Saturday, March 30, 2013
Friday, March 29, 2013
JUST KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
No, seriously, Bax is back in Minny so they need to take care of their own zone for whichever rookie is in net.
Everything else, just keep doing it.
GP MIN 32 DAL 32
GF/GM MIN 14th 2.72 DAL 15th 2.69
GA/GM MIN 8th 2.41 DAL 24th 3.00
PP% MIN t16th 17.9% DAL 21st 17.2%
PK% MIN 4th 85.9% DAL 12th 82.2%
Pitbull over/under on FSNorth: 6
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
At this point last season, things were going well for the Minnesota Wild. They had completed 31 games, and amassed a record of 20-8-3. They had gone on winning streaks of 5, 5 and 7 games, and climbed to the top of the NHL standings. True, they had started out slowly, getting out to a 4-3-3 record in their first ten games, but that could be attributed to the new coach at least a little bit.
The 2013 Wild has written a very similar story. 4-5-1 in the first 10 games, now sitting at 19-10-2 after 31 games. And, while they're not at the top of the league, their ascension to the top of the division has been stirring. Not only that, but the overall sentiment among Wild fans appears to be that last year felt more synthetic than this year. For whatever that's worth.
So I got to wondering when the beginning of the end occurred for the Wild last season. We all know how it ended, and that injuries either were the issue or precipitated it. And it just so turns out that it was in game 32, at home against Chicago, which the Blackhawks won 4-3 in a shootout, was the game in which Mikko got injured. At that point the Wild had already lost Setoguchi, Latendresse and Bouchard (even if he hadn't officially been diagnosed with the concussion yet), meaning Mikko was the fouth top six forward - and inarguably most important/least replaceable - to go down.
The Wild this season has been blessedly healthy (knock wood), all things considered. Whether your bar for injuries is a somewhat pedestrian Bruins level (Johnny Boychuk) or the extreme insanity Senators level (Spezza, Karlsson, Anderson, Michalek), the Wild has to be counting its lucky stars. Again, knock wood, and hopefully that doesn't change.
So this was the point last season that the end began. Mikko went down and that was just too much for this team to take. This season they're deeper, more talented, more cohesive and more-focused. Hopefully, they emerge from tomorrow night's game more healthy, too.
Some more comparisons between this and last season-to-date (through 31 games):
Regulation and OT Wins:
Last year: 13 (65% of total wins)
This year: 16 (84% of total wins)
Last year: 43
This year: 40
Percentage of available points (points / (games x 2)):
Last year: 69.35%
This year: 64.52%
Last year: 80 GF 66 GA +14
This year: 86 GF 75 GA +11
Last year: 1-2
This year: 2-1
Last year: 4-1
This year: 3-1
Blonde bombshell oil barons
and disowned snow birds.
Boromir then Faramir--
and last Jaromir.
Fierce, bored goaltending narwhals.
They all turtle walk.
no Modano mouth breathing.
No woman no cry.
It'll make him cray-cray mad.
Five assists mad?
Who could replace that classic
missed high-glove shot?
may be needed by the Twins.
You smell those Ribbies?
Play stops, Konopka is dumb--
but no penalty.
Jaromir. Your weak mullet:
unfit for Gondor.
Beware, glass above the glove.
Puck’s headed your way.
Sayeth no pornstar EVAR.
Zenon's no pornstar.
Koivu's mighty, cold murder--
tusks poised to heavens.
Daley always makes score sheet.
Blossoms in spring thaw.
Dallas, boring and contrived.
Captain of Gondor—worth shown.
like he's short for a dimebag
and his credit sucks.
snipes it like a red squirrel
tight-roping his porch.
Sayeth no pornstar EVAR.
Paging Al Semin.
like a proud elder Narwhal.
One last war in him.
Not like female shovelers--
Need more than pornstar ice girls--
(maybe). Pucks at net!
Clutter's classic missed glove shot.
I take it back, Cal.
Rivalry zombies to life.
Dallas still boring.
Maintain, maintain, and maintain.
