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Here's why people keep saying 'Hanzal. So hot right now' about new Wild player

hanzalYou might already know this. Congratulations if you do (but please read anyway. It won’t take long).

So: the Wild made a big trade a couple days ago to acquire Martin Hanzal and Ryan White from the Coyotes.

Hanzal was the bigger of the two prizes, coming to the Wild with a reputation for scoring and being good in the faceoff circle (with a 6-6 frame to presumably help with those gritty playoff-style goals the Wild will be seeking soon).

Hanzal was kept off the score sheet in his Wild debut Monday against the Kings. But that hasn’t stopped fans — either on Twitter or in person — from saying: “Hanzal. So hot right now” about him.

What is going on here?

Well, if you’ve seen the movie “Zoolander,” you know. There’s a scene in the comedy where Owen Wilson interrupts Ben Stiller — both of whom are male models — by making a grand entrance. Wilson’s character is named “Hansel.” Will Ferrell’s character is being interviewed and says, “Hansel. So hot right now. Hansel.

Change the spelling but keep the pronunciation basically the same and you have a great NHL meme with Hanzal. He used to see signs in Arizona with the quote. And at least one Wild fan had one at Xcel Energy Center on Monday.

If you didn’t know, now you know!

Wolves: Better chance at NBA playoffs than the No. 1 draft pick

wigginstyusIf you can label a game for a team with a .400 winning percentage and 22 games remaining as a “must-win” contest, Monday’s Timberwolves game at Sacramento fit that description.

And, well, the Wolves played like it was a game they had to have, giving one of their most complete efforts of the season in a 102-88 victory that keeps them on the fringes, at least, of the Western Conference playoff race.

It’s an odd bit of good fortune that the Wolves have stumbled their way into this chase. Most years, a 24-36 record after 60 games would have us solely talking about the lottery. This year in the Western Conference, there are seven teams who are clearly going to make the postseason and another handful — including Minnesota — trying to make a run and steal the No. 8 spot with, say, 37 or 38 wins.

The Wolves are currently No. 5 in that group of six teams trying to claim one spot. Basketball Reference gives them a 5.1 chance of making the playoffs at this point and a 3.6 percent chance of winning the draft lottery to get the No. 1 pick.

The big problem I see is the schedule: the Wolves had many more of their easier games (and home games) at the front part of the season, when they were losing close games and looking disjointed in the process. At the end of the year, they’ll probably look back on home losses to the Nuggets, Hornets, Knicks and Pistons — all part of a 6-18 start — as culprits in a season that came up short of the playoffs.

Just eight of the Wolves’ final 22 games are at home. Broken down further, 11 of the last 15 are on the road. It’s hardly impossible to put together a winning streak away from Target Center, but the Wolves are 15-18 at home and just 9-18 on the road as of now.

That means the likely outcome is somewhere in the middle — no playoffs, and a decent lottery pick that isn’t at or near the very top — but at least the franchise heads into March with two possibilities instead of just the usual draft chatter.

If there is any hope the Wolves can gain the steam it takes to grab an unlikely playoff spot, it rests with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins — and particularly Wiggins, who has had a fantastic recent stretch that should garner him consideration for Western Conference Player of the Month in February.

The last time Wiggins scored fewer than 20 points in a game, Barack Obama was still president — Jan. 17 at San Antonio, when Wiggins was held to just 10 points.

Equally important (or perhaps even more so) is how Wiggins has been filling up other parts of the stat sheet lately. Most notably: he has at least one steal in each of his last 10 games and is averaging 2.1 steals per game in that span to go with his gaudy 30.2 ppg in the last 10.

Compare that to Wiggins’ first 50 games: he was still scoring (albeit not at such a high rate) with 22.1 ppg. But he was also averaging less than one steal per game (0.8).

In many cases lately, Wiggins has been stepping in front of cross-court passes to get his steals, leading to easy transition buckets. It’s part of an overall evolution in which Wiggins — who just turned 22, remember — seems to be seeing the game a step ahead of where he was even a couple months ago.

At the very least, Wiggins and the rest of the Wolves are getting to feel what it’s like to play meaningful games late in the season. Judging by Monday’s result, that pressure seems to suit them — and should make them eager to play more of these games in seasons to come.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Tampa Bay at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Wild at Winnipeg

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Pittsburgh at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Utah

    8 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Twins at Baltimore (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Gophers women's basketball vs. Penn State

    5:30 pm on BTN

  • Wild at Columbus

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Nebraska at Gophers men's basketball

    6 pm on ESPN, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Philadelphia (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan

    5:30 pm on ESPNEWS, 1500-AM

  • Minnesota United FC at Portland

    8:30 pm on FS1

  • Toronto at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey vs. UMD

    5:07 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan

    7:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Washington (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Wisconsin at Gophers men's basketball

    5 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • St. Louis at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN

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Today's Scoreboard

  • St. Louis

    Atlanta

    12:05 PM

  • NY Yankees

    Boston

    12:05 PM

  • NY Mets

    Miami

    12:05 PM

  • Detroit

    NY Yankees

    12:05 PM

  • Baltimore

    Philadelphia

    12:05 PM

  • Toronto

    Pittsburgh

    12:05 PM

  • Minnesota

    Tampa Bay

    12:05 PM

  • Houston

    Washington

    12:05 PM

  • LA Angels

    Chicago Cubs

    2:05 PM

  • Seattle

    Chicago White Sox

    2:05 PM

  • Chicago White Sox

    Cincinnati

    2:05 PM

  • Kansas City

    Milwaukee

    2:05 PM

  • Cleveland

    Oakland

    2:05 PM

  • Arizona

    Texas

    2:05 PM

  • LA Dodgers

    Colorado

    2:10 PM

  • San Francisco

    San Diego

    2:10 PM

No NFL games today

  • Golden State

    Washington

    6:00 PM

    NBA

  • Portland

    Detroit

    6:30 PM

  • Utah

    Oklahoma City

    7:00 PM

  • Denver

    Chicago

    7:00 PM

  • Phoenix

    Memphis

    7:00 PM

  • Charlotte

    LA Lakers

    9:30 PM

    NBA

  • Arizona

    Boston

    6:00 PM

  • Nashville

    Buffalo

    6:00 PM

  • Washington

    NY Rangers

    6:00 PM

  • Colorado

    Philadelphia

    6:00 PM

    NBC Sports

  • Carolina

    Florida

    6:30 PM

  • Columbus

    Montreal

    6:30 PM

  • Edmonton

    St. Louis

    7:00 PM

  • Minnesota

    Winnipeg

    7:00 PM

    FSN

  • Pittsburgh

    Dallas

    7:30 PM

  • Los Angeles

    Calgary

    8:00 PM

  • Detroit

    Vancouver

    9:00 PM

  • Toronto

    San Jose

    9:30 PM

No MLS games today