The Minnesota Wild is not a good offensive team. This is not a systems issue. This is a lack of overall skill level (comparable to other, more offensively gifted teams) which translates into trouble finishing, which translates into lack of goals-scored.
So, when they do manage to put a few behind a goalie, they absolutely must be able to parlay that outburst into a win.
Usually, they do this - which is going to make the next sentence seem trite.
Wednesday night they failed. Miserably.
This team is demonstrating a frustrating inability to hold a lead, or really even play with the lead. They have never really had a killer instinct, so, while it would be nice to have now, it can't be all that surprising that they don't. But this trend of late has been particularly vexing since they have been choking up these leads and games to teams that are coming into the X fairly banged up. Simply, the Wild is not better than any other team in the league by a wide enough margin to "play down" to their opponent on any given night - yet that is exactly what they've been doing.
And now, they've managed to piss away three games on this 7-of-8 at home stretch (the final game of which is today against Tampa Bay). True, they still have a healthy three games in hand on the Canucks and Flames (both of which they currently trail in the NW), but that doesn't mean losses against the Blues last week and the Stars on Wednesday are any less costly.
It seems like the Wild has a stretch like this every season. Where their fervent belief in/zeal for Lemaireian hockey yields to the reality that they really have a very small margin for error and they flop around for a few games trying to get back to stasis.
But, while history may contextualize it, this was a crucial stretch of games considering how March looms in the windshield like a tornado churning right towards you.
Chicken Little says: This was a dejecting loss for fans. Aberration? Maybe. But it better not take us long to find out.
Pollyanna says: But for a couple bad breaks the Wild win this one going away...or do they?
Bottom line: The bottom line is that they walked away with zero points from a game in which they lead 3-1 with 2:20 left in the second period.
Stud: Begrudgingly, because I don't really want to say anyone was a stud, I'm going to say Belanger. He has really replaced Walz in terms of on-ice contributions.
Dud: This Butch nonsense has to stop. I don't care who you miss. Figure out a way to start contributing or lets figure out a way to get a player in place of you who can.