Faceoff: Wild alive and Vikings big pick
PHERSY:Feldy, it's an awfully fun time of year for sports fans. We'll stick close to home for now. The Wild have a big game Friday night and your Vikings have a big decision to make later tonight. Let's start with the Wild. They picked up a huge win Tuesday night, pulling within 2-1 of the Blackhawks in their Western Conference second-round series. The Wild did what they needed, keeping the game close early, seizing momentum late and then never letting go of that momentum. After that win, I assume you're fully aboard the Wild bandwagon, right Feldy?
FELDY: Both of my feet have been firmly planted on the wagon since Mikael Granlund's game-winning goal in Game 3 of the first-round series against Colorado. But the Chicago Blackhawks aren't Colorado. The Blackhawks are deeper and smarter. They're still a young team, too — we think of Wild forward Justin Fontaine as a young guy; he's actually five months older than Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who has already won two Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals at age 26. It's still an uphill battle for the Wild.
PHERSY:You're smarter than you look Feldy. While the Game 3 win was a feel-good story, this Chicago team is still loaded with finishers. Holding them scoreless in Game 3 was an incredible feat, and the Wild were nearly perfect defensively. But guys like Marian Hossa, Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane aren't going to disappear for long. The Wild will need another win at home Friday to really swing momentum before the series shifts back to Chicago. ... Feldy, before we shift to Purple Pride time, you mentioned Granlund. How good has this kid been? Remember at the beginning of last year, when Wild fans wanted him banished for life? Now, he looks like one of the better two-way players in the NHL.
FELDY: Wild coach Mike Yeo put it best after Granlund's highlight-reel goal to beat the Avalanche in Game 3 of the first round series: Granlund grew up in Finland under a bright spotlight. He was pegged as a star at a young age and that forced him to work even harder. He's only 22 and the bigger the stakes, the better he plays. The Wild know what they're doing when it comes to drafting Finns— Granlund, captain Mikko Koivu, and Tuesday's hero, Erik Haula. ... Let's shift gears, Phersy. The NFL Draft will begin in a few hours. What shouldthe Vikings do with the eighth overall pick?
PHERSY:Sadly Feldy, I have to agree with your take from Points on the Purple. I've been a Justin Gilbert guy for quite some time, and drafting the Oklahoma State CB is exactly what the Vikings should do. He may be the best pure athlete in the draft. He can be a lock-down corner quickly. The Vikings obviously need a franchise QB. But to me, the difference between the top QBs and the second-tier QBs in this draft is minimal. Pick two QBs later in the draft, including one in the second round, and hope one pans out. That's the smart play. Adrian Peterson deserves a Super Bowl ring. And if the Vikings don't make significant progress this weekend, it's time to let AP walk away and get a ring someplace else.
FELDY: There will be quality QBs available at the top of Round 2 and, odds are, the Vikings will have a couple to choose between. There's a part of me that will be extremely excited if Johnny Manziel falls to the Vikings and they pick him at No. 8. I don't think he'll stay healthy enough to play 10-12 years in the NFL, but selfishly, I want to witness the circus that Mankato would become during training camp with Johnny Football in purple.