Playoff run injected energy to Wild’s fan base

Published 2:24 am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

I have been tracking the FedEx shipment of my green Minnesota Wild T-shirt all week as the team prepared for its Game 6 matchup against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

I was disappointed to find out that springing for two-day shipping wouldn’t have it to me by gameday, but even more disappointed when the Wild lost Game 5 in overtime and ended up on the brink of elimination.

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Game 6 would tell a lot about the fate of the Wild and my T-shirt. If Minnesota lost, both would be sent back to where they came from.

But the Wild beat the Avs 5-2 on Monday after Zach Parise broke a 2-2 tie in the third period in front of more than 19,000 fans. The team iced the game with two empty-netters minutes later and continued to make casual NHL fans like me into hockey-crazed lunatics.

I didn’t watch a single regular season Wild game this year — partially because I live in Tennessee — but have found ways to watch all six during the postseason.

I’ve watched from Nashville hotel rooms during my bachelor party, and at bars and friends’ houses. I watched on my iPhone at work. I’ve listened to games on the radio in my car — it’s too nerve-racking at times, though — and am already planning on where to watch Game 7. I’ll be sporting my new green T-shirt, too.

The Wild’s back-and-forth series with the Avalanche has captivated the state of Minnesota and finally given us something to cheer about.

Fox Sports North, the TV network that broadcasts the Wild’s games, has seen record-breaking viewership during the past two weeks. The radio home of the Wild, KFAN, can’t stop talking about the team, and Paul Allen, who hosts a show from 9 a.m. to noon each weekday, broadcasted on Monday morning from the Xcel Energy Center’s penalty box.

Minnesota is truly the hockey state, but like its other sports teams, the Wild haven’t produced much to be proud of over the last decade. It’s clash with the Avs have injected some much-needed energy into its fan base.

The Wild’s season will either end on Wednesday or the team will move onto the Western Conference semifinals for the first time since 2003. Both teams have held serve throughout the series, each winning their three games at home. Minnesota will have to do what it hasn’t been able to on Wednesday to advance: win on the road.

If the Wild win, my new green T-shirt will have a permanent home. If they don’t, they’ll all be sent packing.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column is published in the Tribune each Tuesday.