Sunday, February 17, 2008

How Times have Changed

I remember sitting in the school library in Nanjing, China, hurriedly checking the Canucks score before the teacher came peaking over my shoulder. I dreaded the days we faced the Minnesota Wild, for more often than not, Wes Walz would steal a win for the mind-numbingly dull Wild whilst the last days of the Crawford run-and-gun era petered out in front of the GM Place faithful. I remember thinking how unfair it was that such a boring team (Wild) could beat such an exciting team (Canucks.)
Oh, how times have changed. Minnesota has added players such as Brian Rolston and Pavol Demitra. The paradoxically stagnant, passive hockey played at the XCEL Energy Center is a distant memory. The Northwest-leading Wild is still strong defensively, but they still sit at a respectable 19th in the NHL for goalscoring, with 162 so far this year.
As is key in the sport of hockey, the Wild are solid right through the line-up with potential All-Stars right through the line-up. However, the success of the Wild is perhaps not entirely their own doing. I don't like to make excuses, but the injury bug seems to have skipped over the Wild this year and instead given Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver double doses. Still, it's all very close in the Northwest, as 11 points separate top from bottom and 6 points from top and 4th. Bearing mind that the last 9 games of the season are intra-divisional, the stretch drive really could come down to the wire this season. Unlike in the Southeast Division, where likely only the divisional champs will make the post-season, there is a healthy possibilty that 4 out of the 5 Northwestern teams will advance to the playoffs, with Edmonton Oilers likely being the odd ones out. All thats certain, is that times have changed.

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