Archive for March, 2013

About an hour ago, St. Cloud State punched their ticket to get into their first Frozen Four tournament. Playing stellar hockey all weekend, St. Cloud State just wouldn’t be denied. The line of Cory Thorson, Joey Benik and Brooks Bertsch played a monster of a game, scoring all 4 of the Huskies’ goals against Miami.

The game started with the fastest first period I’d ever witnessed. It took 31 minutes to play a 20 minute period. Both teams entered with reputations of pushing the tempo. Benik got the Huskies on the board first just 5:28 into the first period. After that, Miami put on some pressure, twice hitting the pipe with shots on the same shift.

Benik provided the second goal of the game, too, getting his fourth goal of the weekend 5:36 into the second period. after Miami scored to make the score 2-1 Huskies, the “Thorson line” (Coach Motzko’s name for it) went to work again. This time, Cory Thorson lasered a shot past Miami’s Ryan McKay to give SCSU another 2-goal lead. For those who didn’t watch the game on ESPNU, Thorson’s shot is what’s known as a goal scorer’s goal, the type of shot few players are capable of making.

For the game, the Thorson line was a +10, with Thorson being on the ice for 4 even-strength goals, with Bertsch and Benik being on for 3 even-strength goals each.

What was most impressive for me was watching the Huskies playing with such total confidence. I suspect that’s because they went through the competition of a grueling WCHA schedule. No disrespect intended towards Notre Dame or Miami of Ohio but it’s tough to get frightened after facing the likes of North Dakota, the Gophers, Mankato State and Wisconsin.

The Huskies played like they belong in the Final Four from the drop of the puck against Notre Dame to Cory Thorson’s empty netter with .2 of second left in today’s game.

The telling stats for me weren’t what you’d expect. It wasn’t that Ryan Faragher was the second coming of Patrick Roy or Ken Dryden, though he certainly played well. The first stat that jumps out at me is that SCSU didn’t give up an even-strength goal all weekend. The other statistic that’s worth noting is that they gave up 3 shots in the second period and 5 shots in the third period against Notre Dame, then essentially did the same thing today, limiting Miami of Ohio to 5 shots in the second period and 7 shots in the third period.

The Huskies put a thorough thumping on Notre Dame and Miami of Ohio this weekend. Their defense was strong all weekend. They moved the puck out cleanly most of the time, which is impressive considering how Miami was buzzing today. Their ‘third line’, aka “the Thorson line”, dominated throughout the weekend. Ryan Faragher gave up a goal Saturday and another today.

If they play like this when they get to Pittsburgh, there’s no reason to think they can’t win the last game of the NCAA hockey season and bring home the big hardware.

Admittedly, I jumped on the Huskies’ bandwagon late this season. That said, they’ve given hockey fans reason to get excited. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if more jumped on the bandwagon.

The Huskies’ flight is expected back to the St. Cloud Airport at 10:30 tonight. I plan on being there. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a big gathering at the airport tonight.

This afternoon, I watched the SCSU Huskies utterly dismantle the top-seeded Notre Dame hockey team, winning going away by a score of 5-1. Ben Hanowski got the Huskies started 11:32 into the opening period on a great lunch pale goal.

Notre Dame appeared to tie it just 24 seconds later, only to have the goal waved off because the Notre Dame forward clearly kicked the puck. To be fair, the Irish forward appeared to be trying to kick it to his stick. Regardless, he didn’t get his stick on the puck.

After that, Notre Dame didn’t have any life to their game.

That wasn’t the case with the Huskies. They dominated the Fighting Irish in the second period, scoring 3 goals in 5:25. This time, the snipers were Joseph Benik, Cory Thorson and Jonny Brodzinski. Benik’s goal his first of 2 power play goals, with both coming on big rebounds that happened while he snuck in on the goalie’s weak side. Brodzinski’s goal was a pretty give-and-go-give play.

Ryan Faragher made 10 saves in the first period, then faced a total of 8 shots in the second and third periods. Combined.

Steve Summerhays gave up 4 goals in the first 2 periods on 18 shots, including giving up 3 goals on 7 shots in the second period.

Thanks to today’s performance, SCSU is just a win away from their first appearance in the Frozen Four, collegiate hockey’s equivalent of basketball’s Final Four. I’ll be watching tomorrow’s game on ESPNU but I’ll have my radio tuned into KNSI so I can hearn Don Lyon’s call of the game.

