Sunday, February 19, 2012

Did anyone think it was going to be THIS bad?

Did you think it was going to be this bad to be a Minnesota Wild fan this season? Really?

Well, it has indeed gotten to the point where we are officially looking for 'moral' victories, not the two-points-in-the-standings kind. Because, for this group of Wild players, that kind of victory is the kind that is seemingly out of reach right now.

The fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets have a better record since Dec. 13 (8-19-2) than the Wild (5-16-6), despite the Jackets sacking their head coach and replacing him with ex-Wild coach Todd Richards, shows the depths of which the Wild face the rest of the season with.

Yes, Minnesota. It's THAT bad.

The fact that this Wild team cannot score, and cannot stop other teams from scoring, can no longer be denied by anyone who has even half a concept, as to how NHL hockey should be played. Yesterday's embarrassing 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues -- a team which the Wild toyed with in November, and lost to in a shootout in January -- again showed not only the depth but the breadth of the Wild's woes.

And today, the rest of North America will see how bad the Wild can get, as the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins, will take on the Wild in a game seen nationally in the USA on NBC, and in Canada on TSN2. This game should be a cakewalk for the B's, as the Wild will feature no less than seven players who, realistically, should be with the Houston Aeros this Sunday morning.

With Chad Rau and Jeff Taffe arriving this morning from Abbottsford, B.C., -- where the Aeros were getting swept in a two-game series vs. the Heat this weekend -- the number of Aeros players currently up with the 'big club' exceeds the half-dozen mark, for God-only-knows how long, as the chess game which is the Wild roster gets played once again.

(I only wish I could get the commission for all those airline tickets, shuttling players between the Aeros and the Wild.)

The fact is that most Wild fans were somewhat realistic in the beginning of the season regarding the team's playoff chances. I even said before the season started that this team could be anywhere between a 7 seed in the playoffs and in 10th place in the West, two positions out of the playoffs. I changed it later to say that they would make the playoffs, in the midst of the team's record 9-game winning streak.

Well, folks, I'm changing it back. Back to anywhere down to 10th place. And, maybe even worse than that.

The only team this Wild club can beat right now with any regularity is the Colorado Avalanche, a team whose lineup is actually weaker than the Wild's impudent roster. The Wild can't beat anyone else in the NHL right now. In the last week, the Wild have lost to three teams who, if the season ended today, would be out of the playoffs, like they are (Columbus, Anaheim and Winnipeg). In fact, if you want to go back to Feb. 1, they could add a fourth non-playoff team (Dallas) and throw in another loss to the Jackets in that mix.

And then, if you go back one more day, there was the embarrassing, destructive, come-from-ahead throw-away loss to the Nashville Predators on Jan. 31st. No one, most notably GM Chuck Fletcher and Head Coach Mike Yeo, can seemingly do anything to stop the slide down the mountain. The players have seemingly given up trying to win games (sorry, I'm not buying that they are still buying into the system.)

The Wild's system is broken. It's time to fix the system. Before more irreparable damage is done.

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