Posted on: September 11, 2009 11:56 am

My Dwindling Bank Account and an NHL Rant

Wild tickets went on presale today - well, yesterday if you're in the warming house. I'm a 22-year-old grad student so even getting on the waiting list for season tickets is out of the question. It's tradition for me and my dad to go to one game a year. I usually buy the tickets as a Christmas present to him, and we've done this for four years now. My favorite moment as a Wild fan came at one of those games my dad and I went to. I splurged on two tickets right behind the Wild bench, they were $250 a pop. Ouch. Anyways, it was the 2007-08 season and the Wild fell behind the Oilers 4-1 in the second period. "Great," I thought. "$500 down the drain." Then the Wild came back to tie it, and Petteri Nummelin won it in OT. The place went nuts...I will never forget that moment. (Actually, neither did the players...I ended up taking a picture of Josh Harding at that game and I later met him during the 10,000 Rinks tour this summer. I gave him a copy of the print and had him sign mine, and he not only told me that he remembered the game, but he remembered me . I sat right behind him.)

But I digress. I usually buy my tickets off of StubHub or whatever so I usually get financially screwed on whatever tickets I buy, but when I bought my two tickets this morning, I felt jobbed as well. The only two-ticket package I could find were the $114 seats - $130 with the frickin' service charges. I understand that season ticket holders grab most of the seats, but the NHL is charging white-collar ticket prices for blue-collar fans. This is not what the game's about. I can't stand it when little kids are given $200 seats and don't even watch the game. Or when people arrive to the Xcel Energy Center in suits and text the whole game.

What is wrong with this picture?

It's becoming increasingly more difficult for true fans like myself to afford to go to NHL games. I recently moved to southwest Wisconsin so I can't even watch them without buying the expensive online package. No FSN North for me, it's not available with my cable provider (which I couldn't even choose, btw...thanks UW-La Crosse). I understand that teams are here to turn a profit, but at what cost? How cruel is it that people who don't even know the game get to sit up against the glass while diehards like myself watch from the couch? Granted, when I go to my fridge I don't have to pay $10 for a beer, but that's besides the point.
So long story short...I get to watch Jacques Lemaire's return to Minnesota in person come January with my dad. The bonding is priceless, sure, but it should not cost anyone $260 just to get in the building and watch a bunch of athletes skate around on ice. I'm oversimplifying things but I'm ticked off. The days that I can buy these tickets are disappearing fast. What's more important, two hockey tickets or two months' worth of groceries? Bettman and these greedy owners are pretty much choosing for me if tickets continue to go up. If it weren't for the price freeze that the Wild made last year, I probably wouldn't even get close to walking around the X this winter to see a Wild game.

I'm not just upset, I'm disappointed with the way things are being run here. The spirit of the game should not be muzzled by profit margins.

Keep your stick on the ice.

~ Robtangle
Posted on: March 27, 2009 10:13 am

Wild's defining moment comes Saturday night

Wild fans,

We've been up and down all year. That great start? A distant memory. Now we're clawing for the right to get whooped by either the Sharks or Red Wings in the playoffs. I may sound pessimistic, but don't let that phase you - I want the Wild to make it in because, well, you just never know.

That said, tomorrow night's game with the Flames is our defining moment this season. If the Wild win, they'll make the playoffs. I don't know why, I just feel it. The momentum that team would receive from a win in the Saddledome - the building in which we have, by far, the worst road record - would lift the team. And if they lose? Well, they're done. They're not mathmatically eliminated with a loss, but in my mind, they'd be done. Stick a fork in them. Ready the offseason of zero (positive) moves.

We're the Twins of the National Hockey League.

So if you're a diehard fan or just a fringe one, watch the game tomorrow night. It's the most important game this season. Hell, even if you don't like the Wild, tomorrow's game will have a playoff atmosphere. And if it doesn't - that'll give you a very good idea of whether or not Minnesota will be in this year's playoffs.

Keep your stick on the ice,

~ Robtangle

Category: NHL
Tags: Flames, Wild
Posted on: February 23, 2009 11:52 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2009 11:53 pm

Repeating my 2008 plea - trade Josh Harding

For the record, this did not come purely out of last night's contest. Only partially. ^_^

Josh Harding has shown that he can be a number one goaltender. Don't let the record fool you; he's got a GAA around 2.2 and a save percentage above .920. He's got a flair for the dramatic and can pull highlight-reel saves at any time.

And that's why we've got to trade him.

I'll take consistency and dependability over flashy every day of the week and twice on Thursday. Niklas Backstrom absolutely has to be re-signed; he's a top-three goaltender in the NHL right now and I know that Risebrough and everyone else in Wild country would kick themselves if they let Nik go. Nolan Schaefer is a good goalie but he's unproven and would be better in a back-up role since he's spent a lot of his time in the minors with Houston. Not only would we hand the reins over to a couple of young goaltenders, but we'd most likely face him (Backstrom) a few times a year. With our offense the way it is, you might as well just call in a forfeit - Backs would shut the Wild down every time.

