This year the Minnesota Wild have seen it all. They made it to the playoffs at the end of last season and made it farther than anyone would’ve thought possible. Over the next eight months, this team experienced plenty ups and downs, but for now, we’ll stay positive and only focus on the Minnesota Wild’s best moments from 2014.
1. Mikael Granlund’s Season-Saving Goal:
At the end of last season, the Minnesota Wild managed to squeeze into the playoffs as a wildcard. Unfortunately, this meant they were then paired up against the second-best team in the West, the Colorado Avalanche. The series didn’t start well for Minnesota, who lost the first two games at the Pepsi Center. The series then switched to the X, where the Wild desperately needed to find a way to win. Luckily for them, Mikael Granlund took care of that, scoring in overtime to win Game 3 1-0.
Not only is this goal absolutely incredible to watch, but it also saved Minnesota’s season. I know it’s possible that the Wild could’ve won Game 4, but coming back when a series is 3-0 is never easy. Because of this combination, I’d like to think this is one of the greatest moments of 2014 for the Minnesota Wild.
2. Nino Niederreiter’s Game 7 Winner:
This is another highlight from the Colorado-Minnesota series, but hey, the playoffs make great moments. After a dirty and intense series, it came down to Game 7 in Colorado. This dramatic game was back-and-forth the entire time and led to an even more thrilling overtime.
Nino Niederreiter had scored his first playoff goal earlier in the game, but fortunately, he wasn’t satisfied with just one.
Five minutes into the first overtime period, Niederreiter put the Avs away with his second goal of the night. The Minnesota Wild were then able to move on to the second round of the playoffs to face the Chicago Blackhawks. The Game 7 goal continued the season for the Wild and therefore, it was definitely one of the greatest moments (Also I saw Mike Yeo smile for the first and only time, so that might be a great moment, too).
3. The Signing of Thomas Vanek
Yes, yes, I know: Thomas Vanek hasn’t really panned out the way Minnesota planned. Nonetheless, when the organization originally signed him on the first day of free agency, it was a great day in Minnesota. Fans across the state had speculated for some time that Vanek would end up in the State of Hockey and when he finally did, Minnesotans rejoiced at having a former Golden Gopher back in the state.
Even though Vanek hasn’t done too much this season, when he was signed it was one of the greatest moments of 2014 for the Wild. They became a legitimate team with high-profile players and a real chance to make the playoffs. Maybe it hasn’t worked out as planned, but it was a big highlight at the time.
4. Home Opener
Minnesota started the 2014-2015 season with a boom, continuing their dominance over the Avalanche. The Wild opened the season looking strong, in-sync, and energetic. Minnesota not only won their home opener, they shutout Colorado and scored five times. This team didn’t look like your typical Minnesota Wild. Even better, this dominant style of play continued over the next couple of games, which makes this a great moment for the team.
Unfortunately for the Wild, this dominant style of play didn’t continue and the team is currently having a bit of a struggle trying to get back on track. Even so, the beginning of the season was great and gave Minnesotans something to believe, even if it was just for a short while.
5. Locking up the Core
This year, the Minnesota Wild secured its future, locking up young core players like Nino Niederreiter, Marco Scandella, Charlie Coyle, and Jonas Brodin to long-term contracts. Most of these young players have been superstars for Minnesota this season, even when the rest of the team has faltered. This season may not end the way the Wild intended, but it’s clear this team has a bright future and a huge amount of young talent ahead of them. Obviously building a Stanley Cup contending team takes a good chunk of time, but now this team at least has some of the key pieces needed to build that team.
So there you have it. 2014 and some of its greatest moments. For the record, this list is not in any particular order of best to worst. It’s merely a random assortment of the best highlights from the past year. Feel free to share your own greatest moments!
Alli covers the Minnesota Wild and has been a contributing writer with THW since August 2014. She is currently a journalism and sports management student at the University of Minnesota. For all of your Minnesota Wild news and updates, follow her on twitter: @allibaker23