Friday

2-12-10: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've done it once again. Making it to the end of another week is something we often take for granted. But if you're Edina, MN, native and current Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, you're wishing your 21-year-old son had made it to the end of another week. Instead Brendan Burke and a friend were killed last week in a car accident.

If you haven't heard Brendan's story, I can't possibly encourage you enough to check out this story as well as this story, both by ESPN's phenomenally talented John Buccigross. You'll get a little perspective on life, and just how amazing the hockey community is.

I don't mean to start the column on a down note, but I think it's an amazing and tragic story and I want to make sure as many people see it as possible.

On to happier things...

It's Friday, and that means you've been salivating all week for your Update. No worries dear readers, I will make you wait no longer...

Onward!

”Never judge a book by its movie.”
- J.W. Eagan


Unfortunately, my cursory research has yet to reveal whom Eagan exactly is/was. But the quote jumped out at me because of this weekend's opening of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”. If you haven't read the Jackson series, I highly recommend it. It doesn't have nearly the depth of the Potter series, but if you liked the latter, I'm fairly confident you'll like the former.

That being said, I haven't seen a tremendously positive response to the film adaptation of the first book in the series. I'll still go see it, mind you (though not likely this weekend - thank you hiring-averse management). But my expectations aren't going to be terribly high. Count on some sort of review once I do however.

«Read More...»


But that's in the future.

In the now, it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 29-26-4, good for 62 points. They're 4th in the Northwest Division and 12th in the Western Conference, now five points out of a playoff spot.

Only two games have been played since we last Updated. A 2-1 win over the Flyers that you can read about here, and a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night.

During that game, I heard play-by-play guru (really, he's the best in town, and it's not close) Bob Kurtz make an interesting point. If you go through the Wild's last 23 games, here's how it breaks down: three wins, four losses, four wins, four losses, three wins, two losses, two wins and then the loss Wednesday night.

Notice a pattern? Looks a whole lot like a .500 team, doesn't it? The problem is, .500 doesn't get you into the playoffs, even in the NHL where more teams get in than don't.

Is it possible that the reality is the Wild are just a .500 team, and that's all? Sure. But I still see enough talent and heart on this team to be better than that. If I knew how to harness and focus those things, I'd have Todd Richards' job, and be a whole lot more excited about working on Sunday than I am now. But I don't, and I don't. Hopefully Richards figures out a way to finish strong heading to the Olympic Break (these last two games are important points-wise), and keep things rolling after the Olympics.

The trading deadline hits not long after players return from Vancouver, so GM Chuck Fletcher is going to have to decide soon if the Wild are going to be buyers or sellers. In past years, the Wild have pretty much stood pat at the deadline. I expect that to change this year. I just don't know which way it's going to go. (Though if I had to make a guess, I'd suggest Wild fans should be prepared to say goodbye to a few higher-priced veterans.)

The good news for the Wild is that Niklas Backstrom is back from whatever it was that ailed him. The team still hasn't disclosed what the problem that was initially diagnosed as a back injury and then somehow morphed into flu-like symptoms, actually was. But whatever happened, he's apparently over it and was back in net on Wednesday night. The loss certainly wasn't his fault, but I've also seen sharper performances from him in his career. That's just a matter of shaking off some rust and getting back into game-shape.

His return has allowed Josh Harding to sit out completely and rehab his hip troubles. The break will do Hards nothing but good as well. In the mean-time Anton Khudobin (pronounced hoo-DOH-bin for those wondering) acts as backup to Backstrom. As for Wade I-Still-Don't-Want-To-Type-Your-Last-Name? He's back in Houston allowing their assistant equipment manager to return to his regular duties.

As mentioned, the Wild have two games to go before the NHL shuts down during the Olympics. Tonight they host the Ilya Kovalchuck-less Atlanta Thrashers (two points the Wild simply have to have). And Sunday afternoon they host division-rival Vancouver (two points that they need to get, if only to deny them from the Canucks). Because nothing says “Happy Valentines Day” like hockey, right?!


Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 18-6 (8-4 in the Big Ten). They're in 5th place in the conference and are ranked 11th in the country.

Though, unfortunately, that ranking will drop a spot or two after a disappointing 63-56 loss to Illinois on Tuesday night. Just because Illinois isn't ranked, doesn't mean they're not a quality opponent - their 9-3 conference record shows that. But it was a 7-point loss at home. And those don't often happen to Wisconsin.

