Say this about Craig Leipold — he’s not short on confidence.
Two days after Minnesota made the postseason for the first time since 2008 — as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed — the owner said his club reminded him of another eighth-seeded club:
Last year’s Los Angeles Kings.
More, from Leipold’s interview with Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press:
BS: In every sport, there have been teams that struggle at the end of a regular season and then have renewed life. Is that what you’re expecting to happen?
CL: There is no better example than what happened last year with the Los Angeles Kings.
The L.A. Kings only won four of their last 11 games and they lost their last two games. Still got into the playoffs and end up winning the Stanley Cup. We don’t have to go very far to find a model. We think our team is very much like the Kings. We go hot. We go cold. We did it all season.
Now we’ve got to go hot, and we think we can.
To build on this theme, recent success of No. 8 seeds actually goes beyond Los Angeles:
— In 2012, Ottawa took the New York Rangers to Game 7.
— In 2011, Chicago took Vancouver to Game 7.
— In 2010, Montreal made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
— In 2009, Anaheim beat San Jose in Round 1.
But there’s a problem in comparing this year’s Minnesota team with last year’s Los Angeles team, and that problem is playoff experience.
Specifically, how the Wild fall short of the Kings.
Only Zach Parise, Torrey Mitchell, Mike Rupp, Devin Setoguchi, Brett Clark and Matt Cullen have made it past the second round in their careers.
The likes of Tom Gilbert, Kyle Brodziak, Cal Clutterbuck, Charlie Coyle, Justin Falk, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Clayton Stoner will all be making their postseason debuts.
The Kings, meanwhile, went into last postseason with four Stanley Cup winners (Justin Williams, Dustin Penner, Rob Scuderi, Colin Fraser), five more Cup finalists (Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Matt Greene, Jarret Stoll) and an experienced playoff vet in Willie Mitchell.
Despite this, Leipold remains confident in his group.
“This is a whole new season,” he explained. “It’s the hot team with the hot goalie and hot players that will now start to rise. We think we’ve got a chance to do that.”