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 fifth-favorite play comes from Erik Haula.
No. 5: Haula Goes Coast-To-Coast
Erik Haula is the fastest member of the Wild, and in the postseason, the rookie seemed to have found another gear. The 23-year-old was tied for third on the team in playoff scoring (4-3=7) and earned a plus-2 rating. Against Chicago, he was on fire, scoring three times and adding two assists in the six-game series—including this beauty, the Number 5 play on the countdown.
Haula accepts a pass near his own goal line and takes off, skating by Patrick Kane, weaving through the neutral zone and past a lunging Duncan Keith. The Pori, Finland native rips a high shot that Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford can’t handle. The puck sits momentarily, and before Crawford can corral the rebound, Haula swoops in and pounces like a bird of prey. The puck pops up into the air, momentarily defying gravity as it levitates above Crawford, and finally plops down into the back of the net. In Game 6, he scored on another rush using his speed, but on this play, I thought Haula might’ve sprouted wings and flown out of the United Center after the puck went in.
Honesty, it’s tough to pick just five plays, so I’m going to cheat a little and select a few honorable mentions.
Zach Parise Lays Out Kane. Parise led the Wild in postseason scoring, but also threw the best hit of the postseason. Kane doesn’t get caught like this often, but Parise lowers the shoulder and catches him with a textbook hit.
Jared Spurgeon Sends Game 7 Into OT. Spurgeon scored three postseason goals, none bigger than the one that sent Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche into OT. He shows the patience of a surgeon then the precision of a, well, surgeon as he places a perfect shot past Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov.