Monday, January 17, 2011

Home sweet Home...for one game

Wild rout Canucks at home, inconsistent team leaves on 4-game road trip

OK, so I called it wrong for yesterday's Minnesota Wild-Vancouver Canucks game. So totally wrong.

Yesterday's 4-0 shutout by the back-up's back-up, Anton Khudobin, evened the season record to 11-11-2 at Xcel Energy Center as the Wild depart today for Edmonton, and the start of a 4-game road trip that will lead up to the All-Star break. And, if the Wild had played more like they did yesterday in previous games, this team would actually be a contender for a playoff spot.

But they haven't, and that is the crux of the argument with this Wild team this season. I'll say it again, like I have most of this season:

The most consistent thing about the Wild this season is their inconsistency. Fans can count on always wondering: Which Wild team will show up on any given night?

If they played more like they did against the NHL's best team, the Canucks, yesterday, most fans would be more than pleased. On the other hand, if they played more like they did last week, when they were out-scored 13-2 over three games (two of which were at home, BTW) the fans could look forward to a trade deadline day which, for once, might actually be fun to see what moves GM Chuck Fletcher would be able to do, in order to shed some more of the dead weight off this over-burdened roster.

The four forwards who would make up the trade bait for the Feb. 28 trade deadline -- Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Brunette, John Madden and Antti Miettinen -- represent $8 Million in cap space, or about 15% of their total salary cap. These four and the player who, in my opinion is the NHL's biggest stiff -- Cam Barker -- make up the basis for trade season. The Wild have to get out of paying $3-4 million for third-and-fourth-level players, even though they may play on your first line. Pay for performance? You wish these guys would perform. Brunette is getting paid based on past performance, but he is slowing down as his career winds down. Madden and Brodziak were brought in as short-to-medium term solutions. Barker's contract was one of those which cost ex-Chicago GM Dale Tallon his job, just as the Blackhawks were beginning their Stanley Cup run last season. And Miettinen would be a great player, if only he didn't have to shoot the puck, or occasionally throw a check.

Yesterday in the first period, was yet another Miettinen classic, as he had a wide open net to shoot at, yet he shot the puck over the top of the net. Yes, indeed, Antti Missedthenetagain. That should say all that is needed about this guy.

I wonder how much it would cost to put a barn picture in a goal for Miettinen to use as a target...

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