This is overdue. I will try and leave out the pre-season “follies” as I unfold the rest of last Sunday’s scrimmage.
I am just going to get into the goalie situation here. It is pre-season, and we know how much that matters in the real season. NHL pre-season is the worst of all sports. It means less for the upcoming season than any other sport. On the other hand, Backstrom looked horrible. You cannot deny that he had little help in front of him. Houston Aero hell. Why was he commiting before the shot even took place? Twice he went down on a fake shot. TWICE! Top shelf, and in the net. Maybe I should not be so hard on the Aeros, they obviously have him figured out. This is what scares me.
I will go back to when we gave Backstrom his absurd contract. He had a hell of a game, before the contract, He was slowly, progressively worse through the remainder of that season. Last year, seldom was I impressed, as I had been “before” the contract. Harding bailed him out more than once. [See comeback against the Blackhawks] He is just sloppy.
I have nothing against Backstrom, or the butterfly style he uses. He just needs to use it better. I said all last season, he commits TOO fast, and this year, I saw the same thing, but even “faster!” This is no one’s fault but his own. I do not care who you have in front of you. No one is making him drop but himself. And the staying down part. Grrr. It would help if he got back into position once in a while. He gets down and stays down way too long. His slide looked horrible. Slow, and unbalanced. And he never challenges. He stays tight to the net, or comes out maybe a foot. Not good at all. Maybe it is because it is pre-season and getting used to everything again. For 6 million a year, I expect a LOT more though, pre season or not.
Josh Harding played much better. He looked like his normal “I haven’t played in a while, fish out of water once in a while” self. I know this look well, as he sits for a month at a time between games. Back to the scrimmage. I think he looked good. I am so bias when it comes to Harding though, it may cloud my judgement a little. He is so much quicker than Backstrom, and actually gets up from his knees once in a while. He sees the puck coming, and commits to stopping it, NOT commiting too fast. He looked ready. Only think that makes me nervous about Harding is when he goes to play the puck behind the net. Only happened a couple times Sunday, but he is not real good there. He cuts it close. I don’t know if he has bad timing, or if he just does not see the players coming. He seriously needs to work on it. [See last night, torn ACL/MCL] This is bad news for the Wild. Khudobin’s time to shine, since Backstrom will not be the guy. Bad luck for Harding, again. No words I can use here. Appropriately anyway…
Then we have Anton Khudobin. Total win here. This kid can do it all. He reminds me of a young Turco. His athletic ability is superior. He challenges constantly, way out of the net, and gets it done. He is not afraid to play the puck, and gets it done. He rolls all over to stop that puck, and gets it done. [See Turco] He slides, fast, easily, and accuratley, and gets it done. He is a force to be reckoned with. As bad as the Harding news is, [See last night] this is good news for Khudobin. And for Wild fans. I think this kid can get it done. Bring him on, he’s more ready!
There was one play last Sunday that still makes me laugh. Latendresse crashed the net, running into Khudobin. Burns then pushed Latendresse, which in turn Latendresse pushed back at him with his stick. They exchanged words, I only wish I could have heard, and then skated off laughing. We know Burnsie, what else could have happened? Was a good laugh!
Speaking of Brett Burns [and his 18 foot long stick] he looked awesome! He was all over the ice from one end to the other. And that damn stick of his, reaching, and getting any puck within 10 feet of him. Appeared to me his stick handling looked better than last year, too. He worked that puck! Took a few SOG, and a nice one from the blue line. The Burnsie we have been waiting for, is finally here. I am so ready for the season to begin already.
So much more I could get into, but this is the best, and worst that stand out the most for me. Time to get into pre-season. I will be at the Wild/Flyers game tonight. This is a fun time for me. My 2 favourite teams. Always makes me crazy before the game, and happy, and heartbroken at the end of the game. I do not favour one or the other. I love them both. So if you are there tonight, and see a lady in an orange Richards jersey, and a white Wild jacket, stop and say HI! I am sure there will not be many other ladies dressed this way!
Comments always welcome!