This falls into the category of "How the hell did that happen?"
The Wild were a new team, of course, and lacking in star power. Marian Gaborik had a solid season, scoring 30 goals and tallying 65 points in 81 games and Pascal Dupuis had 20 goals of his own, but the next highest scorer was…Cliff Ronning?
The 2002-03 season is the first time the franchise had ever made the playoffs.
There were a few other recognizable names on the team: Andrew Brunette, Sergei Zholtok, Wes Walz, a young Pierre-Marc Bouchard and the aforementioned Hendrickson carrying the offense with the likes of Brad Bombardir, Willie Mitchell and Filip Kuba on defense.
The Wild meandered through the regular season, almost daring teams to carry a 0-0 score into overtime and then faced a mighty Colorado Avalanche team in the first round.
Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg had won a Stanley Cup in 2001 and were poised to snag another one in 2003—the Wild just appeared to be first-round fodder.
Instead, Minnesota took them to Game 7 and Andrew Brunette hit a game-winner in overtime to advance to Round 2.
Again the 2003 Wild took a team to Game 7 in the next round, this time facing Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, two young Sedin twins on a stacked Vancouver Canucks squad.
This series was a little less dramatic. Minnesota was down 3-1 entering Game 5, but then absolutely annihilated Vancouver 7-2, 5-1 and 2-4 in the final three games to advance.
Nobody talks about the 4-0 sweep by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the Western Conference and justifiably so. This was an incredible run for an expansion team in their third year of existence.