Early in the season, the Minnesota Wild was one of the Cinderella stories of the NHL: under the guidance of freshman NHL bench boss Mike Yeo, the Wild surged to the top of the Western conference.
The last time these two teams met was January 12th, when the Blackhawks won 5-2 at the United Center. Since that time, the Wild slowly tumbled out of the top eight in the West (all the way down to 13th, 33-35-10), and the Blackhawks (44-26-9) just clinched a playoff berth. They will now face each other twice in the next few days. Last year, it was Minnesota's game 82 that made the difference for Chicago to go to the playoffs; now these final games of the season could make the diffe...
Just over eight months ago, the Minnesota Wild made all the difference in the world to the Chicago Blackhawks.
On the afternoon of April 10th, the Blackhawks lost at home to the Detroit Red Wings in game 82 of their season. Although the Blackhawks held a 2-point lead over the Dallas Stars in the standings, everybody - from the fans right through to the players - assumed the season was over. Minnesota hadn't been playing well; the Wild had been out of the playout race for several games. All the Stars needed to do was beat the Wild - and, tied at 97 points with Chicago, the tiebreaker would put Dallas, not the Blackhawks, into the playoffs.
The Minnesota Wild haven't qualified for the playoffs since the 2007-08 season; but this year, they already have 41 points and are on pace for 115 points. Who would have foreseen the Minnesota Wild sitting atop the league nearly a third of the way into the season? Who is this new Wild team?
Minnesota began its team overhaul early in the summer, firing coach Todd Richards, and promoting Mike Yeo to head coach from their AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. When you look at Yeo's record, it is no surprise that the Wild tagged him as new coach.
MikeYeo, 38, is the youngest coach in the NHL - and is not that far removed from playing hockey himself: he was a member o...