Sunday, April 17, 2011

The 'Six-Pack of Suck', Volume III: Go East, Young Men

Six games which determined Minnesota Wild's 2010-2011 season had same recurring theme

By Wild Road Tripper

Well, we've all survived the first week without the local NHL franchise playing. Which means, of course, that some will immediately want the franchise to move to some sunny Southern market. Or, failing that, to Hamilton, Ontario. Of course, some fans would come back with 'you can HAVE them, they were THAT bad,' or some derivative of that.

But, in effect, it was the story of three seasons; the first was from the pre-season (I include that, as it set the pattern; just wait for it) to early December; the second from a fortuitous Western road swing in mid-December thru the end of February; and the third, as we all saw for ourselves, was indeed the 'March to Hell', from a disastrous night on Long Island to the end of what was a very disturbing stretch drive.

With that, let's delve into the worst of the worst...the six worst games of the year:

6. October 7, 2010. Hartwall Areena, Helsinki, Finland. Carolina 4, Minnesota 3. What a way to start the season, rolling over against the Hurricanes in the season opener in Europe and dying, as the 'Canes scored 3 times in the second period, and made it stand up, as the Wild just flat out couldn't get anything going, just like their 1-5 pre-season record (0-5 against NHL teams) would indicate. Although the Wild did get a goal with 3:21 remaining to keep it close, it just wasn't to be, as the Wild would show time and again throughout the season ahead.

5. November 12, 2011. BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, Fla. Florida 2, Minnesota 1. Another game where the Wild's lack of offensive punch cost them as the Panthers scored twice in less than one minute in the first period...then made it stand up, as the Wild just couldn't get anything going in the last two periods. This haplessness against the Panthers came on the heels of a 5-1 drubbing, at the hands of the Thrashers the night before in Atlanta, before next to no one attending, at Philips Arena.

4. December 16, 2010. Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul. Ottawa 3, Minnesota 1. A game featuring what would be two of the NHL's ten worst teams almost a year to the day after the Wild's team equipment truck caught fire after an acetylene torch started burning hockey gear inside the van in Ottawa. After this stinker, some wished that the favor could have been returned. Or, at least, repeated. With the Sens' fathers in the stands, Ottawa scored twice on the power play (one of which was the result of a too many men on the ice penalty, which negated a Wild goal as well) then made it stand up against the hapless Wild's lack of offensive punch.

3. March 2, 2011. Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, L.I., N.Y. Islanders 4, Minnesota 1. This game will forever be known, as the game when everyone found out the Wild juggernaut of the previous three months had been irreparably broken, and unable to be salvaged in time for the playoffs. In what was the Wild's most embarrassing road game of the season, the Wild managed to give up three goals in a 10:04 stretch of the first and second periods, which spelled the end of the night for Niklas Backstrom, who was pulled just 41 seconds into the second period after giving up the three goals on just 19 shots. Of course, the Wild did not score until it was way-y-y too late, getting their lone goal in the third period, after all was said and done.

2. March 20, 2011. Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Montreal 8, Minnesota 1. Any time you give up a 'snowman' in one game you KNOW you've got a Six-Pack candidate. If this game didn't convince the Wild fan base to start planning their spring season without playoff hockey, I really don't know what would. The fact that this season had deteriorated to this point, shows how low the Wild had gone down the 'March to Hell' road. With well over 1,000 Montreal fans in the stands, the Habs proceeded to slice and dice the Wild more completely than one of Mr. Popeil's inventions. Only the awarding of a penalty shot to Mikko Koivu saved the Wild from the additional embarrassment of a shutout, but since by that point the score was 7-0, what more embarrassment could you have possibly heaped on this bunch of slugs anyhow?

1. March 22, 2011. Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul. Toronto 3, Minnesota 0. You would think that the Wild would have had enough professionalism to at least play decently against one of the really bad teams of the East, as the Maple Leafs shut out the Wild, as the Wild still were reeling after the previous game's blowout. With again well over 1,000 visiting fans in the stands, by the end of the game they were the only ones cheering as the Wild managed to lose their seventh straight game and eighth in their last nine. But this time, the Wild fans were so disgusted, booing didn't even help. Apathy reigned, both on the ice and off, as nothing the team did to improve the roster helped.

So, there it is folks. Six games, all vs. the Eastern Conference, that defined (and, debunked) the Wild's season. Twelve points gift-wrapped and served up by the Wild as their season waned on.

But wait! There were six other games, games which didn't live up (or, down) to the standards of the 'Six-Pack', but were still notable as to their suck-ability. These six games didn't make the cut:

12. November 11, 2010. Philips Arena, Atlanta. Thrashers 5, Wild 1. 'Blueland' did the 'Dirty Bird' as the Wild couldn't keep up with the younger, speedier Thrashers. No one saw it, though, as the NFL Falcons were playing the Baltimore Ravens next door, at the Georgia Dome, at the exact same time.

11. November 24, 2010. Xcel Energy Center. Flyers 6, Wild 1. The best team at the time in the East came in and stuffed the Wild, in a real turkey of a Thanksgiving Eve game. When Jody Shelley scores against you, you KNOW it has been a long, long night.

10. December 31, 2010. Xcel Energy Center. Predators 4, Wild 1. New Year's Eve. Full house. Amped-up crowd. Flat home team. No offense. Frustrating way to start the New Year.

9. March 10, 2011. Bridgestone Arena, Nashville. Predators 4, Wild 0. Realistically, the beginning of the end for the Wild's playoff chances.

8. March 11, 2011. American Airlines Arena, Dallas. Stars 4, Wild 0. Realistically, the end of the end for the Wild's playoff chances.

7. March 19, 2011. Xcel Energy Center. Blue Jackets 5, Wild 4 (OT). With 33 seconds left in OT, Brent Burns gives up the puck on an errant pass in his own zone, teeing it up for the Jackets' Antoine Vermette to score, giving away points and continuing the Wild tailspin in the precursor to the Montreal blowout the next afternoon, in what was the worst stretch of hockey in Wild history.

No comments:

Post a Comment