Something Needs to Change in Minny
By Patrick Hoffman
The Minnesota Wild are one of the NHL's most consistent teams.
The good thing about that is they seem to make the playoffs every season, they play extremely well at home, they do a good enough job in one of the league's best divisions, and they have one of the most passionate fan bases in all of hockey. All good things.
On the other hand, being consistent as also hurt them. This is a team that despite making the playoffs year in and year out, they always end up getting knocked out in either the first or second round in short order.
This season, they took on one of the league's best in the Winnipeg Jets and the Jets smoked them in five games. The Wild were completely outclassed by the Jets and for this franchise, it is just another disappointment at the most important time of the year, something that is becoming a theme for this team.
Something clearly needs to change in order for this team to take the next step. They have been to the Western Conference Finals just once since the 2002-03 season, which means they have not come close to tasting the Cup.
One thing that needs to change is the Wild's ability to show up in big games. Game 5 of their series against the Jets is a good example of this.
In this game, the Jets scored 31 seconds into the first period and from that point on, they never looked back. The Wild were not able to recover and they simply let the Jets feed off their crowd's energy and win the tilt by a score of 5-0.
This cannot happen in a playoff game. The Wild had their backs against the wall and did nothing to change their situation and got knocked out in the first round for the second straight season.
Another thing that the Wild should consider taking a look at his their head coach Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau gets his teams to have terrific regular seasons, but come playoff time, they always seem to fizzle out and they never get to the promised land.
Boudreau had this history with the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, and now the Wild. This is not anything new so Boudreau and his coaching staff need to figure out a way to get their players to go wire to wire.
Obviously, the last thing that needs to change is that the organization needs to find the right general manager to get this team over the hump in the postseason. This means finding a guy who will make the right moves and get the right players who can make it happen.
The new GM needs to stop giving out large contracts to aging players. Guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, though both solid contributors to this team, are getting older and are not as good as they used to be.
This new GM also needs to find a game breaker. While it's great that Eric Staal had an awesome this year, he should not be the team's go to guy to putting up points.
If this franchise wants to take the next step, something ultimately needs to change. It will be up to the higher ups and the head coach to figure out what it is.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.