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ANGORA… Based on the Minnesota Wilds performance at this point of the early season, and in utilizing my amateur math wizardry, I’m projecting the club to be on a pace for a 53 point season. That obviously will not get the team a playoff spot. But we are already painfully aware that they aren’t getting one this year. That realization became mentally ensconced back in about early April or so. And a few minutes ago I had glanced at the line for a Wild article that suggested that the team might be suffering from a bad case of no “puck luck” but I dismissed that quickly. In my view the team has had about an average amount of that as do most teams at one time or another during an 82 game season. It’s only logical. I’ll look at that a bit more, but first…
DOWN IN THE BIG ‘D’ last Tuesday night the team had an indifferent performance to say the least. I mean, I’m trying to think of how I could describe it in words and this is the best I could come up with; the Wild came out and began the tilt with their usual measured deliberate pace of play. The Dallas Stars were playing right along to that. The Wild took a 2-0 lead into the first break on goals by Jason Zucker and Eric Staal. At about the ¾ mark of the 2nd frame Ryan Suter got a PP goal to extend the lead by one. This held until shortly after the Stars started to accelerate the pace of play by a noticeable amount. The Wild, based on multiple factors, don’t normally play at a torrid pace, and when faced with it, don’t respond well. Just before the 2nd break the Stars broke their goose egg on a tally by Alex Radulov.
The Stars came out and resumed with the mad pace of play, the Wild continued on with their mopey-dopey deliberate pace and the end result was an embarrassing 6-3 loss. This after gaining a 3 goal lead. In a high percentage of games the real good clubs don’t surrender 3 goal leads and then lose to boot. This was the front end of a back to back that would see them in STL the next evening to play the Blues. Whether that was good or not can be debated either way, it could give the team a chance to forget about the prior night’s meltdown, or it just might prolong their misery. This turned out to be a different type of game from my standpoint. When the Blues play their heavy game and do it with pace, they are usually successful. But I didn’t see much of the heavy game, and they seemed to be content to play along with the Wilds pace of play. In the 1st period the Note got the opening marker from Sammy Blais, the Wild got it back in less than 2 minutes later on Mats Zuccarello’s 1st score of the season and as a member of the Wild. The 2nd period was a standoff and the Blues got the GWG early in the 3rd on an Alex Pietrangelo tally for a 2-1 win. It wasn’t a snooze fest of a game, but not exactly a barnburner either. With Halloween less than 24 hours away the biggest entertainment might have been from some of the Blues fans attire. The big takeaway though? Two more games, zero points gained, a 1-8 road record thus far.
THE TWO TEAMS MET again in St. Paul on Saturday night. In a bit of a defense for the team they have played their best hockey on XCEL Center ice so far this year. The Wild opened the scoring in the 1st with a Marcus Foligno score. The Blues came back on a goal a minute and a half later then went ahead just short of the ¾ mark of the frame. The Wild tied the game at two a minute into the 2nd on Kevin Fiala’s 1st of the season, then went up 3-2 at the 4:39 mark on a Mats Zuccarello goal. Then the “puck luck” dilemna hit home. In the STL zone, with Zach Parise playing on the top of the crease, but clearly not in it, and with STL goalie Jake Allen playing as far up in the blue paint as possible, Mikko Koivu took a shot from just past the top of the circles. It hit STL D-man Colton Parayko, deflected downward and between both Parise’s and Allen’s legs and into the net. Parayko also got a partial deflect on Zuccarello’s score, but it appeared on it’s way in anyway.
STL challenged the goal, and post review, it was disallowed. With the unpredictability of how these goal reviews may go, I am not sure what to say here. Allen was playing so far up in the paint that he was literally right behind Parise and touching him. He wasn’t going to see any shot coming his way, let alone a deflected one. So, it’s still 3-2, Blais hauls down Luke Kunin in front of a referee, then ties the game. The game goes into OT, and the Wild are among the worst 3 on 3 teams in the league, (along w/STL) which holds true again when Ryan O’Reilly makes Parise look bad and gets the GWG 2:27 in. The fans are beyond upset, there are a couple out in the concourse spinning around in circles on the floor like Curly from the Three Stooges. Bruce Boudreau is upset, and several players alluded to the officiating this eve, and not in glowing terms.
For me? I’m actually smiling. I’ve concluded that this is exactly how this season will go and needs to go. There is nothing GM Bill Guerin can do in-season to change the course of this ocean liner. It will take another 68 “miles” to bring it to a stop, and when it arrives back in port, hopefully the team will have the most balls in the cage for the draft lottery and get lucky for once. That is what would make this a successful season… PEACE
THE ATHLETIC; 26th, trending for 84 points with a 20% chance at the playoffs and a 0% chance at a Cup. THE SAGARIN; 26th on a 4-10 record, 0-2 vs the top ten, 2-7 vs the top 16 with the 7th ranked difficulty of schedule. NHL STANDINGS; 7th of 7 in the Central on a 4-9-1 record for 9 points. 33 GF, 49 GA, -16 Diff. 3-1-1 @ H, 1-8 @ A. 0-0 in SO, 4-5-1 in L10, streak of 1 OTL. 30th in GF/33, 23rd in GA/49. 18th on the PP @ 19.1%, 14th on the PK @ 82.2%, 11th in PIM’s with 109. 8th of 9 in Western Conference Wild Card race. (2 qualify) 14th in the West, 28th of 31 in the NHL. This week; @ANH, @ SJ, and @ ARI. OVER & OUT!