Marc-Andre Fleury's championship pedigree is why the Wild started the future Hall of Famer over Cam Talbot for the first five games of the team's playoff series vs. St. Louis.
"All things equal, Marc-Andre Fleury had three Stanley Cups," coach Dean Evason said Tuesday during a season-ending news conference at Xcel Energy Center. "That tipped the scale."
The coaching staff and management made the choice, said Evason, who also explained what he meant when he called picking between the two goaltenders an "easy" decision.
"It was an easy decision because either way, we were very confident, extremely confident, whichever way that we were going to go," Evason said. "Both goaltenders obviously played so well. We had a very, very difficult decision, but we felt it was easy because it was going to be a good one and we still feel it was a good one."
After Fleury was in net for Games 1-5 while the Wild fell behind 3-2 in the best of seven, Talbot took over in Game 6 for his first action in two weeks and the Wild stumbled 5-1 to get eliminated.
Since then, Evason and his staff have dissected what happened and they noticed the team's inability to respond to adversity in two situations: the third period in Game 5 when the Wild went from being tied to giving up three goals for a 5-2 loss and the second period in Game 6 when a one-goal deficit swelled to four en route to a 5-1 debacle.
"It was uncharacteristic," Evason said. "The players acknowledged it [Monday] with the one-on-one meetings. We acknowledged it as a coaching staff, and we have to get better. Simple as that."
Evason said the Wild will "switch some stuff up" when it comes to special teams.
The power play was 18th in the regular season at 20.5% but went 4-for-24 in the playoffs, while the penalty kill surrendered eight goals to St. Louis after finishing 25th in the NHL (76.1%).
Faceoffs are another area the team wants to improve; its 47.6% success rate was 27th.
"Things that we identify as a coaching staff that we need to work on and we need to get better, we will," Evason said. "We will do that as a group, try to make the right decisions personnel-wise, change some stuff and then work on it so that it's better for next year."
Kirill Kaprizov doesn't consider himself a superstar.
"I don't feel like this," he said in English. "I feel like I'm same guy."
But that's exactly what Wild General Manager Bill Guerin called Kaprizov, whose second NHL season included a franchise-record 108 points and a prolific performance in the playoffs in which he scored twice on the power play in less than four minutes against the Blues.
"He tried putting this team on his back," Guerin said. "We saw it in Game 5. That's when I saw it the most. He literally tried to put this team on his back and carry them and just say, 'You know what guys? I got you. Follow me.' He's become a big-time leader on our team."
The Wild expects prospects Calen Addison and Marco Rossi to vie for roster spots next season after both spent most of 2021-22 in the minors.
"This is a very competitive league, and you've got to take somebody's job," Guerin said. "There's always opportunity needed. Then when you get it, you've got to kick the door in and that's what we're hoping for for both of those guys."
Guerin envisions Jesper Wallstedt to play with Iowa in the American Hockey League after the Wild signed the goalie to a three-year, entry-level contract on Monday.
Guerin said a couple of players will have offseason surgery but didn't specify who.