Speaking of that offense, that's what you get in return for trading Harding. I'm not counting on Marian Gaborik to come back from that Lego-block hip of his - or his groin, or knee, or wherever else he's hurting. Andrew Brunette is hurt, Owen Nolan is hurt, Antti Miettinen has all but cooled off from his fast start. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is starting to earn his big contract, but are the Wild really going to count on Butch to carry them? Not on that 5'10" frame, that's for sure.

While I haven't looked too deeply into who the Wild would trade with, here are a couple of quick wrist shots. Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen doesn't look the same anymore. Meanwhile, Ilya Kovalchuk was a name that was floating around the initial Gaborik trade rumors. Toronto would be another spot; Nik Antropov is probably going to be moved and you have to take a look at the Leafs' goaltender stats; no one has a save percentage about .900 or a GAA below 3.00. Ouch. And finally, the Avalanche may be a division rival but Peter Budaj does not look like the answer for Colorado. Marek Svatos or Wojtek Wolski would be a couple of good pieces in return. Hey, we're talking about the team that traded Dwayne Roloson to a division rival for practically nothing. I'd like to see something more lucrative come out of this deal, so I'd hope that Risebrough would be willing to take phone calls from anyone.

Anyways, that's just my two cents. Here's to the Wild making another late-season playoff push, albeit a much tougher one with their upcoming road schedule.

Keep your stick on the ice.

~ Robtangle

Posted on: January 28, 2009 11:36 am
Edited on: January 28, 2009 2:22 pm

Your newest Calder contender...Cal Clutterbuck

First off, let me answer anyone who's not a Wild fan. Yes, this is a homer pick. Should this surprise anyone? Who doesn't want their team and players to shine?

With that out of the way, my first blog in almost three months centers around Cal Clutterbuck, the Wild's rookie forward. The guy has been an absolute joy to watch since his call-up early in the season; he plays with such intensity and energy that you can't love him. He doesn't have the point totals to rival Kris Versteeg. He doesn't have the plus-minus to keep up with the Bruins' Blake Wheeler (or for that matter, anyone on the Bruins, they seem to have enough plus-minus to erase the federal deficit). But his name should be right up there with them for the other things he does.

At first glance, his stat lines aren't that impressive - 8 G, 3 A for 11 points. But he's been very hot lately with three goals in his last five contests, including a game-winner against the Oilers. On top of that, he shoots at a 12.5% clip, he doesn't shoot much but makes the most of his opportunities. His 29 PIM are pretty low for someone who hits as much as he does, and he doesn't commit stupid penalties. You also have to recognize that he has three fighting majors in there, giving him only seven non-fighting penalties.

Going back to the kid's energy is where he should get the most attention. He not only leads all rookies in hits, Clutterbuck leads the entire NHL and he's played fewer games than his competition. For a rookie to lead any stat category is impressive - so why isn't he getting league-wide attention? Actually, scratch that - I know that the other players know about him, or at least have met them after taking a solid check or two. But the media outside of Minnesota hasn't paid much attention. He scored his first two career goals in the same game against the Capitals; unfortunately, the game was shown on Versus so nobody saw the kid shine.

I could go on and on but I'd rather have his actions speak for themselves. The kid's amazing, has been one of the key reasons the Wild are still staying afloat in the Western Conference, and should deserve to have his name thrown in the hat for Calder recognition. I don't really understand why he hasn't been mentioned yet, other than his odd last name...maybe he needs a nickname or marketing campaign but all I can think of is "Double Deuces," which isn't very creative considering that's his jersey number. Wild fans, any help? Bueller?

Regardless, hockey fans - you have been warned. Cal Clutterbuck is an up and coming player with tons of energy and intensity. He makes opponents look over their shoulders because he's always a step or two away from landing another monster hit. And he's shown that he can light the lamp as well. Anyways, that's just my two cents.

Keep your stick on the ice,

~ Robtangle

Category: NHL
Posted on: November 19, 2008 11:48 am
Edited on: November 19, 2008 6:45 pm

Not That Wild About Our Offense

Good morning, Viet...

Forget it. Hello, State of Hockey. (Much better.)

While I haven't been posting many blogs in terms of game reviews, I felt compelled to write a little bit about our offensive situation. If you will excuse me in using a terrible play on words, our offense is offensive. Sure, Niklas Backstrom and the blue liners are really carrying this team - I've been claiming delirium the past couple of weeks but I'm finally admitting the turnaround of Kim Johnsson and Martin Skoula. The penalty kill is the best in the league, shutting down opposing power plays at around 94%. Our man advantage is almost as good, scoring 16 power play goals. Here's the only problem - we've only scored 39 goals in 16 games, barely above two per game. Almost half our goals come on the power play. To put it bluntly, we need some more even-strength goals because teams will figure out that it's better to let up a five-on-five scoring opportunity than take a penalty to prevent that scoring opportunity.

