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Posted on: February 13, 2011 4:30 pm
 

And the Hottest NHL Team in 2011 is...

premature articulations:

Those on the east coast would say the Philadelphia Flyers, with an honorable mention to the resurging New Jersey Devils.  Those on the west coast would say the Vancouver Canucks.  No doubt about it, all three of those teams have rung in the new year with an impressive bang.  But while the bi-coastal media focus on their own shorelines, the Minnesota Wild continue to sneak in under the proverbial radar, and are quitely tied for tops in the NHL for 2011 with 13 wins.

It's been a busy year for warped minds, with not a lot of time for blogging (or posting on the new "improved" CBS site and its formatless ways) but for one glorious day, it's time to fire up the Warpy Psychlotron and send some quarks flying.  The following quarks are for the season to date.


dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  Cal Clutterbuck is the obvious choice here.  #22 showed some scoring mojo last season, but I seriously doubt anyone expected him to be the team's top goal scorer this late into the season.  Cal has a nice, quick release on his wristers and snappers, which serves to catch goalies off guard when defending against a pass-happy team.

And the best part is, all this scoring has come without any loss in the physical play that makes Clutterbuck such a fan favorite at the X.  Cal continues to drive opponents crazy, but as the local homer commentators correctly point out, he manages to agitate in a clean, civilized way rather than resorting to bush league tactics like the Matt Cookes and Sean Averys of the world.

Other Top Quarks go to the guys between the pipes.  Since day one of the franchise, the Wild have been blessed with more than their share of good goalies, and this year is no exception.  After an iffy streak where Niklas Backstrom actually looked mortal, Backs has returned to being the goaltending machine that fans have come to know and love.  Jose Theodore stepped up big time in Nik's absence, and continues to play rock solid nets.

Backstrom and Theodore make for such a potent duo that it's easy to forget we still have Josh Harding (a backup who is arguably as good as half the starters in the league, and on the verge of returning to the roster to boot) as well as Anton Khudobin, who has once again proven himself NHL ready.  Talk about an embarrassment of riches!

With several teams looking for help in nets, expect Chuck Fletcher to dangle a goalie or two out there before the trade deadline.  I'd hate to see Theodore go, but frankly, I don't us getting a lot of scoring value for Harding right now, so Jose may be the odd guy out.  I just hope we get some good scoring oomph in return: the Tampa Bay Lightining can attest to the value of having a former Wild netminder on their team, so hopefully Mr. Fletcher will keep the price tag high, and more hopefully, make a deal with someone in the Eastern Conference so we don't have to worry about getting stonewalled in the playoffs.


Up Quark(s):  In no particular order, Up Quarks go to #24 Martin Havlat, #9 Mikko Koivu, #6 Marco Scandella, #15 Andrew Brunette, #4 Clayton Stoner and last but not least, #5 Greg Zanon.

Havlat has shown signs of becoming the sniper we expected to see when he joined the Wild, and he also does good work along the boards in the offensive zone.  Frankly, I'd like to see him spend less time on the boards and spend more time in front where he can receive centering passes from the other three or four guys who insist on constantly cycle-jerking the puck behind the net, but more on that later.

Koivu isn't putting up the scoring numbers that one would expect from the a face of the franchise top line center, but warped minds continue to notice his stellar play in the defensive zone: #9 is arguably one of the best defensemen on the team, so I'll never figure out why Jacques Lemaire had such a hard-on for Kim Johnsson and Martin Skoula without giving Mikko some love.

It's hard to believe Bruno has surpassed the 1,000 game mark; he looks and plays like he's good for several more years.  Move over, Nicklas Lidstrom; there's another ironman in da house.

Scandella has been a pleasantly huge surprise on what is turning out to be a suddenly solid blue line corps.  And #5 sure as hell looks better on Z than it does on that other guy who used to wear it...  Frankly, I'd like to see our D-men spend more time blocking shooters instead of blocking shots by the crease (our goalies are quite capable in that area) but it's hard to argue with success.  Then again, it's a lot easier on the body to cover the shooter farther out and use a stick to deflect shots into the netting than it is to risk taking a puck in the family jewels.

