Friday, January 20, 2012

Wild Fan Closed Door Meeting

by NiNY


Enough. ENOUGH! Enough of this bullshit!

You lousy sonsofbitches. I bought in. Against my better judgment, I bought in. Sure it was a little devil may care. I've been buying in and getting my heart stomped on by Minnesota teams for 36 years now. I know better. Stupid, I know. But I did; so sue me.

And the truth is that, if you'd made it to the playoffs and gotten swept in the first round, I would have been okay. Elated. That would have been a win. Just staying relevant into March would have been a minor win. Justified me suspending reality and buying in.

But this? This is unacceptable.

Injuries, yeah, whatever. Of course you've had a lot and they've been major ones. It's how you deal with it. You're like a bunch of second rate politicians right now: talk a big game, shit the bed when the chips are down.

Where's your pride? Nothing. No pride or heart or balls whatsoever for at least the last two games. I do not accept that being decimated by injuries is an excuse for complete self-emasculation. Mikko and Butch and Gui are out, yeah. So why does that hurt you in your heart and your scrotum, Schultz and Zanon and Cullen and Heatley and Brodziak?

It's not losing I mind. It's losing when you don't play hard. It's losing when you don't give a shit. That's disgusting. That's pathetic.

And it falls to the Coach, too. Yeo's confidence can be inspiring. WAS inspiring when the team was just starting to figure it out in October and November. But now lines like 'I'm excited for the challenge of figuring it out' test my patience. I don't give a fuck that you're excited about doing it. How about you just do it?

And it falls to the GM, too. He is responsible for assembling this Tin Man group. He's not responsible for how they play, but he brought this team together, so he bears some of the responsibility. I don't want him to go out and trade prospects - I'd rather we just let the chips fall where the may at this point. I do want Fletcher to move our impending UFAs - even if we only get low picks back. Because, if we make the playoffs we're not winning anything anyway. So might as well load up on picks and send a message at the same time.

And here's the thing: I'm not quitting on this team. I bought in, I'm still in. I'm not a quitter. Even if they are. Ms. Conduct said on twitter that it was like the team was daring her to beg off, but she wasn't. That's what I'm talking about. I'm still expecting them to get into the playoffs this season. That's not to say I still think they will with nearly the same certainty that I harbored even a couple weeks ago. But I'm not altering my expectations.

In other words, not making the playoffs this season is going to be extremely disappointing. A failure.

But, from what we saw in Philly and Toronto, they don't care.

Okay, I'm off the soap box. This is a closed door fan meeting. What do you have to say?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Backyard Rink Chronicles


So I've been waiting and waiting to do my second annual backyard rink. I ordered a new, larger tarp (30x50), planning on a 25x40 rink. (Last year I did a 15x25 rink.)

The weather just hasn't cooperated. We're in the midst of something like the 4th warmest winter in recorded Rochester history. Until last week we'd only gotten trace amounts of snow - and we normally get ~ 100 of snow per winter here. Now we've had 15 inches, against an annual average of 43 to this date. Last year we'd gotten 65 at this point. For comparison's sake, St. Paul, MN gets 56 inches of snow per year, on average.

Before the climate change people get all geeked up, let me get back on point.

This weekend was supposed to be two good things for backyard rink-making: cold and long.

So I went out Saturday and bought the rest of the materials I'd need, and started putting together the frame.

As you probably remember from last year's inaugural Backyard Rink Chronicles series, I am not Mr. Handy. But this year I felt as though I knew what I wanted to do, and how to do it.

Instead of using extra pieces of 2x8 as backplates where two boards come together, I screwed L-shaped metal pieces to join the 5' sections of 2x8 together at the bottom of the back of the boards, with a "foot" sticking out on the outside of the boards. I used flat metal pieces screwed into the top of the back of the boards to add further strength behind the seam. The frame came together much more easily than last year.

One mistake I made was not getting the frame set up before it started snowing. As a result, I decided to take my tamper and tamp down the snow inside the frame. I assumed the weight of the water would ultimately tamp the snow down, but I figured starting with as flat a surface as possible would aid and speed the flooding/freezing process.

You will also recall that I had some trouble with uneven ground last year, the result of which was that I had one end of the rink that ended up being basically 7.5" deep in ice, and barely any ice at all at the other end.

