Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

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Posts about Wild news

State of hockey?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 23, 2015 - 9:02 AM

OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK.

This really is the state of hockey. It's not just a self-serving slogan.

There are two Minnesotas when it comes to winter sports. There are regions of the state where basketbal rules, and there are those where every backyard holds a homemade rink.

This winter, this is the state of...you know.

The Wild is on a remarkable run that will lead to a bound-to-be-compelling playoff.

Gopher men's hockey has righted itself and made the NCAA tournament, where it will face Minnesota-Duluth and share a field with No. 1 Minnesota State-Mankato and St. Cloud State.

Gopher women's hockey won its third title in four years on Sunday at Ridder Arena. (My piece on goalie Amanda Leveille is here).

Meanwhile, the Gopher basketball team did not make even the NIT, and the Wolves, for all the promise of Andrew Wiggins, are currently unwatchable.

So, until further notice, this is the state of hockey - a state filled with great arenas and great teams.

===========

Tonight my guest will be former St. John's quarterback, keen football observer and relentless world traveler Tom Linnemann, at 5 p.m. at The Local on SouhanUnfiltered.com. We're going to talk about Peterson, Bridgewater, Zimmer, the draft, Melrose's state title in basketball (Tom's an alum), and what it was like for him to surf in Australia, or slum in Viet Nam, or live in Toronto, or return to Minnesota. I guarantee a great conversation.

You can drop by or listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

@Souhanstrib

Yeo defends use of Dubnyk

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 19, 2015 - 10:35 PM

Devan Dubnyk wasn't the problem in the Wild's 3-2 loss to Washington on Thursday night.

Alex Ovechkin made one stunning play to score a goal, and scored another off a faceoff on a shot that Dubnyk never saw.

In general, it was typical of the Wild's recent losses - by one goal, at home, to a physical team.

Wild coach Mike Yeo has played Dubnyk relentlessly since he arrived. I don't think Dubnyk looked tired on Thursday, but I was curious about Yeo's philosophy, so I asked if he has seen any signs of fatigue from his goalie.

Yeo's full answer:

``I thought he was really good tonight. I don’t think we could fault him on anything tonight. I know there’s a lot of talk about this right now, but looking at the minutes he’s played…

``We just played a goalie of a team that’s been battling for first place in the conference, (Nashville's) Pekka Rine, and they played him four games in six days. They’ve been playing him every day. Carey Price is playing every game. That’s where the league is at right now.

``The game means something so you're going to go with the guy you think is hot and the guy you think gives you the best chance that night. Certainly it's something to keep an eye on, But I haven’t seen anything. For some reason, it’s a story that keeps coming up, and I haven’t seen any reason for it.''

For the record, I'm not actually second-guessing Yeo on this. He has one goalie playing exceptionally, and two who can't be trusted. I'd do the same thing.

I do wonder if Dubnyk will wear down, and whether playing every game will catch up with him in the playoffs, if the Wild makes it.

The gap between Dubnyk and the backups is so immense right now, Yeo has little choice but to keep playing Dubnyk.

-----------------

Last 3 podcasts this week on SouhanUnfiltered.com: Quincy Lewis, Peter Killen and Michael Russo. Friday night, 6 p.m. at O'Gara's, my guest will be Gophers senior associate athletic director Dan O'Brien, who was born in Winthrop and attended St. Thomas.

Stop by or use SouhanUnfiltered.com like a radio DVR. It's radio on demand, available any time on any computer or device.

@Souhanstrib

How Chuck Fletcher made me look bad

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 12, 2015 - 6:02 PM

On Jan. 10, the Wild lost a home game to Nashville while looking completely helpless. After the game, I wrote that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher should not try to save the season, that doing so would cost him prospects or draft picks and probably not provide enough help to salvage a horrible season in which his team was damaged by illnesses, the deaths of family members, injuries, the failure of young players to develop, and, of course, terrible goaltending.

Fletcher wisely did not listen to me. He traded a third-round draft pick for Devan Dubnyk and saved the season. Even if the Wild failed to make the playoffs from here, Fletcher will have been proved right. He gave his team a chance, a chance I didn't think existed.

I'm going to write about this topic more in the near future: It's heartening when a local talent evaluator makes the kind of move that the average observer could not have envisioned.

Fletcher saw something in Dubnyk that was not readily apparent to most of the population. It might be his most impressive move to date.

I'll be covering the Wild-Panthers game tonight with colleague Michael Russo.

You can find recent podcasts by myself and Michael at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Just don't tell anyone about the stuff Michael says on the podcast. It will get him into trouble.

Also, I'll be appearing every weekday afternoon on 105.1 The Ticket with Bob Sansevere. Please check it out.

@Souhanstrib

All-Star ideas, plus a baseball tweak

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 26, 2015 - 8:50 AM

The NFL held its Pro Bowl and the NHL held its All-Star game on Sunday.

Part of my job is to consume as much of newsworthy, noteworthy sports on television as I can. I didn't watch a minute of either.

Judging from today's reports, I didn't miss anything.

Here's how I would ``fix'' the All-Star events, or at least make them more watchable:

NHL: Hockey without defense is a bad idea. Goals in and of themselves are rarely pretty. They're exciting because they occured against a bunch of defensive players trying to stop the puck, or crush the shooter. Hockey requires intensity to be entertaining. So instead of paying each player a nice fee for making the All-Star game, throw all of that money into a pot, add a few million to make it enticing, and give all of the money to the participating players on the winning team.

Wouldn't you love to see the best players in the game playing hard for that last goal?

