Goodbye, Edmonton Oilers

Welcome to a new feature “Goodbye ________”, where we (I still don’t know why I use “We” instead of “I”) give a farewell/eulogy of sorts to a team that the Wild will no longer have as a division rival. As you might know, Matt Kassian and the top line bid the Edmonton Oilers goodbye in style, winning a 4-3 game last night that had everything. It had pretty goals, ugly goals, goals scored by Minnesotans for you silly Minnesota fetish fans, two fights, and most importantly, the home team winning. Yay.

But, weirdly, the Wild don’t play the Oilers for the rest of the season (assuming they do not meet in the playoffs), so last night was their last night playing each other as division rivals. Let’s take a look at what we had, and what we’ll lose.

Hordichuk: "I wish I knew how to quit you." (Taken from Yahoo!)

Continue reading

Breaking Down “The Streak”, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Regression

(WARNING: The title of this post is sooooooooooo much better than it’s contents. Proceed at your own risk.)

So, here we are, Wild fans. 8 games. Eight. Friggin. Games. Ocho Gameos.

The Streak.

I’m a bit on edge.

But you know what? I want to feel better. So I downloaded every Animorph book that exists, and am now on The Visitor (Somehow, I managed to not get laid tonight. Weird). But now that I’ve decompressed a little bit, let’s look at what the Wild have done on this streak, and try to figure out what’s wrong (other than injuries, I’m really sick of talking about them), and what can be fixed.  Continue reading

Mikko Returns, Wild Still Lose; Whose Leg You Gotta Hump?: Spurgeon Edition; WJC update

Here I was going into tonight planning on talking about the importance of Mikko Koivu.

Not that he’s not. He set up the second goal of the game, logged 23 1/2 minutes of ice time, was a +1, and won 64% of his 22 faceoffs. It’s great to have him back, but it doesn’t mean the same after the result tonight. They lost. They’ve canceled out the good getting 14 points in 7 games has done.

The silver lining to this is the cushion that the Wild have built has prevented the Wild from dropping out of the race. In fact, after a 7 game losing streak, the Wild’s 6th in the conference, and only one point behind the division-leading Canucks. That’s actually really awesome. While it certainly would be nice to still have that leeway in the standings, that’s exactly what a team builds that leeway for. For when their team gets bitten by the injury bug, when their goaltending regresses from superhuman to merely very good, when the team gets tired and frustrated. Even after a 7 game losing streak, the Wild are closer to the top of the standings to the outside of the playoff bubble. Continue reading

Happy Holidays from Jacques Lemaire’s Trap!

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah (I checked, I haven’t missed it), Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Festivus, Freedom Day, the end of Finals, a day off, pre-New Year’s pregaming, or literally anything else (with the exception of a Canucks victory), I wish you a safe and happy time doing so. I’m taking a few days after finals to decompress, but I’ll be back on December 26, so stay tuned.

If you want to give me anything for Christmas, you should consider a follow @TonyWiseau. Or large sums of money. You pick.

Happy Holidays, peoples!

Previewing the Wild Junior Championships

NHL Prospect rankings are hard. Maybe harder than any other sport.

Obviously that’s might not be entirely true, there is a lot of trial and error when it comes to evaluating minor league talent, a lot of hits and misses with any sport, except maybe top two picks in the NBA. The difficulty in hockey talent evaluations is that you’re dealing with 17 year old kids when they’re drafted- the youngest of any sport. But even the NFL, which waits until the age of 20 to draft prospects, has a lot of trouble evaluating talent.

A huge reason for this is because you’re dealing with human beings, and with the slight exception of hockey experts calling the Wild boring, you can never really predict what human beings are going to do.

But that’s just drafting. At least baseball prospects are in the same minor leagues as everyone else, and football and basketball players make the leap to the highest levels right away. Hockey prospects are all over the world, playing all kinds of different talent levels. We can all figure out that Mikael Granlund’s 38 points in 32 SM-Liiga games are pretty damn valuable. But what’s more impressive? Zack Phillips’ 54 points in 32 games playing against kids his own age in Juniors, or Johan Larsson’s 23 points in 31 games in the Sweedish Elite League? It’s kind of hard to say.

And therein lies the beauty of the World Junior Championships. For a magical two weeks, all the top prospects are on a level playing field. Even in a small sample size, we can still glean quite a bit of information from this tournament. With the Wild sending six prospects to the WJCs next week, let’s break down the prospects participating, and what to expect from them. Continue reading

Why The Wild Should Trade Josh Harding

No one expected this.

Josh Harding was signed to a 1 year, $750K deal after Jose Theodore left this summer. Everyone thought it was a fine move. Harding got a year to showcase himself him after losing a contract year to injury, and the Wild got a solid backup who they had thought at one point could be their starter.

And then Harding blew up. Harding has been dominating at backup duty, putting up a .932 SV% over 13 games and 11 starts, and would likely be the starting goaltender right now if the current starter, Niklas Backstrom, wasn’t putting up Vezina numbers too. Together, they’ve become arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league (only Boston can claim they’re better), propelling the Wild to the top of the NHL.

So why trade this guy? Continue reading

1 Out of 4, Injuries, and Coyle

I promised an Optional Skate today, and that might come later. Maybe even be pushed to Saturday.

But there are a few more pressing concerns with the team right now. Stupid finals are making me behind in the news.

First of all, my take on the one points out of four on Tuesday and Wednesday: It doesn’t concern me too much. The Wild outshot Winnipeg, and were one off Chicago’s shot total on Wednesday. The winning streak was going to end, and to get seven wins in between losses is something any hockey team will take. The loss at Chicago hurts a bit, but the Wild at least took a point. Sometimes Pat Kane beats your goalie in the shootout like he’s a cab driver. It happens.

What is really concerning are the injuries. Continue reading