NHL Hockey On The Doorstep, Twins Still In The Hunt And Crummy TV Advertising?

Marc Elliott

ELY… Lets iron out some important matters here. You have all seen the Progressive Insurance “Flo” commercials or heard their radio spots. In fact it is now more like a bombardment. Well, it’s time for Flo to go. Most of the Progressive ad spots now are flat out stupid, especially the current radio campaign. Likewise for that little fricking green lizard on the Geico ad spots. In fact, there are currently a high number of moronic TV ads on the air right now and I can’t take it anymore. Of course I pay little attention to them and the companies will still point out that even if they are “stupid” they are still achieving that almighty name brand recognition. Arrrggghhhh….

AT LEAST THE NHL PROSPECTS TOURNEY kicks off on Friday the 11th and will go  through next Tuesday. I told the Fan Jr. that we are going to have to plan out a vacation around this event at some time in the near future. It is held at Traverse City MI, and in the early fall it is a great destination for some outdoor scenery, recreation and an early taste of some on ice action. Teams at the tournament this season will include the Wild, St. Louis, NY Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas NorthStars, Chicago Blackhawk’s and Detroit Red Wings. The event will feature most of these clubs top prospects and they are usually coached by the staffs from the teams AHL affiliates.  

Featured Wild prospects appearing will be; former Golden Gopher All American D-Mike Reilly, F-Reid Duke, F-Christoph Bertschy, G-Brody Hoffman, D-Zach Palmquist, F-Pavel Jenys, G-Stephen Michalek, F-Kurtis Gabriel, D-Dylan Labbe, F-Chase Lang, D-Gustav Olofsson, D-Tanner Faith, F-Grayson Downing, and D-Gustav Bouramman. Will any of these players be on the big clubs roster heading into the regular season? Well, based on his collegiate performance and his showing at last springs World Championships I would say Reilly stands a good chance of doing so. However, the NHL is not college or WC level hockey. Still, this kid has got some mad skating ability, great hands, good hockey sense and vision and that might move him forward. In addition he can move the puck out of the D-zone whether skating it out or passing. That is a vital part of the Wild’s game at this point in time.

John Torchetti and his Iowa Wild staff will be behind the bench and two- four team divisions will play down to a “Champion” in a Tuesday title game. It is fun and serious all at the same time. The Wild will open camp on Friday the 18th and there are some preseason tilts kicking off on the 20th featuring 3 games. The Wild will host the new and improved Buffalo Sabres on Monday the 21st at the Xcel Energy Center. On SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, host Jim “Boomer” Gordon has placed the Wild at number 3 in his preseason Power Rank behind Chicago and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Is that an accurate assessment? We are about to find out. I am OK with it, I have the club in the top 5.….

ON A BRIEF SIDENOTE, is Minnesota the Mecca of Ice Hockey in the United States? I think so and I smile as I remember this story. When retired former NHL player Brian Rolston (Michigan native) first came to the Wild I recall when he was on his way to the ‘X’ for his first Wild preseason game. He mentions that when he drove past the front of the arena on his way to team parking “it was 2 ½ hours before game time and there were already about 2500 to 3000 fans lined up outside of the arena to get in and the doors wouldn’t open for another hour and a half”. He had never seen anything like it and was totally amazed by what he saw. And of course the game was sold out as well. Yessir. Welcome to the State of Hockey…

THE MINNESOTA TWINS PLAYED the Houston Astros over the weekend in the Lone Star state. The weekend prior the Twins took 2 of 3 tilts from the “Stros” before the Texans returned the favor over this weekend. I have got to tell you though, after an 8-0 butt whomping from the Stros in the Friday eve contest, the Saturday game was nothing short of some nail biting excitement of the first order. Sunday was a hard fought battle until Houston got the upper hand late in the game en route to an 8-5 victory. But back to Saturdays epic contest. The game was a scoreless affair until Houston got a run in the bottom of the 5th. The Twins came right back to tie it up in the top of the 6th.

In the top of the 9th with Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe on base, Eddie Rosario tripled to right to score Dozier and Plouffe. The Astros got a solo knock in the bottom of the inning before the Twins newest closer Kevin Jepsen shut the door and closed out the game for his 11th save and a 3-2 Twins victory. I wrote recently that if the Twins could string some wins together that they might still challenge for a Wild Card playoff spot. Going into Monday nights game at Kansas City the team was a game and a half out of the 2nd spot currently held by the Texas Rangers. The club went 14-14 in August and is 3-3 so far in September. They are going to have to play better then .500 ball to get in.

If the Twins playoff chances go through the Texas Rangers and if the Twins can step it up a bit, I think they could still make it. After the Royals series the Twins will have 19 games left, but all against clubs behind them in the standings. There is a 4 gamer with the close at hand LA Angels but Texas has 7 games left in their schedule with Houston who could be trying to wrap up the AL West. On the down side Texas has an 8-4 record versus the Astros so far this season. If the Twins can reach down and bring it they just might do it. And if they do I think MLB has to take a strong look at Rookie skipper Paul Molitor for American League Manager of the Year. That’s right, I’m not kidding… PEACE