Monday

2-2-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to the start of another week. I hope you enjoyed your weekend thoroughly. We're back in the deep-freeze here in the upper Midwest, so for those of you in warmer climes, I hope you're enjoying it. You'd damned well better be!

Also, apologies to those of you who took my recreational gaming advice yesterday. I went with Pittsburgh (-6.5) to the Under (46.5), and it ended up Arizona (+6.5) to the Over (total was 50). Sorry about that.

It was an amazing finish to an otherwise dull game, I thought. There were certainly some incredible individual performances, but like Super Bowl 42, it was 3 quarters of dull and 1 quarter of "Ohmygoddidyouseethat?!" But the debate about whether a good finish makes a good game is for another day.

Today it's the delayed, but never denied version of the DFTU. Did the Badgers get off the schneid? Were the Wild able to gain any measure of consistency? I fear the answer is the same to both questions.

So let's get the pain over with!

"Very little is known of the Canadian country since it is rarely visited by anyone other than the Queen and illiterate sport fisherman."
- P.J. O'Rourke (1947- ), American political satirist, journalist and writer


Yes, that's a complete cheap-shot against Canada (sorry Hammer). But I felt like sharing the pain a little today.

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So without further ado, it's time for everybody's favorite segment: Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 25-21-3, good for 53 points and 2nd place in the Northwest Division.

Before anybody gets too excited about the "2nd place", remember that 2nd place in the Northwest is 11 points behind first-place Calgary. And there's a 1-point difference between 2nd place and 4th place.

The Wild are 5-5 in their last 10 games. In fact, they've traded wins and losses over their last 7 games.

I've discussed the "feast or famine" nature of their offense over the last several weeks, and the trend continues. Look at their last 7 scores: 4, 1, 6, 2, 4, 0, and 5. Can you guess which ones are the wins and which ones are the losses? I thought so.

And it's not just the level of their competition. Yes, the 6 was against a pitiful Toronto Maple Leafs, and yes, the 0 was against the stingy Anaheim Ducks. But they also posted a 4-spot against Roberto Luongo, who's one of the best net-minders in the league. So clearly they have the talent to score goals against quality opponents.

So why aren't they able to score more consistently? I think this quote from Jacques Lemaire about last night's game could be telling:

"We're playing better, and we have to get all the guys to play hard. You look tonight. If we had a passenger, there's no way we win. And we need our goaltender to make the saves; otherwise we don't win."

It sounds to me like he's saying that the team has such little margin for error in terms of scoring, that if even one guy dogs it on a given night, they've got no shot. Now that may be exaggerated to try and motivate his players, but I don't think it's that far off the truth. As I said, there is scoring talent on this team, but not enough that any of the main players can afford to take a night off.

There's still time for general manager Doug Risebrough to make a move to try and add to the Wild's offensive attack. But the history of the club doesn't make that seem like very likely. So brace yourself Wild fans. What we see may be what we're going to get the rest of the way!

The Wild are home for their next 4 games, starting Wednesday night against Anaheim. Then Friday they host Nashville, followed by Edmonton on Sunday.

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 12-9 and 3-6 in the Big Ten, which puts them in (gasp) 9th place.

Okay. At 3 losses in a row, I was concerned. At 4 losses, I started to kvetch. At 5 losses, I became downright scared. And now that the Badgers' losing-streak has reached 6, I'm in full-blown panic mode.

After Saturday's 66-63 loss at Northwestern (who Wisconsin had previously beat by 30), the wheels have officially come off. I know this because as I peruse the future opponents, I have no idea where the next win is coming from.

This isn't anything like what I've become used to during the Bo Ryan era. In his first 7 seasons, Bo's guided the Badgers to the NCAA tournament. We're dangerously close to breaking that particular streak.

20 wins is no guarantee of a Tournament berth, and the Badgers would have to go 8-1 the rest of the way to finish 20-10 in the regular season. There's still the opportunity to win the Big Ten Tournament, of course. But there are going to have to be some serious changes if they want to catch fire and win that title.

At this point, I'm having all sorts of trouble assessing the problem. Or should I say "problems"? Losing streaks like this aren't generally the result of just one issue.

I'm certainly not going to join the muted rumblings of those who are starting to call for Bo Ryan's job. I think all the success he's had gives him a mulligan or two for sure. But I'm certainly disappointed in what his club has produced this year. Quality coaches in established programs rarely go through 6-game losing streaks in-conference. It just doesn't happen.

So for now he gets a pass. But there now exists doubt where none had been before. And that might be the most disappointing part of all.

The Badgers try once again to break the streak on Thursday night against Illinois before heading to Penn State on Sunday (a game which might be their best shot to break the streak). Come on guys! You're killing me over here!

Okay... okay... I'll calm down now.

That's going to be all for today. No idea what's coming on Wednesday, but I'll find something for you to enjoy! Until then, stay safe and thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. See, you just need to bet against the Badgers. There are two outcomes:
    1. Badgers win! You lose money, but feel ok about that, 'cause the Badgers won.
    2. Badgers lose. You're bummed they lost, but it's salved slightly by the winning money part.

    It's foolproof!

    (PS: I want you to know, the word verification word was "under")

    ReplyDelete