The Stanley Cup Playoffs is the time when hockey players can elevate their game and go from hero to legendary status amongst their respective fans.
In his native country of Finland, Mikael Granlund is already a national icon thanks to his goal in the 2011 World Championships against Russia. In Game 3, Granlund put his stamp on the Minnesota Wild’s Round 1 matchup against the Colorado Avalanche by scoring the overtime winner for his first-career playoff goal. More importantly, it cut Colorado’s lead in the series to 2-1.
The OT winner was a thing of beauty; I don’t have to tell anyone who saw the play live. So, like many Wild fans, I wanted to see it again this morning after the initial shock of the play wore off and the adrenaline rush of the victory was long gone. In doing so, I kept a running log of the game tape and here’s what I saw:
0:01 – Granlund has Hejda draped over him like a curtain, so he cycles the puck deep. The Wild has an advantageous matchup, going against the Avs’ fourth line even though its top defensive pair is on the ice.
0:03 – Jason Pominville comes from the weak side of the net to steal the puck from Erik Johnson, who tries to bounce the puck off the boards past the winger. As Pominville skates away, Zach Parise sets a pick on Johnson, giving Pominville room to maneuver. Two sneaky plays by the Wild veterans.
0:04 – Just a lot of movement from the trio, which creates space for Granlund to operate. Pominville leaves the puck for Granlund, and then swings out to the front of the net, drawing the attention of center Marc-Andre Cliche. Meanwhile Parise moves to the front of the net, opening a lane for the center to go behind the net.
0:06 – Granlund holds off Hejda with one hand while maintaining control of the puck. Last season, the 22-year-old gets ridden off the puck or loses his footing in a similar battle. After an offseason of getting stronger, Granlund has the ability to battle with 6-foot-4, 237-pound defensemen.
0:09 – Initially, Hejda makes a pretty good play by lifting Granlund’s stick as he is trying to move the puck to Nate Prosser at the point. However, Hejda overcommits and Granlund feels it, spinning away from the D-man then heads to the net. Hejda makes a last ditch effort at a hook, but Granlund fights through it. At the same time, Parise has firmly established himself in front of the Avalanche goal with Johnson trying to fight for positioning and netminder Seymon Varlamov trying to see around the combatants. Pominville has moved into a scoring position in the high slot, which draws the attention of both Cliche and wing Cody McLeod.
0:11 – Granlund catches both Hejda and Cliche reaching, and makes a quick forehand-backhand-forehand move to finds a hole in the slot. Varlamov, still trying to see around the pileup in front, goes to his knees to take away any low shot. However, Granlund doesn’t shoot initially, outwaiting the goaltender and tucking it into the far side.
0:13 – kjsddkafj woieaea fekajf. Sorry about that, lost it momentarily again.
0:14 – “SCOOOOOOOOOORES!” Love the Panther.
0:16 – No surprise, arguably the Wild’s two quickest players, Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine, are off the bench first to join the celebration. Haula wins the foot race and is the first to join the pile.
0:20 – Great shot in the dichotomy of athletics: the high of winning juxtaposed against the agony of defeat.
0:23 – Banging glass.
0:25 – The waving towels is a great look when everyone’s doing it. I think some fans were in such a state of shock and awe that they forgot they even had them.
0:34 – Group hug.
0:36 – Group dejection. It’s like your dog died, your girlfriend dumped you and you lost your job all rolled into one; basically the living incarnation of a country song without the charming drawl.
0:39 – Oh, yeah! We’ve got towels! Let’s wave ‘em!
0:54 – Strong showing of how diverse the towel is as a fan prop. The lady in the Iron Range Red Wild sweater is flashing the logo, popping back and forth. The couple in matching grey is making towel helicopters. The guy in the suit is going with the front-to-back towel push like he’s fly-fishing.
1:07 – Kuemper: Sick goal bud!
Kuemper: How’s my glove smell?!
Granlund: I bless you, my son.
1:17 – Great angle to see the second, third and fourth efforts from Granlund. He dives like he’s going onto a slip and slide and fires the puck home from his belly.
1:20 – I think this is the exact moment this happens.
1:21 – Granlund is pumped up! He tries to jump the glass and Lambeau leap into the fans at Xcel Energy Center. This is impossible as he soon finds out, bouncing off the glass and returns to the ice.
1:30 – Another great angle. One day they’ll put a GoPro on every player. Technology.
1:40 – Johnson: Nooooooooooooooo!
2:03 – Seriously, Parise even works hard when getting to the pile to celebrate.
2:22 – See you at Game 4!