The law of a Minnesota sports fan states that when things are going bad, you will find silver linings … and when things are going good, you will find things to worry about.
When the Wild was awful in the middle of this season, fans found a silver lining: if the goaltending would only improve, this team might have a chance.
The Wild traded for Devan Dubnyk, he’s been fantastic … and now fans are naturally worried that he’s going to be overworked. He has made 21 consecutive starts for the Wild, tying the team record.
That’s a nice run, and by modern standards that qualifies Dubnyk as a workhorse. The real fretting is coming about in earnest now, though, as the Wild has five sets of back-to-back games between now and the end of the regular season — starting tonight and Friday against Washington and Carolina.
The worrying is very Minnesotan. But it’s also very subjective and bordering on nonsense. By virtue of not being the No. 1 goalie in Arizona before being traded here, Dubnyk still ranks just 23rd in the NHL in games played among goalies this season. So he’s fresher than a lot of other netminders right now, assuming he takes care of himself.
More than that, though, being “tired” is often as much of a mental game as it is a physical game. In that sense, it will affect us as much as we let it affect us. If goalies are supposed to rest on one end of back-to-back games, that becomes the accepted norm.
Here’s the bottom line: If Dubnyk can play and wants to play, he should play. Because there’s no rule that says he can’t — just a shift in expectations over the years.
This is the extreme, but Glenn Hall started more than 550 consecutive games in goal spanning more than seven full seasons (including playoffs) in the 1950s and 1960s. Sure, this was a different era, and with six teams in the league — none on the West Coast — travel was shorter. But it was also a different era of travel comfort and recovery methods. Performance-enhancing drugs, by and large, were cigarettes and bourbon.
We went back and looked at Hall’s streak. During the seven full seasons in which Hall played every game (490 games in 70-game seasons), he played both ends of back-to-backs during the regular season 148 times (including a back-to-back-to-back Jan. 1-3, 1960). So 296 of his 490 starts were in back-to-backs.
Every goalie is different. Every body is different. Hall was a maniac who didn’t even wear a mask or helmet during his streak.
We’re not suggesting Dubnyk should be Hall. What we are suggesting is that playing back-to-back games is all a matter of perspective and that it’s not crazy to think Dubnyk can play through this final month — or at least until the Wild is safely into the playoffs — as long as his body feels good and he remains stout in goal.
The only crazy thing is worrying about it before it happens.
Vikings General Manger Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer met with running back Adrian Peterson at his Houston home a little after noon today.
You’ve probably watched the video by now. Peterson shook Spielman’s hand and pulled him in for a quick hug and then did the same with Zimmer before welcoming them into his home to chat.
The meeting, believed to be Spielman and Zimmer’s first face-to-face sit-down with Peterson since he was suspended by the NFL in November, lasted four hours.
While Vikings officials and sources close to Peterson have not yet revealed what exactly was said during that meeting, Peterson did tell ESPN that he thought the conversation went well.
“I appreciate Rick and Coach Zimmer coming down to see me today,” Peterson told ESPN in a statement. “We had a great dialogue and they were able to understand where I was coming from and concerns my family and I still have. We respect each other and hopefully the situation can pan out so that everyone involved is content.”
Adrian Peterson hugged Vikings GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer outside his Texas home today. There’s proof, on the TV.
Frankly, we’re surprised we haven’t been deluged with emails from public relations contacts trying to get us to interview hug experts.
(Actually, we’re kind of sad about this. Maybe there aren’t hug experts? Maybe we could become one?)
Peterson met with the two Vikings reps for four hours, and the meeting went well, and blah blah blah back to the hugs.
Our breathtaking analysis:
*Peterson did not initiate the first hug with Spielman. AP was going in for a casual handshake, from what we could see, but Rick called an audible and went in for the hug. Peterson seemed fine with it. After that, it was only natural for Zimmer and Peterson to hug. A handshake would have been weird.
*All three guys showed some solid bro-hug technique. The hugs were of appropriate length and scope.
*Spielman spends more on the tailoring of his sport coats than Zimmer. Peterson looked like he was dressed to attend a volleyball match.
*We wouldn’t read to much into the hugs other than that it’s probably a good sign that when Spielman went for the hug, Peterson didn’t instead punch him in the face.
And this concludes our report on the Peterson Hugs.
The Vikings traded Matt Cassel to the Bills today in a move that strikes us a little odd since Cassel is a very functional backup but that also signals that the Vikings have supreme faith in Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.
Our question of the afternoon is this: Where does Cassel rank among Vikings quarterbacks of a similar ilk over the past few decades? Minnesota has clearly had some very good QBs (even for very short periods of time); we’d consider Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper to be in that category, ahead of Cassel. Bridgewater is in a separate category since he’s still very new.
But among these QBs, where does Cassel rank: Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris Jackson, Sean Salisbury, Christian Ponder, Jim McMahon, Donovan McNabb and Cassel.
These are the guys who were constantly teetering between being starters and backups — functional in some ways, limited in others.
Our temptation is to put Johnson first because he stood the test of time longer than the rest. McNabb is at the bottom, with Ponder and Jackson right above him. The real competition is between Salisbury, McMahon, Frerotte and Cassel.
Something makes us want to put Cassel above the rest of those guys, but the numbers don’t really bear that out. So we’ll leave it open to interpretation in the comments.