Congratulations to the Minnesota Wild's Brent Burns and Martin Havlat for represting the State of Hockey well at the All Star game.
I'm glad Burns was selected for the hardest shot contest and turned in a respectable 98mi/hr. Burns selection to the game is well-deserved and I hope he will get the opportunity again in the future.
I'm glad to congratulate Havlat as well for being selected as a replacement. He played well during the game. I'm also glad to congratulate him considering my last post tore his agent a new one for complaining about Havlat's ice time when he was having a putrid October (to dovetail with his disappointing play in 09-10).
Now that Havlat's play has improved I am left with the dilemma of whether Allan Walsh or Todd Richards deserves the credit? That's like picking which light socket to stick a screwdriver in.
Lastly, I think the All-Star pickup game was a huge success, and I enjoyed this all star weekend more than any I can remember in my lifetime. That is until the incredibly awkward and forced pre-introduction kids picking teams skit.
2) Todd Richards
While the Wild have had very good results of recent, I still think it's a little premature to give Coach Richards a stay yet. The team is finally approaching expectations, and I think Latendresse's absence is really overlooked as a contributing factor to the Wild's offensive woes. Still back in December, the Wild looked like a team that wouldn't beat anyone beside Edmonton and Calgary for the rest of the season.
There are two months left of the season and while Colorado and Los Angeles are far from elite clubs, these are the types of games the Wild need to win and turn into good winning streaks.
Remember, this is a team that has been (rightfully) booed on home ice at the majority of their home games this year. If the Wild get mired in any more 3-4 game losing streaks, it will probably mark the end of their playoff run. I think watching for this will be very indicative is Richards finally has the ability to lead this team.
Personally I was probably jaded because the last two games I attended before Tuesday the team looked apatheic (31 Dec 4-1 loss to Nashville, and 24 Nov 6-1 loss to Philadelphia). I think I speak for many State of Hockeyers that nothing is tolerated less here than a lack of effort that was clearly present on those two games.
3) State of the State of Hockey this week
I have been very pessimistic about the team even after victories. Once such incident led my brother to ask "What do I want' from the team? My answer is to show an ability to beat the teams in the playoff race. While Colorado and Los Angeles are far from the NHL's elite, these are the types of wins the Wild need more of to stay ahead of the playoff line.
But I will say this, there is a lot more to be optimistic about than two months ago.