12-18-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to the end of another week. Sort of. I seem to be writing that a lot, lately don't I?

Technically, my week doesn't end today. I don't have to work a full shift tomorrow, but I do have to put in an appearance. And unfortunately, I'm not going to be done with weekends for a bit yet.

Yes, technically, I'm back on a Monday to Friday schedule, but due to some serious foot-dragging on the part of the brain wizards who run my shop, we're nowhere near hiring someone to fill the hole that's got me and my co-workers working near-constant overtime.

Oh well. I'm still getting paid. Not everybody out there can say that. And I guess that should count enough for me to deal with promises and assurances which aren't lived up to, right?

Yeah. Something like that.

But it's the holiday season, and I should be in a good mood dammit!

So maybe a healthy dose of the DFTU will help cheer me up?

Let's give it a try and find out...

”When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.”
- Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), 16th President of the United States

Simple. Profound. Classic Lincoln.

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It's Friday. That means it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment:

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 17-14-3, good for 37 points. They're in fourth place (hey, it's not last!!!) and are currently 11th in the Western Conference.

The boys have one more game on this epic road stretch (interrupted only briefly for a game at home). And so far it's been a pretty decent run for them. After last night's 3-1 win in Montreal, the Wild are 4-2 on the road in the last couple of weeks.

That may not knock you over at first blush, but considering how this club started the season, that's pretty damned good. And you could take that improvement in the team's road performance as analogous to the improvement in their overall performance as well.

When the season started, the Wild were dreadful defensively, and disorganized offensively. There are still more defensive lapses than you'd care to see, but their offense has begun gelling nicely.

As I discussed on Wednesday, Martin Havlat's offensive game has come on lately. And the more he scores, the more other teams have to scheme to stop him. That, of course creates opportunities for the rest of the club. Considering the fact that Havlat doesn't play on the first line, that's a big boost.

So at this point, I think it's fair to discuss what's a reasonable goal for this team is at this point.

Is it finishing above .500? Is it just making the playoffs? Or is it even making a significant playoff run?

Right now the Wild trail the Red Wings by only four points for the 8th playoff spot. Four points is two wins... no problem right?

Well, it's not quite that simple. There are two teams between the Wild and Detroit. That means the Wild would need to be four points better than all three of those clubs in order to claim that playoff spot. That's far from impossible. But claiming that 8th spot is more complicated than it would appear.

Plus, you have to consider the complications involved with the NHL's three-point system. Any game that goes to overtime awards three points (two to the winner, one to the loser) instead of the two points awarded in a regulation victory. So even if the Wild wins two more games than those other three teams, they may not pass them due to those clubs collecting points in overtime losses.

I know. You're going cross-eyed right now, right? It's a little complicated for the casual hockey fan.

My point is, as well as the boys are playing right now, fans have to temper their expectations. This team has come a long way already, and we're not even to the halfway point of the season yet. But after that hole that they dug for themselves over the first couple of months, the playoffs are going to be difficult to get to.

If they get there, and Nicklas Backstrom gets hot in the net, good things can happen. But getting there's going to be a tough road. Again, not impossible, but tough.

The Wild visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (the last game of this road excursion). Monday they return home to face the Colorado Avalanche (who they're thiiiiis close to absolutely owning). Wednesday brings the Oilers to town for the last game before Christmas.

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers hoopsters are 8-2 (0-0 in the Big Ten). Theoretically they're in a four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten, although since they haven't played a league game yet, those standings are rather bogus.

I told you earlier in the year, that my following of the Badger basketball team would be kind of hit or miss. And that feeling hasn't changed.

As excited as I was when the Badgers beat Duke, that excitement was tempered by their loss at UW-Green Bay. Losing 88-84 to an in-state rival always stings. But even more so when it's not Marquette who at least belongs to a major conference.

Of course, Bucky turned around and beat Marquette 72-63 three days after dropping the Green Bay game, so maybe that was just a bump in the road. Speaking of the road, the Green Bay game was the first game away from home (not on a neutral floor) for the Badgers, so perhaps that played a role as well.

After a nice win against a solid Marquette club, the Badgers completely destroyed an out-manned Cal Poly squad, 90-42.

So after all that, what do I know about the Badgers that I didn't know before? Not much.

There's talent on this club. Bo Ryan is one of the top coaches in the conference. So Wisconsin will be dangerous on any given night. The question is whether they can string enough of those nights together to challenge for the conference title again.

The only other thing I know for sure is how pleased I am not to have a Badger recruit posting YouTube videos decrying the unfair treatment he's received at the hands of authorities over multiple allegations of theft. That would sure suck.

[That was this week's “Golden Gopher Cheap Shot” brought to you by fans of the Badgers everywhere... and Miller Lite.]

Wisconsin hosts UW-Milwaukee on Wednesday, then breaks for Christmas. Following the holidays there's one more non-league game against Illinois-Chicago before Big Ten play kicks off with a home game against Ohio State on New Years Eve.

That's going to wrap things up for this week. Have a fantastic weekend, and check back on Monday for more of the usual nonsense and skullduggery you've grown to love!

Until then, thanks for reading!

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