Friday, February 17, 2012

Wild A Special Kind of Bad

by NiNY

Because I believe in equal time, I'm now going to return to trashing the Wild.

I'm not sure I can recall a single other team that has to work so hard just to get a shot on goal, much less score. I thought the Wild played pretty well last night, overall, but at the end of the second period, their paltry shot total was right there, staring us in the eye like a dead fish. Again.

It's time to sit Cullen down for a game or ten. He's a disaster. Count the times he gets the puck in the offensive zone that don't end up with him lying on the ice and play going the other way, the puck in the other team's control. Big, big minority. My buddy GreenStar asked on Twitter last night why Cullen's habitually the last guy back on the backcheck. It's because he's the softest guy on the puck since PMB a couple seasons ago. You only need a feather duster to defend against him.

I actually thought Bax was okay in the shootout last night. In the first place he stopped a couple shots. In the second place, he got beat on one just sick shot (Kane). In the third place, we only scored one the other way for him. Losing shootouts is both because the goalie didn't stop enough AND the shooters didn't score enough.

I did like the willingness of the guys - ex-Cullen - to battle and stick up for one another. I really like Powe. Someone pointed out that he's an offensively deficient version of Nystrom. But I think that's unfair. Powe's a defensive forward on the 3rd or 4th line. Offense from him is gravy. And I love how he is willing to throw down for his team mates.

But this team is pathetically unable to score. I did not like Yeo's decision to break up the Brodziak-Heatley-Johnson line when Mikko came back. I thought it was myopic if the goal was to get more than one scoring line, since that line was already producing.

Well, the Mikko-Heatley-Setoguchi line is producing, can't argue with that. But Brodziak and Johnson have stopped - as with everyone else. Again with the coddling of Mikko, and not to the team's overall benefit.

I was glad Yeo sat Zidlicky down. That is all about Yeo's credibility with the rest of the team, in my opinion. He HAS to scratch him last night. Maybe forever.

Look, Wild fans, we've seen this movie. They will continue to stink, "improving" in the smallest increments, until it's too late, and then they'll get hot once the pressure's off and win just enough games to fuck up their draft position, finishing in 10th and picking around 10th overall - well out of the money picks.

If that's inevitable (and it says here it is) then what's the rationale for Fletcher to delay selling UFAs? Get what you can. Lead the market - make the market. What could Brodziak bring if Dominic Moore brought a second? If Grossman's worth a second, then Zanon, Lundin and Zidlicky have to be worth a 4th, 5th and 2nd, respectively, right? *Zidlicky for his offensive capability, not his current-season production. That one's a bit of a reach, I'll admit.

No team emanates mediocrity, on balance, like the Minnesota Wild.


Anonymous said...

Hey Nick, Toivo here.

Just wanted to chip in my two cents since my facebook is full of HTP spam lately (kidding!) and I have no idea where the groin triage unit is. If I did I might have to check in myself. Just saying...

Anyway, the Wild. I blame Heather and her Church of Yeo column. Pretty much right after that they hit the wall. Again, I kid. I wasn't quite fully believing it while they were winning, but was certainly enjoying the ride, but it just seemed like their rope-a-dope ways of winning could only go on for so long, and the hockey nerds did warn us that it wasn't sustainable. The margin for error was just too small. We heard a lot about Yeo's system and interchangeable parts, but I think the real formula was a lot of blocked shots and being "hard to play against" on the defensive side, and on offense they were deep enough to have enough gas left in the third period to find a way to win. It seemed to me that their first two lines were more or less playing to a draw (though one or another would get hot when needed) but the third line of Brodziak, Johnson and whoever was always giving teams fits. But it required a lot of effort night in night out to keep it going.

Then that theory of interchangeable parts was undone by the concussions to PMB and Lats. That's roughly 100 points taken out of the lineup if you extrapolate their production over 82 games. I don't think it's a coincidence that the game vs. the Jets where PMB got hurt marked the beginning of the slump. Guys like Cullen and Brodziak, who had been key contributors when they were winning, went dry. They Wild are currently 10th in the league in man games lost. I'm not saying that it's just bad luck, but I think you can see how important depth and staying healthy is in the NHL.

So what do they do now? IMHO, not too much. Trading Zids seems like a given now, and if they can trade Zanon and/or Lundin, maybe Harding for anything then great. Other than that I don't see much else worth doing, unless they can somehow get in on Rick Nash, but since I'm not seeing any of those rumors I'm guessing it's not gonna happen. As this season winds up, the Wild are looking like they could make a good run at a top five pick this summer, which should put some more talent in the cupboard, and they've got some cap space to make a play in the FA market for Parise maybe. I think they should definitely keep KB around for the going rate for a quality 3rd line center because he is exactly that.

Sucks that we're talking about next season again already, but I think they're going to start getting better sooner than later.

Nick in New York said...

toivo! Cherchez

We miss you.