Stoner gets a shout-out for his prowess when the gloves come off.  I'm not sure how he managed to get in Todd Richards' doghouse earlier this season, but with injuries forcing him into the lineup, he has proven to be a reliable if unspectacular defender, and he appears to be more handy with the fists than Brad Staubitz (as David Backes and the St. Louis Blues just found out the hard way)

And one final Up Quark shout has to go to coach Todd Richards.  Remember all that crazy talk earlier about his job possibly being in jeapordy?  Neither do I; it's about as memorable as anything that comes out of Michele Bachmann's mouth, eh?


Down Quark(s):  More shooting from guys like Havlat, Koivu and Antti Miettinen would be nice.  Lacking true scorers like Gaborik and Demitra of previous seasons, this is a team that needs to go into lunch pail mode and go for more garbage goals (hey, they count just the same as highlight reel goals)  Unfortunately, it's impossible to score when all three forwards continue to cycle the puck behind the freaking goal line.  Cycling is a good way to start a scoring chance, but sombody's gotta be in front of the net to receive a Bruno pass and bang it home like Antti did last night.  I go postal every time a guy in front of the net makes a beeline to the back wall one nanosecond after a teammate finally gets control of the puck.  Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just me?


Bottom Quark(s):  A reluctant Bottom Quark goes to the blueliners (*cough* Brent Burns) who do too much stick and arm checking and not enough playing the man on defense.  I thought the days of putting one arm out and poking for the puck were over when we unloaded the Swedish Turnstile, but #8 appears to be keeping the tradition alive.  In Burnsie's defense, he does contribute enough on offense to earn a mulligan here and there on D, but it'd be nice to see him use his size more and play the man like a good Canadian blueliner.

Speaking of Canadian D-men, Cam Barker is probably the odd man out when Marek Zidlicky returns to the lineup.  At 24 years old, it's still too early to give up on a former first round pick with good size, but Barker has been underachieving and Stoner has shown better toughness, so unless he decides to accept more ice time in Houston, Cam will need some snazzy suits to wear while being a healthy scratch.


Strange Quark(s):  OK, I am officially off the Patrick O'Sullivan bandwagon now.  Warped minds still rue the day Doug Risebrough gave up O'Sullivan and a draft pick (*cough* Anze Kopitar) for Pavol Demitra, but O'Sullivan hasn't panned out to be the soft touch goal scoring sniper I expected, so the trade didn't end up being as big of a debacle as, say, the Brian Lawton over Pat LaFontaine draft pick of the good old days.

And am I the only one who wonders if Todd Richards has something against having a brotha on the team?  It seems like Robbie Earl can't buy a break; last year, all he did was bang goals in every time he got called up, only to be sent back down when the roster got back to healthy status.  With the Calgary Flames' playoff chances going the way of the Kennedys, Jarome Iginla sure would look good in a Wild sweater for the stretch drive, and he could also greatly accelerate Earl's learning curve on how to handle life as a minority in the NHL.

Charmed Quark(s):  Gotta give a shout-out to Jared Spurgeon.  For an undersized defenseman, Jared displays an awareness of his position that Stoner would do well to imitate in his quest to be the next solid, stay-at-home D-man ala Nick Schultz, and also displays a physical side that should make Burnsie take note.  It seems like no matter how hard Jared gets hit along the boards, the puck almost always ends up on the stick of a teammate who can clear the zone.


post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  Games in hand only help if you win 'em, and the good guys are doing just that with the recent sweep of the Blues.  The scary part is, the Wild have managed to claw their way into the playoff picture without their top scoring forward (Guillaume Latendresse) and their top scoring defenseman from last year (Zidlicky).  Z is now practicing again, and Lats appears to on schedule for a March return, so the Wild could (knock on wood) enjoy the luxury of a completely healthy lineup in time for the playoff drive.  Throw in a trade acquisition or two before the deadline, and this could be a team that owns the Vancouver Canucks worse than they’re already waxed by Minny this year.  LET'S GO WILD!!!!!