Case in point - last night against Pittsburgh, the Penguins only had to kill two penalties. Two. That's not going to cut it, and again, look at last night...our regulation goal was a gift. If not for the PK and Backstrom being astoundingly solid in the shootout, we should not have picked up two points - we probably shouldn't have picked up one point, for crying out loud.

So what do we do seeing as Marian Gaborik (aka The Groin Heard 'Round Minnesota) isn't going to play for who knows how long? Two words - style change. Coach Jacques Lemaire's style of hockey puts way too much pressure on the defense and if - no, WHEN - the blue liners crack and Niklas Backstrom goes into a slump (it will eventually happen), we are going to see the losses start to pile up. Now is when we need to unleash some offense and build a lead in this division before we get into our insane second-half schedule (anyone else see how ridiculous our last 20+ games shape up?). We have the talent to score goals - Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu are excellent playmakers. We've got Andrew Brunette, Owen Nolan, and Derek Boogaard to camp out in front of the crease and wreak havoc. Our defensemen have some pretty good shots from the point. And Antti Miettinen and Eric Belanger, while not bonafide scorers, can put the puck in the net. This defensive style of hockey translates to tired legs and a lack of energy when we finally put the puck in the attacking zone. Guys are at the ends of their shifts, it seems, when we go on offense and just end up dumping the puck and changing. New guys come out, play defense, dump and chase, then change. Rinse and repeat.

Coach Lemaire has to loosen up on the reins a little bit if he wants to practice what he preaches - he's been saying we need more offense, got to have more offense. Well then, make some changes that are going to produce offense, and don't just swap line combinations. Give your players some real chances to move with the puck, create more odd-man rushes, do SOMETHING that's going to create some more shots (which, year after year, we rank at the bottom of the league).

Anyways, that's my two cents. Any comments are welcomed.

Keep your stick on the ice,

~ Rob P. aka Robtangle
Category: NHL
Tags: Wild
Posted on: October 28, 2008 2:06 am

Wild survive another third period comeback

Good evening State of Hockey,

So yeah...it's been nearly two weeks since my last game analysis. A combination of applying for grad school and a needy girlfriend can really put the kabash on watching my Wild. Anyhoo...

Once again, the Wild looked great for the first two and a half periods. The power play was clicking - scoring on one, getting another goal as the power play expired. Andrew Brunette's goal gave the Wild momentum going into the second period, which again, they dominated. Versus network put up the stat that the Wild have outscored opponents 9-3 (now 11-3) in the middle frame this season, best in the NHL. The Antti Miettinen 3-on-2 goal was great, and the feed to Brent Burns for the power play goal was a thing of beauty. Despite a late third period goal by the Blackhawks, the Wild held on for the 3-2 victory and remain the only unbeaten (in regulation) team in the NHL.

Tangle's game puck is awarded to: Center Mikko Koivu. What else can you say about this rising star? Assists on all three goals (two of them were beauties), and his two-way game continues to impress. He did have a bad pass leading to the Duncan Keith goal, but that was overshadowed by his otherwise dominant performance. This AMA line is one of the best in hockey this season. Minor awards to Niklas Backstrom minding the net. He gave up another third period goal, yes, but his 30+ saves made up for it. The power play, as said before, is creating a lot of opportunities, and let's not leave out the penalty kill, silencing a 5-on-3 'Hawks power play opportunity. The Wild have yet to give up a power play goal this year. Finally, Cal Clutterbuck gets a nod for playing a very physical game. He landed several solid checks and provides a lot of intensity on the fourth line.

Tangle's "WTF?" award goes to: Defenseman Martin Skoula. Dammit, I hate this guy. His back was consistently turned when the puck got near him, he had a couple of turnovers in the defensive zone, and his "defense" on the two-on-one opportunity early in the game made me wonder whether if he was doing his best "Stephen Hawking tries to ice skate" impression or if he just gave up. He refused to commit to the puck OR the trailer, and ended up just going down to his knees. In the process, the only person he ended up blocking was Backstrom. I'm thinking the only reason Chicago didn't score on that play was because they were utterly shocked by Skoula's complete lack of defense. Minor harassment goes to Jacques Lemaire for not playing the third and fourth lines enough - I think Derek Boogaard has made leaps and bounds this season in his overall game...amazing what you can do with a healthy back. And finally, though this doesn't need mentioning, a thumbs-down to Marian Gaborik for continuing to be an injured and selfish douchebag.