For those who haven’t heard Don call a hockey game, make sure you listen. He’s an NHL-caliber play-by-play announcer. For those of you outside KNSI’s range, follow this link to tune into the livestream of the game. I promise you won’t regret it.

If there was ever doubt that universities were homes for extremist radicalism, this article should eliminate those doubts:

Bill Ayers has been named a “visiting scholar” at the Minnesota State University Moorhead, the school announced late last month.

The Weather Underground co-founder will be the 2013 College of Education and Human Services Visiting Scholar. He gave a talk at the university last month titled “Teaching from the Heart: Education for Enlightenment and Freedom.”

Ayers is an admitted terrorist:

In the late Sixties, Ayers became a leader of the Weather Underground (WU), a splinter faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Characterizing WU as “an American Red Army,” Ayers summed up the organization’s ideology as follows: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents.”

There’s nothing profound or useful for a university to appoint a former domestic terrorist as a visiting scholar. Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. Universities shouldn’t promote domestic terrorists. It’s one thing to bring in people with contrarian perspectives. It’s quite another for them to bring in people with a history of violence:

All told, Ayers and the Weather Underground were responsible for 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the U.S. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” said Ayers in 2001, “I feel we didn’t do enough.” Contemplating whether or not he might again use bombs against the U.S. sometime in the future, he wrote: “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.”

Violent psychopaths shouldn’t be brought onto campuses. They should be ridiculed from the podiums. Instead, Moorhead University named him a visiting scholar.

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Dr. John Spry is one of the best, if not the best, tax experts in Minnesota. He provided written testimony to the Senate Tax Committee on the Gambling Control Board’s estimates on e-tabs revenues. The text of Dr. Spry’s written statement is contained in this post. This testimony is particularly troubling:

There is obviously a large difference in revenue between the Gambling Control Board’s estimate that 95% of paper pull-tabs and tip boards would be eliminated and its estimate that 20% would be eliminated. One thing we know for sure is that not all of the Gambling Control Board estimates can be close to being correct.

It is hard to understand how the Gambling Control Board estimated that the new forms of gambling would reduce paper lawful gambling but not have any negative effects on lottery sales and state revenue from the lottery. Perhaps they just didn’t consider effects on the lottery in their estimation process. This is a significant omission.

In the rush to pass a Vikings stadium bill, did legislators and Gov. Dayton willfully ignore Dr. Spry’s testimony? It isn’t a stretch to think they did, though that’s still an open question.

What isn’t in question is whether the Gambling Control Board didn’t have a clue about their revenue estimates. Their conflicting estimates indicate that they weren’t certain of their estimates. In essence, their estimates were nothing more than wild guesses.

That’s unacceptable considering the size of the state-held bond of this project. To make this type of estimate based on — who knows what they based it on — is unacceptable, almost to the point of fireable malfeasance. If a private sector revenue forecaster was off by that big of an amount, that forecaster would be fired within minutes of reality settling in.

What’s more troubling is the composition of the Gambling Control Board. Why weren’t there massive firings after this disaster? There isn’t a justification for someone being off by this much. Is it that these government employees are held to that low of a standard of competence? God help us if that’s the case.

Whatever the standards were in the past, these employees have to be held accountable. Anything less is unacceptable.

Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), has introduced a project that illustrates how the federal government ruins lives. It’s called the Victims of Government Project. This video explains how the Army Corps of Engineers ruined a man’s life for trying to prevent flooding in his neighborhood:

The documentation of how the federal government, specifically the Army Corps of Engineers, uses the Clean Water Act as a weapon against private property owners is instructive. It should tell every landowner that the government, including the Interior Department, the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, the Energy Department and other government agencies, are the enemy because militant environmentalists have infiltrated those agencies and departments.

To them, “the environment” is an article of faith. The left’s obsession with controlling people’s lives through regulatory agencies is frightening. The thought that there’s a group of activists that think they have the right, responsibility and authority to tell private property owners what to do is frightening.

Thanks to the Clean Water Act, militant environmentalists have the legislative authority to wreak havoc on private citizens’ lives. By most people’s opinion, Steve Lathrop tried doing a good thing. According to the government’s own recommendations, he did was the government didn’t do. As a result of his taking the initiative what experts said needed to be done rather than waiting through another series of do-nothing studies, Mr. Lathrop got stripped of his wealth.

