Friday, March 4, 2011

Wild Rebounds Nicely, Fans Not So Much


The Wild played much better last night against the Rangers than they did the night before last against the Islanders. That is not the same as saying they played better, period.'s a step in the right direction. They were again dreadful in the first period. However, as a testament to the emotional makeup of this team they got it together and rallied in the 2nd, then held firm in the 3rd. So, not a 60-minute effort, but much better than the 2 or 3 minute effort we saw Wednesday.

It's a little scary to have to rely on your goaltender as much as the Wild does. But, that's the way it is, and our goalies have, on balance, been stellar this year. And, when Bax goes into a little funk like he's in right now, it's tremendous to be able to trot Theodore out there and get, well and get performances like his last night.

Also, I had the pleasure of listening to the MSG broadcast last night. Man, Sam Rosen is still one of the best in the league on PBP and Joe Micheletti has really become a top notch color guy. He used to just be sort of whiny and homery. Now he's much more insightful, interesting and opened my eyes to plays behind plays on several occasions, which is the hallmark (indeed the essense of the job) of a good color analyst in my book. And Joe has really lost the homer angle, too. At least he had last night.

I hope and assume that the Wild is really going to be watching Clutterbuck closely over the next couple days. First, as we know concussions can materialize gradually. And, his particular style lends itself to brain-jiggling even without goons like Gillies nailing him in the cheek. So, he laid a few hits last night against the Rangers, that has to bump his brain around in his melon somewhat, and, where it might not normally be enough to render him concussed, maybe his brain is extra sensitive right now?

It continues to bottle my mind how many Wild fans just don't get it. Read the comments (if you dare, it's a real drain on your sanity anymore) over at Russo's Rants or after his gamer. It's not just one or two imbeciles frothing at the mouth, either. 'Fletcher screwed up by not going big(ger) at the deadline' is bad enough. But 'he should have traded Bax'? Come on gang, we can do better than that. Unreal. And then they wonder why we don't get an outdoor game. Because we don't deserve one with idiots like that as "fans."

Really? You think the Wild was ANY moves at the deadline away from actual contention this year? And enough so that it would have been worth selling off what precious few crumbs we have just been able to start stocking our cupboards with? Or that we could trade all our detritus and worthless pieces of shit from our roster for a top line scorer? Seriously, it's embarrassing to think that such painful, overwhelming ignorance can exist in a place we call the "State of Hockey."

My buddy Ms. Conduct got some blowback recently for having the temerity to point out that Havlat is a floater. Which is funny, the blowback part anyway, because he is an unbelievable floater.

Look, on a team as starved for offense as the Wild is, I can see where you'd give a floater a little extra leash as long as he's producing. And Ms. Conduct certainly acknowledged that Havlat is producing.

But that doesn't mean he's not a floater. And, if he was floating but not producing, I bet anyone other than card carrying members of the "Martin Havlat Fan Club" would quickly tire of the floating. So what's the issue with calling a guy a floater? In and of itself, or specifically in this case?

My advice to Wild fans: just shut up and enjoy the ride. This team isn't talented enough to be still fighting for a playoff spot. Do you really think we have more high end talent than St. Louis, Colorado and Edmonton (who, by the way, are the bottom three teams in the Western Conference right now and, by all rights, out of the playoff race)? Certainly not age-adjusted we don't, but even pound-for-pound we don't. We wouldn't have been able to get to that level, talent-wise at the deadline for an acceptable price. So, this playoff run is a bonus for us this year. It's fun. It's energizing. It restores hope. Just go with it.

Enjoy it for what it is: more games that matter, later in this season that was reasonable to expect heading into and for the first month of the season. They still might even make the playoffs. That would be one hell of a feat for this team. And it should be enjoyed. But don't ruin it by deluding yourself into thinking this could be their year. Or could have been if, if, if.

Even if Fletcher had been able to rob some GM(s) blind (a la his old man), the chances are that we still wouldn't have won the Cup this year, and then our cupboards would be bare again.

This way, we still have the same chances of going the same distance, and Fletcher protected those few chestnuts that we have. That's what a good GM does.

Good fans would both appreciate that and simply enjoy the product before their eyes.


Eric said...

Fans are in strange situation here, they want to be positive, but the history of this franchise has been the opposite of that, and the "media" (like this blog) have pretty much fostered that. To expect them to turn around and "relax" when they're given more negative stuff to read about their team is unrealistic.
You point to the Havlat issue, it was bad timing to write a negative piece on him being "painful" to watch and a "floater" when he is one of the bright spots on this injury plagued team right now. Doesn't exactly instill confidence in the fans when they're told someone "who knows hockey" doesn't like anything about their top player. Next we'll be reading about how Theo is over-rated because someone "in the know" doesn't like his tatoos. If the Wild's own bloggers can't find any redeeming qualities in their players, why should the fans?

Nick in New York said...

Eric - I've been a fan of Minnesota sports teams, and surrounded by other Minnesota sports fans for 36 years now.

Minnesota sports fans do not want to be positive about their teams. They primarily want to not be embarrassed or hearbroken by their teams.

And they certainly don't need any prompting from third party bloggers (read with no access to the actual team) such as myself to get them in that frame of mind.

If you want to get all worked up about the Wild, then that's your business. But don't blame me for it.

Plus, it wasn't the fans looking for redeeming qualities in their players that led all those yahoos to clamor for more trades at the deadline, was it?