Olde Time turtle shell.
Pin cushion, pikes, and tusks out.
Heater welds it shut?
Bouchard is only one left
from that bygone game.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
We had the full crew tonight! That's Mike, Mason, me and Ms. Conduct. We had tried to do a show with Heather earlier this season and were like 25 minutes into the recording when we ran into technical difficulties that nuked it. Major bummer. She had been on a roll, too. So we finally got through a whole recording with her - and it does not disappoint.
Wild-ranging Wild discussion, with a good helping of Aeros talk as well, obviously.
We also squeezed in a healthy discussion about Backstrom, how Torchetti is handling the constant turnover, how awesome all this awesome positivity is, and the fact that Morrow is no longer a Star.
Good show, give it a listen!
We're witnessing a miracle. That's what it is. It's not luck. It's not taking advantage of poor opposition play (Colorado notwithstanding). And, what I've come to accept, is that it's also not a hot streak which carries the implication of a cooling off period at some point in the future.
No, in the full context of the history of the Minnesota Wild, this is a miracle. We have wandered through the desert of bad hockey for twelve years, and have been delivered.
This team has always struggled to play well for 60 consecutive minutes. No longer.
This team has never received consistent secondary scoring for this long. Now it does.
This team always used to perform despite what appeared to be either confusion about the application of the coach's system or plain old indifference to it. Now they're automatons.
Actually, that last one isn't quite true. The only other time I've seen this team adhere to the system this comprehensively and consistently for this amount of time was the 2003 Western Conference Finals team. And this team - the 2013 team - would whip that team's ass. Skate circles around it.
Yeah, I was one of the people wondering if Yeo was the right guy earlier this season. I'm not ashamed to admit how rash that seems now.
Yeah, I was one of the people wondering if Seto wouldn't be better off elsewhere. Humble pie city.
Yeah, I was one of the guys slamming Matt Cullen for his horrid play earlier this season. My bad.
Yeah, I was one of the fans saying trade Bouchard for whatever you can....well that one's still intact.
I'm not saying they're going to win the rest of their games. Not at all. I'm just saying this isn't some fugue state they've entered into that they'll eventually snap out of. No, I expect this level of play to continue. This adherence to the system. This discipline (Konopka notwithstanding). This defensive buy-in. This goaltending. Because that's what it takes to win in the NHL. That's how good teams play. That's how playoff teams play. And that's the standard for this team, now. I'm in, guys. But that carries expectations. Of standards of play. No more shifts, periods, games off. Work hard and lose? Okay, just not too often. That's progress. That's a miracle.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Over at the GTRCMBSHP we were discussing the Wild's all-time career points (with the Wild) top ten list. Also known as the franchise scoring leaders.
Currently that list is:
1. Gaborik 437pts
2. Koivu 361
3. Bouchard 327
4. Brunette 321
5. Rolston 202
6. Burns 183
7. Walz 182
8. Dupuis 141
9. Kuba 132
10. Schultz 128
Nice enough list. If W was still the Prez. Considering how well the team is playing of late, it speaks to what Fletcher has had to do to overhaul the lineup, and how well his hard work is finally paying off.
Anyway, it got me to thinking about how our players are performing this season, as compared to their careers-to-date.
So I annualized their season-to-date points to an 82-game schedule ((points/GP*82), then I annualized their career-to-date points to an 82-game schedule ((career points/career GP)*82). Then I ran the differential (season annualized points - career annualized points). Here's what I came up with.
