The rally cry during the brief postseason run for the Wild was "Fight to the End". The Blackhawks used the same four words, just in a different order Thursday night in Game Five as the put an "End to the Fight". Chicago did exactly what the top team in the NHL should do, they closed the door in their 5-1 win over the punch less Wild.
Although the Wild played tough defensively, and picked up as much from their goaltending as they possibly could after Niklas Backstrom injured himself in warm ups of game one, it was their offense and lack of finishing prowess that proved to be the biggest reason for the early exit.
Their top line of captain Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle accounted for just one goal and a total of three points the entire season and the trio was a combined -19 in the series. The offensive disappearance and inability to finish was obvious. Chicago outscored the Wild 17-7 in the series and the seven goals were scored by seven different players. It was a continuation from the regular season.
In April and May, the Wild scored just 33 goals in 19 games finishing with a 6-12-1 record as the team drove towards the playoffs, then held on to enter them for the first time in five years. In 14 of those 19 games, the Wild scored two goals or less. Koivu scored only two goals and had a total of four points in 19 games.
Not exactly the leadership the team was looking for from its captain.
Back to the series against the Blackhawks, the difference between a good team and a great team was on display in this series. Chicago's only player in the negative in the plus/minus was Nick Leddy. The former Eden Prairie star and Wild draft pick that was traded to Chicago for a bucket of pucks last year finished the series -1. Everyone else was even or above.
The Wild finished the series 0-for-17 on the power play and with each passing man advantage looked increasingly more uncomfortable. The squad finished with 29 shots in their 17 power plays. That friends, is less than two shots per power play.
After owner Craig Leipold opened his wallet last summer and signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to mega-contracts, he was probably looking for a little more for his investment. With several key pieces back next season, there will be changes. There had to be. Notable free-agents Matt Cullen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Niklas Backstrom would clear nearly 13 million dollars in cap space and with a crop of youngsters waiting in the wings, it is possible that all three may not be on the roster when the team assembles for camp in the fall.