HIBBING — I got so caught up in doing other things that I forgot to do Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves predictions for the 2021-22 season.

With that said, you get two columns for the price of one.

Let’s start with the Minnesota Wild first.

I honestly don’t know what to say about the Wild.

They’re usually competitive, and there’s no reason why that won’t be the case this season.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are gone, but I believe Minnesota will more than make up for their departures.

For one, the Wild will be faster, and they’ve demonstrated that through their first three games of the season.

The defense should be solid with the additions of Alex Goligoski and Demitry Kulikov to go along with Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon.

The forward lines go four deep, and that’s a plus no matter how you look at it.

To have four lines with the potential of scoring, not many teams have that luxury.

The player who must make the biggest leap has to be Jordan Greenway. He’s a big strong player, but that hasn’t, as far as I’m concerned, shown in his offensive play.

Sure, he can protect the puck along the boards, but he has to be more productive whether it’s goals or assists.

Joel Eriksson Ek looks like he’s rounding into an effective offensive player, scoring three goals against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

Now, the Wild need to get Kiril Kaprisov going. He has five points in three games, all assists. He needs to start putting that puck into the net, but he is drawing a lot of attention this season.

At least the power play is on track. If you remember last year, Minnesota man-advantage didn’t get a goal in well-over 20 attempts.

This season, the Wild have four power-play goals.

The penalty kill should be solid, and the goaltending, led by Cam Talbot, should be good, but I thought he gave up some weak goals against the Jets.

I like the Wild’s chances this season, to not only make the playoffs, but to win a couple of rounds in the chase for the Stanley Cup.

As for the Timberwolves, things can only go up for this team.

The Wolves had a nice run at the end of last season, but it wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.

Minnesota made some moves over the summer, bringing in Taurean Prince and Patrick Beverley, two players who know how to play some defense. With Jaden McDaniels and Josh Okogie, Minnesota might have some defensive stoppers at the end of games.

Scoring shouldn’t be a problem, but once again, it all depends what kind of percentage the Wolves shoot from the 3-point arc.

That’s all it is now-a-days. Penetrate with the dribble, then pass it out for the 3-point shot.

The problem is the Wolves have players taking threes that shouldn’t be taking them, and they must defend the three better. They shouldn’t collapse into the lane. Just stick with your guy so those 3-pointers are a little tougher to make.

What usually happens is the Wolves miss a three, then the other team comes down and makes a three. That’s a six-point swing.

If neither of those two things don’t get better, the losses will pile up in a hurry.

As I stated last year, the Timberwolves always seem to have longer losing streaks than winning streaks.

The Wolves had three winnable games to start the season, one against Houston and two against New Orleans, without Zion Williamson.

A 3-0 start was in the cards, which would have to be a first in a long time.

After that, Minnesota gets Milwaukee, Denver, Orlando, the Clippers twice, Memphis, Golden State, the Lakers, the Clippers again and Phoenix.

That’s a meat grinder, and things could go pear-shaped early.

That’s 11 games. If the Wolves go 4-7 or better, that would be a victory, in my opinion.

I know they want to go 11-0, but that’s unrealistic to do.

The Wolves need more winning streaks than losing streaks this year. They need to win at least 40 games, if not a little more. That would be a victory, too.

All I know is that this is the best time of the season.

We have football, hockey and basketball. It doesn’t get any better than this.


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