Champions Week commences tonight for three of our local -- favorite?! -- sports teams, and the hope is to sweep the card and dagger those with ring cred.
THE WILD -- Speedy 'Hawks are in town tonght and KANE, TOEWS and KEITH all are going great guns. No pesky BRYAN BICKELL due to injury, but Eden Prarie's NICK LEDDY has played every game, and with three goals he'll be looking to add to that with friends and family in the crowd.
The Speedy 'Hawks -- the champs -- just took a regulation loss at home to Dallas but prior to that were the hottest team in the game, having won six consecutive (five in regulation) and 11 of the previous 13. They beat us here, 5-1, in late October, two nights after we went to the Den of a Champion and beat them by two.
The Wild are not exactly lighting the lamp at a record pace but do seem to have correctoed some things after THEEEE CAPTAIN smacked one in at Colorado Saturday night with three seconds left to earn a much needed point. Then they clamped down defensively against Philly here Monday and won in shutout fashion. Cool.
Should be an intense game and one the Wild can win.
THE WOLVES -- Saturday the champion Heat is here, and the Wolves are looking to snap a losing streak. Minnesota will represent well in this one due to several practices during an elongated stretch of off time, and even though the Heat is one of the best three teams in the game it did take an ugly home loss recently to bump-and-grind Detroit.
Miami can be vulnerable to three-point shots, and that's what we do when our best two scorers LOVE and MARTIN are hot. Love is shooting like 37 percent the last few games. Miami will offer a quality showing but realizes we can put up 50 in a quarter if you sleep on the slumping Wolves. I bet we score a bunch this game and close on a little upset. Target Center will dig this game and atmosphere.
THE VIKINGS -- The champion Ravens are 6-and-6 and are closing a three-game home stand during which they have gone 2-and-0. Baltimore throws the ball 54 percent of the time and RAY RICE runs for fewer than three YPC.
Baltimore is a very tough place to win, the fans are empassioned and JOHN HARBAUGH has his boys ramping up quite nicely for the postseason. Thing is, though, Baltimore is in the Wildcard meatgrinder and two games behind Cincy in its division. The Ravens desperately need a win against us Sunday and we enter the game having run for nearly 500 yards the last two games.
That's the real shame of the 3-8-and-1 for the Vikings -- LESLIE has the running game battering players late in the year when minds and bodies are tired, but we are too far back to make the playoffs.
Tough predicting a Vikings win outdoors on the road, but this will be a close, fun, high-scoring game. If they have problems with ADRIAN, CASSEL will throw it to JENNINGS all over the field. Also, I expect rookie WR CORDARRELLE PATTERSON to continue to improve, which means he'll get many chances at Baltimore and most likely will score again. Think I'll make him my "one-hit wonder" tomorrow at Buffalo Wild Wings Crystal.
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