RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Wednesday (More memorable: Coyle or Parise?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 28th at 10:32am 290074121

coyleYou see hockey players take pucks to the face fairly regularly, unfortunately. You also see beautiful NHL goals on a nightly basis.

But the Wild’s Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle went above and beyond the call of duty in those respective categories Tuesday in Minnesota’s 2-1 win over Edmonton (a win the Wild badly needed coming out of the break).

Parise was nailed by a puck in the first period, and the damage was bad enough to knock out a tooth. The cliche is that hockey players are tough, but MY GOODNESS it does take some toughness to get hit with the puck, lose a tooth and then be able to shake it off quickly enough to pick your own tooth up off the ice, as Parise did. And he of course returned to the game, logging nearly 17 minutes of ice time (third-most among Wild forwards on Tuesday).

That was plenty memorable … but for our money, Charlie Coyle topped Parise’s grit with one of the nicest goals in a big spot that we’ve seen a Wild player score for a while.

Watching it live, we saw the puck go in and assumed he must have banked it off a skate. There was no possible way, after going so wide behind the net to elude two defending players and the Edmonton goalie, that Coyle could possibly sneak the puck back in himself.

Except there was, somehow, a way. Just a crazy, crazy goal — and enough to upstage a teammate who picked his own tooth up off the ice.

TFD: Rob Gronkowski read from 'A Gronking to Remember' at Super Bowl media day

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 27th at 5:03pm 289988191

That headline really says it all. It was a Gronking to Remember.

Bill Simmons calls out yet another ESPN employee on Twitter

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 27th at 12:53pm 289954711

simmonsESPN’s Bill Simmons either can’t help himself, doesn’t learn lessons or simply doesn’t care because his contract with the Worldwide Leader expires later this year and he already has his sights on bigger and better things.

Or, we suppose, Simmons and ESPN have arranged a sort of tenuous marriage by which they give him some rope and he uses all of it, with the idea that any evolving controversy generates publicity for both the man and the media empire.

Whatever the case, Simmons can’t seem to stop taking shots at fellow ESPN employees, even though that has landed him in trouble in the past. The latest target: NFL analyst Ray Lewis. A tweet from Simmons:

The link on that tweet, as noted by Awful Announcing, is a Photoshopped image of Lewis with deer antlers — a reference to the deer antler spray controversy Lewis found himself in a couple years ago.

That tweet was two hours ago, shortly before 11 a.m. As of this posting, he hasn’t tweeted since.  WAS HE SUSPENDED?! (Probably not, but we’ll have to wait and see).

Can the Wild save its season?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 27th at 1:48pm 289934591

yeo2Sports Club Stats and Hockey Reference both offer up percentage chances, based on formulas, pace and simulations, that the different NHL teams will make the playoffs.

Their numbers are a little different, but both tell essentially the same unsurprising story: the Wild has A LOT of ground to make up and is a long shot to even reach the postseason one year after giving fans hope that deep postseason runs could be a trend going forward.

Sports Club Stats has the Wild at a 6.4 percent chance of making the postseason. Hockey Reference is a little more optimistic, but not much, giving the Wild a 9.3 percent chance — a little worse than 1 in 10 for those who don’t like percentages — of making the playoffs.

Hockey Reference has a best-case scenario of the Wild reaching 100 points. That would be crazily optimistic, but if we look at other projections the final Wild Card in the West can be expected to have somewhere between 93 and 95 points.

Minnesota is 20-20-6 and has 46 points in 46 games at the All Star break. So let’s say they’re going to need another 48 points in their final 36 games to reach that Wild Card projection territory. That’s a 1.33 points-per-game pace, on par with a 109-point season over a full 82.

That’s the type of total elite teams put up. So in essence, the Wild needs not just to be good in the second half. Assuming the projections are in the neighborhood of being correct, the Wild needs to play (and earn points) like one of the 3-5 best teams in the NHL over the final 36 games.

Can it be done? Sure. We only need to look at last year’s history as a guide. Minnesota was 24-17-5 for 53 points after 46 games (that was earlier in the year last year because the NHL had a long break in February for the Olympics). In Minnesota’s final 36 games, the Wild went 19-10-7, earning 45 points and qualifying for the playoffs before upsetting Colorado in the first round.

If Minnesota can be just a little better than that — say, 20-8-8 — the playoffs are a possibility. Getting there, of course, will require much better all-around play than we saw from the Wild pre-break. If there is any silver lining, it’s that everything that could possibly go wrong seemingly did in the first 46 games. But it could also be the case that this Wild team is less than the sum of its parts and that its on-ice deficiencies — goaltending, effort, lack of pure scorers, whatever the case might be on a given night –will continue to drag the team down into a disappointing, playoff-free finish.

The projections say the latter is the way the season almost certainly will play out. We’ll start to find out for sure tonight in Edmonton, the first of 36 games in which there is very little margin for error.

TFD: Vikings a top-5 NFL team in terms of 25-and-under talent, ESPN says

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 27th at 6:48am 289849521

fridgewaterLooking for some offseason Vikings hope after another losing season? Well, ESPN.com just ranked the 32 NFL teams in order of which have the most talented players who are 25-and-under. The Vikings, who have had seven first-round picks the past three years, fared quite well — No. 4 behind only the Colts, Patriots and Rams. The Packers were No. 9, the Lions were No. 20 and the Bears were second-to-last at No. 31. Per the ranking of the Vikings, five players were singled out — including QB Teddy Bridgewater and LB Anthony Barr, who are both 22.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB: The Vikings’ new franchise quarterback also happens to be the youngest player on the team. Bridgewater struggled early as a rookie, but the game looked like it slowed down for him as the season went on, and he already has a great understanding of how to distribute the ball. His lack of overwhelming arm strength and his slight frame worry me with regard to his long-term projection.

Anthony Barr, OLB: A running back-turned-edge rusher at UCLA, Barr now is expanding his role even further at the NFL level by playing off the line of scrimmage and dropping into coverage — in addition to getting after opposing quarterbacks. He closes on the football really well. Just wait until he really gets comfortable at the position.

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60

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