By Wild Road Tripper
(Another attempt to liven up your start of the week...)
Minnesota Wild fans are, indeed, a hardy lot. We go thru rain, sleet, snow, severe cold, six different starting times, all to see our favorite team actually win a game now 'n' then. Now, just think of how it would be if your team played like some of the other teams in the NHL.
Toronto Maple Leafs fans have had it the worst for the longest. The last time they were even in the playoffs was 2003-04, when they were eliminated in 6 games by the Philadelphia Flyers (the series-winning goal? Scored by Jeremy Roenick), and since then, it's been six seasons of losing hockey. Brian Burke was brought in from Anaheim to try and turn around this moribund franchise, and he brought in what he thought was needed -- grit, and lots of it. Well, the Leafs still suck, they play the streaking Buffalo Sabres this coming Friday at HSBC Arena (tickets starting at $78 for the cheapest seats), and they are on the precipice of falling off the NHL radar once again, at least until the entry draft in Los Angeles in late June. Yes, it will take time and effort in order to turn the Leafs' ship of state around. Hopefully for Leafs' fans, the ship isn't named the Titanic...
And, speaking of Philadelphia, Flyers' fans are probably ready to kill anything on skates that is wearing a Flyers' jersey right about now. The Flyers have changed their coach, but they have a different problem; they just don't play well together. They currently have no less than SEVEN players who make over $4,000,000 per season. Flyers' fans feel that they are getting ripped off. And, frankly, who can blame them? Is Kimmo Timonen REALLY worth more of a cap hit than Chris Pronger?
The Flyers are 1-7 since the Thanksgiving holiday; three of those games the Flyers were shutout, and two more they only managed one goal. They cannot depend on their budget-balanced goaltending ($2,400,000 for their top two goalies, paltry by NHL standards) to bail their anemic offense out night after night.
Not that the Western Conference isn't much better. St. Louis Blues fans are asking themselves if they are watching the Rams instead, especially after they came out against Edmonton last weekend, and the Grease slid right by the Blues, 5-3. The Blues have only scored three goals in the last week, and have dropped three straight.
Anaheim Ducks players and fans were asking themselves 'wha' happened?' until they recently started to turn things around to keep the Ducks somewhat relevant in the West. Four of the last five Ducks' games have gone to overtime or the shootout; their 2-0-2 record since the Wild beat them in St. Paul December 4th looks to have saved the job of head coach Randy Carlyle, at least for the time being.
And then, there is the resurgent Wild, with a record of 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, a period of time (late November/early December) when the Wild are traditionally not a very good hockey team. After the Wild's dismal 6-loss-in-7-game start to the season, they players have finally learned to control themselves yet play a more attack-style offense. The new system of Todd Richards is finally taking hold, and Wild fans are loving it. They haven't seen offense like this from a Wild team in franchise history. Reminds me of the starving man who walks into the banquet hall, just as they serve up the steamship round of beef. And, they have done it while at least three players have been recovering from concussions.
Just think of how good the Wild would be if everyone on the roster was healthy...
Have a good Monday!