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There Are Guys, and There Are Playoff Guys.

By John King, 04/07/16, 4:30PM CDT


It's Granny time

Creation No. 0026

The Wild have been a mystifying team this season, just as likely to win the Stanley Cup as they were of missing the playoffs altogether. But now they are in. As the prophet Lloyd Christmas would say, “So . . .you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

Regular season hockey is great. Playoff hockey is special. Fans know this, and players know it, too. If a player makes a name for himself in the regular season, he’ll get paid. But if he makes a name for himself in the playoffs, he’ll be loved—forever.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are dog years as moments are carved into the wet cement of our hockey hearts. We remember Willie Mitchell trying to chirp the Canucks with his full shield getting in the way. We find ourselves lovingly referring to Devin Setoguchi by the pet name “Gooch” after hardly noticing him the entire regular season. I say Game 6. You say Richard Park. I say Game 7. You say Andrew Brunette. Playoff hockey is the reason Roli the Goalie’s remarkable run and Mikael Granlund’s diving goal are forever imprinted in our brains.

But there is a fine line between guys and playoff guys. Making a name for yourself in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the mafia equivalent of becoming a man of honor, begging the question “Who are the Wild’s made men?”

After a recent thrashing and regular season sweep of the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, coach John “Torch” Torchetti reflected on the game: “You see guys like Zach blocking shots, Mikko just playing underneath sticks hard, Charlie's bleeding, Dumba's fighting, that's what it's all about, that's playoff hockey for me. That's the fun part of watching.”

Wild Willie

Of course, what Coach Torch was feasting his eyes on last month wasn’t playoff hockey, but that loud beeping noise you hear is the Wild backing into the playoffs. Despite playing like the Minnesota Mild down the stretch, the boys have a chip and a chair—and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that’s all you need.  

A quick glance at the Wild’s roster does beg the question, “Who are our playoff guys?”

After four consecutive playoff appearances, the Wild do have some made men.  Young burners Eric Haula and Jason Zucker may one day prove to be flashes in the pan, but since it was the playoff pan in which they first simmered, we will never forget. Nino Niederreiter’s heavy game translates brilliantly to the playoffs, and the fact that a guy from Switzerland can somehow make every opposing player hate him only adds to his playoff résumé. One spectacular goal made Mikael Granlund a playoff guy forever, and Zach Parise is a gamer who seemingly exudes a playoff effort in every game he plays. If Zach Parise were a villain in an action movie, you’d better shoot him, burn him and put a stake through his heart, because otherwise he’s coming back at the end for more. Zach is a proven performer in big moments for the Wild and Team USA, and he even took the Devils to the Cup Finals a few years back. So, he’s a capo in the Wild’s Stanley Cup syndicate. But if we’re being honest, that’s about it. Sure, Jarret Stoll and Coach Torch might have their names on the Cup, but by my count the Wild will start the playoffs next week with just five made men in their lineup.

But there is hope. Looking at the roster, five additional names immediately jump out as guys who appear ready to step across the abyss and become playoff guys:

Ryan Carter

On this roster, Ryan Carter will be lucky to stick out like a sore thumb. As the lone piece of sandpaper in the lineup each night, it’s more likely Carter will stick out like a black eye—or two. As the Wild’s only resident tough guy, expect Carter to reach folk hero status if he plays well in the playoffs, sticking up for his boys as the only bayonet in the Wild’s boy scout troop.   

Charlie Coyle - No blood, no foul

Charlie Coyle

After watching him this season, we all agree Charlie Coyle might be really good. A true power forward, Coyle could easily become a playoff guy by throwing his weight around, scoring some timely goals, and dialing up his Masshole accent to sound more like fellow New Englander Torch.

Matt Dumba

Apologies to the masses who expect (and want) the Wild to trade Dumba this summer in favor of the core four of Suter, Scandella, Brodin, and Spurgeon. It’s not going to happen, because the second Dumba’s devil-may-care attitude and big game mojo come to the playoffs, he’s going to become everyone’s new favorite player. Expect Dumba to make some huge hits, to be electric on the big stage, and to have us all searching the App Store for CLAPchat after watching his cannon from the point. Dumba is a lot of things, but he isn’t afraid. Expect him to get made in the playoffs. 

No caption necessary

Devan Dubnyk

Duuuub! Everybody loves Dubnyk. But for some reason it’s too often that he gives up the soft goal to shake the fans’ confidence. If Dubnyk can erase the occasional softie, he’ll be a key piece to the Wild making a post-season run. Not to mention he just seems like a great Duuuuude to fill Lord Stanley’s Cup with Michelob Golden and head out on the pontoon with.

Coach Torch

You kidding me! The accent, the nickname, the mixing up of the lines, the Stanley Cup ring. Not to mention he’s a doppelgänger for John Gotti. The only thing Torch is missing is a big-ass mustache. I don’t even care if he knows what he’s doing. I want this guy to be our coach. Worst case scenario, he ends up being Mike Tice, and that’s still a good ride. Best case, he’s the guy that finally helps the Wild hoist the Cup. And he just might. 


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