Next week starting Monday, May 26, Wild.com will host the Top Plays of the Year Tournament, presented by Dairy Queen. That will give fans the chance to vote on their favorite play of the year. It’s no secret that over here on Wild.com we love helping select the top plays each week for fans to vote on. Since there were a handful of great plays from the Wild’s Stanley Cup Playoff appearance, and you really can’t throw them into a regular-season Top Plays Tourney, Managing Editor Mike Doyle is counting down his Top 5 Playoff Plays. His fourth-favorite play comes from Mikael Granlund.
No. 4: Granlund Goes Backhand
After struggling through his rookie season, Mikael Granlund had a breakout year in his sophomore campaign. Granlund was fifth on the Wild in regular season scoring (8-33=41) despite missing 19 games due to injury. He also helped lead Team Finland to Olympic bronze, garnering All-Tournament Team honors in Sochi.
Getting his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, Granlund elevated his game once again. The 22-year-old shared the team lead in playoff goals (4), while adding three assists and a plus-3 rating.
Granlund comes in at No. 4 on the Top 5 Playoff Plays list with this backhand shelf, following a perfectly executed neutral zone faceoff win, in Game 3 of the team’s Second Round matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. Granlund pulls the puck back to defenseman Ryan Suter, who threads the needle to find Zach Parise breaking at the blue line. The wing one-touches the puck to Jason Pominville just inside the Hawks zone. With Parise crashing the net, Pominville drops the puck to a trailing Granlund, who does the rest. Instead of trying to shoot a strong-side one-timer that potentially might’ve gotten blocked by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook, Granlund pulls the puck to his backhand and roofs it over a lunging Corey Crawford. Just like they drew it up in practice. It might not have been Granlund’s biggest goal of the playoffs (we’ll get to that one), but this tally iced a Game 3 win and displayed the skill of the Wild’s top line.