Predictably, liberal activists aren’t happy with Sen. Johnson. Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now wrote Sen. Johnson. Here’s what he said in his letter:

“Spending your time, and our money, producing YouTube videos doesn’t move us one iota closer to solving any of the challenges facing our nation. In fact it seems the real victims of government are your constituents who were counting on you to work for them in the United States Senate.”

Solving problems is what elected officials are supposed to do. The Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA and the Interior Department use the Clean Water Act to control what private citizens do with their property. This is a problem everywhere in the United States. Regulations and procedures are put into place. Then citizens like Mr. Lathrop follow the permitting procedures of one agency, only to be told that he didn’t comply with another agency’s regulations. Then the process starts again.

Putting a video together that highlights how the federal government destroys families’ lives is the right tool to affect positive change. That’s what Sen. Johnson was elected to do. Especially in this instance, that’s the right thing to do. When families do what the federal government recommends, they should be rewarded. They shouldn’t be punished.

People across the political spectrum should be outraged by the government’s reprehensible conduct. The Army Corps of Engineers’ actions can’t be justified. Their reprehensible actions can only be rationalized.

It’s time that Congress put common sense restrictions on the Clean Water Act. It’s been used as a weapon for far too long.

UPDATE: Follow this link for more information on Sen. Johnson’s Victims of Government Project.

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When Gov. Dayton visited St. Cloud Tuesday night, he said that he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class. That’s a verifiable lie. His budget includes increases in the metro sales tax and the cigarette tax. Both taxes are regressive taxes, meaning they’ll hit the middle class and the working poor harder than they’ll hit 1-percenters.

Appearing on Ox in the Afternoon, Sen. John Pederson said that he’s the ranking minority member on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee. He’s also the ranking minority member on the Finance- Transportation and Public Safety Committee. As a member of the Senate Transportation Finance Division, he got a fiscal note on the Senate’s proposed .75% metro sales tax increase. That fiscal note said that it would raise $300,000,000 a year, all of it dedicated to metro transit projects.

That tax will hit the middle class and the working poor the hardest.

That’s before talking about Gov. Dayton’s 94-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase, which hurts convenience store operators:

Convenience store owners challenged a cigarette tax hike proposal by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at a town hall meeting earlier this week, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The retailers said that the governor’s plan to raise the cigarette tax by 94 cents a pack will send their customers to bordering North Dakota.

“When you lose those tobacco customers, those guys and gals that come in every single morning and get their coffee, their pop, they buy their gas, they buy their car washes…we’re all of a sudden looking at running our business on 75%-60% of our customer base. And that’s pretty tough to do,” said Frank Orton, owner of 15 convenience stores.

Dayton said the tax is designed to deter smoking, though he told Orton that he is willing to consider adding tobacco products to legislation that equalizes taxes for businesses located along state borders.

“If people can go across the river and buy their cigarettes in Fargo for whatever less the tax difference is it’s obviously undermining the intent of our raising the tax at all because they can just go over there and not be affected by it,” Dayton said.

Gov. Dayton is utterly clueless. People driving across the Red River to North Dakota or crossing into Wisconsin or Iowa is the totally predictable outcome to his proposal. Though this wasn’t the intent of the legislation, that’s the predictable outcome of raising taxes.

In that article, Gov. Dayton admitted that people change their behavior when taxes get raised. What’s galling about that is that he apparently thinks that businesses that can relocate to other states won’t move if he raises income taxes. According to this article, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohnen has proof he’s wrong:

St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohen says she’s recently talked with four local companies who say they may have to transfer their investments to other states, if the Governor’s plan goes through.

That’s a polite way of saying they’ll move if their taxes get raised.

One thing that came through clearly from Tuesday’s meeting was that Gov. Dayton and his supporters think of businesses as second class citizens. That attitude was clear this week. It was clear when Gov. Dayton addressed the State Chamber of Commerce gathering in St. Paul 2 weeks ago.

That’s after they applauded Gov. Dayton for pulling his sales tax increase from his budget proposal. Gov. Dayton then went on a hissy fit tirade, saying that businesses weren’t paying their fair share, that they were essentially getting a free ride.

In addition to being dishonest, Gov. Dayton apparently isn’t the brightest bulb in the DFL chandelier. If Minnesota’s businesses start expanding in other states as a direct result of Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s tax policies, their move will undercut whatever growth is happening right now.

