In the NHL last night Marian Hossa scored twice to back a strong effort by goalie Corey Crawford, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 to win their first-round playoff series 4-1. Chicago is moving on in the postseason for the first time since the championship run in 2010, and will face either San Jose or Detroit if the Red Wings get past Anaheim.
Of course the loss means the Wild are eliminated, so the reflection and assessment period of the season has begun. The Wild made such a huge splash last offseason with the simultaneous signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and midway through the year seemed to be one of the hottest teams in hockey. Sadly, the end of the regular season was a dud, and the postseason also went poorly.
In the series against the Blackhawks the Wild were short-handed for several games without winger Jason Pominville, who was added late in the year in hopes of making a run. The team also missed goalie Nicklaus Backstrom for the whole series after he was injured in pregame warmups before game one and never played a minute in the series. Reserve goalie Josh Harding also missed time in the fourth game of the Blackhawks series, which meant Minnesota was even down to their third string goalie, Darcy Kuemper for a few periods. Don’t forget the Wild were also without Dany Heatley, who was lost to season-ending left shoulder surgery late in the season.
The biggest question surrounding the team’s immediate future appears to be the status of head coach Mike Yeo. After last night’s loss Yeo said he couldn’t comment on his future with the team. Only time will tell on that one. The long offseason has begun for the Wild.