|Minnesota Wild (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Boston's Overcoming of Odds or Toronto's Epic Collapse?
Boston came back from a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4 in OT which can only be described as an incredible collapse by Toronto. Sorry Goon, you can say that it was the determination and skill of Boston players to fight back from being down that much to win if you wish, but.... Toronto should have won this game.
Is the series a collapse by Toronto? This one I'm not so sure of. Neither team held a two game advantage. It was 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, etc. I think it was a pretty good series overall, but one, again, Toronto should have won.
The Hart Trophy
Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and John Tavares are the three finalists. Not Toews. Brad Schlossman wrote a nice article explaining this and how some nice hockey media writers are questioning why, but... Comon. In a shortened season you go to your go-to player if that player puts up respectable enough numbers.
Sidney Crosby is going to win it. Does he deserve it? His stats are not poor enough to say "No," but then again, Ovechkin had a rough start and really poured it on. At one point, I believe Washington wasn't even very competitive early on... Tavares is just the dark horse on a team that played better than expected. Tavares is the Stamkos of this year's Hart Trophy finalists. Bless him he's good enough, but the NHL has other ideas.
Crosby will win it hands down. Gives the media and the NHL the PR angle for the offseason.
Crisfield decommits from UND. What does that mean?
Overall, not much. Things happen. Not sure why, but whatever the reason is, it happened. What does it mean for UND? Our game is changing. And it has to thanks to the rules and the officiating. It took long enough but I think it was bound to happen eventually anyways. In short, North American hockey is becoming more European (Don Cherry is probably having a stroke about this...well that's karma because his suits just about give me epileptic seizures). Physical hockey is being squashed for finesse. Good news for my Red Wings. Bad news for my UND.
So next year you can expect UND to be NOT very physical on D. The only physical D we really have are Panzarella and Senkbeil (who might not have even played D last season? Don't remember... and I don't know if he's especially that physical either).
Good news for Haters though. They'll be able to diversify themselves away from the usual "Fire Hakstol" to "Hakstol is recruiting Gopher wannabes and wusses!" Whatever. We saw it last year as your PIMs went down again last season.
Minnesota Pro Sports Fall on their Faces again
Folks, I've watched Minnesota Pro Sports all my life and I've watched some collegiate endeavours as well. I was watching when UMN Football coach Glenn Mason just about did cartwheels because they made it to the Music City Bowl. And listened as he explained that just making a Bowl game is the mark of a successful program.
I was there when Twins GM Terry Ryan said Free Agency solves nothing and proved it by signing awesome players in Ruben Sierra, Rondell White (who he said would be a middle of the lineup power hitter that will hit 30 homers.. yet his career high was around 23), and a few fat pitchers. No, Mr. Ryan, the way YOU run free agency solves nothing. And the Twins have a bunch of conference titles and first round exits (showing that their conference was weak to begin with).
I was there when Wolves GM Kevin McHale signed Latrell Spreewell and all those incredible contracts and explained that he built a winner... Yup. Wolves up until VERY recently, were the punchline.
The Vikings.... they don't sign free agents and they can't draft... or they couldn't for a long while. They sniffed the promised land once but well.... they left their "dominant" offense in the hands of a kicker.
The Wild... OY. Talk about a flawed team.
The attitude that a well rounded team is one that mixes a random strategy, a dart board, and the word "potential" pervades Minnesota pro sports.
The truth as I see it is this: None of these teams will win it all. They're not run the right way. Some have bad ownership (Wolves, Wild, Twins for the longest time). Some can't draft (Wild, Wolves, Vikings for the longest time). Some can't evaluate talent (all.. though the Twins SOMETIMES hit home runs). Minnesota Wild sign Parise and say that their goal scoring problems are over.... and you guys believe it! Really? It's the same statement they said when they went out and got Havlat...and Heatley... I hate Pittsburgh but they didn't stop at Crosby. They seemed to focus on one basic need at a time. They drafted offense and then goaltender... their D stunk. Then they worked on D... and now mediocrity like Fleury and Dupuis have their names on the Cup. Minnesota's strategy? Draft two way players, gritty defensive forwards, and some speed. No finishers. No scorers. No grit in the offensive zone. PM Bouchard is overrated and he's a perimeter player anyways. Koivu and Parise... that's it. Granlund might be good but who knows? You all thought Brett Burns was good too.
What I'm getting at is that there seems to be absolutely NO strategy to building a Minnesota Pro team. They just focus on the long term (how many times did Terry Ryan say the word, "potential" when describing any Twins player? No "Now" talent at all) and never seem to get restless for the present. Hey, I know the feeling. I used to be a Cubs fan. Offended that I'd compare teams that have been to the championship game far more times and far more recently than the hapless Cubs? Think about it. Take away the 105+ year futility streak and what do you have? You have Minnesota.
The Wild need scoring. They need to draft scoring. They need to sign scoring. They should basically do that ONLY for a year or two. It's lopsided, I know. But you aren't going to win the Cup with a team of Zuckers, Veillieuxs, Clutterbucks. You've got Koivu and Parise... You need 2 or 3 more scorers. You need two SOLID lines of scoring talent. Pittsburgh can roll almost 3 lines and that's excluding their D. It's why Pittsburgh will win, I kid you not, 2 more Cups, before Minnesota plays Game 1 of the Finals.
Minnesota is getting better... but will it continue? What will this offseason bring? I think the draft is a BIG indicator. IMO, if the Wild draft anything but scoring talent in the first 3 rounds of the draft, I think they're just destined for a higher payrolled version of the same old same old.