Driving north towards the Minneapolis/Saint Paul on Highway 52, one passes a lit billboard that reads, "Welcome back, Minnesota Wild!" Even with a lockout looming at the beginning of the NHL offseason, the Wild added superstar players Zach Purise and Ryan Suter. Fast forward to January, and Wild fans across the "state of hockey" are giddy as visions of Lord Stanley's Cup dance through their heads.
In the meantime, the Minnesota Timberwolves have hit their first true skid of the season while one of their headline players is out with an injury and the other is coming off the bench. The NBA is always going to play second fiddle to the NHL in Minnesota; in 2013 the excitement about the Wild will be at an all-time high as the excitement about the 'Wolves hits its lowest point this year. After tonight's nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Clippers, it will be a while before the Timberwolves are the headlining team in the Twin Cities.
The 'Wolves find themselves in their current hole (3 games below .500 at 16-19) thanks to a losing streak on their most recent road trip. Two of the losses were not unexpected, against the Thunder and Spurs. But games against the Hornets and Mavericks, even with a shorthanded roster, seemed like games the team could have won in order to come home with a .500 trip. Instead they lost all 4 games and, for the first time all season, it looks like the Timberwolves are going to cave in to their inexplicable number of injuries.
Also ailing the team is the continued absence of head coach Rick Adelman. The coach met with the team Wednesday but has no timetable for his return. All well wishes are with Adelman and his wife Mary Kay, who remains in the hospital. Assistant coach Terry Porter remains in charge while Adelman is away from the team.
Under circumstances that get heavier by the day, the Timberwolves take the floor tonight for a nationally televised affair against the best team in the Western Conference. It might be one of their last chances to grab some of Minnesota's attention before the NHL is in full swing. Tonight's game against the Clippers tips off at 7:00 P.M. CST.