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Wild postgame: A 13-game ride, the sudden end, and the emptiness

Posted by: Michael Rand under Wild coaching Updated: May 14, 2014 - 12:16 AM

Nino Niederreiter and Mikko Koivu used the same word to describe the feeling after Patrick Kane took advantage of a bounce to knock the Wild out of the playoffs:

Empty.

At a certain point, the Wild will reflect on the growth, the moments and the sheer fun of these 13 playoff games -- which surpassed in accomplishment and entertainment value what many of us predicted or expected going in.

But Tuesday night was not that time. Players and head coach Mike Yeo were stunned by the finish -- in a mood to lightly accept any compliments about the future but primarily focused on the stinging of the present.

"I didn't see that happening," Yeo said. "I felt like this was a game we were going to win."

It hurt because of the fluky nature of the goal. It hurt because Minnesota had plenty of chances to cash in a victory before that bad bounce sealed its fate. And it hurt because if it had gone to a Game 7, it was anyone's series. And that really meant it was anyone's Stanley Cup because if Minnesota could beat Chicago, it could beat anyone in these playoffs.

"We believe we were capable of doing more than just winning this game tonight," Yeo said.

The funny thing is, he made believers of us as well. Maybe these 13 games are as well as the Wild can play, and it will be an uphill battle to go any further in the playoffs in years to come. It just doesn't feel that way right now, not with how well young players performed in this postseason.

We did not think the Wild had this caliber of hockey in it when the playoffs started. We did not imagine Xcel Energy Center could be so loud and provide such an edge. Both things were impressive to watch. There will be pieces to add, questions to answer, but the foundation is there.

A lot of that is future talk, though. The present, again, is strange. There's no Game 7 on Thursday. Empty is as good a word as any to describe that. 

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