What went wrong for the Wild
Shorthanded lineup A season-ending injury to defenseman Matt Dumba in mid-December was a devastating blow. At the time that he suffered a torn pectoral muscle, Dumba was a dynamic force — leading NHL defensemen in goals with 12 while skating as one of the team’s go-to defenders. Losing captain Mikko Koivu to a torn ACL and meniscus in early February only made the Wild more vulnerable.
Goal shortage Dumba’s absence exacerbated the Wild’s offensive struggles, as the team’s poor execution derailed its late-season push for a playoff spot. In 49 games without Dumba (not including Saturday’s finale), the Wild scored just 110 goals — the second-lowest output in the NHL. In the 13 matchups leading up to Game No. 82, it tallied more than two goals only three times and was shut out four times. Overall, the team ranked 27th in goals (210) and goals-per-game average (2.59).
Home-ice woes Just a year after it was one of the most proficient teams at home, the Wild finished among the worst at 16-18-7. The 39 points it earned at Xcel Energy Center were the fewest in franchise history for a full-length season. Losing records on two key second-half homestands (0-3-1 and 1-3-1) were the eyesores.
Missed opportunities The Wild had many of its signature wins against the league’s elite, but it slumped against the bottom feeders. It was 0-2 vs. Philadelphia, 1-2 vs. Anaheim and 0-1-1 vs. Buffalo. Once the schedule flipped to 2019, the Wild missed out on 20 points from losses to teams below it in the standings.
Early deficits While the Wild was resilient at the start of the season, continually playing catch-up eventually took its toll. The team surrendered the opening goal 52 times before Game No. 82, going 17-29-6 in those contests.