Top Plays Tournament Returns
During the regular season, Wild.com and Dairy Queen asked fans to vote for the Ri-DQ-ulous Top Play each week. Now, we want to know which play is the best of the best. So, we’re hosting a 16-play, winner-take-all Ri-DQ-ulous Top Play Tournament.
Each of the 14 weekly regular-season winners are squaring off alongside two Wild Card nominations, plays that received the most votes but were not picked as a Top Play in their respective week.
Beginning Monday, May 20, Wild.com will host a weekly vote until we have crowned a new Ri-DQ-ulous Play of the Year, dethroning last year’s winner: Koivu’s Exploding Shoulder Set-up. All we’re asking from fans is to watch each video, select your favorite for each head-to-head matchup, and then submit your vote. Each week, we'll move on to the next round with the winner being announced on Wednesday, June 12.
Below is the voting and announcement schedule:Monday, May 20 - Round 1 voting opens
Wednesday, May 22 - Round 1 voting closes (noon)/winners announced
Tuesday, May 28 - Quarterfinals voting opens
Thursday, May 30 - Quarterfinals voting closes (noon)/winners announced
Monday, June 3 - Semifinals voting opens
Wednesday, June 5 - Semifinals voting closes (noon)/winners announced
Monday, June 10 - Finals voting opens
Wednesday, June 12 - Finals voting closes (noon)/Ri-DQ-ulous Top Play of the Year announced
Managing Editor Mike Doyle was at nearly every Wild game this season and gives his take on each Ri-DQ-ulous Top Play of the Week. Download the Top Play Tournament bracket, here.
After signing a free-agent deal on July 4, the anticipation in the State of Hockey to see Zach Parise in a Wild uniform was unfathomably high. Well, it didn’t take long for No. 11 to deliver in a home sweater. In his second game with the club, he blasted a one-timer into the top-right corner on a 4-on-3 power play. The goal would hold up as the game winner against the Dallas Stars.
This was a big-time goal for a number of reasons. First, it was a wicked top-corner shot. Second, it was Bouchard’s 100th career goal. Finally, it was a clutch game winner in the third period, giving the Wild a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Devin Setoguchi has one of the best releases on the Wild and on this overtime power play winner he shows it off. Mikko Koivu made a cross-ice pass to Setoguchi, stationed at the left faceoff circle. Setoguchi had to adjust for the pass and whipped a blistering one-timer, while dropping to one knee. While it was a clutch goal, the double-fist-pump celly from his knees really made this play stand out.
A number of rookies had a profound impact in Minnesota this season. But the most electric might’ve been Jason Zucker, who announced his presence with authority on this coast-to-coast rush and goal. Zucker beat four Detroit Red Wings before springing a 2-on-1 with Devin Setoguchi. However, the youngster looked him off before firing a wrister far side, low tide. This goal garnered the second-most votes during the weekly competition.
Another rookie who made a splash this season, and enough plays to have a bracket named after him, was Charlie Coyle. The rookie showed his nose for the net on this play, going hard to the blue paint and received a pinpoint pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Coyle didn’t have to do much more than redirect the pass into an empty net, but he got into the right spot by moving his feet and freeing his stick for the pass.
Just nine seconds into the third period of a tie game against the Edmonton Oilers, Mikko Koivu gave the Wild a lead. Koivu made a savvy veteran move by lifting the stick of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, then cut to his left and fired the puck against the grain into the top-right corner of the net. The Oilers didn’t know what hit them, as the Wild went on to a 4-2 win.
Charlie Coyle makes his second appearance in the tournament, on a play that he didn’t even score the goal. Against the Vancouver Canucks, Coyle decided he’d going to do his best bull-in-a-china-shop imitation, fighting off three checkers, then two more, before getting the puck to Ryan Suter at the point. Suter took a shot on goal and Zach Parise pounced on the rebound, but Coyle defeated all the Canucks checkers during the shift.
This was far and away the most popular play of the year, and for good reason. Zach Parise led a 3-on-2 with Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu. Parise dropped a pass to Suter, who one-touched it right back to him. Parise then one-touched it to Mikko Koivu, who buried the puck into the top corner of a wide-open net for good measure. Bing. Bang. Boom.
This goal helped end a Wild win-drought in Vancouver. Matt Cullen carried the puck through neutral ice, dumped a backhand-saucer pass to Devin Setoguchi, took a hit and went to the net. Setoguchi gave the puck right back to a breaking Cullen and the center popped it through the wickets of Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.
The Wild had the puck in overtime against the Phoenix Coyotes just as a power play expired. Zach Parise slipped a pass to Mikko Koivu, who was stationed at the right side of net. Instead of trying to fire a bad-angle shot, the Wild Captain pulled the puck around a Coyotes defender, improved his position and found a hole in the bottom corner of the cage for the winner. Captain clutch.
This goal gave the Wild a little insurance on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After some offensive zone scrambling, Jared Spurgeon settled the puck and made a cross-box pass to Mikael Granlund. The rookie found his buddy, Coyle, planted at the left side of the net and he did the rest, redirecting the puck into the back of the goal.
During the shortened season, every point mattered. With Minnesota trailing the Blue Jackets late in the third period, Trade Deadline Day acquisition Jason Pominville paid dividends, tying the game on the power play. Pominville found a rebound in traffic and got enough mustard on the shot to put home his second in a Wild sweater.
Zach Parise has been classified as one of the most tenacious and hardest working players in the National Hockey League, and this goal showed why that reputation is justified. On the power play against the Edmonton Oilers, Parise locates a rebound at the right side of the net. He tried to slam it home, but the puck carried to the left side of the cage. No worries, Parise raced behind the goal and stuffed it home on the backhand.
Niklas Backstrom was nominated a number of times for the Top Play, but saved his best, um, save for the final week. With the Wild hanging onto a one-goal lead at home against the Los Angeles Kings, Backstrom denied Slava Voynov by making an unorthodox right-calf save with 13 seconds left in the game to preserve a win.
On the road in Columbus, Jason Pominville iced a win for the Wild after a nifty move and pass from Zach Parise. Pominville went to the net on a 2-on-1 and Parise found him on the backdoor with a short saucer pass.
In his first game with the Wild, Mikael Granlund won an offensive-zone faceoff then tipped home his first NHL goal. The rookie has some soft mitts and showed off the hand-eye coordination on this tally.