(Ranked by season-to-date points lead)
1. Koivu on pace for 68.86, career avg 61.06, +6.80 (11.13%)
2. Suter on pace for 67.86, career avg 37.63, +30.24 (80.36%)
3. Parise on pace for 65.03, career avg 66.87, -1.83 (-2.74%)
4. Setoguchi on pace for 56.55, career avg 48.30, +8.25 (17.08%)
5. Cullen on pace for 56.55, career avg 42.93, +13.62 (31.72%)
6. Heatley on pace for 48.07, career avg 79.79, -31.72 (-39.76%)
7. Bouchard on pace for 41.00, career avg 50.91, -9.91 (-19.47%)
8. Gilbert on pace for 28.38, career avg 32.80, -4.42 (-13.46%)
9. Spurgeon on pace for 32.880, career avg 24.66, +8.14 (33.02%)
10. Brodziak on pace for 19.79, career avg 32.76, -12.97 (-39.59%)
After that you start to get into the rookies, but here are the other upper classmen of note:
14. Clutterbuck on pace for 17.83, career avg 26.33, -8.50 (-32.30%)
16. Stoner on pace for 14.14, career avg 11.88, +2.26 (19.05%)
17. Mitchell on pace for 12.15, career avg 20.57, -8.42 (-40.93%)
18. Rupp on pace for 9.46, career avg 13.64, -4.18 (-30.65%)
21. Konopka on pace for 0.00, career avg 8.11, -8.11 (-100.00%)
Falk, Scandella and Prosser have enough games to do this, but they're not really counted on for offense so they get a pass.
What's interesting to me are how the overall team average is negative, even though the net (no pun intended) results are obviously good.
Heatley clearly stands out, but is off-set by Suter. Brodziak is down, but you have to think last year was the aberration (contract year) and that's bringing his career numbers up artificially. Mitchell is down from his career numbers, but the Sharks scored more than we do as a team so that's not a totally fair comparison. The other way to think about this is that we're scoring more or less as much as we should be, based on historical performances.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Once again, we are graced with a spaghetti western-inspired review of the Wild's visit to Detroit as they take on the Dead Things.
The Wild's PK. Wow. Detroit may be struggling, but the Wild did a great job of shutting out their opponent on the man advantage.
Jonas Brodin. The kid got a huge amount of praise from Doc Emerick and the gang on NBC Sports Network. I'm not complaining, because he deserves it.
Mike Yeo's hair. I dunno, I got nothing. From a Wild perspective, there wasn't much bad about this game.
Nicklas Kronwall's attempted beheading of Charlie Coyle. I hear Saudi Arabia is running short of executioners. The way Kronwall went after Coyle's melon, I wonder if he was applying for a job.
Mike Babcock's constipation face. Mike Babcock looks like he's got a terminal case of it.
A few words more
Great performance by the Wild. Good job getting the puck on net, excellent special teams, and Jonas Brodin showed why he'll be a big part of this team for years to come.
If this season was the movie Bull Durham, the Wild - as Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh - announced their presence with authority on Monday night with the win *in* Vancouver. Now they need a curve ball. And a win in Detroit - another building that's given the Wild fits over the years - would be a pretty good way to work on that hook.
Almost everything is going well for the Wild right now. With the exception of Harding's status, and perhaps some inconsistency from the younger defensemen (which, depending on how you look at it, may or may not be a stretch), it's hard to find any facet of their game lacking. Even the national press is starting to pay the Wild some attention.
Wizened Wild or Minnesota sports teams fans can hardly be blamed for being hand shy here. But what if? What if this team is for real? Actually capable of playing to this level on a consistent basis? Are they contenders? Probably not for the Cup. But for the playoffs? Hell to the yes! So why not?
It's the Wild's second appearance on NBC's over-wrought "Rivalry Night". Wooo and stuff.
GP MIN 28 DET 29
GF/GM MIN 21st 2.50 DET 17th 2.62
GA/GM MIN 6th 2.43 DET 9th 2.52
PP% MIN 18th 17.2% DET T21st 15.8%
PK% MIN 5th 85.9% DET T18th 80.2%
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Fuck you Comcast DVR.
Then those fucks score. Great.
Clearly this game is cursed for sure.
Blossoms or some shit.
I blame the Canucks
Case in point: Burrows.
Lapanta can't be trusted;
Greenlay too jolly.
Nothing will salvage my tone--
BRODIN GIVES BONERS!!1
Had only we killed their own.
Classic rebound team.
We hap'ly disown our own
When they sign with THEM.
