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.