The Blackhawks are a durn good hockey team. While some thought they were sliding into the postseason, that is attributed to an injury Patrick Kane (also known as "He who is frightengly talented at stick-puck, or HWIFTASP) as well as Patrick Sharp's ridiculously low shooting percentage for the majority of the year. Tack on some goalie trouble, and you have a recipe for a recession.
Those days are gone; the Hawks are back and the Wild are in trouble (hey na, hey na, the Hawks are back). As we've seen over the course of three brutal games, the Wild seem almost hapless. While they definitely had a chance to win game 1, they were completely out of game 2, and seemed lost in game 3 despite only being a goal down.
All this to say: there's little shame in losing to these Blackhawks. They are exceptionally talented, and are making a strong case for them to be the favorites to win the Cup. The Wild are a good team. They may not have not shown it in this series, but they are. They are not ready for a full cup run, and I don't know many who thought this was the year for them to do it. Next year is likely when many see the "cup window" opening for this group of players.
On the other hand, as much as the Hawks are making an argument for themselves, the Wild have done themselves no favors. Often when explaining why a hockey team isn't playing well, the fact that another team is trying to keep them from doing anything is left out. The Buffalo Sabres, for instance, wouldn't be nearly so inept-looking on the ice if there wasn't another group of people working actively against them (kidding, obviously the Sabres would be terrible anyways).
Passing isn't tracked particularly carefully in the NHL, for a number of reasons. If they were, I have little doubt that the Wild would have terrible numbers in just about every category. Credit to the Hawks for being defensively sound, but the Wild are doing themselves no favors by making risky and sloppy passes. Zone exits and zone entries have been awful. Yes, the Hawks are a good team, but the Wild have not displayed their quality.
As many have pointed out; when teams win, the talk is of how cohesive the group is, and how wonderful that the Wild have 11 different goal-scorers, etc. etc. When teams lose, the talk is not about how the team as a whole is not producing, but of how the stars have let us down. If I had a nickel for everyone who mentioned Vanek's lack of a goal, I could retire now. Koivu hasn't produced on the scoresheet, and had other struggles.
Blaming the Wild's losses on any one player is just silly. Yes, Suter has made mistakes; so has Vanek, Parise, Dubnyk, and just about everyone else in a Wild sweater (or suit and tie). It would be much easier to point out who, on the Wild, has played well, and the list is: just about no one. There have been bright points, certainly; Granlund had good possession stats at one point, Vanek has made some ridiculous (in a good way) passes, Dubnyk has made stops. But no one has ‘wowed'. This is what Tony was talking about in his piece on gamebreakers.
Do we need to feel terrible about the Wild losing to the Blackhawks? No. They are a great hockey team, with some of the best players currently in the game. They have few weaknesses, and even their weaknesses aren't that vulnerable. On the other hand, we may want to consider feeling shame over the Wild's play. It's one thing to get beat by a good team. It's another to not put up a fight.
Tonight is the night, Wild. If they want to go into the offseason with a good feeling, they need to find a way to play with the Hawks... because we haven't seen that yet.