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Looking ahead for the Wild: How to get past the first round next year

Eric Staal had a renaissance season in 2017-18, scoring 42 goals. But ultimately, the Wild still couldn't get out of the first round of the playoffs. Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2017-18, along with three keys to its offseason and a way-too-early prediction for what 2018-19 will hold.


What went wrong

The Minnesota Wild were able to stay afloat despite a flurry of injuries in the regular season. When the injury bug hit in the playoffs, however, it was too much to overcome.

Losing Ryan Suter (second on the team with 45 assists, second in the league by averaging 26:46 minutes per game) before the first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets was damning. Having Zach Parise sidelined after Game 3 with a fractured sternum was just brutal.

This team must be cursed, right? Remember, it was the second playoffs in three years that Parise has missed time to injury. Also, injuries clearly lingered into the playoffs for Nino Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon.

Devan Dubnyk provided an underrated performance all season, and the Wild welcomed breakout performances from players such as defenseman Matt Dumba and winger Jason Zucker. Eric Staal's renaissance almost catapulted the 33-year-old into the crowded MVP discussion. The Wild were a fast and at times explosive team to watch.

However, depth scoring was a concern all season, and the power play never realized its full potential. Really, we might just need to figure out how to shake the playoff demons from Bruce Boudreau, who has a terrific regular-season record but has now been ousted six times in the first round in his 10 postseason appearances.