...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs:

If my wife-to-be (or not to be) is watching, it probably wasn't meant to be.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: the sooner you fall behind, the more time you will have to catch up.

quando omni flunkus moritati

Category: NHL
Tags: Minnesota, NHL, Wild
 
Posted on: November 1, 2009 4:08 pm
 

Minnesota Wild Lose Their Johnssons, Gain Wins

premature articulations:

Is it just me, or has the play of the Minnesota Wild improved lately with Kim Johnsson out of the lineup?  I'm sure most of the so-called experts in the media will say it's just me (especially after reading some of my previous blog entries) but warped minds never did believe much in coincidence.  I'm still laughing at the Versus commentators who said that we had lost our top defenseman when Kimmer went down:  Johnsson might be #1 in terms of quantity minutes on the Wild blue line, but warped minds prefer quality over quantitiy, so let's fire up the Warpy Psychlotron and get the quarks a-flying.


dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  There's nothing like a winning streak to get warped minds in a good mood and hand out quarks like Halloween candy, so in no particular order, Top Quarks for the recent Wild games go to:

#25 Eric Belanger.  Belanger spent time in and out of the doghouse in previous coaching regimes, but it looks like Todd Richards is really starting to appreciate what an asset Belanger is to an undersized and underperforming defensive corps.  It's nice to see Eric getting more quality minutes on the ice, and his sweet shot 0.6 seconds before intermission that turned out to be the game winner was an absolute beauty.  The feed from Havlat wasn't too shabby, either.

#32 Niklas Backstrom.  Backs had to be on fire last night to survive the Pittsburgh Penguins onslaught, and he was definitely up to the task.  The way the Pens dominated the offense for much of the game, one goal against (and zero points for Sidney Crosby) is damn good stuff.

#6 Greg Zanon.  Warped minds were seriously down on Zanon after the first couple of weeks, and with good reason after witnessing too much Martin Skoula like defense in the early going.  A couple of good games isn't quite enough to wipe out a history bad ones, but Zanon gets a big shout-out for his much improved play lately.  Zanon was especially good in Friday's game against the New York Rangers; warped minds nearly had as many heart attacks as Fred Sanford after witnessing #6 throw one good check after another.  Zanon had a less spectacular but equally effective game last night against the Pens, and made a sweet switch of hands on his stick to put himself in a better position to deny Crosby a good chance.  Coincidentally, another defenseman who switched hands like that also wore #6 for Minnesota back in the original expansion team days of the North Stars.  Happy birthday, Mike McMahon!!

Up Quark(s):  #14 Martin Havlat and #21 Petr Sykora were largely invisible early in the season, but both appear to be finding their stride now, which could make for some mighty entertaining hockey in the winter months.  I loved Sykora's saying that if the Wild brought him here to score more goals for them, he can't do it from the bench.  Richards gave Sykora more ice time Friday against the Rangers, and he responded pretty darn well.

# 24 Derek Boogaard.  The man can't skate, can't pass and can't shoot (and he doesn't fight like he used to) but he's earning more ice time from Richards now by doing what I've been screaming in my blogs for him to do for years: set screens and make trouble in front of the net.  Boogey hasn't figured in any of the scoring lately, but seeing Henrik Lundqvist move from side to side to try and see around #24 was a thing of beauty, and will benefit the Wild down the road no matter who gets credit for the scores.

Todd Richards gets a shout-out for rewarding Boogey's good play early on in Friday's game by giving him more ice time in later stages of the game (heck, I could've sworn I saw Boogey out there on one of the Wild PPs -- now that's what I call throwing a guy a bone!)

#34 Shane Hnidy adds to his rapidly increasing collection of quality quarks, but the Warpy Psychlotron needs to shut down for temporary maintenance until the Vikings/Packers (and subsequent drinking to celebrate a glorious win or to drown out a terrible loss) come to a close.

Nick Schultz hereby gets a permanent Up Quark for his reliably steady defensive play.  Schultzie seldom makes spectacular plays that garner media attention, but he almost always makes the routine plays correctly in any given situation.  And with the possible exception of Brent Burns and Shane Hnidy, #55 is also one of the only Wild defensemen who shows a willingness and ability to play the man on a regular basis.  Keep it going, Nick!