Does a Canuck buzz? A bee?
Your morning alarm.
Walks on ice but when it breaks,
the Finned cannot swim.
not a good interview make.
Gorg huffs in troll too.
As boom goes the dynamite
as FSN gets.
Super hot, though.
(That's my one haiku form veto.)
how much I hate these Fers?
F them with a moose.
Sometimes one man's junk and such...
Not this time for sure.
That's a better deflection
than blaming the cats.
The last drops of the Steel Toe
are most bittersweet.
to writing sober haiku.
Fools, too, like Canucks.
complain again of Cullen.
He's now Mr. March.
Hawks, Blues, Stars, Preds, Avs... Peggers?
Luongo's battleworn mask
is bullshit. Surprised?
would forego food and snuggles
offered by Canucks.
Seventeen ticks to glory.
Move way over Vancouver?
Monday, March 18, 2013
This shapes up to be a very big game. Obviously, first place on the line, but also a chance for Vancouver to right the ship a bit, or for the Wild to put a stake in the ground that they are, and intend to remain, officially on the scene.
Just looking at ROW, the Wild has 12. Vancouver has 10. Edmonton 9, Calgary 11, Colorado 9. As we talked about on The Dump In last night (check it out), the Wild is starting to show some signs of separation from the passel of teams outside the top 8 in the west right now, to the point where - if they are actually this good, and are not just on a hot streak - they might be able to solidify a spot in the top 8 for good. 2 points from Vancouver tonight goes a long way towards justifying that theory.
Also, the Wild needs to slay the Canucks dragon. 2003 is a ghost at this point, and Vancouver has owned the division for a long time. What better way to put the NW division to bed after this season than by casting some doubt on the idea that the Canucks are the best team in it? I can think of no parting gift that I'd rather give to Vancouver's "fans".
I agree with Russo that Bax is going to need some rest, and likely soon. But I hope he's got one more solid game in him, and that that game is tonight. Looking ahead to the Red Wings, they're as vulnerable as they've been since the Wild were born, so maybe that's the game for Hax or maybe Hards to get in there and spell the big Finn.
GP MIN 27 VAN 27
GF/GM MIN 22nd 2.48 VAN 14th 2.74
GA/GM MIN 8th 2.48 VAN t14th 2.67
PP% MIN 20th 16.5% VAN 27th 13.6%
PK% MIN 5th 86.4% VAN 15th 81.0%
My predictions have not come true yet this season, so I'm going to retire my crystal ball. Enjoy the game, folks!
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Friday, March 15, 2013
The Wild, on balance, has performed better than I thought they would this season. I expected them to be a playoff team this season, and they are in position to do just that. A brief stint atop the moribund Northwest Division was a bonus surprise. Overall I've been satisfied with the experience as a Wild fan on balance.
There have been pockets of frustration, to be sure. The 4-5-1 start was unsettling. The paltry offense was discomfiting. The power play continues to be vexing.
But, of late, they're playing as close to 60-minute games as they've played certainly since Yeo came on board. They're getting some offense. Each of the lines is developing an identity, and they're all contributing. The goaltending is the solid-if-unspectacular that we've come to expect. And they're winning games. They're 10-5-1 in their last 16. And there's just a sense that it's coming together.
For every disappointment (Granlund, Bouchard, Harding) there has been a bonus surprise (Brodin, Zucker, team defense). Suter is playing lights out. Cullen has rebounded from a poor start to really be a difference maker of late. Parise and Koivu are developing some chemistry. Lots of good signs.
They seem to have two lines that can be counted on to provide offense consistently. While that's not exactly Chicago-deep, it's still twice as deep as the Wild has been most of its existence. And impovement, in other words.
I'd still like another defenseman, and maybe Brett Clark is that guy. Sure a natural right winger for the top line would be great, but I can't see them spending too much more money on veterans right now.
So, as the back end of the season stretches out in front of us, I think the Wild is in good shape. They aren't likely to get too much pressure from behind them in the division.
