The Minnesota Wild were dismantled by the Chicago Blackhawks last night, and Niklas Backstrom put on another rather vile performance in net. The goaltender is now 1-1-2 on the year, has a GAA that’s about 1 goal higher than it should be at 3.42, and his .871 save percentage puts him in competition with Devan Dubnyk as the goalie who gives his team the smallest chance to win on a nightly basis.
Minnesota has been pieced together to compete for a Stanley Cup. No one in the room felt that barely squeezing into the postseason on the final day of the regular season was good enough in 2012-13. Taking a quick glance at the team’s payroll, it’s easy to see why.
The Wild have solidified this lineup the way that it should be done in the cap era. They’ve drafted strong players and fortified those selections via the free agent market. On paper, Minnesota has one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL. And things will only continue to improve up front as Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle put the pieces together.
Zach Parise has been good, and Ryan Suter will have a Norris Trophy within a few seasons.
If you’re looking for a reason why this team is struggling to remain competitive instead of fighting for the top spot in the division, look no further than the net. Backstrom is holding the Wild back at this point, and Minnesota needs steady goaltending before they can be taken seriously as Cup contenders.
It may seen knee-jerkish to call for Backstrom’s head already, but it isn’t like the guy hasn’t had his chances. He’s injury prone, and when he is in goal the Wild don’t seem capable of holding off a team like Chicago. Did they take one game of the recent home-and-home series against the ‘Hawks? Yeah, but Chicago stormed back and showed how difficult it will be to knock them off in a seven-game series.
Is Minnesota wants to host a Stanley Cup Final game any time soon, they need to upgrade in net. Easier said than done, but it is what it is.