The Minnesota Wild Complete The NHL West's Second Round Bracket

The second round of the NHL Western Conference playoffs is set. The Minnesota Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 in Game 6 on Sunday afternoon to advance and join Chicago, Anaheim and Calgary. Here’s a summation of how the Wild did it…
*It really starts with a complete goaltending breakdown by St. Louis in the final two games. This series was knotted 2-2 after four and neither team had gotten off as many as 30 shots in a game. The Blues were able to dominate shots on goal in Games 5 & 6, but goalie Jake Allen imploded and they lost both games 4-1.
The goaltender in the NHL is the most important position in professional sports–far more decisive than a quarterback in football and a little more so than a pitcher in baseball. You aren’t going to win when the goalie falls apart, especially when you’re a team built on discipline and defense the way the Blues are. Allen’s collapse continues a disturbing pattern of St. Louis goalies coming up small in the playoffs.
*The first four games were basically a battle between Minnesota’s Jason Pominville and Zach Parise, against St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko. The latter had two spectacular games, a hat trick in Game 2 and two more goals in Game 4, both St. Louis wins. Pominville and Parise didn’t have the flashy games, but showed very consistent aggressiveness with the puck, were involved in the offense and never more so than Games 1 & 3, both of which their team won.
I’m happy for the fans of Minnesota. This is a great hockey town that got screwed when the North Stars moved to Dallas following the 1993 season. The Twin Cities haven’t had a real Stanley Cup contender, but the Wild are getting closer, having won a postseason series for two straight years. Goalie Devan Dubnyk, a hero in this series, will have his hands full with Chicago, but there’s no question the Wild are knocking on the door.
As to the good people of St. Louis, another playoff heartbreak comes their way. It’s becoming clear that the Blues are the antithesis of what the Cardinals are in baseball in terms of being counted on when it matters most.
It’s now Minnesota-Chicago and Calgary-Anaheim in the West. Schedules have yet to be announced, pending completion of all first-round series in the East, which will end either tonight or Wednesday.