Flying footballs, baseballs and pucks!

Marc Elliott

The CBJ and COL Av's faced off in Finland last week

FOND DU LAC – After the recent listless 4-0 loss to the second-year expansion club, the Seattle Kraken, on home ice no less, I was having a few exchanges with some WILD fans online and it was interesting. One poster in particular, was from the “it’s early, they’ll be fine” school of thought.
I told him I disagreed. I told him that this was the time of year when habits are formed and patterns can be ferreted out. He didn’t agree of course, but the discourse soon ended diplomatically with no contention involved, as it should be. I mean, we’re just fans. There is no need for verbal fighting is there?

But my own all-business, serious-about-this-game mentality lurking beneath the posting was vehemently shaking its head, knowing that’s not how I really saw things. That is a whole different picture of this team as I see it at the moment. I see a team that has gone 1-3 on a four-game homestand to commence the new season. I also see a team that currently sits at 5-5-1 after its first 11 tilts, gaining only 11 points of a possible 22, which by the way, isn’t the pace needed to obtain a pass into Lord Stanley’s tournament next spring.

Above and beyond that, I have seen a team that basically no-showed two games so far this season, (DET & SEA) and lost both of them in true ugly hockey fashion.
If you extrapolate that out for the season, that represents 13 games and a potential loss of 26 points. Sure, I realize the team isn’t going to win every time out, and I do know it’s a long season.
On the other hand, the WILD got outplayed and outhustled in both of those losses. Worse yet, if you subtract those games from the 82-game schedule, that leaves you with only 69 chances to get enough points to get a playoff spot. That’s as serious as a heart attack to me if you are in the hockey business.

If I was more forceful with my online debate partner, I would have said au contraire’ my friend. Championship clubs, or real contenders, are ready on Day One. They don’t take games “off.” They scrap it out no matter what.
The stats are one thing, but to be honest, I just don’t like what I’m seeing in this team right now.
And speaking of stats, this teams are not pretty. I understand they looked like a team that was working its way out of its funk on their recent five-game road trip, (3-1-1) on the other hand, none of their five wins has come against a team playing better than .500 hockey. That’s another concern.
After 11 tilts the team’s Goals For has steadily gone down, they sit at 19th/34GF, they are at 22nd/40GA, the power play is still having some success, but its frequency of scoring has trended downward, they are at 7th/26.3%.
The penalty kill is still a sore spot ranking at 25th/73.5% and the teams penchant for taking too many needless penalties is still a detriment to any success, ranking at 8th most with 134PIMs.
If you wish to be considered a bonafide contender, your PP and PK percentages need to add up to 103 or better. The WILD falls short there. There is also that old theory that if you are in a playoff position at American Thanksgiving, you will most likely get in. The WILD isn’t there at the moment and Turkey Day is 18 days out. The boys have some work to do.

The Sagarin Ranking has the team at 14th based on a 5-6 record, going 0-2 versus the top ten, and 0-4 versus the top 16 with a 29th ranked schedule difficulty. Let me translate that; the WILD have amassed their current record against the rest of the league with the 4th easiest schedule in the NHL. So, how can you say that “it’s early” or that they’ll “be fine” when it’s becoming clear that they won’t be?

The club will also be without its four most physical players with Jordan Greenway out and on the IL, where he joins Ryan Hartman. Also out temporarily are Marcus Foligno and Brandon Duhaime. This isn’t good news as the club will hit the road for a three-game west coast swing before returning home for a fourth game in the calendar week.

The team is @ LAK, @ ANH (back-to-back), then @ SEA before playing back in St. Paul Sunday versus the SJ Sharks. I do not want to be a pessimist, but I see the club going 2-2 if they are lucky. The team is digging a hole for itself it may not emerge from. That’s exactly why the “it’s early, they’ll be fine” stuff is a load of hooey. Nuff’ said...

The Houston Astros are the 2022 MLB World Series Champion after eliminating the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 2. They won G6 with a strong 4-1 performance, and with former Twins pitcher Ryan Pressly getting one of his two WS saves (G5 & G6) in this game to seal the deal. He also appeared in G4, which turned out to be only the second no-hitter game in WS history. Pressly was the pitcher of note for the final three outs in the game but was not eligible for a save.

The first no-hitter in WS history took place in the 1956 WS with Don Larsen of the NY Yankees hurling that game against the then-Brooklyn Dodgers. I was still “filling” diapers in that one, but did see the history-making tilt last Wednesday eve.
It was an interesting series, with Philly taking a 2-1 lead before the Astros tuned up their game and took over for the series victory. A hearty congrats to baseball lifer and Astros skipper Dusty Baker, who is finally a WS Champion as a manager.
The Gophers FB team earned a nice come-from-behind victory against the Nebraska Cornhuskers last Saturday in Lincoln by a score of 20-13. The win elevates them to 6-3 for the season and makes them bowl-game eligible. The Huskers owned the early part of the game and came away with a 10-0 lead at halftime.

Gophers QB Tanner Morgan was injured at some point in the half and had to yield to freshman QB Athan Kaliakmanis.
The boys rallied behind the “Greek Gopher” and took this game over. I’d like to say that I thought he did much better in the passing game than T-Mo did and was more adept at getting away from potential sacks.
Next Saturday; versus the 1-8 Northwestern Wildcats in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Vikings came away with a hard-fought road win today against a tough Washington Commanders team by a 20-17 final.
This win puts the Vikes at 7-1 for the year. The questions about the Purple being a “real” 7-1 team or not persist though.
The Sagarin Rank has them at 12th after week 8 with a 31st ranked difficulty of schedule. That would partially explain why the team now in possession of the NFL’s second-best overall record isn’t in the top ten.
Are they for real? It is still hard to tell, to be honest. Here’s hoping! PEACE