Since I was going for a much bigger rink this year, I oriented it differently. When I got it laid out and the snow tamped down, however, I noticed that the long side farther from the house is much lower than the long side closer to the house. I went back out and got a couple 2x4 foot pieces of project board and laid them down in the deepest corners in an attempt to even out these deeper areas.

Then I laid out the tarp, with a huge assist from my wife.

After that, I started flooding. Actually, I had to unfasten the two hoses we forgot were still attached to the spigot first. Oops. That required a couple pots of boiling water.

THEN I started flooding. Immediately the water started pooling on the far, deeper side. It was also cold enough last night, and the stream of water slow enough, that the water started to freeze within maybe 10 minutes, where it pooled. I flooded enough to get the water touching the entire far long wall, the entire far short wall and about half of the total surface area under water.

But, I noticed that the water was getting materially closer to the top of the boards in some areas, in particular in the far corner. So I decided to stop flooding and let it freeze over night.

This morning, what had been flooded was mostly frozen.

And the forecast for today is mid-30s with a chance of some rain or freezing rain in spots tonight. Ugh.

I'm concerned about the fact that I don't have water across the whole surface yet. I'm thinking about lifting up the tarp where there's no water and shoveling out as much of the snow there as I can, in an effort to lower that area.

I'm hoping to leave what's in there now to fully freeze. Then I'm hoping that, when I resume flooding, the new water will fill in the uncovered surface. Any water that floods over the already-frozen parts I could squeegee off if it gets too close to the top of the boards. I could also add another 2x8 on top of the existing one in the areas where it's getting close to the top - I have enough extra tarp to do that.

I'm not going to flood today, it's too warm to freeze.

The next few days have lows in the teens, so maybe some favorable conditions.

Friday, January 6, 2012

On Brodziak


Back when the Wild was 20-7-3 Kyle Brodziak was one hot topic. Specifically his impending free agent status.

Kyle's an unrestricted free agent after this season, and he's carrying a $1.15M cap hit this season.

He's played in all 41 games for the Wild this season, amassing 11-9-20 (-7, FWIW) and 37 PIM. He's not a scorer and not expected to produce, but his offense dried up coinciding with the Wild's rash of injuries to their forwards that meant Brodziak had to take on more minutes on higher lines, facing better opposition matchups.

He's a prototypical third liner. Checker, hard worker, gutsy - if not endowed with higher end scoring skills. Nothing wrong with that at all. He seems to be a popular and well-respected member of the team.

So what, went the thinking earlier this season, was Fletcher waiting for? Sign him already! Don't let such a valuable role player get within sniffing distance of July 1st and get ideas about testing the market in his head! Show him the love and sign him. I admit I echoed those same thoughts.

Coincidentally the Wild just had a very good showing at the World Junior Championships in Alberta. Even though the Americans didn't fare that well as a team, the Wild had significant representation on several of the best teams in the tournament. Names like Granlund, Brodin, Larsson, Zucker and Coyle were consistently on the lips of people following the tournament this year.

And that's not to mention the guys currently in Houston or St. Paul like Wellman, Gillies, Palmer and Bulmer.

Presumably Brodziak's going to warrant a raise from his current salary. What's the ceiling on that raise? As much as $2M per year?

There's no questioning Brodziak's heart and his passion. I love what he brings to the team, that he leaves it all on the ice every shift and that he's willing to do whatever the team asks of him. I'd love to have him on the team....but...

But, I don't think we want to go back down the road of having a roster full of expensive third liners, and if some of those aforementioned kids are going to deserve shots at a spot on the big team next year then do we really need Brodziak? If he was still going to be making $1.15M, then sure. But at $1.5M? $1.75M? $2M?

I've changed my tune on Brodziak. Now I want Fletcher to wait until the deadline and see if someone is willing to overpay to acquire him via trade, and, if not, then wait until 7/1 and see what the market for him will be.

We have a lot of cap space right now. We have recently shed some contract albatrosses on the lower lines. We finally have prospects in the system who will garner looks at the NHL level. We don't need to overpay for a third liner - even one as likeable as Kyle Brodziak.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wild Playoff Chances


Few things are as academic as projecting playoff chances at mid-season.

