The Wild won its fifth consecutive game Saturday, 3-2 over the high-flying Colorado Avalanche.
These past five games have stood in stark contrast, at least results-wise, to the 1-2-2 start to the year that caused many of us (hand raised) to prematurely conclude that this would be the year the Wild finally faded well below mediocrity.
Instead, this can be the only logical conclusion to opinions about the Wild: The local NHL team has entered a lesser but undeniable zone inhabited by select pro teams, most notably the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, whereby trying to predict their demise is a fool’s errand.
Several years ago, I gleefully declared in newsprint that the Spurs were teetering on the brink of irrelevance and that age had finally caught up to them. I can’t find the exact occasion in our archives (perhaps luckily), but I do know they’ve made the playoffs every year since then — pushing their overall streak to 21 consecutive years — and have in fact stayed quite relevant.
The Wild, with six consecutive playoff trips (and none of those championships the Spurs amassed), is a light version of this failed prognostication, but the point stands. I will no longer believe the Wild is cooked until the meal is actually served.
• The World Series was not devoid of defining moments (and late nights) this weekend, and the narrative changed quickly from Friday to Saturday from Ian Kinsler’s misplay for the Red Sox to Dave Roberts’ decision as Dodgers manager to remove cruising starting pitcher Rich Hill from Game 4.
Hill had allowed only one hit and no runs in six innings and took a 4-0 lead into the seventh after a big inning by the Dodgers. He walked the leadoff batter, then recorded a strikeout and was lifted for a reliever having thrown 91 pitches.
The second-guessers — including President Donald Trump on Twitter — were howling in protest after a bullpen implosion that led to a 9-6 Boston victory.
But here’s the thing: Hill averaged 90 pitches per start during the regular season, so he was right at his normal capacity. He allowed a .513 slugging percentage to hitters the third time through the batting order (compared to .371 before that). The Dodgers had a top-10 bullpen in MLB during the regular season, and it had been even better in the playoffs.
All of those stats would have been thrown at Roberts by second-guessers in the other direction had Hill stayed in and imploded. This was outcome-based second-guessing of the worst kind.
• An example of second-guessing that isn’t necessarily outcome-based? Those who predicted before the season that keeping Jimmy Butler on the Wolves roster would be a distraction.
We don’t know to what extent that has fueled the Wolves’ 2-4 start or their out-of-sorts blowout loss to the Bucks on Friday, but what we did know was this: Every time Minnesota struggled or looked off while Butler was playing, the assumption was going to be it was because of the trade hanging over the team’s head. And that, in and of itself, is a distraction.
• I hesitate to say this out loud, but the Gophers football team’s chance at bowl eligibility this season might involve a victory over … Wisconsin?
After their more-thrilling-than-necessary but still very necessary victory Friday over Indiana pulled them to 4-4 and got them in the Big Ten win column, the Gophers have another very winnable game next week against Illinois.
After that come home games against Purdue and Northwestern before a finale at the struggling Badgers.
Minnesota hasn’t defeated Wisconsin since 2003, so let’s not say a win is likely — just perhaps possible?
Correction: A previous version of this article had the wrong home and away information for the Gophers football team's remaining schedule.