The Minnesota Wild had a memorable regular season, only to have it all come to an end in a six-game opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.
The Wild shouldn’t be discouraged by their performance overall. In the 82-game regular season they achieved 113 points and 53 regulation wins. That was good enough for fifth in the NHL for regulation wins this season.
I think what it really comes down to is the team chemistry.
Kirill Kaprizov is the clear-cut superstar of this team and will be for the next seasons to come. His 47 goals and 61 assists in 81 games pretty much showed that Kaprizov is for real in case there was any doubters left out there that felt he was a one-season wonder.
Keeping “Kirill The Thrill” productive will be extremely key in being able to contend in the next few years.
What Went Wrong And How To Fix It
When it came to the Stanley Cup playoffs, it seemed that the Wild couldn’t get it together again and that led to a disappointing first-round exit once again.
Well for starters, The team was heavily relying on Kaprizov to do literally everything. His playoff performance wasn’t bad by any means as he had eight points in the six game series against the Blues.
One downfall that was already previously talked about was the underwhelming play of Kevin Fiala. As Bill Guerin has said, Fiala had a great three months in the regular season but just couldn’t be there in the playoffs.
Kaprizov’s fellow line mates aren’t off the hook here either. Mats Zuccarello had one goal and 3 assists and was a minus-1 which seems off from how he performed in the regular season. Ryan Hartman, a 30 goal scorer in the regular season only registered five assists in the postseason.
Zuccarello and Hartman not only need to provide the support to Kaprizov but also to the entire team. It is also easy to place blame in the current playoff format which is something that Blues forward David Perron had made comments about.
The penalty taking in the postseason was absolutely horrible and that hurt the Wild a lot. It’s hard to generate offense when you’re playing a man down from taking a bad penalty. The prime suspect goes back to Fiala on that note.
Lastly, the goaltending debacle from this years playoffs will be something that will haunt the Wild for a while as well as making coach Dean Evason look a bit foolish.
Marc-Andre Fleury was pinned as the series starter as Evason had stated. “It’s an easy decision”
Butwas it really that easy to swallow that one after Game 1?
The Blues shutout the Wild 4-0 ,leaving a lot of questions to Evason’s choice in going with Fleury over Cam Talbot.
Fan obviously know that Evason wasn’t looking to change anything as he kept riding Fleury until Game 6 when Talbot, the Wild netminder who hadn’t lost a game since March was thrust into an elimination game after not playing all series.
It’s not Talbot’s fault at as it is a team game and there are five other guys on the ice playing in front of him. The Wild’s defense was blocking some of the shots from the Blues offensive attack but in order to really gut out the shots, the forward group really should have stepped up in that category.
Of course like anything in life, when there is failure, there is an opportunity to learn about what went wrong and then where the proper fixes need to happen.
For the Wild, the have the pleasure of having to had played such a great team like the Blues in the first round and I’m sure the video coaches have been hard at work with cutting film in preparation for the next season.
The task is to improve on what went wrong and hopefully straighten the pack out in order to make another strong run again.
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All Stats found at NHL.com