I was optimistic the Wild were good enough to make the playoffs, but I think they have probably missed based on how terrible the first part of this season has been.
Injuries have hurt, no Bouchard has been killer. However, most every team in the league is suffering more injuries than usual.
Richards has definitely had problems implementing this less defensive system. Hallmarked by the countless examples of goals "given away." But beyond that it seems Richards is having problems motivating the team. He admits to having been "protective" of the players and that's "gotten us where we have so far" in this story by Strib Wild beat writer/blogger extrordinaire Michael Russo.
I think there are a lot of problems this year that can be labeled as just being coaching related (being euphamised by "new system"), this is his first year and it's okay if he's having growing pains about being "the guy" for the first time in his career.
Richards probably deserves more criticism than he gets, on talent, the Wild are considerably better than they've shown, and the blame for that is usually the coaches. However, the Wild can throw this year away with the sole goal of just rebuilding. It is next year when the Wild will have the best chance to contend. Johnsson's contract will be off the books (what I would consider the end of Dougie's blunders) and possibly Nolan's as well if he retires (Not that I would like Nolan to leave, but his retirement at his age is very possible).
The Wild could have up to $9.3M in cap space right there in a year when the cap won't go up. They could probably negotiate Nolan down a bit if he decided not to retire, and they definitely should be able to negotiate Johnsson downward if they should want to keep him (I don't know why, he's still a defenseman that doesn't hit and rarely shoots, he's probably up to rarley from never this year knowing it's a contract year).
This will be a tough year for the Wild the rest of the way, they are 8 points out, but that's a tough road to come back from (I'll save the OT point rant for another time). But this can be looked at as a rebuilding year, next year let the expectations soar.