Wild fall again, this time to Philly

There’s no delicate way to say this, so I’m just going to come out and say it. This team is done unless something drastic happens soon.

Sure, they’re still in a playoff spot as of now, and they could very well stay there but things aren’t looking good.

This team is beyond fragile. It’s beyond fractured or fragmented – whatever you want to call it. This team is flat out broke right now. Mike Yeo has the answers, that much is clear. He keeps preaching them and preaching them, but the team either isn’t listening or isn’t caring.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an indictment of Yeo. I’m perfectly confident that he’s the right man for the job. He’s not at a loss for words. He’s not at a loss for answers. He knows how the team can fix this. Now it’s just up to the team to do so. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.

As Mike Russo said in his blog, this team is defeated and has lost its discipline. They’re sloppy on line changes, they’re not supporting the puck anymore, their forecheck often looks disjointed, they’re taking horrible penalties (Cal Clutterbuck had four in tonight’s game, alone) and they’re just crumbling at the slightest sign of adversity – something they never did, even before they surged to the top of the NHL.

With Koivu, Bouchard and Latendresse out, I just don’t see any end in sight for this team. They have such a lack of offensive fire power right now and just lack the ability to finish when they do get chances.

Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi are invisible, Matt Cullen and Kyle Brodziak are trying to do too much, the defense that played so well earlier in the season is looking disjointed and, quite frankly, lost – it’s just a mess. One bad thing turns into another and it just snowballs and the Wild just can’t recover.

At this point, I’m on board with what Russo thinks about a trade. At this point, I’m of the mind that a big shake up a) won’t make a huge difference in the team’s on-ice play and b) might actually fragment their locker room even further.

At this point, it’s up to the players that are in the locker room to fix this, without their three best offensive players (including their captain) and three of their leaders.

It’s getting bad and there’s a good chance it might get worse because it gets better.

The Wild are back in action on Thursday in Toronto and we’ll be back then (and before with any breaking news).

In defense of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Riveting Hockey

I’m going to voice what seems to be a very unpopular opinion here, because it’s something that I feel very strongly about and it seems like a lot of people are vilifying the wrong side in this.

No, I’m not talking about those idiot students at Penn State.

I’m talking about the absolute sham of a game that happened between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

For those of you fortunate enough to miss the game, here’s a sample:

For the video impaired, basically what happens here is that the Flyers decide that they don’t likeTampa’s 1-3-1 forecheck (or lack thereof), and they’re going to let everyone know it – by not doing a thing.

Now, there are a lot of people that are vilifying Tampa in this and, on the surface, they wouldn’t be wrong. The 1-3-1 is a horrifically boring system. It takes the 1-2-2 that Jacques Lemaire used to run and clogs up the neutral zone that much more.

Effective? Yes.

Exciting? I’d rather watch paint dry.

The main point that people seem to be hung up on is that it’s the Bolts’ system, so it’s obviously their fault.

The problem with this, though, is that the Bolts were on DEFENSE. In any sport, when you’re on defense, there’s no expectation that you attack. It oftentimes gives you a better shot at winning, or at forcing a mistake, but at the end of the day, you’re defending your goal, end zone, basket, whatever you want to call it. Tampa is simply under no obligation to attack the Flyers in any way, shape or form when the Flyers have the puck.

Conversely, the Flyers are on OFFENSE. It doesn’t matter the sport. When you’re on offense, the point is to attack. In fact, there is a significant detriment to your team when you don’t attack (i.e. you don’t put points on the board). The Lightning weren’t doing anything wrong.

Is their style the most exciting style to watch? No. But, at the end of the day, their purpose when the other team has the puck isn’t to be exciting. It’s to defend, and they obviously did just that. Boring or not, there were extended periods of time where the Flyers had the puck, but were not an offensive threat because of the Lightning’s system. I don’t think Boucher gives a good goddamn whether or not it was exciting, because it worked.

By Philly doing what they did, all it does is cement in Boucher’s mind (and in the minds ofTampa’s players) that this style of hockey, no matter how boring, works.

It isn’t the Lightning that should be ashamed today. It’s the Flyers for essentially becoming that kid who gets pissed that everyone else isn’t doing what he wants to do and says, “Fine, I’m taking my ball and going home!”

What to Watch on the Wild’s Day Off: Flyers v. Canucks

The Canucks travel to Philly for tonight's tilt

So, it’s another off day for the Wild and another edition of What to Watch tonight. The game that we will be focusing on, today, is:

Philadelphia v. Vancouver

Why: Well, it’s always a good time when two Stanley Cup hopefuls get together for a game and this should be no different. The beauty part of this match up is that you don’t know what you’re going to get. Both of these team have the personnel to either make this a goaltender duel (two great defenses, two great goaltenders) or an offensive shootout (the Sedins or Jagr and Giroux). Something for everyone.

When: The puck drops tonight at 6:30 CST, and you’ll want Center Ice or Game Center Live to watch this one.

What to Watch For: Roberto Luongo has all of the pressure in the world on him right now, but now the question is how will he

This could be a spirited one, which would be fun

respond? He had the long off season wait after the Game Seven inVancouver and he came out in the first game of the season and didn’t fare much better. How is he going to bounce back from that disappointment? Well, time will tell but that’s exactly what you want to watch for tonight.

What Else: The Flyers offense has struggled to produce goals so far this season, tallying just five goals in their first two games. Even without Carter and Richards, they’ve still got enough offensive firepower to put the puck in the net. It’s only matter of time before the floodgates open and the Flyers start scoring big goals again.

State of Hockey Connections: The Flyers have no connections toMinnesota on their roster, but the Canucks have a few. Andrew Ebbett played 49 games for the Wild back in the ’09-’10 season and Andrew Alberts is from Minneapolis and Keith Ballard from Baudette.

Fun Fact: The Canucks haven’t lost a game inPhiladelphia since 2003.

Live Blog?: Not for this one. We’ll get one up soon though.