Minnesota Wild Playoffs Post-Mortem

The Minnesota Wild managed to close out the 2017-18 regular season with a home record of 27-6-8. They were one of 11 teams to win at least 27 games at home. Two teams in the NHL managed to eclipse the 30-win mark, one of those was the Winnipeg Jets, who had the most home wins of the regular season with a grand total of 32.

It was known coming into the first round that Minnesota would have had to play near-flawless hockey at home if they had any chance to win the series and carry on into the second round. However, almost nothing went the way the Wild had hoped it would.

Zach Parise Injured (Again)

Zach Parise was diagnosed with a fractured sternum and would have missed the next four to six weeks of the postseason. The injury could have happened in Winnipeg, but it just happened to occur in St. Paul, Minnesota. Was this thanks to the hockey gods or simply a reminder of what had transpired all season with injuries? One could only laugh at the news in disbelief.

The Wild had been embarrassed on the road, then proceeded to dominate when the team returned to home ice, only to have all their hopes and dreams come crashing down when the teams’ heart and soul became officially out for the remainder of the postseason. Parise has simply become the Sam Bradford of hockey and with his long contract, it doesn’t bode well for Wild fans.

Zach Parise Wild
Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)

Parise was on a scoring rampage to help guide his team to a postseason berth. He scored 12 goals in his last 20 games to close out the regular season. He was the scoring boost that Minnesota had desperately needed. He was also the most productive member of the Wild in their first three games of their playoff series before elimination, one of the few players who knows how to elevate his game during the playoffs. Parise finished with three goals in the postseason which was a team-high, while his teammates had combined for six goals total.

Related: Wild’s Zach Parise Is on Fire

Blind Officials

Bruce Boudreau
Bruce Boudreau (Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)

It’s difficult enough to win a playoff series in the NHL without bad officiating. Not only did the Wild have to deal with an extremely talented team in Winnipeg, but missed calls were perhaps an even bigger story. One of the worst missed calls in Wild history came during a critical moment in Game 4, when the Jets’ Josh Morrissey performed a vicious cross-check on Eric Staal. The referees simply didn’t call the play.

The lack of a call may or may not have decided the series, which makes it truly upsetting for Minnesota fans, especially now that the Wild have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. The situation was slightly rectified with Morrissey being suspended for a single game. The play can be seen here in case anyone missed it.

“My take is the same take as everybody in the building that saw it,” said Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau. “The refs looked at it and they decided not to call it because we were already on the power play. Cost us the game.” Certainly, these are toned down words so as to not warrant a fine from the NHL.

Blizzard Was Wild’s Best Advantage

Music festival season and warm weather are blossoming across the country, but Minnesota was still getting severe snow storms in mid-April. In fact, the blizzard left the Jets stranded in Duluth, Minnesota before they decided to head back to Winnipeg and catch a flight to the Twin Cities the next day.

The team arrived in the Twin Cities just hours before Game 3 began. Oddly enough, Minnesota destroyed the Jets with a 6-2 victory. The Wild in the postseason were outscored 14-3 in the four other games combined against the Jets. In Game 3, the Jets looked sluggish and seemed a completely different team than normal. Traveling is a very tiring experience so it isn’t unreasonable to think that influenced the Jets play in Game 3. It seemed that the blizzard benefited the Wild because without it the Wild couldn’t score a goal at home. It was sure nice to see that snow in April benefited somebody in Minnesota.