But I've sworn off/lambasted pre-season predictions, power rankings and advanced statistics this season....time for me to curry some favor with at least one faction of math nerds.

The Wild is sitting with 48 points in 40 games. Those 48 points are comprised of 21 wins and 6 OT losses.

They are on target for 98 points on the season. Normally, that would be enough to get you into the playoffs. In fact, I got back to the 1997-98 season on (before I got bored and stopped checking) and 98 points would have gotten you into the playoffs in the Western Conference every season.

The next step is to try to quantify how poorly the Wild would have to play in the second half of the season in order to fail to make the playoffs.

The 8th place team in the West the past ten seasons finished with 97, 95, 91, 91, 96, 95, (lockout), 91, 92, 94 and 90 points, respectively. That's an average of 93.2 points. So, let's say 94 (one additional point, to be safe) points is the minimum to feel really safe. (Colorado is currently in 8th place in the west, on pace for 90 points.)

If they go .500 in their remaining 42 games, that's 21 wins and 21 losses (let's assume no loser points - lowest common denominator, right?) Adding 21 wins to their current 21 wins equals 42 wins and adding the 6 OT losses equals 90 points. Uh-oh.

If they go .550 for the rest of the season, that puts them on pace for 94 points (21 wins so far, adding in 23 more, adding in the 6 OTL to date).

That would do it.

So, the difference between .500 and .550 is 2 wins, and it's also the difference between getting into the playoffs and not.

Now, is .550 realistic for this Wild team?

If their recent injury "luck" holds, probably not.

But, if they stay healthy? Absolutely.

Finally, there was that line going around in early December about no team that was #1 overall in early December had failed to make the playoffs that season.

I expect the Wild to make the playoffs this season, and will be disappointed if they don't.

Is 46 more points (in their 42 games) reasonable? Again, I think it is. That means, essentially, that they can go 5-4-1 in each ten game set for the rest of the season and get to 94 points.

Furthermore, I'd say the odds are very strong (say 75%*) that they will.

So there you have it: I'm saying the Wild is 75% likely to make the playoffs as of today.

You gotta problem with that? Let's hear it.

*Stated probability not based on any mathematical formula at all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

After Reversion, Wild Still Means Business


Forget the 1-6-3 slide for a minute.

The Wild still has 48 points after 40 games through New Year's. That's the Minnesota Wild. The 2011-12 Minnesota Wild.

5th in the Western Conference, the rookie coached Minnesota Wild.

2nd in the NW division, the no-name defense Minnesota Wild. The offensively-challenged Minnesota Wild.

Okay, feeling better?

Good, because now I want you to forget the various multi-game winning streaks, too.

The 48 in 40 is still there.

But the point to this little exercise is simple: the Wild is not as bad as their current non-successful streak would imply. But they're also not as good as their prior winning streaks and status as the #1 team in the NHL implied, either.

The stat geek/non-Wild fan/omnipresent Canuck fans blogging on national sites were all exercised and crazy. *hand wringing* "How can this be?" *teeth gnashing*

But some Wild fans got just as crazy - in the other direction. "We ARE this good, goddamn you! You stat guys are WRONG! Respect us!"

Both sides were acting stupidly.

Both sides were looking at small samples of production and attempting to extrapolate them into larger things.

What was the high temperature today? Will that be the average high temperature for the whole year? Of course not.

If you don't think the Wild is as good as their 48/40, 5th, 2nd would indicate, fine. That's your prerogative. I would submit that, every year, one or two teams sneak into the playoffs that defy logic. Why can't that be the Wild this season?

If you think the Wild was the Wild when they were on pace for 117 points this season, then you're frankly equally delusional.

The Wild have endured a mighty mean reversion from when they were on top of the NHL.

If you think I'm wrong, then you simply don't understand ALL the meanings of that phrase.

But that's okay. Because, at 48/40, 5th, 2nd, they're still having a much better season-to-date than I ever thought they would coming into this season. I think a 98 point pace is, well, just about right for the ceiling for this Wild team. The coach is still a rookie. The defense is still no-name (and showing signs of coming back down to earth.) Even when they were winning they'd go through lulls during games. They can't stay healthy.

It's fun and kind of cathartic to get all granular and go nuts over the minutiae. But that's also a good way to lose perspective.

Haters gonna hate. Lovers gonna love.