Down Quark(s):  More on Brent Burns later.

Bottom Quark(s):  In order to reduce the amount of typing I'll need to do on future blog entires, I hereby award Kim Johnsson (a.k.a. "I don't wanna touch another guy because then people might think I'm gay") the Bottom Quark on a premanent basis, and will just fill in the necessary details on the next line(s) after each game.

More on Marek Zidlicky later.

Strange Quark(s):  More on LEAFS4LIFE99 later.

Charmed Quark(s):  More on RCPhilly later.


The Warped Kim Johnsson Meter:  The season total stands at minus 4.  More on our recently improved play later.


post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  We're on a roll now, baby!  LET'S GO WILD!!!!!


...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs:

If my wife-to-be (or not to be) is watching, it probably wasn't meant to be.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: if at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

quando omni flunkus moritati

Posted on: October 18, 2009 6:28 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2009 8:25 pm
 

Minnesota Wild Pre-Season Comes to A Merciful End

premature articulations:

Officially, the NHL preseason ended a couple of weeks ago, but with Todd Richards keeping virtually all starters out of the lineup (and thus robbing them of the chance to get used to playing together with new teammates in a new system) the Minnesota Wild did their finest impression of sports fans everywhere -- paying a regular season price for preseason games.  But now that it looks like the good guys are getting ready for actual regular season play, it's time to fire up the Warpy Psychlotron and get some quarks flying.


dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  There's not much in the way of Top Quarks for the Wild after an 0-fer road trip.  The most Top Quark worthy performance warped minds witnessed this week was the defensive play of the Anaheim Ducks and the Vancouver Canucks.  These teams have no trouble keeping the front of their net clear of opposing players -- and making said players pay a hefty price any time they venture near the crease area.  The same can't be said for the Wild defense; tapes of the Ducks and the Nucks playing D should be mandatory viewing for all Wild blueliners not named Schultz or Hnidy.  All too often, opposing players collapse into Niklas Backstrom's crease, and the Johnssons, Zidlickys and Zanons of the world are only too happy to let them set up shop there for as long as they please.

Up Quark(s):  Fellow Wild fan cmc18v (who has a damn funny blog on this site) has turned me on to Benoit Pouliot.  #67 has been doing a fine job of getting in front of the net and creating trouble for opposing goalies; if he adds a finishing touch to his scoring chances, Pouliot could put up some damaging stats this year.  James Sheppard has also picked up his play; #51 took a big step backwards last season after impressing the year before, but Sheppard looks to be returning to the form that made fans see him as a very promising up-and-comer.

I also have to give a shout out to #34 Shane Hnidy.  It took warped minds a few games to connect Hnidy's name with the TV commentators' constant references to "nightie" so I kept wondering what the hell kind of hockey name "nightie" was.  Turns out that it belongs to a solid defensive player who uses above-average size to push guys away from the Wild crease area.  As regular Warpy readers already know, warped minds pay special attention to defensemen, and dissect their play in far more detail than that of the forwards (heck, anybody can talk about goal scorers and recap their points, eh?) and I've gotta say that I'm warming up to Hnidy pretty quickly.

Nick Schultz hereby gets a permanent Up Quark for his reliably steady defensive play.  Schultzie seldom makes spectacular plays that garner media attention, but he almost always makes the routine plays correctly in any given situation.  And with the possible exception of Brent Burns and Shane Hnidy, #55 is also one of the only Wild defensemen who shows a willingness and ability to play the man on a regular basis.  Keep it going, Nick!

Down Quark(s):  Lots of possible choices here, but I've gotta give a Down Quark shout-out to Brent Burns for a continuing series of sub-standard defensive games, paired with less than stellar offensive plays that often as not leave his blueline partner hung out to dry in transition.  Burnsie's skating appears to be a tad slower as well, which makes warped minds wonder if he's as healthy as advertised.

