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Rand postgame: Dubnyk makes a believer out of all of us

Three days ago, I wrote about some slippage in goalie Devan Dubnyk’s play — a small decrease in both save percentage and overall sharpness that preceded even the Game 4 meltdown but was certainly prominent in that game.

I suggested the Wild would need MVP-level Dubnyk to return if it was going to prevail in the series. Whether that was ultimately true or not, the need to revisit his play is only fair because this much is not in dispute: Dubnyk was dynamite in Games 5 and 6, certainly returning to maximum sharpness at a time Minnesota needed him most.

The Wild outscored the Blues 8-2 in the two final games, so it is arguable whether even a merely good Dubnyk would have been enough. It was a full team effort (just as the Game 4 loss was). But It feels to me like he was their most important player, at least, particularly in Game 5. And the difference between Dubnyk and Blues goalie Jake Allen was striking. 

There is no doubt of this now: Dubnyk is a goalie the Wild can count on going forward. That doesn’t guarantee a Stanley Cup or even another series win this year, but if the last remaining questions were about his playoff moxie and ability to rebound mentally, Dubnyk has aced those tests.

It’s one of those rare midseason trades that just fits perfectly for both the player and the team, and the story continues.

Nuclear Wessel: Down the stretch they come in the Premier League

nuclearDana Wessel works at Go963 FM in Minneapolis and formerly worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car under their excellent corporate structure where *they* gave *him* the tools to be his own boss.

Bad news, Nuclear Warheads. The Premier League season is almost over.

Then, all we have to look forward to is the FA Cup Final, Champions League Final, Women’s World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup, MLS season, Minnesota United season, Men’s World Cup Qualifiers, international friendlies on US territories and the start of the Premier League in August.

SOCCER NEVER ENDS BAHAHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Speaking of the United, their home lid-lifter in Blaine is this Saturday night. Get out and enjoy some professional soccer.

On to the matches!!!

No. 1: Manchester City vs Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium

When: Saturday at 11:30AM on Big Boy NBC

Last year: City beat Villa at the Etihad 4-0 last season. It wasn’t as big as a runaway as it looks on paper though. All four goals came after the 64th minute and the final two came after the 89th minute.

The Spurs/Southampton ‘battle for 6th place and foolish hope we can still catch City for 4th’ derby will probably be a more intriguing match than this, but I can’t in good faith recommend anybody wake up at 6:45AM to watch it. These two teams had a chance to make this the most exciting top four race ever but they decided to be average instead. THANKS!

This City fall from grace really has been something to watch. Just further proof that you can spend a ton of cash on a ton of high-priced talent and still fail as a team. We see it all the time in baseball stateside. You have to build a team, not just buy the shiniest, most expensive toys.

If it hadn’t been for the combined ineptitude of Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton, they would be clinging to their Champions Leagues lives right now. How crazy would that be?

But they sit comfortably in fourth, seven points clear of Liverpool (having played one more game than the Reds), and even given their dreadful form, you can’t picture them falling any further.

They face a Villa team Saturday having an odd season. They are once again flirting with relegation but have somehow found themselves in the FA Cup final against Arsenal. Villa have to be confident coming off of that win over Liverpool at Wembley last weekend and know only a few more points in their final five matches will officially secure them another season in top-flight English football.

Villa will put up a fight but I see City taking care of business at home much like they did last week against West Ham.

No. 2: Everton vs Manchester United at Goodison Park

When: Sunday at 7:30AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Everton beat United and former manager David Moyes last season 2-0 almost a year ago to the day. Moyes was dismissed shortly thereafter as United stumbled to a seventh place finish.

Seems like as good a time as any to remind everyone I picked Everton to finish in the top four this season. If the FA decides to make this match worth 25 points AND if Everton win, that could still happen. YA JUST NEVA KNOW.

United’s faint title hopes came to an end last weekend at the hands of Eden Hazard but that shouldn’t be a blemish on what has been a great year for them. Any United fan in the world would have gladly handed you the deed to their house if you told them in August they’d finish in the top four and above Manchester City.

It has been a bad year for Everton. There is no way around it. They have even won four of their last five matches and still sit in 12th place. Yuck.

Should be an entertaining match at Goodison Park, where United have won just one match in their last five. Roberto Martinez said he expects James McCarthy is fit to play. That helps the Toffees and ensures supporters they get to see him play a few more times before he is inevitably sold this summer.

