Sweep leaves Wild feeling ‘sick’

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“You almost needed two pucks in that series. We’ve come a long way since then.”

That was Zach Parise comparing the Minnesota’s 2013 first round loss to the Blackhawks to this year, per the Star Tribune. He said that just before Minnesota’s latest series against Chicago began.

In the end, Minnesota was not only eliminated by Chicago for the third straight year, but also suffered the indignity of being swept.

“Didn’t do nearly enough. Don’t know how else to characterize it. It’s tough to dissect it right now.”

That was Parise tonight, per the Wild’s Twitter feed. And that’s one of more subdued comments from the Wild.

“I’m sick. It’s a sick feeling,” Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk told ESPN’s Joe McDonald.

“It’s a bad dream,” defenseman Ryan Suter said.

On the one hand, the fact that Minnesota even made the playoffs this year is an accomplishment given its rocky start and beating the St. Louis Blues in the first round was no small feat either. At the same time, when the Wild signed Parise and Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts, it was with the hope that would help turn them into serious Stanley Cup contenders. It was reasonable to assume that it would take time to build around them, especially seeing as the Wild still had a fair number of promising young players working their way up, but they’re three years in at this point.

“Right now we’re a good team and we have to find a way to be the best team,” Wild coach Mike Yeo told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff.

Suter is 30 years old while Parise will turn 31 in July and in the young man’s NHL, that’s something worth keeping in mind, especially because their contracts are relics of the old CBA era. Parise and Suter’s deals are so long because it makes their annual cap hit more manageable early on, but that hit has the potential to look bad as they age and potentially play well below the roughly $7.5-million annual level. In other words, they were made to be beneficial in the short and mid-term, but had the potential to be significantly detrimental in the long-term.

That’s not to suggest that the Wild are already fading into the sunset, but they do have a specific window of opportunity with them and with each failed campaign, it’s getting smaller.

“We’re trying to figure it out,” Suter said. “We need to look at ourselves in the mirror.”