Morning from snowy Nashville, where the streets were quite treacherous on the ride from suburbia to my hotel this morning. The country music capital of the world was inundated with three or four inches of snow last night!
School's canceled, workers are skipping, and MNDot needs to get down here stat with a few plows.
Public library from my hotel room
Speaking of my hotel, absolute zoo! WWE Raw is in town tonight at Bridgestone, and the wrestlers and about 400 fanatics are staying at my hotel. Security everywhere. I was just talking to a fan downstairs.
Turns out wrestling is fake.
Still a couple flakes coming down, but the Wild should have no problem getting in. No practice today, and the team's departing a little later than usual so players can actually get a few hours to say hi to their wives and kids.
Told ya last night wasn't going to be pretty. I got a couple emails and I'm sure a couple "comments" that I was making a preemptive excuse for the team last night when I predicted in my post-Penguins game blog a lethargic group would have trouble against Dallas.
I wasn't trying to make an excuse. I've just seen it a million times in my 16 seasons covering the NHL.
Sorry, but players aren't robots. You can't just plug em in and expect them to go. It was a very predictable outcome, and frankly why there's sometimes some very bad hockey games in the NHL. It's just a dumb game to be scheduled, frankly.
You have Dallas sitting and waiting in Minnesota while the Wild's out East completing a three-game road trip. Then the Wild has to fly 800 or so miles home, get in after midnight, deal with all the errands they've got to do after not being home in a week and play an earlier-than-normal 5 p.m. game without a morning skate and a lot of prep time with the coaches. Sorry, recipe for an egg to be laid, and that's what you get.
To make matters worse, Dallas is running good, especially on the road, and the Wild's not running good at home. So you have all this momentum and good will built from a quality road trip, and then you go home in front of the excited patrons and again lack any oomph at home, where you want to prove yourself. Not good.
We'll see if the Wild can regain some momentum tomorrow against the riding-high Predators, who have won five in a row starting with that New Year's Eve win over the Wild.
Wild goaltender Jose Theodore was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week. Up until last night, he was having a monster week in lieu of injured Niklas Backstrom, helping the Wild sweep its three-game Eastern swing. He still finished 3-1 with a shutout, 1.50 goals against average and .946 save percentage.
Daniel Sedin was the First Star, Jonas Hiller the Second.
Tomorrow, the NHL will announce the rest of the All-Stars. This is chosen by NHL hockey ops usually after consultation which each team's GM.
Who's going to Raleigh from the Wild? A lot of times the player(s) picked depends largely on the allotment, like a fantasy draft. In other words, if the NHL already has too many deserving defensemen, that could affect a Brent Burns and help a Martin Havlat or Mikko Koivu. If the NHL has too many deserving forwards, that can hurt a Havlat or Koivu and help a Burns.
Frankly, of the Wild's probable All-Star contenders (I don't see Cal Clutterbuck being an All-Star unless it turns into a checking game), Havlat's been the Wild's best and most consistent player since October.
Plus, the All-Star Game should be about skill, and he's got himself some skill. He leads the Wild with 38 points, scored some monster goals in December and I think, despite his ridiculous humbleness at times (he's barely quotable after he does anything good), would be completely honored.
I could see Koivu, but I don't think he's been better or more consistent than Havlat this season.
As for Burns, he's been better (although still up and down at times) and is second among all NHL defensemen with 12 goals. He'd be fun to watch in the All-Star Game, although I don't know how much he'd want to be defending some of the star forwards shift in and shift out. That game's not too fun for defensemen.
Wild's one game past the halfway point. Here's some numbers:
Record: 21-16-5 (10th in the West, 4 teams tied with 47 points)
1-Goal Games: 10-3-5, 10-1-3 last 14
2-goal Games: 6-3
3+-goal Games: 5-10
Scoring First: 17-2-4
Opponent Scoring First: 4-14-1
Leading after 1: 13-2-3
Trailing after 1: 0-10-1
Leading after 2: 14-0-1
Trailing after 2: 1-15-1
OT record: 4-1
Shootout record: 0-4
Outshooting opponent: 1-1-2
vs. Northeast 1-1
vs. Atlantic: 2-2
vs. Southeast: 2-3-1
vs. Central: 3-4-1
vs. Pacific: 6-3-2
vs. Northwest: 7-3-1
Goals per game: 2.55 (tied for 22nd overall; 19th at home, 17th on the road)
Goals against: 2.71 (14th; 24th at home, 8th on the road)
Power play: 21.2 percent (tied for 7th overall; 13th at home; 4th on the road)
Penalty kill: 82.4 percent (14th overall; tied for 20th at home; 7th on the road)
Penalty minutes: 10.9 a game (6th)
5-on-5 for: 63 (27th)
5-on-5 against: 74 (tied for 13th)