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Top Play of the Year

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

It was a single play combining multiple elements that makes hockey such a unique sport – brute force, finesse and overtime theatrics.

“Koivu’s Exploding Shoulder Set Up” was voted the Top Play of the Year.

After each week during the regular season, asked fans to pick the Top Play from each week. The 27 weekly winners, along with five wild card plays that received the most votes but were not picked as Top Plays in their respective weeks, squared off in a 32-play winner-take-all Top Plays Tournament. Koivu’s Exploding Shoulder Set Up (11/1 at DET) flattened Bouchard’s Pick And Finish (11/25 vs. EDM) in the finals much like the Wild captain flattened Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall on his way to setting up the overtime winner in Detroit.

Aside from the play having the allure of being an overtime game winner, the goal is memorable for a number of reasons. First, it happened in the hostile environment of Hockeytown (score one for the State of Hockey). Second, Koivu used the exploding shoulder on a player whose last name has become a verb synonymous with delivering punishing back-first checks, Kronwall (i.e. he just got Kronwalled). Third, Devin Setoguchi actually scored the goal, but Koivu was the one who made the play happen (hence the play’s name). Finally, Koivu scored the game-tying goal with a minute left in regulation (with a nifty tip that could have been a Top Play itself).

"He was an absolute force,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said about Koivu after the game. “He was a beast out there.”

The play was a force in our Top Play Tournament and cruised to the title of Top Play of the Year. Get the entire Top Play Tournament bracket, here.

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