No. 3 Arsenal vs Chelsea at Emirates Stadium

When: Sunday at 10:00AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: These two last met at Emirates two days before Christmas last season and played to a 0-0 draw.

Well, this should be a doozy, huh?

The Premier League title race is either (essentially) over with a Chelsea win/tie or will get a lot more interesting if Arsenal can grab all three points.

Here are the scenarios:

  • If Chelsea win, they will go 13 points clear. Arsenal can then get a max of 81 points, therefore Chelsea will need two more points in their final five matches to clinch the title and can do so Wednesday, April 29th at Leicester City at the earliest.

  • If Chelsea/Arsenal draw, Chelsea will stay 10 points clear. Arsenal can then get a max of 82 points, therefore Chelsea will need five points in their final five matches to clinch the title and can do so Sunday, May 3rd against Crystal Palace at the earliest.

  • If Arsenal win, Chelsea will remain seven points clear. Arsenal can get a max of 84 points, therefore Chelsea will need nine points in their final five matches to clinch the title and can do so Sunday, May 10th at the earliest.

Get all that? All of those scenarios are under the assumption that Arsenal will win out. If they drop any points after the Sunday’s match, it makes it even more difficult. Also, I did that math myself (seriously) so if it is wrong, don’t correct me, just take comfort in knowing you are smarter than me.

But all that is in the future! The only thing that these teams control is what happens on Sunday. I think it is obvious at this point that Jose Mourinho won’t really be looking to attack much. Plus, in this title race, a draw is just as good as a win for Chelsea. It may annoy casual fans or folks who support other sides. But Chelsea aren’t here to impress random Spurs or Liverpool fans, they are here to win a trophy.

Diego Cost is a question mark but Jose Mourinho said it is possible he plays ahead of schedule from that hamstring injury. If not, Jose said Friday that Drogba is ready to go. We all know his track record against Arsenal.

Arsenal will be going all out for the win. They have to. It is their only option. Look for Chelsea to defend and pick their chances carefully.

Should be a fun one. I just want to take a long nap until it is Sunday morning.

Enjoy the matches, soccer fans. Until next time, keep your socks taped and your cleats up.

Local Schedule

< >
  • Gophers softball vs. Iowa

    12pm

  • Gophers baseball vs. Michigan

    12:05pm

  • Twins at Seattle

    3:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Detroit at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Gophers baseball vs. Kansas State

    6:35pm

  • Detroit at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Detroit at Twins

    12:10pm on MLBN, 96.3-FM

  • Gophers baseball vs. Kansas State

    1pm

  • Gophers softball at Wisconsin

    4:30pm on BTN

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Gophers softball vs. Purdue

    6pm

  • Gophers baseball vs. UC Irvine

    6:35pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Gophers softball vs. Purdue

    1pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Gophers baseball vs. UC Irvine

    6:05pm

  • Swarm vs. Rochester

    7pm

  • Gophers baseball vs. UC Irvine

    12:05pm

  • Gophers softball vs. Purdue

    1pm on BTN

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Edmonton

    3pm

Today's Scoreboard

< >
  • Kansas City

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • Cleveland

    Detroit

     

    - F

    6

    8

  • Chicago Cubs

    Cincinnati

     

    - F

    5

    2

  • Washington

    Miami

     

    - F

    2

    6

  • Toronto

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    1

    5

  • Boston

    Baltimore

     

    - F

    7

    18

  • Atlanta

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    4

    5

  • St. Louis

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    3

    6

  • Kansas City

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    3

    5

  • Texas

    LA Angels

     

    - Bot 8th

    2

    3

  • Houston

    Oakland

     

    - Top 8th

    5

    6

  • Pittsburgh

    Arizona

     

    - Bot 7th

    4

    0

  • San Francisco

    Colorado

    Postponed

  • LA Dodgers

    San Diego

     

    - Top 9th

    1

    3

  • Minnesota

    Seattle

     

    - Top 8th

    2

    2

  • NY Mets

    NY Yankees

    7:05 PM

  • St. Louis

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • Montreal

    Ottawa

     

    - 1st, 7:33

    0

    0

  • Cleveland

    Boston

     

    - F

    101

    93

  • LA Clippers

    San Antonio

     

    - F

    114

    105

  • Toronto

    Washington

    5:30 PM

    TNT

  • Houston

    Dallas

    8:00 PM

    TNT