Heading into the 2020-21 season, not much was expected from the Minnesota Wild, a team who had been extremely mediocre for a number of years. That narrative on them quickly changed this year, as it was clear they had improved in a number of areas and were not a team to take lightly.
The biggest addition to the Wild this year was Kirill Kaprizov. The Russian phenom, who was drafted by the team in 2015, came in with some big expectations given his success in the KHL, and he more than lived up to it with a team leading 51 points in 55 games. They also had great goaltending from Cam Talbot, and solid seasons from guys like Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello that helped them finish third in the West Division. Unfortunately, that meant a first-round matchup versus the Vegas Golden Knights, who ultimately went on to win the series in seven games. Here are the three main reasons why the Wild failed to advance.
3. Lack of Stars
As mentioned above, the Wild were a terrific team this season and proved many people wrong. With that being said, however, almost nobody gave them a chance in this series versus the Golden Knights. The reasoning simply being that the latter had a far more talented roster.
While some of their top players like Jonathan Marchessault as well as Shea Theodore on the back end didn’t have particularly great series, the Golden Knights are so deep that it ultimately didn’t matter. They were also able to add Max Pacioretty back into the lineup for Game 7, a player who is one of the more underrated goal scorers in the entire NHL. The Wild appear to be on the rise thanks in big part to Kaprizov, but they still have some work to do before they have talent comparable with a team like the Golden Knights.
2. Questionable Lineup Decisions
Head coach Dean Evason did a great job in his first full season with the Wild, but made some odd choices with his lineup in the postseason, the main being healthy scratching Zach Parise. While the 36-year-old did struggle at times in the regular season, he has over 100 playoff games in his career and brings plenty of experience which is always extremely valuable.
It wasn’t as if Parise was just held out for one game in the playoffs either. In fact, had Marcus Johansson not been injured, he may have not played at all considering he was a scratch for the first three games of the series. He quickly proved he should have been playing from the get go as he was one the Wilds better forwards during the final four games of the series, and his three points was tied for the team lead.
1. Limited Offence
As mentioned above, Parise’s three points was tied for the team lead. Given that his team played seven games, that simply isn’t acceptable. They managed to score just 13 goals in the seven game series, and didn’t seem to have any answers for Marc-Andre Fleury’s goaltending.
Outside of Parise, no one up front had a very good series for the Wild. Kaprizov managed to score just two goals and added one assist, while Fiala managed just a single goal and assist. Given that this series went to seven games, they very likely could have advanced if those two would have performed like they were able to in the regular season.
Despite the disappointing playoff exit, the Wild surprised many this season. Heading into the year, it looked like they may be in the start of a rebuilding phase, however thanks to the great play of Kaprizov as well as some fantastic pickups from general manager Bill Guerin, this is now a team that will have some high expectations heading into the 2021-22 campaign. If they are able to land a number one centerman this offseason, look out.
/ 2 hours ago
The Edmonton Oilers beat the Anaheim Ducks 8-2. Connor McDavid had five points and...
/ 9 hours ago
Sportsnet's Friedman hints at potential moves after the Maple Leafs get clarity on John...
/ 10 hours ago
A small fine after Jacob Trouba's controversial high stick on Boston Bruins forward Trent...
/ 15 hours ago
The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils have made a minor trade. Arnaud...
/ 1 day ago
With the Florida Panthers clearing some money off their books via waivers, did they...
/ 2 days ago
Yesterday afternoon, the Toronto Maple Leafs the Chicago Blackhawks came back to win the...
/ 2 days ago
The more news that comes out about Patrick Kane, the more rumors suggest he's...
/ 2 days ago
If the Edmonton Oilers consider a trade of their first-round pick, they're going to...
/ 2 days ago
Winnipeg Jets' coach Rick Bowness resumes coaching duties after taking a month-long leave to...
/ 3 days ago
The Arizona Coyotes are said to be early trade deadline buyers, already making calls...