10-30-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

Sorry this didn't get out at the usual time. I'd love to come up with some grandiose, dramatic excuse, but I've got nothing. I had (your) Friday (my Monday) off and meant to crank it out in the morning, but got distracted by Season 2 of Mad Men (still one of the 3 best shows on TV), and just plain spaced it.

Kudos to the Hammer for reminding me of it at the Wild game, or I'd probably have forgotten it all together!

Since it's late, I'll try to keep it short and sweet and hope you all have a good weekend.

Off we go...

”It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that.”
- G.H. Hardy (1877-1947), prominent English mathematician

Plus, it's just more interesting to go against the flow. If nothing else, it really annoys less intelligent people!

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All right folks. You've waited patiently all week. I'll make you wait no further.

It's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment:

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Wisconsin Badgers: After a bye week, the Badgers remain 5-2, 2-2 in the Big Ten. They're in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference.

Consider this more of a preview than an update I guess. With the bye week, there's not much new going on.

But I will say this, this is a critical week for the 2009 Wisconsin campaign.

How can it be critical when they're facing a 3-5 team? I love it when you people ask questions that tee-up what I want to write about!

Wisconsin has lost their last two games straight. Starting with the Ohio State game, they've put forward two fairly poor offensive efforts. That needs to end tomorrow.

Last year after a tough loss against the Buckeyes, the team went on a death-spiral that you could argue they never game out of. That can't happen again.

Lessons should have been learned. Signals should have been identified. Progress should have been made.

They've had two weeks to prepare for a Purdue club that has looked threatening at times, yet downright pitiful most of the time. From poor play to questionable coaching, the Boilermakers are not a team that's demonstrated a consistent ability to compete with quality competition. Yes, they beat an Ohio State team that just whipped Wisconsin 3 weeks ago, but they also lost to a Minnesota team that Bucky beat on the road.

To put it simply, Wisconsin must win this game. And to inspire confidence in themselves, they need to do it in impressive fashion. If they just squeak by, or (God help them) if they lose, then they set themselves up for the spiral to continue, and we're looking at another seven-win season and a mediocre bowl game.

The biggest key in this game is turnovers. Wisconsin has been dreadful offensively the last two weeks, giving up the ball left and right. That has to stop. No fumbles. No interceptions. It just can't be tolerated against inferior competition.

Kickoff is at 11am. The game is on ESPN. Check your local listings...

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 4-9-0, which is good for 8 points and places them 5th in the Northwest Division.

Okay, it still hasn't been a good year for the Wild. They're still 0-for-8 on the road, and got their only regulation win of the year tonight against the Rangers.

(Aside: I attended the Ranger game courtesy of my friend Kelly and her season tickets. Amazing seats. Plus it was the night before Halloween, so there were plenty of costumes. My favorite of the night? The guy wearing a chicken costume with a Marian Gaborik jersey over it. Perfect!)

So why do I still have hope for this team? Is it craziness? Delusion? Alcohol? Did I get hit in the head by a stray puck perhaps?

Nope, none of the above. (Insert your own “delusion” joke here.)

It's just too early to freak out. There's still a long way to go before this team is going to be a playoff contender, but there are signs that they're headed in the right direction.

Peter Sykora picked up his play after being scratched by the coaching staff against Nashville on Wednesday. Anti Miettinen finally lit the lamp, getting the game-winner against the Rangers. Martin Havlat still disappears for stretches, but can create offense as suddenly as anyone on the team. And my goodness, even Derek Boogaard was coming up with offensive chances on Friday night. One of the beat writers was so surprised, he suggested the Wild might stop play and have a ceremony should Boogey actually bury one.

What was most encouraging, however, was to see the reduction in defensive mistakes. No, the game wasn't perfect. But only one of the Rangers two goals could really be blamed on a defensive mistake. I guarantee you that if you asked him, Niklas Backstrom would be the first to say that he should've stopped that second goal.

The Wild are somewhat limited in their forward talent, but their first line of Brunette-Koivu-Miettinen is solid, the second line of Havlat-Belanger-Sykora has potential and I really like what they're starting to develop in a third line of Clutterbuck-Brodziak-Kobasew (can I nominate “Kobe-Wan-Kenobi” for a nickname... anyone? Anyone?).

If the Wild can get a couple of those lines scoring consistently, while tightening up their transition game and reducing the turnovers in their own end, then maybe... just maybe... they can creep back into playoff contention.

We're 13 games into an 82 game season. And while I won't imply that there doesn't need to be some urgency, I'll be patient enough to let the transition work itself out. As long as they keep taking two steps forward for every step back, they'll get there eventually.

It's coming, Wild fans. It's coming.

Minnesota wraps up a busy stretch at Pittsburgh tomorrow night (not on WCCO thanks to Gopher Football... you can check it out on 107.5 FM, La Muera Buena... that's right, hockey on a Spanish Music station... what a concept?!). Then they're off til next Thursday when they return to the X to face the hated Vancouver Canucks. At this point, I plan on being in attendance. And if I see one of the Sedin twins in the press box, I'm dropping the gloves.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

So that'll do it for this week. I wish you all a Happy (and safe) Halloween. Remember, if the candy doesn't have a brand name, then that person's cheap - egg their house!

I'm kidding of course... mostly.

Until my triumphant Monday return (well, actually it'll be my Thursday... but I digress), thanks for reading!

Ed's Note: This blog was posted at 11:25pm, ergo, it still counts as being posted on Friday!

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