The Wild could have made it a bit easier on themselves, but they didn't.
One more win down the stretch and they'd be taking on the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the NHL playoffs, not the league-best Chicago Blackhawks. But that win wasn't there.
So the task at hand: Somehow defeat a team which is the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs. Probable? No. Impossible? Let's just say a hot goalie can make magic happen in any hockey playoff. But that's just our two cents.
Here's what others are saying, the day before Game 1 (Tuesday night in Chicago):
Dan Rosen/Mike Morreale, NHL.com:"Wild will win if … they win the special-teams battle and receive stellar goaltending."
Mark Lazerus, Chicago Sun-Times: "The Blackhawks set an NHL record with a 21-0-3 start. They won the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best team. They won the Jennings Trophy as the league's stingiest team. They wildly exceeded any reasonable expectations. And none of it means anything anymore."
Michael Russo, Star Tribune: The Wild ... faces this challenge: Somehow find a way to win four times in seven games against a Stanley Cup favorite that lost only seven times in regulation. In the past 15 meetings, the Wild has defeated Chicago five times — once in regulation.
Tom Powers, Pioneer Press: "(The 1991) North Stars were given about as much chance of beating the Blackhawks as the current Wild are being given of beating the Blackhawks. The 1990-1991 Hawks led the entire NHL with 106 points ... but the North Stars beat the Blackhawks in six games."
Chad Graff, Pioneer Press: "The Wild have been in the playoffs in some form for the last two weeks. It all started after a 4-1 loss at home to the lowly Calgary Flames on April 21. From there, the Wild needed two wins to get in. They got the last on the last day."
Tom Bamford, ChicagoSideSports.com:The Madhouse on Madison is the best barn in hockey, and the echoing roar reaches a few extra decibels when the postseason begins. This year, with confident goalies, experienced depth and healthy superstars, the Hawks could have what it takes to make this another thrilling spring.
Larry Lage, Associated Press:"Minnesota lost 10 of its last 16 games, but free agent stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have an opportunity to provide a quick return on the $98 million the franchise invested in them last summer."