Anecdotes are a visceral storytelling method. They evoke thoughts and images, standing as mental placeholders for how a bigger picture unfolded.

For the Wild in the playoffs this season, there was not a more powerful example than a sequence early in Game 6 against Dallas. Ryan Hartman was inches away from scoring before former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter arrived to derail him. Other offensive players who might have jabbed in a loose puck, including Kirill Kaprizov, arrived a split-second late. The puck stayed out, and almost immediately the Stars scored.

“We grind our way to the playoffs and can't get out of the first round again. Broken record”
Marcus Foligno

Not quite good enough when it mattered most on both ends of the ice. That was the story of the moment. It was the story of the series. And, if we expand our view, it has been the tale of the Wild's seven most recent trips to the postseason — all of which ended without advancing to the next round.

As Patrick Reusse and I talked about on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast, there are common themes when digging into the Wild's recent playoff history.

Though the disappointments span multiple coaches, GMs and players, the reasons why the Wild have ended up back in this same place so many times are constant. Here are a few:

*As Reusse noted, how many times have the Wild reached the end of a series with the public conclusion that the other team's goalie played better than Minnesota's? This year the margin was thinner, but Dallas' Jake Oettinger was excellent while the Wild's Filip Gustavsson was merely good. Last year the Blues' Jordan Binnington saved the day while Marc-Andre Fleury and eventually Cam Talbot struggled. In 2017, it was Jake Allen outdoing Devan Dubnyk.

*But goaltending doesn't tell the full story. On average during these seven series when the Wild has been eliminated — six true first-round playoff series and the preliminary series in the 2020 COVID season — the Wild have allowed 3.2 goals per game while scoring 2.2. In some cases, with that 2017 series with the Blues being a prime example, scoring has dried up as Wild players failed to capitalize on glorious chances. Last year's Wild scored a franchise-record 310 goals but were held to two or fewer in four of six playoff games.

*The lack of killer instinct might be the most maddening trait of all. Five times the Wild have been up by one game in a series during this elimination stretch: Up 1-0 in the 2020 qualifying round, up 1-0 in 2021, up 2-1 in 2022 and then up 1-0 and 2-1 in 2023. In all five cases they lost the next game. In four of the five cases, they lost the next THREE games. Playoff hockey is all about capitalizing on momentum or reversing it, and the Wild haven't been able to do either.

"We grind our way to the playoffs and can't get out of the first round again," Wild captain Marcus Foligno said after this series. "Broken record."

Here are four other things you should know today:

*After a strong April, the Twins are the clear favorites in the AL Central. FanGraphs gives them a 75% chance to win the division and an 80% chance to reach the playoffs in some form.

*I'll get into this more on Tuesday's podcast with Ben Goessling, but what are the Vikings going to do now that the draft has come and passed and Dalvin Cook + Za'Darius Smith are still on the roster?

*This was an honest but not particularly reassuring quote from Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath, addressing postgame Sunday a report that the club had been in Argentina recently trying to coax suspended star Emanuel Reynoso back to Minnesota: "It was disappointing because we thought he was going to be back. So, we'll keep asking the question and hopefully, some sort of common sense will prevail, and he gets on a plane and comes back here."

*Golden State vs. the Lakers, Curry vs. LeBron. The NBA playoffs have been surprising, and it's only going to get better.