The Minnesota Wild’s season ended much sooner than anyone wanted or expected after falling in Game 6 to the St. Loius Blues. A number of things went wrong for the team throughout the series. After losing Game 1, they seemed to get their act together for Games 2 and 3. However, it would be short-lived as they lost Games 4, 5, and 6. Games 1 and 6 were by far the worst performances of the series.
It wasn’t all bad. Kirill Kaprizov somehow found another level within his game and set more records. He had seven goals and a single assist for eight points in six games. The goaltending was up and down throughout the series but was never the reason for any of the losses. Both Marc-André Fleury and Cam Talbot may have let in a couple of “soft” goals, but the puck shouldn’t have made it through the defense either. While the goaltenders weren’t disappointing, there were a number of players that were. Had they stepped up, the series could have had a different outcome.
Wild’s Fiala Falls Short
This one is pretty obvious and was talked about throughout the whole series. Kevin Fiala had a season of career-highs but seemed to stop in its tracks when the postseason hit. If it were his rookie year, it would be a little easier to understand because it can be challenging for rookies to adjust to that next level during the postseason. However, it was his sixth time in the playoffs and his third straight for the Wild.
Last season, when the Wild took on the Vegas Golden Knights, Fiala also struggled. In seven games he had just one goal and one assist. The season before that was better, as he had four points in four games. This postseason, besides having hardly any points, he also recorded the most penalty minutes of any player on the Wild. His was by far the biggest shock and disappointing performance of the playoffs. If the Wild hang on to him for next season, he has to find a way to score more points so he can help them advance farther and have more success.
Wild’s Foligno Struggled
Marcus Foligno didn’t exactly have a bad playoff run, but it wasn’t a great one either. He was outstanding in the hit department, but being physical doesn’t always result in goals, and it didn’t for Foligno. He did have two assists, but he also had only four shots on the net. He was physical in nearly every game but hits was the only stat he had high numbers in.
His hits had the opportunity to change the momentum of games. When it came to this postseason, none of that seemed to work. He also only had two blocked shots through the entire series, something that every member of the Wild could have improved on. For some reason, Foligno was not able to motivate his teammates. It definitely affected the team’s performance in the end. He can be a game-changer, but it didn’t work out in this playoff series.
Wild’s Captain Spurgeon
Jared Spurgeon’s performance in this postseason was another up and down. He tallied three assists, nine shots on goal, and four penalty minutes. He was also close to being suspended after Game 1 of the series when he cross-checked Pavel Buchnevich across the ankles deliberately. Thankfully, Buchnevich was not injured. It was a very surprising act of anger from Spurgeon who was a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy last season and had a strong chance to be a finalist once again before this act.
He typically is a very “gentlemanly” player and almost fits the exact definition of that award. The highest number of penalty minutes he’s ever accrued in a single season was 20. However, this postseason he tied his career-high of four minutes. Despite the three points he had, he struggled to show his disciplined side. It’s easy to understand being frustrated, but as the captain, he has to be a step above that. However, since this is something he’s rarely ever done, he got off easy from the NHL with his good reputation.
While he had points, he had trouble playing consistently like some of his teammates. He would have spurts of good play and then nothing. As captain, he needed to show consistent play that included defense as well. He tied for his lowest blocked shot total out of the last nine playoffs he’s participated in. He did okay, but he and the whole team needed to be better.
Wild Didn’t Make It
The main reason the Wild were unable to make it past the St. Louis Blues was inconsistency from nearly the entire lineup. They couldn’t find that extra step and raise their game to the next level that always comes out during the playoffs. They seemed to forget how to stay calm and play their game, and the Blues figured that out. As stated before, they did have some great performances along the way but not enough to secure the deal.
However, there is some good news in the fact that this team is fairly young and will continue to get better as the seasons go on despite having some tight salary cap issues with the buyouts of former players Zach Parise and Ryan Suter giving some of it’s biggest payouts in the next couple of seasons. They have a bright future and next year will hopefully be even more fun than this season.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.