Gov. Dayton hasn’t made economic growth his highest priority. Apparently, tax fairness is Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s guiding principle. They apparently haven’t learned that a rising tide lifts all ships and that a growing economy benefits everyone.

That’s a sad day in Minnesota.

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The minutes for the November 1 Meet and Confer meeting point to the growing tension between the Potter administration and the SCSU Faculty Association. Here’s the testiest confrontation from the meeting:

Admin: The record of taking the class is dropped from the transcript. It is not a letter grade but an action.
FA: One thing not here is retrospective decisions being made over several years. We understand the requests come in from people who want records changed from over a decade ago.
Admin: The time of the request is the time the decision would be made. You can decipher what semester it impacted by the refund. I’m told that doesn’t happen but only in the current year. This is organized by the fiscal year of request.
FA: Refunds that were processed in year 2012, that would be for courses taken in 2012 because refunds are not issued. But this is not information from a drop.
Admin: The incident is recorded when the student makes the request.
FA: You haven’t answered my question. This is only about refunds.
Admin: That is correct.
FA: Refunds are only issued in the year they are taken. For fiscal 12 409 would have been courses in 2012. It doesn’t tell us about drops or withdrawals.
Admin: That’s correct.
FA: This chart doesn’t tell us anything.
Admin: I don’t think SCSU is unique to this data problem of finding an easy way to record and sustain the decision. When the decision is made a communication would be made to the student. In short of rummaging in every student file the information is difficult to obtain. Going forward we will have a better way.
FA: We asked for this two years ago. This is a problem of integrity. There are legitimate reasons for dropping courses, but what about five years ago? Someone fails a class and why would they come back five years later to change the grade?
Admin: I’m not disagreeing. Let me work with Phil.
FA: Mitch gave us that report that showed that data.
Admin: The magnitude of the analysis was smaller than what is going on today. It was easier for Mitch to go and manage than it is today. There were 409 refunds issued in 12 months and that doesn’t count all the transcript changes and it doesn’t include all the times the transcript was asked to be change. We need a system. We cannot today get summary data.

The quote that hits hardest is when the FA says “This is a problem of integrity. There are legitimate reasons for dropping courses but what about five years ago? Someone fails a class and why would they come back five years later to change the grade?”

Challenging the administration’s integrity isn’t a tiny issue. It’s troubling that the SCSU administration didn’t dispute the fact that students from “five years ago” got their failing grades deleted. What’s worst is that the administration is struggling to find a solution to this problem:

FA: I think we should be thinking proactively with data cubes…?
Admin: No. I’ve been working for two days and Image Now is fatally flawed.
FA: I don’t disbelieve you. But we can set up spreadsheets, this shouldn’t be rocket science. I understand the move but we need to start putting this into some form that can be tracked and pulled. These numbers are astonishing. Can you speak about the reasons why people are given refunds?

If the University’s software isn’t effectively tracking this information, why didn’t they set up a system utilizing spreadsheets or other types of software? Might it be that the administration isn’t interested in tracking this information? It certainly can’t be ruled out based on the Faculty Association’s assertion that it’s “a problem of integrity.”

This exchange won’t flatter the administration, either:

FA: Giving the way we are watching numbers, the idea that we don’t have command of this data is scary.
Admin: Yes.
FA: We asked for a representative sample so we could look at some of these. I sent that to both of you. I hear that people are counseling faculty for people who can do this with low grade point averages so that they can go and do this.
Admin: You would have to give me specific examples.

TRANSLATION: FA to the administration: It’s frightening that you don’t have a system for tracking transcripts. Administration: You’re right. FA to the administration: We asked you for information about this. Administration: We’ll get you the information. Trust us.

Given this administration’s mishandling of the students’ transcripts, the FA shouldn’t trust this administration’s tracking of the students’ transcripts.

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Most of the pundits on local TV shouldn’t be on TV. Former state senator Don Betzold is one of those pundits. While criticizing Michele Bachmann for not supporting expansion of the North Star Corridor to St. Cloud, he insisted that extending the corridor would solve I-94’s congestion problems. He hinted that expanding I-94 wasn’t a priority.

That last part parrots a line from MnDOT Spokesman Kevin Gutknecht:

But Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the I-94 widening doesn’t rank high on the agency’s long-term list of priority projects. “There are projects like this all across the state — really good projects, really important projects, projects that have tremendous support like this,” he said. “It all really boils down to the funding piece.”

