Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Bubbles and Caring and Kaprizov


Until this morning, I didn’t really have any compete when it came to this NHL restart.  It felt too contrived, too forced, too much favoritism of the big markets.  This Wild team isn’t a Cup contender, and blah blah blah.

But last night I recorded a podcast episode with Kevin Gorg that I think sort of lit my lamp, and this morning I listened to Russo’s podcast with Ryan Carter and officially found myself interested.  Which is not to say I suddenly think it’s NOT contrived/forced/too much favoritism of the big markets.  Just that, okay so it’s not perfect.  But it is intriguing at sort of a scientific/sociological level.  Like pretty much everyone’s healthy and rested across all 24 teams.  When does that ever happen at the start of the playoffs?  But how does the layoff impact that?  How will older players fare as compared to younger players?  What impact will the bubble have on performance?  Will the bubble be effective at keeping the virus at bay?  Yeah, it’s definitely interesting, even if it isn’t a pure, legit Cup chase as compared to full seasons.

In my discussion with Kevin last night one of the armchair quarterback theories I developed was that the lack of a live crowd may make it harder for a team to come back in a game - if doing so starts with an action or a series of actions that, in the aggregate, “turn the tide”.  That kind of thing is also interesting.  So here I am, interested.

Wild-wise, the goalie situation is definitely interesting.  Duby giving up three in his two periods in the first scrimmy the other day is...yikes.  And Russo reporting that Zuccarello was still doing the same “lost in the desert—> turnover” routine that he employed the whole season up to the pause is disheartening.

These best of five qualifying series should be fun, notwithstanding the late starts for the Wild games.


The NHL’s absurd, arbitrary, unilateral decision to change the rule to disallow players like Kaprizov to play in this contrived tournament is just so much bullshit.  And the PA’s decision to allow the league to do it in exchange for the escrow cap and the Olympics also sucks, but at least the players got something.  Whether the league initially did it intending to use it to horse trade with the PA, or it just turned out to be a convenient augur, I frankly don’t care.  On the other hand, if the Wild loses to the Canucks and then wins the #1 overall pick in the entry draft, that will certainly take the sting off it.  Which is not to suggest that they would definitely beat Vancouver with Kaprizov.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

This Thing Still On?


So yeah it’s been four years since the last post, so what?  And this is a weird time to rekindle a blog about the Wild because this is easily the lowest my compete level about this team has been since it was born.

But I have things I want to say.  And there’s some history here at HTP.  So this is where I say them.

Here’s the reset.  This is a fan blog.  I’m not an insider, I’m not a beat writer, I’m not Mike Russo.  Blogging about the Wild had gotten to the point for me where I felt like a poseur because I couldn’t offer any new or additional insight into the team than the pros can and do on a daily basis.  The only space I feel like I can do this from is pure fan opinion.  It’s emotional, based on empirical observations.  It’s not based on something a player or coach said to me when I interviewed them because I don’t interview players or coaches.  I read what the people who do interview players and coaches write, watch games with my own eyes, and react to all that.  I’m not looking to inform anyone of something concrete, or break any news.  I’m looking to discuss what’s going on with the team at a fan level.  That’s it.

So Where Are We With These Guys?

At this point it’s clear this team is not going to tank its way to a high draft pick in the forthcoming entry draft.  They’re what they have always been: just too good to be bad, but not good enough to be actually good.  They’re no contender, and frankly the Blues’ run last year is a bad thing for the Wild if it lulled someone like Leipold into a false sense of “just get in and anything can happen” security.

But here they sit, one point out of a wild card spot, with games in hand on two of the three teams between them and that 2nd wild card spot.  So, okay let’s sand table this.

They Need To Go On A Run

This is self-evident, because what team couldn’t benefit from going on a run.  But ripping off six-straight would be far more efficient as far as making up that ground on a playoff spot than more 7-3-1 would.  So, can they?  Well they have to beat Nashville, at home, with the Preds on the second of a B2B.  Have to.  In regulation, ideally.  Then they go out to California to face three bad teams.  Then a rest before three tough games (Vegas, Philly and Nashville B2B).  After that it’s a home and home (though not B2B) with the bad Blackhawks, the second of which is the first game in a tough road B2B, with the Jets on the back side of it.

Focusing on the short term, they have to beat Nashville, but then they equally have to take three of three in Cali.  I don’t see them beating each of Vegas, Philly and Nashville after that.  So the question is whether or not a four-game streak would get them into playoff position.  It better, because the final two weeks of the season are brutal.  Home Colorado, home Jersey, home Buffalo.  Then they finish with four-straight on the road: St. Louis, Islanders, Washington, Nashville. Maybe Jersey and Buffalo can be projected as wins?  And do you want to face Nashville - in Nashville - for game 82 with that wild card spot on the line?

Here’s how I see it working out:

Nashville W
@ San Jose W
@ Los Angeles W
@ Anaheim (B2B) W
Vegas L
Philly L
Nashville (B2B) L
Chicago W
@ Chicago L
@ Winnipeg (B2B) L
Colorado L
Jersey W
Buffalo W
@ St. Louis L
@ Islanders L
@ Washington L
@ Nashville L

7 wins.  14 points.  85 on the season.  Not enough.  But, to the earlier point, *just* enough to finish about where they are now in league standings, which is to say like 10th.  Maybe 9th.  Brutal.

As for tonight’s game against Nashville, I know Nashville will be fired up because they were embarrassed last night against Edmonton.  And the flight from Nashville to MSP isn’t the longest, so unless they had some delay they probably got a reasonable night’s sleep for a B2B with travel.  But we’re working off the premise that the Wild needs to win this game.  Must have it.  So, I’m going with the Wild.  My site is showing me Wild -1.5, +180, with an o/u of 6. Edmonton’s also on the 2nd of a B2B (in Dallas, who like the Wild is rested).  I’m seeing Dallas -1.5, +165.  I might parlay those two.