Rambling On is Minnesota sports talk for the common fan. Check out our daily content and conversation on Twitter and Facebook.
Our three weekly Minnesota Sports Ramble blogs are released on Tuesday (Minnesota Vikings related), Wednesday (Minnesota Wild related), and Friday (Minnesota Timberwolves related).
A dominant performance against the Canucks, a disappointing one against the Sabres, why the Wild start slowly, and a look around the league are discussed in this edition. As usual, Wild analyst Peter Ripka answers questions from Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland.
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It seems like a long time ago, but the Wild manhandled the hapless Canucks 6-2 last Thursday. Was it all the Canucks being awful, or did the Wild also play well?
The Wild did play well in that game. They did what they needed to do and looked sharp while doing it. The Canucks were short handed, however, with six players out with injuries and on the sixth and final game of their road trip. So that also played a part in the completely dominating performance.
Then the hammer sort of fell, beginning with the Wild blowing a two-goal lead and losing to the Sabres 3-2 at home. What happened? Why have the Wild lost their mojo at home?
Simple answer: they didn't put them away. When you allow a team to hang around they gain confidence and can turn a game around in their favor.
And it was, fittingly, very Minnesota sports that former 30 goal scorer for the wild Jason Pominville scored the winner with 90 seconds left.
They haven't lost their mojo at home, it's just a bit of a hiccup in play. I expect them to have a good showing in their next three games at home.
Other than another slow start, what went wrong in their Sunday loss to Chicago?
Finish, finish, finish. They had a lot of opportunities to tie the game, and even take the lead, but they didn't finish. Also, the Dumba/Suter pairing was a train wreck again.
Why do the Wild keep coming out so slowly? Is there any way they can change that?
This team has had that problem for a long time. It seems like it takes them a bit to get their legs going for some reason. Perhaps the scouting department doesn't develop a good report on the team we are playing, so Bruce has to readjust his game plan after the first period. Or maybe the players just don't warm up hard enough. It's hard to figure out what the problem is without being in the room, but it is very frustrating to watch.
Who are the best teams in the Eastern and Western Conference and why?
In the East, the Maple Leafs are a trendy team people have been talking about, and the Capitals are good as well (both are loaded offensively). In the West the clear leader is Nashville. They are playing good team hockey and have a ton of front end talent.
What teams have surprised you the most so far this year?
The Penguins have surprised me because they have been so bad this year. I think age has finally caught up to them.
What sleeper picks do you think will make the playoffs?
The one team I think will surprise a lot of people this year is a team we already discussed. The Buffalo Sabres have something about them that I noticed when they beat the Winnipeg Jets and and the Wild in back-to-back games. They are a gritty team that has some fire power. And the former number one pick from last year, Rasmus Dahlin, is the real deal.
Peter Ripka is the original Rambling On podcast co-host and has been a contributor since its inception. He’s currently the Wild analyst, a position he’s held for several years. A Wild and Twins season ticket holder, his writing combines the passion of a fan and the insight of a beat writer.