10-23-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We made it through another week. I'm not fully adjusted to the new schedule yet, but I promised myself I wouldn't bitch about it again... at least not until next week!

Nope, today's going to be short, sweet and to the point. All the DFTU you can stomach as we head into another weekend.

So let's get to it shall we?

”Get the facts, or the facts will get you. And when you get them, get them right, or they will get you wrong.”
Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654 – 1734), British physician, preacher, and intellectual.

The other strategy would be to be as vague as possible. If you include few facts, it's far more difficult to get them wrong!

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Speaking of which, it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment:

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 5-2 (2-2 in the Big Ten) and in 5th place in the conference.

Oh what a difference a couple of weeks can make. The Badgers were 5-0 and riding high headed into Columbus, Ohio. After a debacle in the horseshoe they came home at 5-1 to face the undefeated Hawkeyes. One home-field melt-down later, they now stand at 5-2 and at .500 in conference play.

So did I over-estimate their talent after the first 5 weeks? Or has something changed? Perhaps it's a bit of both.

While the defense had clearly improved, it still has its “feast or famine” tendencies. They make a lot of big plays, but surrender nearly as many to opposing offenses.

As for Wisconsin's offense, just when they got the running game figured out, their passing game has fallen off the map. Junior quarterback Scott Tolzien, who was one of the offensive stars in the first five weeks, has turned into the biggest question mark on the team at this point.

In his first five weeks he threw nine touchdown passes to only three interceptions. In the past two weeks he's thrown zero touchdowns and five interceptions. Maybe opposing defensive coordinators have found a weakness. Maybe they've found ways to disguise coverages and confuse him. Either way, his confidence has to be close to being shot. And that's a problem.

It's a problem made all the more complicated by the fact that freshman Curt Phillips is waiting in the wings, ready for his shot. I've yet to see enough indications to lead me to believe it's coming soon. But another lousy game from Tolzien, and it will be coming. In fact, given that the Badgers have this weekend off, it won't surprise me a bit to see Phillips worked into the offense for the Indiana game on the 31st.

The Hoosiers are only a couple of wins away from bowl eligibility, and aren't their usual pushover selves (just ask Michigan). With the game being on the road, it'll be an even larger challenge for the Badgers.

Two weeks of preparation is a luxury in college football. Here's to hoping the Badgers are able to take full advantage of it.

This week, they take on that vaunted opponent “Bye”. The only weekend that results in neither a win, nor a loss. Rest up, boys. It's time to stop the slide!

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 2-6-0, good for 4 points and in last place in the Northwest division.

Let's see... something good to say... the Wild are undefeated both at home and in their new 3rd jerseys! How about that?

By the way, if you haven't seen the new sweaters yet, you can do so here. I don't own one yet, but I'm a fan.

It was a disastrous road trip, no doubt. But it's over, and the Wild managed to defeat an up and coming Colorado squad at home in a shootout.

I went to the game Wednesday night, and I can tell you first hand that while the new system isn't “there” yet, there are signs that it's coming. I'd love to tell you that it'll be here soon enough to give the Wild a legitimate shot a the playoffs, but it's still too early to tell.

The first period had me asking cohorts where that energy had been all year. The boys came out skating hard and turned that into numerous power play chances. Unfortunately they were only able to convert on one of them. But even that one goal was a good sign because it came off the stick of one Brent Burns, who's confidence needs all the assistance it can get at the moment.

The second period was just the opposite. The Wild were on their heels, not skating with nearly the same intensity or urgency that they had in the first. And it showed on the scoreboard as Colorado out-shot them 18 to 4, and out-scored them 2 to 0.

The third period didn't start a whole lot better as Colorado came out buzzing again. But Wild goalie Nick Backstrom shut the door on several chances and the Wild finally made their comeback with about five minutes remaining in regulation.

It was remarkable to see that goal flip the switch on the crowd's energy. What had been a murmuring, docile X crowd, turned noisy and rambunctious with the mere lighting of a red lamp.

Thankfully, that energy never wavered after that, and the Wild were able to pull out the win in the shootout. It was quite the game for new captain Mikko Koivu who had a goal, and assist and the lone shootout marker to give the Wild only their second win.

Now the Wild face yet another challenge as they play three games in the span of four days, two of them on the road. Tonight, they're at St. Louis. Tomorrow it's back home to face the Carolina Hurricanes. Then on Monday, they head to Chicago to face the hated Blackhawks (sorry Dave... but they are hated).

I make no predictions when it comes to hockey, folks. This team can look fantastic one minute and downright lousy the next. Which, I guess is what you have to expect when you're making the transition that they are.

All I ask is to see more progress in the coming week. Even if there are the occasional steps back, as long as they keep taking more steps forward, eventually they'll get there.

That's all for today. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend. I'll be back on Monday with what should be a World Series preview (unless something more remarkable happens over the weekend).

Until then, thanks for reading!

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