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.

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