Evason bemoans eliminated Wild's special teams: They 'sucked all year'

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For Wild head coach Dean Evason, the club's special teams are the biggest reason why Minnesota's historic season came to an unceremonious end Thursday night.

"They have to be better, simple as that. I'd love to tell you why and all that. They're going to get better. They have to get better," he said, according to The Athletic's Michael Russo. "They literally sucked all year. ... We've gotta get better from Day 1 next year."

During the regular season, Minnesota's power play (20.5%) and penalty kill (76.1%) ranked in the bottom half of the league.

In their first-round defeat to the St. Louis Blues, the Wild allowed eight power-play goals while mustering just four of their own. St. Louis potted two of those markers in its 5-1 Game 6 victory, while Minnesota went 0-for-5.

An emotional Mats Zuccarello agreed special teams were the "difference-maker."

"It's still fresh, you know? Obviously really disappointed," the veteran told reporters Thursday, per Bally Sports North. "I think we all had the belief that we were going to come back to Minnesota for a Game 7. Our goal was to move forward."

He continued: "All I can say is that everyone in that dressing room competed their asses off all year for each other, even today. ... I don't really know what to say right now, but I'm really proud of this group."

The Wild also made a goalie switch in Game 6. Cam Talbot replaced Marc-Andre Fleury, who started the first five games.

"Obviously, was I disappointed? Yeah. Pissed off? Yeah. But they expected that. They want you to be pissed off," Talbot said about sitting for most of the series, per Russo. "I mean, who doesn't want to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? But I respected the decision, of course."

Talbot surrendered four goals on 26 shots Thursday.

"I was doing everything I could to stay ready," he said. "You don't want to come into an elimination game, but you want the opportunity to play during the playoffs. They gave me the opportunity, and it just wasn't good enough."

The Wild set a franchise record for most wins (53) and points (113) en route to a second-place finish in the Central Division. Additionally, Minnesota star Kirill Kaprizov established a Wild record for most points in a single campaign (108).

Evason bemoans eliminated Wild's special teams: They 'sucked all year'
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