Wednesday, November 12, 2008

State Of The State (Of Hockey)- 11/12/08

While I’m in the writing mood (I’ve already written two papers today and still have one left), I figured I might as well write a piece on the Wild so you know I’m just lazy and not dead or something.

My original intention was to do weekly recaps of the Wild games, much like Mr. Alan Bass does, or at least did once. That didn’t happen though as I realized all college was is an endless cycle of waking up, going to class, and writing papers on the weekends and partying, sleeping, and waking up with a hangover on the weekends.

Now, to get back to the subject at hand. The Wild looked like world-beaters for the first three games of the season, but it wasn’t to be. The Gaborik- Koivu- Miettinen line was an embarrassment it was so good, until Gaborik got injured… again.

From a purely speculative standpoint, I thought management was holding Gaborik out in order to trade him, but my theory went by the wayside when the Wild put him on IR. It later came out, although not confirmed by the team, that he got injured playing soccer before the game.

With Gaborik out, it was time for the youth movement to take charge. Pouliot, Clutterbuck, and Reitz have been incredibly solid. Despite Pouliot being called up to take Gaborik’s spot, I think he’s earned a spot on the big club.

Write it down: November 12th at 5:46pm, Pouliot will be a permanent fixture on this Wild roster by the end of the year. Heck, I was right about Mikko being the next big thing. But then, even your mother knew that.

The Wild also got defenseman Marek Zidlicky back October 23rd, which is good for two reasons: (1) He’s got a cannon from the top of the circles, which really opens up a lot on powerplay, and (2) that means Skoula gets less minutes, which is always a good thing.

Of course, Owen Nolan is out again, but no surprise there. It’s his back again, which is bound to happen with a 36- year- old built in the Eric Lindros model as a power forward. When he’s in the lineup (which can’t be expected all that often), he has an uncanny nose for the net. In the five games he’s played, Nolan has a goal and three assists, including the game-winning goal against Columbus.
Overall, the Wild have had a solid start of the season, not great, but solid. For this being a "rebuilding year”, the Wild have done pretty well for themselves, Sitting tied for 3rd in the division and sitting tied for 5th in the division with 17 points.
Obviously, ugly losses to the Stars and division foe Canucks look terrible in the standings, but it’s early. If we get Gaborik healthy and producing, we’ll surprise everyone.

Before I start what seems like my 600th paper in the last two days, I want to start a rumor. If you were paying attention, you would know that I think Pouliot’s going to stay with the club. Then who gets sent down when/ if Gabby ever gets healthy? My pick is one Stephane Veil-useless (Stephane Veilleux). Just two points in 13 games, I think he’s long overstayed his welcome.