View From The Frontier

I can sense that you guys are frustrated and it fills me with pride to see it. 

No, I don't like schadenfreude and I do my best to not practice it.  I do stress patience with your team, because in the Western Conference where you've got the biggest of the big dogs, the Wild are very much still puppies.

Believe it or not Minnesotans, I enjoy pro hockey that calls Minnesota home.

I may not be a fan (at all) of Jacques Lemaire, I may hold an abnormal dislike for the guy and his style, but I respect him.  Just the same as I do for you fans.  After all, of all of Gary Bettman's toyed with and disfavored many, Minnesota fans, you're the only ones who have gotten back at Gary.   You guys had a team ripped away from you by a sexual predator loser of the highest order (all with Gary's blessing of course) and got a team back.

The Wild this season worry me a bit because I worry whether or not they can hang with the big boys.  Last night's game with Dallas (a 4-2 loss) is the exact kind of game and from the exact kind of team I count on Minnesota to have trouble with.  Dallas plays a similar dry style and they play it very tough.  They have hybrid agitator/goon types (like Sean Avery and Steve Ott) that also find ways to get on the score sheet.  

Does that formula sound familiar?  Yeah, it's the same, stupid one Anaheim uses to get by and I know we're all too familiar with how that pack of cementheads play.

The part about last night's game to be concerned about is what happened in goal.  No, not with Nik Backstrom, although he certainly had a less-than-inspiring game last night.

No, I'm talking about Tobias Stephan.  You know him, he's the guy that's not Marty Turco.  The same Marty Turco who had a goals against average over 4.00 and was backstopping a team that before last night was giving up six more goals than it was scoring.  Surely, Marty Turco's caddy has to be both nervous and equally not good, right?  That would be a safe assumption I figure.

To the Wild's credit, they stick to their gameplan regardless of the situation.  Of course, this also works against them in situations like this where you have a highly inexperienced goaltender (Stephan) and a team giving out goals like charity. 

The Wild mustered up 21 shots on goal and scoring neither of their two goals on even strength.  It's like a good news/bad news kind of story that sticks with the Wild.  I say this realizing their record is outstanding this year and yes, they are indeed playing great.

They could be doing a lot more though, they could be doing things to put fear into the rest of the Western Conference and the league.  Games like this one with Dallas and others (Buffalo last week and Tampa the week before also come to mind) stand out because they're games that Minnesota should've won them all and easily.  Of the three, Minnesota ended up being 1-1-1 and winning against Tampa in a shootout. 

The Wild's style is the kind that wears a team down and looks to capitalize on mistakes.  It's admirable, but it also doesn't seek to kill.  Last night, the Wild didn't come out to attack an obviously nervous goaltender, much the same way they didn't come out and open up both barrels against Tampa Bay, much the same way they didn't have an answer for the Sabres when they saw an opening to kill. 

Ideally, this is the sort of role you hope for your offensive guru to take over and lead the way.  Of course, in the Wild's case, the offensive guru has a paper-thin groin and appears to be headed out of town as soon as he's traded or his contract ends.

I know, I'm being nit-picky and a Debbie Downer for a lot of you who are just happy that the team is doing as well as they are without their soon-to-be ex-superstar and offensive load carrier (something some Wild fans seem to be quick to forget) - but please, don't settle for doing just well enough. 

Demand more. 

Demand the killer instinct because the Wild are going to need it when it comes time to test themselves against the best of the West in the playoffs.

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