Wild grade: B. Power play was great, penalty kill was great, but we still can't play a full 60 minutes yet. These third periods are getting way more tense than they should be. Luckily Backstrom is undefeated when leading after two periods but it's still frustrating to know that your team can't seal a victory.

It's good to be on top of the NHL, isn't it, Wild fans? For the second straight year, we're the last team standing without a regulation loss, and for the first time in over 40 years, there has been a team to not allow a power play goal through the first seven games of the season (the Leafs were the last to do it).

Keep your stick on the ice.

~ Robtangle
Posted on: October 11, 2008 11:42 pm

Wild impress in season opener

Hey all Wild fans,

Robtangle coming at ya for the 08-09 season of Minnesota Wild hockey. As per my blogs from last year, I'll be giving my two cents on the night's happenings - at least, the games that I can watch. (I still don't get 45...)

Anyhoo, tonight was a good night. The offense looked good, we actually have a power play (shock and awe!), and Niklas Backstrom was fairly solid until the end. The second period was one of the best periods of hockey I've seen the Wild play in some time; if we get more efforts like that, I think this team will have a good shot at repeating as division champs.

Tangle's game puck is awarded to: Eric Belanger. The guy potted the game-tying goal in the first and the eventual game winner in the second. His first goal came from a nice dish from rookie Colton Gillies, and the second from my man, the newly-resigned Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Belanger's linemates - Bouchard and Owen Nolan - look to be a good fit. Secondary props go to the Gillies / Benoit Pouliot / Derek Boogaard line. They looked good for a bunch of enforcers. And how 'bout the Boogeyman getting dishes on two opportunities? I had a good laugh about them, but I want Gillies to take that shot in the event of a closer game. One half of the Dildaphonic Duo is actually getting props from me tonight - Martin Skoula. He blocked a shot that would have been a definite goal, and shut down a lot of Bruins rushes. In other news, Kim Johnsson was his old self.

Tangle's "WTF?" award goes to: Boston goalie Manny Fernandez. I said three years ago that trading Dwayne Roloson instead of Fernandex was the wrong move, and here's an example why - Manny was never good in the clutch, emotionally charged games. Case in point, a season opener. Manny let a soft Marc-Andre Bergeron goal in from the point, and was out of position on a lot of Wild opportunities. Minor burns go to Niklas Backstrom letting in a couple of softies, as well as the Marian Gaborik / James Sheppard / Stephane Veilleux line, which didn't do much. Gopher alum Blake Wheeler also fanned on what would have been an easy goal.

Wild grade (NEW to Robtangle blogs this year!!!): B+. The power play clicked, the new guys all scored at least a point, and aside from Backstrom's late-game letdown and the disappearance of Gabby, the Wild played really well and I am very excited for this season.

Keep your stick on the ice.

~ Robtangle
Posted on: May 2, 2008 1:48 am

Now we know who has the best fans in the division

I'm no longer sore over the Minnesota Wild's 4-2 series loss to the Colorado Avalanche. If anything, it helped me in a few ways because:

A) It further pointed out our flawed blue line which NEEDS to be changed over the offseason

B) Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are going to be bonafide Stars in the NHL, and...

C) Most importantly - we are the best fans in the Northwest Division, if not the conference.

I know it looks like I'm absolutely jumping for my high horse, that's not the case. After following the Avalanche in their second-round matchup with the Red Wings, one thing became obviously clear - Colorado is home to incredibly fair-weathered fans.

They gloated when their team beat mine. They said it had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the refs. They said it had nothing to do with our injury-depleted defense. They had the audacity to say that their team, and fans, were better.

Fast-forward to this series, and my, how the tables turned. After the first game, the Avs fans hung around. Said they were still in the series. After Game 2's drubbing, the hypocrisy came by the shovel-full. They said the refs were throwing the game, that the Red Wings had too many penalties. They said that the NHL wanted Detroit to win. They said that they were suffering from key injuries. And now that the Wings put an eight-spot (or, "The Ocho" for fans of the movie Dodgeball) on Jose Theodore aka "The One-Series Wonder," the fans have completely disappeared.

I'm sorry. I couldn't hold back. I had to sink my teeth into those posts. Was it mature? Probably not, though my articulation and logic were impeccable as usual. Was it necessary? No, they knew they aren't hardcore fans. Was it fun?

You bet your ass it was fun.

I'm a fan of all sports so my summer will be spent playing baseball and golf, watching a little bit of them on TV, catching a Twins game every week or so. I have things to occupy my time. So I'll be writing some baseball blogs this summer, and also reporting on any moves the Wild make. I'm sad the Wild didn't move on, but boy did I enjoy watching the second round of these playoffs.

Keep your stick on the ice,

~ Robtangle

Category: NHL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com