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  • Wilderness Walk: Updates From Exit Interviews

    Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
    Thomas Williams

    Your daily dose of Wild news, along with other interesting stories from around the NHL.

    The Minnesota Wild players were made available to the media on Monday to conduct the last interviews of the season after being eliminated in the first round. There is no reason to really dance around the topics that were mentioned so we might as well get right to it.

    It started with the annual Players Were Actually Hurt Really Bad ceremony as Ryan Hartman, Matt Dumba, and Joel Eriksson Ek disclosed their injuries. For Hartman he was playing through it, Eriksson Ek tried to but eventually had to get surgery for his broken fibula, and Dumba suffered a concussion in the very last period of Game 6.

    One guy that we were worried about being injured during the series was Kirill Kaprizov. He said he was fine but maybe it was just the month away from the ice as the reason why he didn't really appear like his typical self in the first-round series.


    Matt Boldy joined Kaprizov in underperforming star talk and recognized that he let the team down a little bit. But again, he is still so young that he will be moving forward with lessons learned.

    Speaking of age, Ryan Reaves is a pending unrestricted free agent and he would love to re-sign in Minnesota, but wants security more than anything right now, for his family.

    Brock Faber is on the opposite end of the NHL career spectrum from Reaves and his role on the Wild next season is not 100% secure. So he knows he will have to work hard to rise to the occasion.

    Another player whose role is uncertain is Marc-Andre Fleury. He lost his starting position and might play even less next season, but with one year left on his contract, he's not going anywhere.

    And that was basically it! A whole lot of "would love to come back here" from pending unrestricted free agents and younger players knowing they need to play better.

    That's Wild

    • For more detail on the exit interviews: The Wild were left to ponder the what-ifs. [StarTribune]
    • Matt Dumba has been an integral part to this team for so long and he might be leaving this summer. He has built a legacy of community care and on-ice passion that will be nearly impossible to replace. [Pioneer Press]

    Off the trail...

    • Five reasons why the historic Boston Bruins flopped out of the first round. [ESPN]
    • The Calgary Flames fired head coach Darryl Sutter and star Jonathan Huberdeau disclosed that he didn't really "click" with the hard-nosed bench boss. [Yahoo Sports]

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    I know we're disappointed, but let's look around at other 1st round exits:

    1. Boston's historic regular season snuffed out by Panthers. This is likely the #1 choke job in NHL playoff history. They had several games to knock out the Panthers but couldn't get it done. Injuries to Bergeron and Krejci are likely the culprits. Once again center depth costs a team!
    2. The Avs go down to the Kraken in defense of their Stanley Cup title. Was it injuries to the Avs, or was it attrition in the last offseason? Outside of MacKinnon, was there enough center depth? Probably not. Kraken also have large bodied defenders built for a playoff series. They were not going to be an easy out. All they needed was a goalie to get hot, and having an X-Avs goalie probably helped them.
    3. NYR made a couple of significant TDL deals, obtaining Tarasenko and Kane. Their season went down in disappointment as many thought they were the favorites coming out of their division. NYI got a tough matchup. Usually their stifling defensive play would get them through, but they ran into a Carolina team that is better and plays a similar style. Their old legs just couldn't keep up.
    4. Fiala finally returned for the Kings and in 3 games put up 1g, 5a. I'd say he showed up, but LA couldn't overcome the McDavid affect. They need some help on the back end and in goal. I wouldn't be surprised to see Dumba end up here.
    5. Jets lose in 5, nothing really to see here. 
    6. Toronto remade their defense at the TDL, and I include Wild superstar Ryan O'Reilly as part of that solution. Finally throwing off their curse, they move on. TBL just couldn't keep it going as Vasalevskiy showed he was human. 

    So, does our 6 game series loss look all that bad? We need to face our facts. We were a very good team at winning the games we were supposed to win. We were also a good team in winning games against the middle tiered teams, at least picking up a loser point there. We held our own at times against the upper tiered teams. This is who we've been for the last 3 seasons. Placeholders overperforming in the regular season but not having enough of a top gear to get us through a playoff series. We have been entertained while the cavalry is still assembling under Shooter's watch. 

    We have 2 top line forwards and a 2nd line center. The rest are bottom 6 players on teams that will go deep in the playoffs. The Wild are 1 top line down from other successful teams. Our defense is mobile and good defensively but can get pushed around. Our goaltending took a dramatic twist but came out well. Without puck and injury luck, this team is a 1st round exit team, and our expectations shouldn't have been more than that.

    I must admit, though, seeing NYR, Boston, and Colorado go down in the 1st round was very satisfying! And, with all the Rangers did at the deadline, how about putting up a 0 in game 7? This stuff happens to other franchises too. On paper, I would have to conclude that NYR was superior offensively to the Wild. And they were going against a 3rd string goalie who was hot.

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    Hard to believe Dallas got 4 goals from Pavelski, but still lost in OT.

    Grubauer had a few strong moments in OT.

    Dallas D looked a bit lost on the final scoring play.

    Stars could be in for a long series, but I'd expect them to win game 2.

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