Greg Zanon is getting dangerously close to entering permanent Down Quark territory.  I'm still seeing too much of the Martin Skoula-like "stand in front of the net facing the wrong way so it looks like I'm taking a leak by the left goal post" style of defense to get much in the way of warm and flocculent feelings when #6 is on the ice.  The fact that you can see his jersey number on TV when the other team is in our zone says it all for warped minds: unless he leads the league in blocked shots because he takes 'em all off his kiester, Zanon (and the fellow crease campers who allow opponents to crash Backstrom at will) need to turn around and see what they're missing.

Bottom Quark(s):  In order to reduce the amount of typing I'll need to do on future blog entires, I hereby award Kim Johnsson (a.k.a. "I don't wanna touch another guy because then people might think I'm gay") the Bottom Quark on a premanent basis, and will just fill in the necessary details on the next line(s) after each game.

News flash!  The Five Million Dollar Salary Cap Boat Anchor goes quarkless in the last three games!  After an absolutely brutal first week, Johnsson actually played three pretty good games in a row.  Nothing spectacular (after all, he did botch a handful of power play chances by allowing the puck to get by him at the point -- a common occurence when #5 is on the ice) but Johnsson also goosed out enough "attaboy, Kimmer, nice play!" shouts from the Warped One to escape this week with a total wash.

I still say a "break even" type of player isn't worth anything close to $5 million a year, but it is what it is, and this is the final year of Johnsson's contract, so there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.  Besides, Wild fans are used to seeing far worse play from Johnsson, so if he keeps the Warped Johnsson Meter from going down too much farther, I can live with it.

Strange Quark(s):  Slowly but surely, the Wild are getting the hang of throwing pucks at the net willy-nilly and getting guys down low to sniff around for rebounds, deflections, and the occasional garbage goal.  The Wild keep reverting back to old habits of spending too much time along the boards (three forwards all behind the goal line on the back wall?!) and constantly bypassing shots in favor of the tic-tac-toe highlight reel goal (especially on the power play) but warped minds are still optimistic that it's only a matter of time before our goalies get the luxury of regular goal support.

Charmed Quark(s):  Nobody can accuse the refs of being homers lately; the Wild got more than their share of PP chances on the road trip, but seemed less and less inclined to shoot as the games went on.  Considering how many pucks were finding their way in earlier, I really can't figure out why the Wild don't just throw the puck at the net every chance they get -- junk goals count the same as pretty goals on the stat sheet, and there's nothing like traffic in front of the net to turn a low percentage shot into a goalie's nightmare.

Earth to Wild players:  SHOOOOOT!!!  And shoot some more!  Who cares if ya can't see a good shooting lane to the net?  If you can't see the goalie, he probably can't see you either (and is most likely praying that you'll pass the puck somewhere else so he can see the damn thing again...)


The Warped Kim Johnsson Meter:  Three consecutive games of Even Steven performance keeps the season total at minus 4.  His +/- numbers may have gotten worse in the official NHL stats, but the Warped Johnsson Meter counts goals that Kim Johnsson directly costs the team (minus) with credit points (plus) for goals he either scores or directly enables (or *gasp* actually prevents with his defensive play, tho I don't expect this part of the equation to come into play very often.. ha hah) 

For those folks who might've thought Warpyland was nothing more than a Kim Johnsson haters blog, I've got one thing to say:  good game, Kimmer!  Keep it going!  OK, that's technically two things, but Johnsson's improved play lately calls for two pats on the back.


post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  The unofficial regular season kicks in Wendesday at home against a red-hot Colorado Avalanche squad.  Warped minds weren't expecting too much on the road trip that just ended (tho a point here and there would've been nice) but now that the guys have had some time to gel, the Wild will need to avoid settling for 4 or 5 shots on goal per period in order to keep the sellout streak alive in a post-Bush-but-thank-goodness-it's-not-a-McCain economy.  Personally, I'm seeing enough progress in the right direction to give the good guys a few more mulligans for early season growing pains; methinks it's too early to write this season off as a lost cause yet.  LET'S GO WILD!!!!!


