The Minnesota Wild and their 2014 playoff run gathered some significant momentum on Wednesday night when the Wild dispatched of the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in a Game 7 overtime thriller.
This wasn't the Wild's first playoff series victory in franchise history. It wasn't even their first Game 7 against the Avs in playoff history. It was, however, one of the more significant victories in the franchise's short history.
That statement may be hard to swallow, especially for diehard Wild fans who saw the team make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals in 2003. To them, the series win over the Avs this season carries less impact on the franchise.
And, to a point, they are right. When Minnesota defeated Colorado in 2003, it was their franchise's first playoff series victory.
The impact the victory in 2003 was big, but not nearly as big as a playoff run this season could be. Remember, in 2003, the major sports teams in Minnesota were successful in their own right.
The Minnesota Twins were coming off their first playoff appearance since 1991 and were at the height of their popularity. The Minnesota Timberwolves had just won 51 games and were making the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Despite a dismal couple seasons, the Minnesota Vikings were still the state's most popular team by a landslide. The Wild were new, exciting and fun. They were planting the seeds for a local fan base and a deep playoff run in 2003 would go a long way in helping with the cause.
Things have changed in 11 years for the major sports teams in the Twin Cities.
The Vikings are still the most popular team but they are not longer a high-flying offense. Instead, they are a team with a bad quarterback situation, a rebuilding defense and a new head coach.
The Minnesota Twins are bad and have been for the last three seasons. The Timberwolves have a superstar in Kevin Love but continue to underachieve.
It is some desperate times for fandom, not only in the Twin Cities but in the region. Fans want to cheer for a winner. The Wild are starting provide that.
They also have another tool on their side they didn't in 2003: social media. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube did not exist in 2003. The Internet itself was still in the infant stages of becoming what it is today for news. If you couldn't watch the Wild on TV in 2003, you had to either watch the local news or read the local paper.
Now, with social media sites in full swing, the ability to share your thoughts on a game only helps to increase people's want for Wild hockey.
You also have the small, tiny, minuscule really, fact that the Wild play in the STATE OF HOCKEY! Give these people a successful hockey team and they will give you their enthusiasm.
It is the perfect time for the Wild to be making a run in the playoffs. Don't be shocked when you see more Wild jerseys at work on casual Friday or more conversations started with, "Did you watch the Wild game last night?"
That is why last night's overtime victory was so significant. It allows for, at the very least, four more meaningful playoff games for a Minnesota sports team. Something this region is desperate for.