Anyone that thinks fixing I-94’s congestion problems isn’t an important problem worthy of solution isn’t qualified for a MnDOT job. Either that or he’s a political hack attempting to undercut a sitting US congressperson.

But I digress.

Betzold’s commentary suggested that expanding North Star was a solution. It isn’t. In fact, it’s a death trap that should be avoided at all costs. In addition to the construction costs, the taxpayers’ subsidies that help bring the cost to riders down total tens of millions of dollars over the next decade. Without those subsidies, the cost per rider would be wildly expensive.

Then there’s the consideration that people don’t like transit that much. The DFL frequently insists that transit is the wave of the future. It isn’t. Americans love the freedom of driving. We love being in control of our lives. That includes the ability to go where we want to go when we want to go there. Transit doesn’t give us that option.

What transit lacks in mobility, it makes up for in subsidies. We shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing private industries. If they can’t make it without subsidies, that’s proof they aren’t viable. A key economic principle is that if something isn’t sustainable, it can’t be sustained indefinitely. I’d take that a step further. If something can’t be sustained, it’s likely heading for a quick collapse.

The only thing as painful as listening to Betzold was hearing Tom Hauser call the I-94 project an earmark. Earmarks typically are dropped into a conference committee report in the dead of night. They don’t go through the scrutiny of a committee mark-up. The I-94 project Michele Bachmann proposed went through the committee process. It was done in the light of day. Most importantly, the I-94 project isn’t pork designed mostly to prove she’s ‘bringing home the bacon.’ The I-94 project Michele proposed is actually a solution to a major problem.

Contrary to what Mssrs. Gutknecht and Betzold said, anyone who’s been trapped at the bottlenecks where I-94, 694 and 494 connect knows that that’s been a major problem for a generation. Anyone who’s tried getting on I-94 near Bass Lake Road or Highway 101 knows that those have been problem areas for a decade.

If that isn’t worthy of prioritizing, then nothing is. Mr. Hauser is usually a pretty good reporter. This time, though, he slipped.

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This recent LTE is titled “We all want the same things.” It’s possible that the LTE was written by someone wanting to be polite and professional. It’s possible that it’s accurate most of the time. It’s impossible to say, though, that it’s right the vast majority of the time.

This part of the LTE shouldn’t be underexamined:

When he came into the room to speak to the Chamber of Commerce, all the members stood up and applauded. He could have owned that room if he would have said a few things: Thank you for all the jobs you provide in Minnesota; thank you for being the economic engine that drives this state; thank you for taking out time in your schedule to talk about the issues today that are important to Minnesota; and we can work together to make some difficult decisions and compromises to make Minnesota the greatest state to do business in.

It’s true that Gov. Dayton would’ve been a hero had he said those things. Likewise, it’s true that that isn’t in his, or the DFL’s, nature. Gov. Dayton and the DFL have repeatedly stated that funding K-12 and higher education was the cornerstone to a thriving economy. At other times, they’ve said that funding transportation was integral to prosperity. While it’s true that those things contribute to economic growth, there’s no question that they’re only part of the equation that delivers economic prosperity.

Based on the DFL’s actions and the actions of their political allies, the DFL apparently thinks that crippling regulations, especially on precious metals mining and frack-sand harvest, won’t hurt Minnesota’s economic growth. The frack-sand moratorium will hurt job and income growth. North Dakota has a booming need for this sand. Minnesota’s environmentalists’ response has been disdain or outrage. They want to prevent this industry from getting started.

That’s hardly the picture of “everyone wanting the same things.”

Conservation Minnesota (with special emphasis on the CON) is doing everything possible to prevent Iron Rangers from providing for their families. Though other states have proven that it’s quite possible to harvest copper, gold, nickel and other precious metals in an environmentally friendly way, Conservation Minnesota has fought hard to prevent the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects from starting.

That isn’t the picture of “everyone wanting the same things.”

I’d agree that everyone professes to wanting the same things. President Reagan was right, though, in saying you can’t love jobs but hate the employer. Though that was said 30 years ago, President Reagan’s statement accurately depicts the DFL/ABM/Mark Dayton/Paul Thissen/Tom Bakk mindset perfectly.

