Did you watch tonight's game? If you didn't, don't worry. Nothing amazing, remarkable, or out of the ordinary happened. Just another ho-hum continuation of this terrible stretch of losing that's perpetuated for almost two months now.
Absolutely no one expected the Minnesota Wild's slump- which has started in net, but has appeared to be sprawling outward- to end against the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the best teams in the league. And credit to the Wild- they didn't disappoint.
The game started with Niklas Backstrom doing what Nik Backstrom does best- putting the Wild down a goal 5 minutes into the game. This time, it wasn't entirely his fault, as Jason Pominville started off his uncharacteristically bad night with a turnover that created an odd-man rush where the Hawks got to toy with the Wild before Marian Hossa buried the puck. Nik Backstrom doubled down on the "let pucks by you" strategy minutes later, when Bryan Bickel passed Jarome Iginla as the All-Time Scoring Leader vs. the Wild (I assume) by scoring his 9th of the season. 3 of which came against Minnesota.
Chicago would make it 3-0 in the second period, when a Patrick Kane shot bounced off Prosser and landed right on Brad Richards' stick (OMG, PROSSER IS JUST LIKE A STANCHION, YOU GUYS!). Not fun. Even less fun, Jason Zucker was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot, which he failed to convert on. Zucker was visibly frustrated for several minutes afterward, and him beating himself up over the missed opportunity seemed representative of all the Wild's struggles right now. What's worse- the Wild allowed a 3-on-1 just two minutes later that enabled Johnny Oduya to run up the score.
But all wasn't lost for the Wild- they managed to get a garbage goal with 5 minutes remaining, and it was Matt Cooke, so at least it stung Blackhawks fans a little bit.
The party line on this game (and the two before it) is it's all about effort with this team. In each of those games, the Wild got hit with an early goal against, and didn't recover. While it's true that the Wild appear to be visibly frustrated by these events, they've piled on a total of 118 shots on the opposition in that time, a marked improvement from the several games before then.
This team looks different than the one we saw before Yeo chewed them out. But if you have a bad goalie, and you only shoot 3%, you're not winning anything. Is that an effort problem? It's possible, but I don't buy it. Not over the last three games.
The problem is it's long past the time where we can do well in a stretch of games, come out on the wrong end of the results, and keep calm. And it's a shame, because this was a great team right before the bad goaltending hit, much in the same way that Achilles was a baller warrior before an arrow shattered his heel.
There's a deficit of great answers concerning how to fix this team, and an even greater dearth of hope. That none of this surprised any of you is proof of it.