Keys for the 2nd half:
*Improve power play
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Very solid game after playing last night. Top line scoring, strong team defense, good special teams, solid goaltending. That's a paradigm for success. Beating the Canucks for first just gravy.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
It's got to be frustrating to go on a very decent .600 run like the Wild recently has, and not make up any ground in the super-tight Western Conference. But such is life for the mediocre teams like the Wild. It might not take 24 games, but it seems the only thing that will get one of the 8 or so teams fighting for the 8th place in the West some separation from the pack is a good streak.
In just a couple games, Cullen and Suter will pass Parise for points on the season. The effort is still there, the shots, the chances, but not the finish. Fair or not, we need points from him. And everything else. But we need points first and foremost. What's the statute of limitations on giving him a break? When do we get to his 'bi-lateral leg weakness' moment and realize it's okay to demand more from him? Before or after they let more teams pass them in the playoff race?
This team can be very good. We've seen that. Better even, with Parise, than we've been in the preceding few seasons, I'd say. But the inconsistency - a problem that pre-dates Parise to be sure - is maddening.
We're back to questioning the professionalism and leadership of a team that cannot, will not, put out three straight periods of good effort. That's the annual issue with this team. And this year is apparently no different - it's just a sexier roster in which to be disappointed.
Who cares? They're the Predators. They play among the most boring brands of hockey in the league - it's effective, don't get me wrong - but it's dead boring.
Their fans should be geeked up for the start of this one with Suter coming back for the first time.
GP MIN 22 NAS 24
GF/GM MIN 25th 2.27 NAS 30th 2.12
GA/GM MIN 10th 2.50 NAS 5th 2.29
PP% MIN 22nd 15.4% NAS 21st 15.6%
PK% MIN 5th 86.8% NAS T26th 77.2%
Preds come out flying with crowd behind them, score two early, Wild cannot overcome.
Final score: 3-1 Predators win
Wild goal scorer: Suter (Machiavelli laughs)
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Quick little episode tonight. Mike and I broke down the Taylor Hall retribution situation then talked about how to get Parise and Koivu going. Plus our thoughts on the keys to a win tonight for the Wild.
Regardless of whether or not Hall plays the Wild needs two points - ideally in regulation - more than it needs to run around like a bunch of idiots looking to avenge Cal. If the opportunity presents itself, and you don't have to take an instigator to do so (looking at you, Konopka), then fine. But I'd rather see the likes of Konopka use his hands on a goal than on a fight with Eager - and I'm not one of those anti-fighting jackasses.
6-3-1 in the last 10 is good. But it's so tight in the west the Wild cannot afford a lapse, and probably need to rip off a winning streak to get some distance.
Sitting two points - and two wins - behind the Wild, the Oilers are not a team to be trifled with. They have more skill than the Wild, albeit worse defense and goaltending (I'm not buying Dubnyk as a star). They need to use their speed through the neutral zone and to establish the forecheck. When they did that the last time we played, they had success. They got away from it as the game went on and their success waned.
GP MIN 20 EDM 20
GF/GM MIN 28th 2.15 EDM 25th 2.35
GA/GM MIN 7th 2.40 EDM 13th 2.65
PP% MIN 26th 13.7 EDM 6th 21.7%
PK% MIN 6th 85.9% EDM 5th 86.5%
Oilers' kids find the back of the net, Grease wins.
Final score: 4-2 Edmonton
Wild goal scorer: Cullen
Friday, March 1, 2013
The Wild will drop the puck a bit later this evening in Anaheim against the host Ducks. I have a DVR, a tablet, and a fine selection of Third Street Brewhouse's offerings. Either way, stay tuned to this space this evening.
Game about to begin.
Beer #1: Rise to the Top Cream Ale
Darcy Kuemper starting out good in net. Keep up the good work kid. Don't fuck up.
Good lord this little Swedish boy is good, but my man crush is gonna have issues if Kuemper keeps playing like this.
Luca Sbisa looks like an extra from The Sopranos.
You dopes, hanging the kid out to dry like that.