It was just a weird game. The Badgers got out to a big lead early in the first half, but the Illini were able to trim that to just two at halftime. The teams traded the lead early in the second half, but with about seven minutes to go, the Illini went on a big run, and Bucky was never able to recover.

As I said, it was disappointing because it was a game at home, and you hate to lose an opportunity to win at home. But it was also disappointing because Wisconsin had been on a helluva run coming into that game. We talked last week about the big win over Michigan State and the possibility of a let-down. But the Badgers avoided that, and rolled big over Michigan with a 18-point win on Saturday. So considering the momentum they had, to stumble against even a quality opponent at home has me scratching my head.

What's that they say? There's a reason they play the games. Usually I despise cliches, but that one seems too apropos to avoid.

Maybe having fallen off the horse (why not keep the cliches rolling?) will refocus the club. They certainly have a stretch of very winnable games ahead of them. Saturday, they host a struggling Hoosier squad. Then Thursday night it's the renewal of the Interstate 94 rivalry as the Badgers travel to meet the Golden Gophers at “Legendary Williams Arena”. Given the number of times I hear that phrase during Gopher broadcasts, I assume that “Legendary” is now officially part of the building's title.


Maple Grove Crimson: The Lady Crimson Basketball team is 19-2 (13-0 in the Northwest Suburban) and in first place in their conference. They're ranked 4th in Class 4A.

I'm not saying I'm bored by reporting two more wins for the Crimson every week. But it is getting slightly repetitive (although, due to a schedule quirk, they've only won one game since we last Updated... of course, they've only played one game, so there you go).

So to spice things up, I'm going to write the rest of their section in German.

Okay, I'm not really going to do that, but you can understand my desire to change things up a bit, right?!

The Crimson dynamo keeps on spinning. After last week's demolition of Champlain Park, Maple Grove followed it up with a 62-38 beat-down of Andover on Tuesday night.

At home, on the road, the venue doesn't seem to matter. Senior Jen Field drops in 16 for the Crimson, senior Julie Kruse a tidy 12 and junior Ellen Edison 9 more and those three alone were nearly enough to beat Andover.

It was such a dominant performance, that had the Crimson scored just 3 points in the second half, that would've won the game. Think about that. It's just silly how well this team is playing, both offensively and defensively.

And the roll doesn't look likely to end any time soon. I abhor counting wins before the games are played, but look at the next three games: tonight vs. Elk River (Maple Grove won by 27 the last time they played), Tuesday vs. Anoka (a 51-point win for the Crimson in their last meeting) and one week from tonight versus Park Center (a 22-point victim of the fourth-ranked team in the state). Someone out there is mumbling something about chickens hatching, but I'm telling you, those are three more W's.

The next real test is coming on the 23rd when the Crimson host Centennial. And that game will be followed by another tough challenge at Osseo on the 26th.

Can the Crimson run the table? There's certainly no reason to think they can't. Maintaining their focus will be key.

One last note... Obviously I'm biased and have a rooting interest in the club. But in case you need more reason to like this club, how about this?

Maple Grove's having a “Pink-Out” at tonight's game to raise money for the Kay Yow Breast Cancer Fund which is affiliated with the V Foundation. (You can get more info here)

They've been selling the t-shirts you see pictured below (modeled by my nephew), and there's going to be a LOT of pink in the gym tonight.

Here's the front:



And here's the back (I love the slogan):



It's a great cause and I couldn't be more proud of the program getting together to give something back. There's going to be a few t-shirts left to sell at the door tonight. So if you want to see a red-hot (or should that be “pink-hot”?) basketball team and support a good cause, head out to Maple Grove Senior High tonight and check them out!


And with that, I'm going to wrap things up for the week. The Twins finally took a break from adding pieces to the puzzle, so I'll give them some time off before pitchers and catchers report on the 21st!

Have a safe and fun weekend and I'll be back on Monday.

Until then, thanks for reading!

2 comments:

  1. I believe I did read correctly that the Arizona Coyotes beat the Minnesota Wild. I'm just sayin....
    Mom

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's what I said. Keep up the chirpin' Mom. Watch what happens! ;-)

    ReplyDelete