Twins + Donaldson = trouble for AL Central opponents
Alex Stalock, Wild goaltender (⬆️ UP)
It was fitting that Stalock, the South St. Paul native and University of Minnesota-Duluth product, was in net for the Wild on Hockey Day Minnesota. Stalock dazzled Dallas and stopped all 27 shots to record his seventh career shutout — and third with the Wild. Stalock also went viral when he had a, uh, conversation with Dallas’ Corey Perry following a rather dirty play by the winger.
Xavier Rhodes, Vikings cornerback (⬆️ UP)
Rhodes, the Pro Bowl cornerback? Apparently. Rhodes was named to his third career Pro Bowl on Tuesday, taking the place of Richard Sherman, who will be preparing in the Super Bowl. Once one of the best defensive backs in the league – Rhodes was named an All-Pro in 2017 – the 29-year-old had a rough season in 2019 and saw his role decrease. Pro Football Focus grade Rhodes in the bottom 10% of cornerbacks this season. It’s further proof that the Pro Bowl is mostly about name recognition, not about actual production on the field.
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves forward (⬇️ DOWN)
The 2019-20 season once looked like a revenge tour for Wiggins when he was shooting nearly 40% from 3-point range and averaged 31.6 points per contest over an explosive five-game stretch back in November. Well, things just keep getting tougher and tougher for the forward. In the last 11 games, Wiggins is shooting 37.4% from the field and a mere 23.4% from 3-point range. He did record his first career triple double Saturday night against Toronto (18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds), but other than that, it’s been all trending down for Wiggins.
Minnesota Twins lineup (⬆️ UP)
The lineup that produced a league-record 307 home runs last season just got scarier, as the Twins officially announced the signing of slugger Josh Donaldson — who hit 37 home runs last year with Atlanta and has three other seasons of 30+ homers — on Wednesday afternoon. Donaldson’s four-year deal worth $92 million is by far the largest free-agent contract handed out by the Twins. Ervin Santana previously held the mark with his four-year contract worth $55 million that he signed before the 2015 season. Anyway, inserting Donaldson in the middle of a lineup that already consists of five players who smacked 30+ homers last season (Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario and Mitch Garver) just spells more trouble for AL Central opponents.
Luke Kunin, Wild forward (⬆️ UP)
Kunin is buzzing. The Wisconsin product has tallied at least one point in six of his last eight contests, including a two-goal performance against Florida on Tuesday night when he finished off a couple of passes from Joel Eriksson-Ek. It was Kunin’s second career game with multiple goals.
Ryan Saunders, Timberwolves head coach (⬇️ DOWN)
Not a whole lot is going the Timberwolves’ way. Minnesota has lost six straight games, the latest being a 107-100 loss to a Denver team missing key players Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap and Gary Harris. Saunders along with president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas will get a free pass for their first year at the helm, which they should as they try to establish a much-needed culture at the Target Center, it just hasn’t been very encouraging.