“A Friday night game against the Wild? We’ll see.”
That quote came from a media member at the start of Friday’s game who was asked how he thought attendance would be at Rogers Arena. But really, it could have come anytime in the last 18 years.
The Vancouver Canucks and their fans have had a front row view of the Minnesota Wild ever since the team came into the NHL in 2000.
The Wild weren’t the benefactor of the same expansion rules that the Vegas Golden Knights benefited from when they took the league by storm early this year. No, the team’s roster was dotted with middling players for a few years, forcing the team to adopt a defensive style under coach Jacques Lemaire.
The approach was effective, though, and soon the team was battling with the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche for Northwest Division supremacy.
Canucks fans no doubt remember the 2003 playoffs, when the sixth place Wild upset Vancouver in seven games.
The common theory then was that the Wild choked out the fast, exciting Canucks with their boring play.
It’s a reputation that has stuck with the NHL team from Minnesota in this city, if not around the league.
And while the Wild didn’t exactly open up the floodgates on the Canucks on Friday, they certainly created offence at a respectable rate.
It was one of backup goaltender Anders Nilsson’s better performances and he played well amid the flurry of chances Minnesota created whenever they crossed the blueline.
Yes, the defensive structure is definitely still there, and the Wild teams that have had success in recent years have benefitted from strong goaltending and a tough blueline core, anchored by Ryan Suter.
But with players like Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and a rejuvenated Eric Staal, the Wild were tied for third in goals scored in the Western Conference.
This is a fun team to watch, and it’s worth asking whether Canucks fans will ever realize that fact. Rogers Arena looked well-attended on Friday, though that may have been due to bottom-barrel ticket prices which have quickly become the norm in a season without Brock Boeser.
But the fact remains that a long held notion about one of Vancouver’s biggest rivals hasn’t been correct for some time now.
It might pain Canucks fans to face the facts, but not only are the Wild good, they’re exciting. Get used to it.
Do you think the Wild are boring? Have your say in the comments.
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