Let’s take a ride through the usually maddening, sometimes exciting, but always entertaining world of MN sports.
Although the Wild have hiccuped a couple times lately, overall they have been on a tear. They are currently the #3 seed in the Western Conference with Vancouver right on their heels in the division race. With only 13 games remaining, the Wild just need to hold serve to maintain their playoff chances, but obviously, finishing strong to secure home ice is the more desirable outcome.
Other teams were making some big trades yesterday, but I can’t see the Wild doing the same. I don’t think GM Chuck Fletcher will make any significant moves, given this Wild team is young and needs to grow into a perennial contender. I’d rather have guys like Charlie Coyle and Jonas Brodin makes some mistakes while getting playoff experience than have a rental player come in for a marginally better chance at winning this year. If, however, a valuable piece can be added and signed long-term, then I’m on board.
The Wild look poised to give Minnesota sports fans something they haven’t seen in a while: playoff success. Even if that means winning only one series, it will be better than anything we’ve seen in quite some time. If they go even deeper than that, then the Wild may very well pass the Twins in the hearts of many more MN sports fans to become the 2nd favorite team in MN.
The chilly season opener was a loss, but the Twins put up a good fight against Justin Verlander and the Tigers, the team most are picking to win the division. Vance Worley pitched his way to a quality start, but the offense was stymied, repeatedly leaving runners on base.
Expectations are low for the Twinkies. If somehow the starting pitching can be even mediocre, the offense should be good enough to win significantly more games than last season. Let’s not forget the Twins have gone from worst to first before, so a resurgence isn’t that crazy of a notion. Still, you won’t see me putting any money on it happening.
Mercifully, Tubby Smith was fired after yet another underachieving, frustrating season. The coaching search continues and unfortunately it appears the most popular choice, Flip Saunders, will not be taking the job. Hopefully Norwood Teague has a few hidden gems he can turn to that will inject some life into this flagging program. Whoever is hired will need to hit the ground running and immediately start wooing the three ultra-talented MN high school juniors who are being recruited nationally.
The Gophers produced another Holy Cross-esque moment by losing to Yale in the NCAA tourney, but the sting of this loss was mitigated by UND’s loss to Yale the next day. Sometimes teams just get hot. What can you do?
MSU-Mankato lost their opener also, but St. Cloud State came up big with wins over Notre Dame and Miami, leading to the school’s first ever Frozen Four appearance. I would love to see the Huskies take home the title and be the third team from MN to win a national championship.
Now that the free agency flurry has settled down, attention turns to the upcoming draft. The Vikings have clear needs at DT, WR, CB, and LB, so they can look for the best player at each of those positions when it’s their pick. GM Rick Spielman may look to trade up to get a top level prospect, but I think it’s more likely he stands pat and adds as much depth as possible to this team. Heck, he may even trade down in order to get even more draft choices. Either way, I’m happy with the direction this team is headed.