild enter the playoff season. Wild fans also hope that Charlie’s style of play rubs off on his teammates.
Anthony Bloch (AKA Sportmentary) – is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Sportmentary Online Sports Talk.
In addition to running his blog, Anthony writes a weekly column for Last Word on Sports and writes about the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.