The Minnesota Wild were playing with their season on the line in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars down 3-2 in the series. They were at home and the crowd was loud and proud from the very start despite the Wild giving up an early goal in the first period. The second period followed the same pattern; however, the Wild appeared to change the momentum in their favor until some mistakes allowed the Stars to add two more goals.
The Wild went into the third down 3-0 and were looking to have a miracle comeback. They did start to rebound late in the third with a goal by Frédérick Gaudreau that caused the Xcel Energy Center to erupt in cheers. They had all the chances in the third and peppered Jake Oettinger, but couldn’t get any more goals to go in. The Stars found the empty net and stuck the sword in for the final time to take the win 4-1 and the series 4-2.
Wild’s Lack of Effort
It appeared everyone in the arena knew this was an elimination game except the Wild. The severe lack of effort from nearly the entire roster in a game that required every ounce of desperation, aggressiveness, and energy they had was disappointing, to say the least. They needed to score the first goal of the game, but they didn’t. They needed to tie it up, but they didn’t. Finally, when they scored and had all the momentum, they couldn’t complete the comeback and their season was over.
They played like a team that was in the second half of a back-to-back and not a team that just had two days off and should’ve been on another level energy-wise, ready to win the game no matter what. They weren’t winning races to the puck, they struggled in board battles, and they committed lazy passes, all things that won’t win games.
Wild Blew Chances
By the time the Wild found the back of the net, they only had six minutes left in regulation against a very strong defensive team. However, the entire game was a repeat of blown chances, even with a direct open net in front of them. The Wild’s lack of shots wasn’t the only thing that went against them, their lack of net presence and forcing their way to Oettinger led to their early exit.
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They didn’t do themselves any favors when they had two chances on the power play to not only tie the game once but twice in the first period. Those two power plays were the only opportunities they had as the Stars played smart hockey and stayed out of the penalty box. The Wild did the same with just two penalties and their penalty kill was 100 percent for just the second time in six games.
The Wild couldn’t convert on any faceoffs either and those are some of the most crucial moments in a game. If they could’ve won more faceoffs at critical moments, the game could’ve ended very differently and they could’ve been heading to Dallas for Game 7.
Wild’s Faber & Gaudreau Shine
One of the few players who continuously created chances and gave 100 percent the entire game was their rookie defenseman, Brock Faber. He did everything he could defensively to give his team hope and even jumped up offensively to try to get his team back in it.
Faber’s efforts plus the goal by Gaudreau were the two bright spots in an otherwise very dismal game on the Wild’s side of things. Gaudreau was also one of the few players alongside Faber who gave a strong effort in all six games. He knew what had to be done to get past Oettinger and he did it, unfortunately just not soon enough. If he had been able to score two periods earlier, this likely would’ve had a very different outcome.
It’s clear the Wild have a lot to work on in the offseason and they have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to their roster. Decisions about their goaltending, Matt Dumba’s future, and a number of other players have contracts expiring that need to be addressed. They also have to figure out a new game plan when it comes to next season — they have to give a full effort from Game 1 all the way through Game 82.
Hopefully, they’ll be able to fix all of the issues that caused them to be eliminated in the first round this season, and by this time next season, they’ll be moving on to the second round for the first time in over eight seasons. This season may be over but the Wild have a very bright future ahead of them with all of their depth, talent, and youth. They’re going to be a very fun team to watch and I for one can’t wait to see what happens.