Why Don't The Wild Perform Better When It Matters Most?
I wanted to give this some time to settle before addressing the latest Wild early playoff exit.
We dissected much of the issues along the way through the first round loss to Dallas, but how about some other fundamental details that are lacking.
We have heard for years the Wild don't win in the playoff because they lack a top end scoring talent. That can't be the issue now.
We have heard they cannot win without great goaltending. Well somehow other teams advance with subpar, or what appears to be, goaltending. (i.e. Seattle).
The Wild can't win because they are not fast enough or tough enough. That is not the issue either.
Then the new one this year is the Wild had some bad luck with injuries at the wrong time. Joel Eriksson Ek missed essentially the entire series with what was a fractured leg. Carolina is crusing without Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, and Max Paccioretti, so that argument starts to lose traction as well.
So what do these teams have that the Wild do not have?
I am not sure but in Seattle and Carolina's cases the coaching staffs must be given tremendous credit. Dallas is a far superior team with Peter DeBoer at the helm, and Florida is much better suited for this season's playoffs with Paul Maurice behind the bench.
This is not to discount Dean Evason and his staff by any stretch as I like what he brings to the Wild throughout the 82 game season. I do think that he needs to use his timeout at least every now and then, but overall he has a great handle on his team.
That said thought his playoff record is attrocious and once the team gets down they are all but cooked, in each of the four seasons Evason has been behind the Wild bench.
It, os easy to point fingers, but the results do not lie, and at the end of the day it is all about getting the job done.
Look at Toronto, they have an All-Star cast, but are on the ropes once again. Yes they finally got past the first round after 19 years, but if they cannot make history by coming back from 3-0 down, they will face another off season of questions, much like the Wild are facing.
The salary cap issues are another factor for the Wild, but the plan was to move forward without the two long time Wild players and eat their money in the process. Well the elimination of the players is only part of the equation. Guerin had to sell ownership, meaning, Craig Leipold, on the plan that was to follow.
Here we are two years into the four year plan and yes the Wild have competed well in the regular season. The playoffs have remained the same.
So this Summer sees the Wild in a worse cap situation than last season and some holes to fill. This is where Guerin's plan has to take shape. I know that for now Evason is safe, but he is not Guerin's guy.
Bill Guerin will be making a coaching hire in Iowa, and is that a guy that will be the heir apparent for the big club? Time will tell, but we do know this, it will be Bill's guy that gets that gig.