...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs:

If my wife-to-be (or not to be) is watching, it probably wasn't meant to be.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: if at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

quando omni flunkus moritati

Posted on: October 11, 2009 3:49 am
Edited on: October 11, 2009 12:55 pm
 

San Jose Sharks Ride Kim Johnsson's D to Victory

premature articulations:

OK, maybe that's exaggerating things a bit; the San Jose Sharks were plenty good enough last night to win without Johnsson's help -- but Kimbie once again proved himself more valuable to the opposition than he did the Minnesota Wild, so let's dispense with the usual preamble and proceed directly to the Warpy Psychlotron and dissect last night's performance.


dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  No question about it: Evgeni Nabokov has gotta get the Top Quark for his performance in nets last night.  The Wild threw 40 shots on goal in the game (thanks in large part to 8 power plays) but Nabokov stonewalled several quality chances in the first half of the game to keep the Sharks within striking distance.  And strike they did -- I sure didn't see any of the soft goaltending from Nabokov that I've been reading about elsewhere; the Wild would probably have put the game away against a lesser goalie.

Up Quark(s):  #15 Andrew Brunette gets an Up Quark whether or not he ends up with credit for the first Wild goal.  At first, the goal was credited to Shane Hnidy, who took the shot, but it was later changed later to Bruno on a tip-in.  Warped minds are still undecided on whether the puck actually touched Bruno on the way in, but seeing #15 camped in front of the net on Hnidy's shot (and seeing Mikko Koivu buzz in to sniff around for a possible rebound) was a thing of beauty.

Nick Schultz hereby gets a permanent Up Quark for his reliably steady defensive play.  Schultzie seldom makes spectacular plays that garner media attention, but he almost always makes the routine plays correctly in any given situation.  And with the possible exception of Brent Burns, #55 is also one of the only Wild defensemen who shows a willingness and ability to play the man on a regular basis.  Keep it going, Nick!

Down Quark(s):  Lots of possible choices here, but I've gotta give a Down Quark shout-out to Marek Zidlicky.  Zids mishandled the puck several times in the offensive zone, allowing Sharks players to break up some promising opportunities for the Wild.  #3 sure didn't do the good guys any favors by taking a lazy penalty in a 5 on 3 situation, either, effectively killing what was up to then a one-sided momentum freight train for the Wild.

Brent Burns also gets a Down Quark for his sub-standard play last night.  He looked lost in the offensive zone, and blew more than his share of defensive assignments to boot.  Burnsie and Martin Havlat both need to look for open passes more often and spend less time hot-dogging with the puck.

Warped minds haven't seen enough of Greg Zanon's play to form a strong opinion one way or the other yet, but constantly seeing the back of his jersey on TV when the puck is in our zone reminds me too much of Martin Skoula's "stand in front the net facing the wrong way so it looks like I'm taking a leak by the left goal post" style of defense, so I'm not getting a lot of warm and flocculent feelings right now.

Bottom Quark(s):  In order to reduce the amount of typing I'll need to do on future blog entires, I hereby award Kim Johnsson (a.k.a. "I don't wanna touch another guy because then people might think I'm gay") the Bottom Quark on a premanent basis, and will just fill in the necessary details on the next line(s) after each game.

Yep, the Five Million Dollar Salary Cap Boat Anchor strikes again.  Johnsson displayed vintage form on the first Sharks goal, making a lame effort at a stick and arm check on Patrick Marleau as he crossed the blue line.  Needless to say, Johnsson's excuse for a "check" was about as effective as a Swedish turnstile in terms of forcing Marleau to change his direction.

But Kimbie wasn't done yet.  After his non-check, he decided to make a bee line toward the front of the net (also known as the Official Johnsson No Contact Zone) to guard against a pass.  This would've been OK had he stayed there, but good old #5 proceeded to immediately abandon this spot and chase the same puck carrier behind the net that Eric Belanger was covering, leaving Jed Ortmeyer wide open to slam the puck home (which he managed to do without collapsing in laughter at Johnssons "defense")  The look on Johnsson's face after the goal was priceless -- though all too familiar to Wild fans: looking up at the ceiling as if to say "why do the other guys always have score every time I screw up?"

