Thought Bubble: Out Of The Bottom Of The Barrel?

Hoo boy, how many more times are we going to have to see that this season? (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Hey everyone! Missed me? After a month-long hiatus (which wasn't planned nor wanted), I've got my writing cap on and I've got a new Thought Bubble for you. I was planning to call this one ''Bottom of the barrel'', but in light of the Wild's recent 4-2 win against the Oilers, I decided to tweak it, but we're far from out of the woods on this one. Speaking of the Oilers, I'll also talk briefly about other teams who seem to be climbing from out of the bottom and I'll also talk very briefly about my hiatus.

Join me, please.

Opening panel: The Wild on the right track?

We've all enjoyed the 4-2 Wild win on thursday, mainly because it's the first win we've actually been able to SEE since the start of the pre-season (that win against Ilves doesn't count). The powerplay was just delicious, led by Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen (and I can only imagine how pretty it will become once Pierre-Marc Bouchard comes back!), our defense was at the best that it's been since the pre-season and Backs did a marvelous job in net. That being said, the win was against the Oilers, and well, we have to be honest on this one, they're not going to be holding the Stanley Cup this year. They're going to be good for sure, but not right now. Edmonton really didn't play well on thursday, they had no urgency in their play, the young guns were invisible and the PK... well we know about their PK. The Bulin wall did all it could, but ultimately fell short. O.K, enough with the game-recap, you can read Bryan and Nathan's, which is much more detailled, since they were in the press box (LUCKYYYYYY). What I'm asking is ''are the Wild on the right track?'' and what I'm answering is ''slightly''. They're going to need more. They can't just rely on Koivu and Cullen all the time, who've each carried the majority of the load on their shoulders. They need MUCH more from Martin Havlat, who is always menacing, but just can't seem to pull the trigger. Also, if Cal Clutterbuck is going to keep his second line role for a while, he needs to show he deserves to be there. We all know the guy is more suited for a checking line role, but since he's the one Richards is calling on, they need him to show off his wicked wrister, the one that made people in Finland believe he was a superstar, a lot more often. They also need a lot more from the defensemen, both offensively and defensively. Offensively, Cam Barker is on the right track with 2 assists, seeing as he's here for his offensive contributions, and Zidlicky has one point in one game, but Niklas Backstrom is in dire need of help from his defense. To the Wild's credit, they've looked better with each regular season game, so if they can keep this up and wait for it... work hard each and every game for 60 minutes(huh Bryan?), then maybe, just maybe, we get a good season. By the way, the reason I haven't mentionned last night's loss against the Jackets was because I missed it, but from what I've read, we're not happy about this, at all. Back to square one I guess?

 

Second panel: Turnarounds around the league.

Of the teams that were in the bottom of the barrel last season, a couple are off to starts ranging from good to great. Namely, the perfect Maple Leafs, the Tampa Bay Lightning (Stamkos is a fantasy beast for me!), and the ones we actually care about, the Oilers, Blues and Stars. Of course it's way too soon to actually tell if it'll stay this way for these teams, but you just can't underestimate the importance of a good start. Actually, it may be more accurate to say that you can't underestimate the importance of not having a bad start, because you're stuck chasing a playoff spot for most of the year (and we know a little something about that don't we?) Can we say that these teams are clawing their way out of the bottom of the barrel? I, for one, believe so. What do all of these teams have in common? A lot of great young players. Steven Stamkos, David Perron, James Neal, Loui Eriksson, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, T.J. Oshie, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and the list goes on and on. I'm not saying these teams will become champions overnight, but they're certainly following previous cup winners' formula (except the Red Wings, they're special). This is where Minnesota's woes come from; virtually no team-drafted young phenoms, and this comes from years of being either a bubble team or an early playoff exit. We do however have help on the way in the form of Mikael Granlund, Casey Wellman, Tyler Cuma and more. Let's not forget that the season is just starting, but pretty soon, that excuse will have lost it's merit.

 

Final panel: The end.

One of my previous Thought Bubbles was entitled ''Wake me up when September ends''. Wake me up indeed. I had no idea how meaningful that phrase would be, because it was the worst month of my life. About two weeks after learning my younger sister was pregnant (and she's carrying the child of the guy who is now her ex-boyfriend), I awoke on a saturday morning to my girlfriend crying beside me. We had been talking about our future for a while now, and our plans are very different. She plans to do her master's degree in Europe next year after she graduates. I still have another year left after this year and frankly, I'm not much of a traveler, plus, I'm studying to become a teacher, a job which requires a certain degree of stability. She was crying because she knew we couldn't keep hiding it, we knew our relationship was going to have to end. So began the worst weekend of my life. We broke up on that day and the next day, I moved to my best friend's place. We haven't spoken since, even though we both still love each other very much and we're dying to talk to each other, but we both feel like we're not ready yet. For the past three weeks, I've been at the bottom of the barrel. I've lost my one true love, the only girlfriend I ever had, the only woman I ever loved. To this day, I still feel empty, and I find myself thinking of her all the time. This situation has made me fall behind on my studies, which are becoming more and more demanding, and it also explains why I had to take a lengthy break from writing. I'm getting better though, I'm taking things one step at a time, and living with my friend helps a lot, even though I often feel like I'm a bother (his girlfriend, who also happens to be one of my best friends, also lives there). I'm thankful we ended our relationship on the best terms possible, but it's still going to be extremely awkward when we start speaking to each other again. Hopefully now you understand why I've been away for so long, but I'm back now, and I'll be doing my best to make up for lost time.

Punchline: It's damn sad that the sellout streak is officially dead, but maybe this will be a wake-up call for the Wild, because even though the Wild have iced much worse teams than this and still sold every game possible, the fans are tired of being played with, so this team has to step up big.

Good to be back.

JS

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