Hello again everybody...
We've done it! Mostly...
Yes, most of us have reached the end of yet another work week. Except for me. I'll be working a 10-hour shift tomorrow because the brain wizards who run this shop continue to take their sweet time trying to find the perfect candidate to fill an entry-level overnight position.
Not just anybody can baby-sit Dark Star and a syndicated overnight show for minimal money. No, we've got to search high and low, consult gurus and Shirpas, and look in every nook and cranny to make sure we've got absolutely the perfect candidate for the position. And if we work our part-timer to death and force the rest of us to work a ton of overtime, well that's just the price that has to be paid.
Funny how the folks identifying the “price to be paid” are never the ones actually paying it, isn't it?
Enough said? You're right. Moving on...
It is Friday, so I'll still celebrate the weekend being nigh, even if mine's a little shorter than I'd like!
Friday also means that it's time to get you updated on my favorite squads. So let's get to it shall we?
”Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.”
- Betrand Russell (1872 - 1970), British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, socialist, pacifist, and social critic
How on earth do people get that many titles? Did people in Mr. Russell's era just have more time to study because there wasn't any TV?
Funny he should mention math, since it plays a role in at least one of the two sections today.
With that, it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...
Dan's Favorite Teams Update
Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 24-21-3 (back to the .500-mark) which is good for 51 points. They're fourth in the Northwest Division and 10th in the Western Conference, 3 points behind the Red Wings for the 8th and final playoff spot..
Math is beautiful, you say? Well it sure is when the Wild win four of five, and pick up 5 points against the 8th playoff spot in one week's time!
Seriously! A week ago I was discussing “fire sales”, and now the Wild are right back in the thick of the playoff race. Hockey's a crazy game like that, I guess.
For those of you who are surprised by my cheery attitude towards the squad after they laid a complete egg last night in St. Louis, what can I say? It was the back end of back-to-back games with one at home and one on the road. I'm not saying the Wild can afford many lack-luster performances, but I think they get a pass considering the conditions.
So maybe I should be more upset that they let two more points slip through their fingers, but all in all it's hard to argue with their success of late.
You know things are going well, when the opposing team's coach is purposely sending guys out to fight you. According to Derek Boogaard, he was told just that by Darcy Hordichuk late in the 3rd period of the Wild's 5-2 win over Vancouver Wednesday night.
Unfortunately for Vancouver, it didn't help much. Hordichuk got worked by Boogaard and then poor, poor Alexandre Bolduc decided to follow coaches orders. The 6-foot, 180-pound Bulduc decided to square off with 6-8, 260-pound John Scott. The following video shows what happened:
Notice 3 things...
1 - You can see the “I don't want to do this” look on Bolduc's face as the two start to square off. Bolduc actually asks Scott to take off his helmet. This is a common courtesy amongst fighters so they don't scrape their knuckles on a helmet. Turns out, Bolduc needn't have asked, since he never landed a shot on Scott.
2 - Just after Scott takes his helmet off, he teases his hair. Seems like a ridiculous move, right? He told the Star Tribune's Michael Russo after the game that he's got a bit of a bald spot, and wanted to make sure it was covered because he knew the cameras would be on him. Yes, these are the things they're thinking of before a fight.
3 - After beating the holy hell out of Bolduc, Scott skates off to the penalty box while shaking his right hand. Apparently if you smash your fist into someone's skull that often, it's going to hurt. That's not so surprising. But if you look closely, Scott teases his hair again! Apparently he was really worried about that bald spot. Someone get that man some product! Stat!
I can't really defend the barbaric nature of hockey fights. But I can't help but enjoy them either. Especially when a man's hairline is involved!
The Wild are still on the road as they head to Phoenix this weekend (I'm sure my folks will be in attendance... er, will be watching on Fox Sports AZ... er, well maybe they'll catch the result on the news!). Then Monday they travel to Dallas to take on those evil, back-stabbing, good-for-nothing Stars. They're back to the X on Thursday to host the Red Wings (eh tu Hammer? Eh tu?).
Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 14-3 (4-1 in the Big Ten). They're in third place in the Big Ten, behind only Michigan State and Illinois. Currently, they're ranked 13th in the country.
I know, I know. I've been pretty hit or miss with the Badger basketball squad so far. So call me a front-runner if it makes you feel better.
But when my club gets a big win, I'm gonna crow about it a little bit.
Yes, the Badgers beat the highly-ranked Purdue Boilermakers 73-66 this past Saturday. Purdue was 15-0 coming into the game. Nearly one week later, they're 15-2 after losing to Ohio State on Tuesday night.
So did the Badgers catch them on a downward trend? Perhaps. I prefer to think the loss to Bucky so rattled the Boilermakers, that they weren't able to seal the deal against the Buckeyes (whom Wisconsin has also beaten).
Yes, Badger Fans, I think we can safely say that this team is better than advertised. Senior PG Trevon Hughes seems to have officially made the leap to star status. He's averaging 15.8 points-per-game in leading the Badgers in scoring. And he canned several huge 3-pointers down the stretch Wednesday night against Northwestern to seal a road win for Wisconsin.
Equally encouraging has been the performance of native-Minnesotan Jordan Taylor off the bench. Taylor's averaging 9.3 points-per-game and over 3 assists-per-game while spelling Hughes. Coach Ryan has even thrown a smaller line-up out there with Hughes and Taylor as the two guards. When both of your point guards are also adroit shooters, it can create all sorts of havoc for opposing defenses.
Wisconsin has a lot of the pieces you'd want to see in a quality team. They've got the point guard play I've mentioned. They've got a 3-point sniper in Brian Bohannon. And they've got a quality defensive stopper in Ryan Evans.
The one thing they're lacking is a strong inside presence. Their tallest starter, 6-10 junior Jon Leuer (also a native Minnesotan... thank you Minnesota, we appreciate all the talent you keep sending to Madison... keep it up!) isn't a low-block banger. He can play inside, but against a team with a truly dominant forward/center, he's not the guy you're looking to have guard them.
Even if he was that guy, Leuer broke his wrist in the victory over Purdue, and is out indefinitely... not good.
Freshman Jared Berggren (also from Minnesota... wow, this almost isn't fair... almost) has a little more meat on his 6-10 frame, but again, isn't really a dominant presence inside.
The lack of a true big-man is a problem that can be lived with for the most part, unless your opponent has a beast in the middle. Fortunately, there aren't many Big Ten teams that present that difficulty. But if the wrong match-up comes Wisconsin's way come Tournament time, it could be an issue.
But that's not til March. And in the mean time there's a long Big Ten slog ahead of the Badgers, including their sole game versus the Gophers (how is THAT allowed to happen? Only one Minnesota/Wisconsin match-up? Sacrilege I say! Especially since it's at Williams Arena and not Kohl Center!) coming up in February.
In the near future, Wisconsin travels to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes on Saturday. Then they return home to face Michigan on Wednesday and Penn State the following Sunday.
So there you have it. Do you feel sufficiently updated? Well I feel better about things anyway.
That wraps things up for this week. Enjoy your weekend. I'll be back on Monday with more rants and ravings about whatever happens this weekend.
Until then, thanks for reading!