2023 team report cards: Wild fall in first round yet again
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Minnesota Wild have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round.
Minnesota led in the series on two occasions: after winning Game 1 and after winning Game 3. Three straight losses, however, ended this group’s season. In the final two games of the series, they lost by a combined score of 8-1.
With the first-round exit, the Wild have now dropped eight playoff series in a row. The last time that the Wild won a series was in 2015.
How should the Wild’s season be viewed?
At times in the regular season, Minnesota looked like a true contender in the Western Conference, but for the most part, they looked like the third-place team in the Central Division, which they were.
The middle of the pack feels appropriate for the Wild as they seem to be retooling on the fly in some ways. There are plenty of veterans on this team, but moving forward, this seems to be a group that will be led by its young stars.
While that is exciting for the Wild as they look ahead, you can’t help but feel like they’ve failed to become legitimate contenders over the course of the last decade.
It’s probably unfair to not separate the old core from the young core when talking about this team’s success or lack thereof, but every year this is a team that feels like it’s close to winning, yet every year, it doesn’t even come close.
Barring a Presidents’ Trophy or something exceptional, regular season success is basically irrelevant given that reaching the playoffs is an expectation in Minnesota. This team has to start winning in the playoffs, and it’s hoping that players like Kirill Kaprizov and Filip Gustavsson will help lead the way.
Overall, the Wild went 46-25-11 (103 points), only to lose in the opening round, four games to two.
If you judge this season based on the way the Wild have positioned themselves going forward, it would probably receive a favorable grade. However, if you look at it as the latest in a long line of premature postseason exits, it’s another disappointing campaign.