After getting kicked out of the playoffs in round one by the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild fans still have to be happy with their team’s play during the regular season.
The Wild lost their first-round series in five games, 4-1 after the best season Minnesota Wild fans have seen in the franchise’s young history. It was disappointing to see the Wild get kicked out of the playoffs as early as they did, but there’s a lot that went well for Minnesota in their record-breaking season. In the 82 games played during the regular season, the Wild were able to win 49 games and accumulate 106 points, both of which broke previous regular season franchise records.
Without a doubt, Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has shown his ability to lead teams to extremely impressive regular season records and he did it once again with Minnesota. They finished the season with a 49-25-8 record, and fans saw a much different style of play from Boudreau’s team, than other teams of the past that have been more defensive minded. The Wild led the entire Western Conference with a +58 point differential, second only to the Presidents’ Trophy winner for best record in the NHL, the Washington Capitals.
In a season where fans saw a major uptick in offensive performance from the team as a whole, they also saw the immergence of the young talent that floods Minnesota’s roster. Forwards like Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker all made huge improvements in their point totals and had career seasons. Granlund led the team in points for the first time in his career with 69. He scored 26 goals with 43 assists in 81 games played and a plus/minus rating of 23, according to nhl.com. Second only in scoring to Eric Staal, who scored 28 goals and 37 assists and saw his career reemerge.
Right behind Granlund in goals scored is Niederreiter with 25 goals and 32 assists and Zucker with 22 goals and 25 assists. If you include the newly acquired Martin Hanzal who scored 16 goals with the Phoenix Coyotes and four with the Wild, than five players for Minnesota’s roster scored 20 or more times during the regular season. The team seems to be in good hands with the abundance of young talent not only with its skaters, but its goaltending as well.
Devan Dubnyk played outstanding for the majority of the season. With him between the pipes, the Wild won 40 of the 63 games in which he started and he finished the season with a 2.25 goals against average. Minnesota has all the tools and the players to be a top team in the league for the foreseeable future, but decisions will have to be made and there is always room for improvement. The questions still to be answered are ones like, what do the Wild plan on doing with Jason Pominville and his lack of production? And who does Minnesota lock up once the expansion draft comes knocking?
Even after getting knocked out of the playoffs much earlier than Wild fans might have hoped, there is a lot of positives to take away from this season. As the playoffs continue and the off-season creeps closer, Minnesota will have some tough decisions to make if they want to continue improving and get past the first round of the playoffs. Until then, fans will have to be patient and keep a close eye on the Wild as they try to improve the roster.