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Trophies or tissues
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

As a Minnesota sports fan, holding onto feelings of optimism can be a costly game to play.

It seems as if every year each Minnesota sports team gives you hope that this may finally be their year before the curtain closes prematurely and harshly over the season ahead of the grand finale.

That being said, I am holding onto my optimism when it comes to the Twins and Wild.

While the Wild prepare for a Stanley Cup Playoffs opening series against the St. Louis Blues, the Twins are in the midst of an unprecedented 9-1 hot streak.

It seems as if in a “normal” year this would be where disaster strikes; however, I am having trouble believing that this will be the case this time around due to some encouraging factors about both squads.

Starting with the Wild, the eye test would say that we surely should not be favored to win our playoff series against the Blues, being that we finished the regular season an awful 0-3 against St. Louis.

Yet, some positive signs are pointing to the Wild escaping the first round and making a deep run.

Not only is every Minnesota fan ready to pack the Xcel Energy Center for games one and two after the Wild won home-ice advantage, but Las Vegas sportsbooks are backing the Wild as well.

In fact, the Wild are actually the fifth largest favorites out of the eight series favorites at -145.

Personally, I figured that there was no chance that this would be the case after remembering the regular season’s results.

When you analyze the scenario, however, you begin to find that there are some positive signs for the Wild.

Not only are the Wild one of the deepest teams in the league in depth scoring, but the addition of key pieces such as Marc-Andre Fleury and Nicolas Deslauriers also adds a new element to the team that the Blues have not had to deal with in the past.

Having the luxury of two elite-level goaltenders to cycle in the playoffs is something that not many top-tier teams can say they have.

Most teams rely upon one goalie to lead them to the promised land – the Wild will not have to do this.

If either Cam Talbot or Fleury waver, the other will be able to step in and change the dynamic.

On the other hand, bringing Deslauriers into the mix gives the Wild the physical edge over almost any team they will face; a key factor in the playoffs.

It’s no secret that playoff hockey gets gritty, and the fact that the Wild will have the physical edge will give stars such as Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala more freedom on the ice to work.

The Wild aren’t the only Minnesota team to benefit from new additions.

The Twins are also reaping the benefits of a busy off-season after adding pitchers Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy, as well as bringing on spark-plug Kevin Garlick.

Garlick’s big bat and three home runs through 15 games are nothing new for Minnesota’s already powerful lineup; however, the addition of Archer and Bundy solves a major kryptonite of past Twins teams: pitching.

Bundy and Archer have been excellent to start the season and currently hold a combined 3-1 record and 2.94 ERA.

Currently sitting at 13-9 overall and 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland for first place in the American League Central Division at the time of press, the Twins will look to build on what has already been an impressive start to the season.

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