Johnsson's defense was just as lame on the third Sharks goal, though this time the error wasn't quite egregious enough to pin the goal directly on him when tallying up the season-long Warpy Johnsson Meter.  Kimbie did his usual body-free stick checking job on Joe Thornton, who was apparently intimidated enough by this display of defensive toughness to dish the puck off to a wide open Dany Heatley for the deciding goal of the game.  Niklas Backstrom had no chance with Ryane Clowe camped in front of the net setting up a perfect screen -- Johnsson apparently wanted no part of defending a piece of ice actually occupied by a hockey player.

I've long given up hoping that Johnsson will learn to clear guys out in front of the net, but he has now hit on a new technique that bears further watching: in addition to his usual "turn a one man screen into a two man screen" trick, now he's liable to grab the guy's stick and take a penalty for good measure.  Coach Richards has gotta cut down Johnsson's ice time if the Wild are to have any chance of going somewhere this season.

Strange Quark(s):  Slowly but surely, the Wild are getting the hang of throwing pucks at the net willy-nilly and getting guys down low to sniff around for rebounds, deflections, and the occasional garbage goal.  The Wild reverted back to old habits in the latter stages of the game, spending too much time along the boards and constantly bypassing shots in favor of the tic-tac-toe highlight reel goal, but warped minds are definitely seeing steps in the right direction here, so it's probably just a matter of time before our goalies get the luxury of regular goal support.

Charmed Quark(s):  Eight power plays in the other team's rink?  Nobody can accuse the refs of being homers last night.  The good guys put on lots of pressure in the first few power plays, but went downhill fast after Zidlicky snuffed out a glorious 5-3 chance; they never did fire on all cylinders after failing to cash in on that opportunity.


The Warped Kim Johnsson Meter:  Minus 1 last night, for a season total of minus 4.  This doesn't reflect his +/- stats; it's a running meter of the goals that Kim Johnsson directly costs the team (minus) with credit points (plus) for goals he either scores or directly enables.  To date, I have him with 6 minus points and 2 plus points in that regard, for a net minus 4.

Going forward, warped minds will award half points (for good or bad) on the Johnsson Meter when the situation calls for it.  Goal 3 for the Sharks last night would've counted for a minus .5, but I caught myself saying "nice play, Johnsson" in an earlier game where he would've gotten a plus .5 in the new improved scoring system, so we'll give him a mulligan for last night and consider it wash.  See?  Believe it or not, I really am trying hard to not turn this into a Johnsson haters blog...


post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  I probably could've scored Kim Johnsson at minus 2 last night on the Warpy Meter, but am giving him the benfit of the doubt since I don't think the third Sharks goal was totally his fault (tho he sure as hell didn't help any on that play..)  Next up is three days off, followed by three games in four nights, starting with a rematch against the Dirty Ducks of Anaheim.  The Ducks appeared to be in a mood to goon it up at the end of Tuesday's tilt at the X, so we could see some early fireworks on Wednesday.  LET'S GO WILD!!!!!


...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs:

If my wife-to-be (or not to be) is watching, all this talk of Swedish stuff makes me think of meatballs and massages, tho not necessarily in that order.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: the sooner you fall behind, the more time you will have to catch up.

quando omni flunkus moritati

Posted on: October 9, 2009 12:35 am
Edited on: October 9, 2009 12:37 am
 

Kim Johnsson Strikes Again..and again..and again

premature articulations:

Greetings, sports fans!  Warpy is trying hard not to turn this into the Official Kim "The Swedish Turnstile" Johnsson Haters blog, but it's getting harder and harder to do with every passing goal against.  #5 singlehandedly cost the Wild at least one point in the standings with his pathetic excuse for defense in Minnesota's regular season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and his refusal to touch anybody in front of the net cost the Wild another goal in Tuesday's tilt against the Dirty Ducks of Anaheim.

As if that's not enough, The Master Of Hands-Free Defense has already doubled his GAA output in the first period alone in tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings.  Needless to say, Johnsson has already cemented the Bottom Quark award tonight, so we might as well proceed directly to the Warpy Psychlotron.


dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  A delayed Top Quark is in order for Martin Havlat after a fine performance in Tuesday's tilt against the Ducks.  Warped minds were too preoccupied with the Twins/Tigers classic to do more than watch the Wild game in fast-forward mode, but that was a heckuva Dome-mojo inspired comeback, eh?  Havlat looks like he's well on the way to another Top Quark in tonight's game, which is now just past the halfway point (with Johnsson The Dildaphonic One chipping in yet another helper for the Kings -- warped minds are surprised that se7en's hat didn't fly on the Staples Center ice to salute Kimmer's efforts:).