Gov. Dayton and other likeminded politicians think that businesses aren’t contributing “their fair share” to Minnesota’s economic health. They’ve taken the jobs these companies have created for granted. The thought of actually appreciating the benefits these companies provide Minnesota’s families and communities doesn’t cross the DFL’s mind.

The truth is that the DFL doesn’t consistently want what Minnesota wants. The DFL frequently talks about using a “balanced approach” to balancing Minnesota’s budget. That’s a nice-sounding thing but it doesn’t make sense. That implies that Minnesota’s problem is revenue-based, not spending-based.

For instance, Don Betzold was on At Issue With Tom Hauser. He was discussing Michele Bachmann’s plan to expand I-94 and Highway 10. He said “She (Bachmann) can’t have it both ways. I wish she had supported extending the North Star Corridor to St. Cloud.”

Betzold’s argument is fatally flawed, starting with the undeniable fact that all transit lines, North Star included, require massive taxpayer subsidies. Betzold also ignored the fact that, without the taxpayers’ massive annual bailout, North Star ridership wouldn’t put a significant dent in the I-94 traffic.

I’m not alone in thinking that North Star shouldn’t be extended to St. Cloud. I’m not alone in thinking that the taxpayers’ subsidies, aka the taxpayers’ annual bailout of transit, is a good investment. By definition, that means the DFL doesn’t want what Minnesotans want on this issue.

It’s time Minnesota’s taxpayers stopped pretending that the DFL pretty much wants what they want. The facts don’t bear that out.

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The Minnesota Wild continued their surge in the Western Conference standings with a convincing 2-0 shutout of the San Jose Sharks. Niklas Bakstrom stopped all 33 shots for his first shutout of the season. Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu assisted on a pair of power play goals and they didn’t let their foot off the gas pedal in the third period. Here’s Zach Parise’s power play goal from Koivu and Suter:

What a great pass from Koivu. That’s the type of pass that doesn’t connect unless the chemistry between Koivu and Parise is good. It’s the type of play only confident players make. The fact that they made it look that easy says that they’re playing with lots of confidence and that they’ve got great chemistry together. The other impressive part of that goal is that Niemi, the Sharks’ goalie, didn’t have a chance on the play. That was a sniper’s goal, one that only the most talented players have a chance of making.

Jared Spurgeon’s goal isn’t posted yet but Niemi didn’t have a chance on that shot either. Koivu won a battle in the corner, then saucered the puck out to Suter. Suter collected himself, then sent a touch pass to Spurgeon for a one-timer from the top of the left face-off circle. Though Spurgeon’s shot was a one-timer, that doesn’t mean it was a wrist shot. Spurgeon’s shot was a booming slapper, where he wound up as the puck was going from Suter to Spurgeon.

Still, it’s impossible to say that Niklas Bakstrom wasn’t the first star of the game. He was tracking the puck exceptionally well. He stopped a penalty shot early in the game when the outcome was anything but certain. He handled all the first shots with ease, then directing the puck to his defensemen.

Early in the season, the Wild played well for a period, occasionally playing well for two periods before letting down in the third period. They haven’t gotten rid of that bad habit during their current 5-game winning streak, though today was about as strong as they’ve played all season. It was a 60-minute, complete-game performance.

Charlie Coyle continues his impressive play. He isn’t scoring tons of points but his play along the wall and in the corners is impressive, especially for a rookie. He certainly doesn’t look like the game’s too big for him. The same must be said for Jonas Brodin, who is leading NHL rookies in ice time.

Even though they didn’t figure in the scoring tonight, Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley played strong games. Each played good physical games, throwing their weight around when they got opportunities and establishing a strong forecheck from the opening face-off to the final buzzer.

The Wild continue to be the hottest team in the Western Conference the last three weeks. Their defense is playing with confidence. Niklas Backstrom is a human vacuum cleaner between the pipes. They’ve got 4 lines that are each filling their niche. The Mitchell-Clutterbuck-Brodziak line had a strong game on the forecheck. Torrey Mitchell got under his former team’s skin much of the game, with the highlight being this fight with Tommy Wingels:

As they’ve gained more confidence, the Wild have started putting more pressure on in the offensive zone. They still have yet to play their perfect game, though today’s game was easily their strongest game this season.

The playoffs are still a ways off. Still, if the wild continue playing at this level, something I think they’re capable of doing, they’ll be a nightmare for most teams in April and beyond.

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