Bouchard is as helpless as a three-hour old gazelle. With less coordination.
Six minutes in and scoring chances are already 5-1. Odds of a drunken rage are rising dramatically.
How is cross checking Zucker in the face not a penalty?
Bruce Boudreau isn't nearly as much of a troglodyte as Randy Carlyle. Just saying.
Goal Selanne. Time for another beer.
Beer #2: Sugar Shack Maple Stout
Kemps Blue Bunny is getting a raw deal in starting this game. Both goals could have been prevented with better defense.
Wait. The Fox Sports North Girls have names?
Ooh! A power play? Pardon me, but I'm not holding my breath.
This power play is the only reason the Wild have more than one scoring chance this period.
Stoner drops his purse and I farted. Coincidence?
Rupp and Mitchell with a 2 on 0. Hiller not concerned, nor should he be.
Kuemper with a huge save while Gilbert does everything he can to trip and interfere with Kemps.
Start by icing the puck. That's good work, boys.
Hiller saw Seto's shot coming a mile away. That's the problem.
Tom Gilbert could give acting lessons to that Daniel Day Lewis guy.
Hairpanta is almost stroking out every time a Wild player takes a shot.
Konopka allows some Ducks goon the pleasure of getting punched in the face. I approve. (I also farted).
Beer #3: back to the cream ale. Don't get me wrong, the Sugar Shack is awesome, but I like the variety.
Bad rookie. Bad! Cover the puck better!
Yeo better breathe fire during intermission to get this team back on track.
Brodin always seems to know what to do with the puck.
Jesus this team can't score to save their lives. Wide open net, yeah, Handbag, shoot it wide. Brilliant.
Only Jack Lemon in Glengarry Glen Ross is worse at closing the deal.
I'm this close to switching to Scotch.
Beer # ... fuck it, I stopped counting. Garçon! Another Sugar Shack, sil vous plait!
Wait. What? My wife stood up and literally 2 seconds later the Wild scored. (I have no plans to start drinking coffee in an effort to sober up.)
Love watching Koivu get in Getzlaf's grill.
Also, bullshit icing. "That's good work, boys" #chiefwiggum
I will say that with these late games, I'm not opposed to showing Tom Gilbert's mug. (Kids are in bed already.)
Spurge on knocked someone else off the puck? What wizardry is this?
Mike Yeo: "Get on those rebounds!" Every Wild player: "The fuck is a rebound?"
OK. Wtf. 0.34 seconds after my wife gets off the couch, Handbag scores. Ridick.
Coyle needs to work on shooting the puck quicker.
Holy balls this Brodin kid is good.
Coyle pitches a tent in Hiller's kitchen. That's what we like to see, kid.
Cullen draws a penalty by being Cullen.
And that's game.
I'd normally add something pithy but I'm in no cond ... condish ... shape to analyze anything right now.
Tune in next time, folks.
Desert hockey--we can't lose!"
Gary Bettman sucks.
if his last name was "Zmuckers"
I'd spread him on bread.
fuck you, you fucking fucker.
Your mom hates you too.
His jab-fake and then right cross
felled his mighty foe.
conceived by humans.
draws such horrid jersey fouls?
How low the sport falls.
Scores whilst skating? I know, right?
Spring blossoms for all.
Into an assist monster.
Still a dooshbag, though.
Lord Russo's wisdom wastes on
The Fool Lapanta.
"Bad Penalty" Konopka--
the Wild's union rep.
Immobile, facing net, snipe.
Trees pine for hat trick.
Man crush will then be complete.
Boners for Brodin.
Mike Smith is a big doosh too.
to dude named Rusty Klesla?
Worth the goal against.
spells "Jared" correctly,
which is why he scored.
It's Hannah LaBarbera.
Next time no 40-foot shots.
We can't trade that shit.
Highass interference call.
(Oldie but goodie.)
Feed the fucker to my cats.
Gig'ling like a fool.
Gimme that fillet o'fish.
Would Jesus Big Size?