After bowing out of the playoffs three straight years at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, including a clean sweep in the second round of last year's postseason, the Minnesota Wild are desperate to get over the hump this coming season.
Defenseman Ryan Suter, entering the fourth year of the 13-year, $98 million contract he signed with the Wild in 2012, isn't convinced the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks were, or are, all that much better than the Wild.
"We're in a good spot; we just can't take a step back," Suter said in an interview with the Pioneer Press. "If we keep progressing the way we are, we're going to be fine."
"If we would've played our best, we could've beaten them," he added.
Pro Hockey Talk says there has been a similar narrative in each of the first three seasons of the Zach Parise and Suter era: "They claw their way into the playoffs and get eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks."
Ten of Minnesota’s 13 games following this season's opener against Colorado are against playoff teams from a season ago. During that stretch, they play twice against the Blues, Ducks and Jets and once against the Kings, Blackhawks, Predators and Lightning.
As for Suter, he finished last season with just two goals in the regular season and zero goals in 10 playoff games. Admittedly, Suter told the newspaper that he's never going to rack up a ton of points – that's not necessarily his job – but two goals was too few and he considers somewhere closer to eight a good season.
The Hockey Writers has an article slamming Suter's postseason performance last season. In 10 games he posted a minus-8 rating with no goals and only three assists.
Wild hockey is right around the corner, with preseason action beginning Sept. 21.