Photo - Hannah Foslien (Getty Images)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
St. Paul, MN - Potentially overshadowed by the soon-to-be Calder Memorial Trophy winner for best rookie (Nathan MacKinnon) in the first round, the Minnesota Wild have been boosted through the first ten games of the 2014 playoffs by an influx of youth.
On most teams, rookies play support roles finding time on the third and fourth lines. Rarely will a rookie crack the second line, let alone the first line but that's exactly what the Wild have been encountering this postseason. A group of youngsters, looking to have an impact and avoiding the common plague of overwhelming pressure.
"They can't be [overwhelmed]," head coach Mike Yeo said. "We've got a young group. If we had young guys and we were trying to hiding them on the fourth line [that'd be one thing], these guys play prominent roles and we need these guys to be really good. They're learning on the fly and this whole experience through the entire playoffs, we're growing right now."
Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Wild have received 31 points from 7 players that are under that age of 24.
Mikael Granlund (22 years old, 7 points), Charlie Coyle (22yrs, 6pts), Nino Niederreiter (21yrs, 5pts), Jonas Brodin (20yrs, 2pts), Jared Spurgeon (24yrs, 3pts), Marco Scandella (24yrs, 3pts) and Erik Haula (23yrs, 5pts) have all played significant roles for the Wild this postseason and together with the rest of their teammates, this group is maturing before our eyes.
Take last night as case in point. Mikael Granlund (2 goals), Nino (assist), Coyle (assist) and none of them were bigger than Erik Haula's goal to start the third period and awaken a frenzy in front of Crawford and the Blackhawks.
"He played a very important role for us," Yeo said of Haula Tuesday night. "His speed is a real factor, this is a team that can skate and you need to capitalize quickly when they make a mistake. They recover quickly so his speed to get in there to drive the net on that goal was evident."
And it's not just the coaches that are noticing the impact the younger players are having.
"You see how important they are for our team but how much better they're getting even in this post season," 29 year old elder statesmen of the team Zach Parise said after the game. "They've been so good for us at such big times of the games. I think they're just going to keep getting better."
From here, both the young and old Minnesota Wild will spend the next two days preparing for the all-important game four matchup against the Blackhawks on Friday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN