Minnesota Wild (43-27-12) at Colorado Avalanche (52-22-8)
|Date & Time||Thursday April 17, 2014, 9:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Colorado Avalanche -148 / Minnesota Wild +135 --- Over/Under: 5
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The Wild and Avalanche square off in Denver as the Central division champions look to build on their regular season success.
The Minnesota Wild qualified for this year’s postseason as the first wild card team and fourth Central division team but could have well finished in the top three without anyone blinking an eye. This Wild team is very solid in all facets of the game and while their goaltending has been a question mark ever since Josh Harding was sidelined they have the talent in front of Ilya Bryzgalov to make a push in this series. Minnesota is heading into the playoffs playing some of their best hockey of the season and have been in playoff mode for the last two weeks as they moved closer to locking up a spot and to me they match up very well against the Avs in this series. Zach Parise leads the way up front but Minny has a ton of scoring options in the form of Matt Moulson and Mikko Koivu and are anchored on the blue line by Ryan Suter. The Wild open as pretty big underdogs in this game and in this series but I think the lines will start to change once the series gets underway and people see how close these teams are.
The Avalanche have been brilliant all season long and have avenged their dismal season last year by winning the Central division and securing a top two seed in the Western Conference. Colorado is likely to house the Jack Adams, Calder, and possibly the Vezina Trophies at season’s end with Patrick Roy, Nathan Mackinnon and Semyon Varlamov in the running for their respective accolades but they would all trade those honours in if it meant getting the chance to raise the Stanley Cup. While the Avs have defied the odds all season and are operating under the mantra of “Why Not Us?” this season it is hard to fathom this team going very far without Matt Duchene and with the roster being so young and inexperienced. Colorado could surprise a lot of people in this year’s playoffs like they have done all year long but when you break down each team and look at their playoff structure I think Minnesota is well worth a look and I like them here in the series opener.