Basketball: Again, make it a winner-takes-all game, and tweak the rules. Install a four-point line to reward extra-long shots. And make dunks worth four points. Nobody wants to see mid-range jump shots in an All-Sar game, Reward the spectacular.

Baseball: This remains the best of the All-Star games, because it is the only one in which the defense is performing to the best of its abilities. One tweak: Allow players to reenter the game. The flaw of the baseball All-Star game is that the subs are in the game for the deciding innings, and it's possible for both teams to run out of players. If the bases are loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with the home team trailing by one, would you rather see the manager forced to use the player scheduled to bat...or would you like to see him call Miguel Cabrera off the bench, even though Cabrera left the game in the third inning?

NFL: Football without fully-engaged defenses might be even less entertaining than hockey without defense. My longstanding suggestion: Scrap the Pro Bowl and make the NFC and AFC battle in an old Superstars-style competition.

For the younger generation, Superstars would take star athletes and have them compete in events like sprinting, tug of war and the obstacle course. With the winners taking home loot

This format created one of the great moments in non-tradiational sports history. Here's a recap of it by ESPN and former St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Jim Caple:

``The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings met in Super Bowl IX in New Orleans in January 1975, a game that included 16 future Hall of Famers (counting coaches Bud Grant and Chuck Noll), Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain defense, Minnesota's Purple People Eaters and legendary quarterbacks Fran Tarkenton and Terry Bradshaw. That game, which the Steelers won 16-6, was not the most dramatic or memorable showdown between the two teams, however. That distinction goes to an epic, 16-minute tug-of-war on the sands of Waikiki held two weeks later as part of ABC's "Superteams" competition. After it was all over and the two teams lay moaning and exhausted in the sand, Dick Button -- yes, that Dick Button, the figure skating guy -- told a Sports Illustrated writer, "Nothing -- nothing, not even my own Olympic victories -- has ever moved me like that."

JEFF SIEMON, former Vikings linebacker: "It was the worst physical strain I've ever been under. It was the most intense, brutal abuse I've ever gone through -- and maybe by far."

DAVE OSBORN, former Vikings running back: "The tug-of-war was the toughest, most physical thing I've ever done, bar none. As far as being tired, I have never been more fatigued. I was always in great shape as a player. Practice was always a breeze. But when you have got to do something for a length of time and don't dare let up, it drains you. It was 16 minutes, but it seemed like 16 hours."

BEV OSBORN, Dave's wife: "You just wanted them to win the Super Bowl, but this was wondering if everyone was going to still be alive when it was over."

=============

I love that incoming baseball commissioner Rob Manfred had the guts to suggest that baseball's defensive shift might be outlawed.

I liked the shift when it was a novelty that rewarded progressive thinking. Now it's a common stratagem that takes away hits. I no longer like it. Make fielders stay in a rough semblance of order. Let's see good hitting rewarded.

=============

Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: 105.1 The Ticket's Bob Sansevere and I telling stories about the best characters in Vikings history; Strib hockey writer Michael Russo on the Wild; Twins GM Terry Ryan on his health, past and future; USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero on the Patriots, Seahawks, and the reaction he's received from scientists about the Deflatriots.

Next podcast: Today, 5 p.m. at The Local with Twins president Dave St. Peter.

My podcast network, The Alive&Social Network, now has a house containing a studio, and we're going to start doing live music shows as well as talking about music and sports. Follow @Aliveandsocial on Twitter to keep up to date.

Also, I'll be appearing on 105.1 The Ticket with Bob Sansevere every afternoon at 3:30.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib

An actual ``good'' morning in Twin Cities

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 18, 2015 - 10:04 AM

Twin Cities sports fans Let's enjoy today.

We wake to one of the best sports days of the year - NFL championship Sunday - after a day during which the Timberwolves, Wild, Gopher basketball team and Gopher hockey team all won.

While we can, let's cite a few positive developings in our winter of discontent:

-Andrew Wiggins keeps getting better. The Wolves' incompetence has given him and opening, and he has walked right through it, becoming more assertive as an NBA rookie than he ever was at Kansas.

-The Wild's trade for goalie Devan Dubnyk has paid off instantly. I believe the Wild would have been better off losing big this year, securing a high draft pick and resetting for next season, but Dubnyk has been better than expected. Maybe the positive development here is that the Wild gets to give Dubnyk a full tryout and decide whether he can become their goaltender of the future.

-It's been a terrible season for Gopher senior Andre Hollins. Saturday, he hit 7-of-10 three-pointers, and the Gophers won. That link shouldn't surprise. College basketball might be the most overanalyzed game in existence. The team that hits shots usually wins.

-Gopher hockey has been a disappointment. Saturday, the Gophers earned a blowout victory over a bad Wisconsin team.

As I wrote about in the Sunday paper, the four coaches and four quarterbacks in the NFL title games today all offer wildly different resumes. You never know who the next great quarterback or coach is going to be.

Strangely, of the four great or potentially great quarterbacks playing today, I think I'm most fascinated by Russell Wilson. Being a short, scrambling, running quarterback with average receivers is not supposed to be a formula for success in the modern NFL, but Wilson has made it one. He makes the right play at the right time, and is not only the best running quarterback in the NFL, he may be the only one who seems to know exactly how to avoid big hits.

Enjoy today...and yesterday.

--------------

Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Strib hockey writer Michael Russo, former Viking Leo Lewis (who recalled that he and his father were both cut by Bud Grant), Twins GM Terry Ryan...and a lot of other fascinating people.

@Souhanstrib

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