If you look back at the grades issued, and the players they were issued to, the fairness of the grades you are about to read may be questionable. Forty seven players skated for the Wild, far too many of them forwards. When a team is the lowest scoring team in the league, that cannot be blamed on the defensemen or the goalies. That falls squarely on the shoulders of the guys who get paid to score, and that is the forwards.
You can scream all you want about offense from the blue line, and the d-men not contributing, but the differential between the Penguins and the Wild was 1.3 goals per game. The d-men aren't going to put in a goal per game, and if you expect them to, you're setting yourself up for failure.
The forwards on this particular Wild team were supposed to be much improved on all four lines. Then injuries started taking them down one player at a time, and all of the added talent went out the window. In came the AHL guys, the has beens, and the never weres, and the goal scoring became a pipe dream. The shooter's mentality never gelled, and the pucks just did not end up in the back of the net.
Shots directed at the net, quality of competition... none of it mattered. The forwards couldn't score, and that's the only thing that matters at all.
Nathan- NHL low in shots, goals, and a piss-poor goal differential. All they had to do was fall back to an average season and we're looking at a 6-8 seed. Instead ....
Bryan- To be honest, C level work would likely have been good enough to make the playoffs. The forwards as a group were, in a word, terrible. Afraid to shoot, afraid to fail, afraid to get hurt... afraid. NHL hockey doesn't allow for fear, and the forwards need to get that. A few guys put it all on the line every night, but not nearly enough of them. The injuries sucked, but you know what? So did the guys that played. Harsh? Yep. True? 2.02 goals per game, folks. That is suck defined.
Jesse- Injuries suck. This we all know. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of professional hockey, and every team in the NHL has to battle through them. The Wild forwards didn't do that. This is a pretty easy grade considering the Wild finished dead last in goals scored. Dany Heatley finished 80th in the league among forwards for points scored. Montreal had 3 forwards finish ahead of Heatley, and one of them was Eric Cole. #slaptothegroin
While it might seem unfair to fail the group of forwards because of the injuries, it's still reality. The guys who had to fill in were not NHL-caliber players. I get that. They still failed to score goals.