It would be blasphemous to speak on behalf of the hockey gods, but there are indications and a boatload of history to suggest they will favor the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights when the puck drops at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Friday night.
1. Minnesota has never lost a Game 7
That's right. The Wild are 3-0 all time in Game 7. They took down the Colorado Avalanche in 2003 and 2014, while the magic of that 2002-03 season also saw the Wild beat Vancouver in a Game 7 to reach the Western Conference Finals (where they lost to Jean-Sebastian Giguere and his oversized goalie pads).
2. Road teams always win Game 7 when Zach Parise is involved
Parise and the New Jersey Devils lost at the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 in 2009; they won a Game 7 on the road against the Florida Panthers in 2012; and he was part of the 2014 Wild team that beat Colorado on the road in Game 7.
3. Vegas COVID issues
The Golden Knights will be without three players because of COVID-19 protocols. Defenseman Braden McNabb, who missed Game 6 due to COVID protocols, will again miss Game 7. That's huge considering he essentially shadowed Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov in the first five games of the series. On Thursday, forwards Ryan Reaves and Peyton Krebs were added to the COVID-19 list. Reaves is a physical forward who also missed Game 6 due to injury, while Krebs has not played in the series.
4. The last team to below a 3-1 series lead was...
You guessed it: Vegas. The Golden Knights were steamrolling the San Jose Sharks in the 2019 playoffs before they blew the series and lost in Game 7. What's more is that the Sharks trailed 3-0 with under 11 minutes to play in the third period before they rallied to take a 4-3 lead and ultimately win in overtime.
5. Wild win Game 7s even when trailing majority of each game
This is too perfect. Not only is Vegas the last team to blow a 3-1 series lead, but they also blew a 3-goal lead in that Game 7 – and Minnesota's speciality has been ralling from third-period deficits to win Game 7s.
Minnesota trailed Colorado in 2003 and 2014 and never led until winning in overtime on each occasion. And the Wild trailed 2-0 to Vancouver in Game 7 before coming back to win. According to Ryan Stanzel, the Wild have led for a total of 5 minutes and 12 seconds in three Game 7 victories.
The puck drops just after 8 p.m. Friday in Vegas, and the winner will play Colorado in Game 1 of the second round on Sunday at 7 p.m.