Up Quark(s):  Nick Schultz gets an Up Quark for just potting a PPG to cut the Kings' lead down to 4-2 (and he damn near just got another one a minute later).  Aside from his increased participation in the Wild offense, Schultz has been doing his usual unspectacular but utterly reliable work on the defensive end of the ice.

Down Quark(s):  Johnsson is playing so brutally that a Bottom Quark simply doesn't do justice to the debacle that Wild fans are being forced to witness this year -- Kimmer bags the daily double for quarks on the wrong side of the psyhclotron.

Bottom Quark(s):  In order to reduce the amount of typing I'll need to do on future blog entires, I hereby award Kim Johnsson (a.k.a. "I don't wanna touch another guy because then people might think I'm gay") the Bottom Quark on a premanent basis, and will just fill in the necessary details on the next line after each game.

Yep, the Five Million Dollar Salary Cap Boat Anchor strikes again.  Johnsson wasted no time going to his patented Swedish Pansy style of defense, assisting on the first Kings goal before the game was even two minutes old -- his lame excuse of a clearing pass went right on the tape of the Kings' point man, but Kimmer wasn't done yet -- he then proceeded to set up camp in front of the Wild net and do nothing to discourage Kings players from setting up a screen in front of Josh Harding.

The second Kings goal -- minutes later -- was basically a carbon copy of the first, minus the helpful pass.  Opposing scouts have an easy job: just tell players to get in front of the net any time #5 is out there, and watch the scoreboard light up like a Christmas tree.

The Master Of The Screen really outdid himself on the fourth Kings goal, bumbling in front of the crease in classic Martin Skoula style and tangling up Josh Harding's skates at the worst possible time.  Johnsson even displayed a new move on this goal -- since there were no Kings players setting up a screen in front of the net, good old #5 decided to go out there and do it himself.  GWAAAAAGGGH!!  If Johnsson is going to camp in front of the net and screen goalies, it would behoove Todd Richards to move him to forward and at least get him to help the right team.

Strange Quark(s):  It's refreshing to see Wild forwards finally throwing pucks at the net and getting guys down low to sniff around for rebounds, deflections, and the occasional garbage goal.  At the rate Johnsson is going, we'll need all the goals we can get just to stay in the game.

Charmed Quark(s):  The Wild power play is officially on fire; warped minds wonder if Coach Richards read my last blog entry and felt insulted by the comparisons between the Wild offense under Jacques Lemaire and the current "up-tempo" style displayed against the Blue Jackets.  All I know is, the good guys are buzzing the net enough now to bring a joyful tear to my eye.


The Invisible Higgs Boson Award(s):  The Pittsburgh Penguins appear to have found the ideal way to use Martin Skoula on their roster... ha hah.


post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  Kim Johnsson is officially a disgrace to the sport of hockey.  There's not much more to say (tho #5 is apparently tired of setting screens for the Kings now, and just decided to take a break in the penalty box...)  It's too bad the ref didn't tack on a 10 minute misconduct to keep him off the ice longer, but the Wild are buzzing the net again, so the outcome of this game may not yet be decided.  GO WILD!!!!!


and now, a word from our spawn's heirs...

If my wife to be or not to be is watching, the spread formation isn't just for football anymore.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: if it ain't broken, you're not trying hard enough.  quando omni flunkus moritati

Posted on: October 4, 2009 1:03 am
Edited on: October 4, 2009 1:07 am
 

Kim Johnsson Doubles Niklas Backstrom's GAA

premature articulations:

Greetings, sports fans!  The puck has dropped on the Minnesota Wild hockey season, with a new GM, new head coach, and new team members.  So Wild fans want to know: will the new allegedly up-tempo offense relieve our goalies of having to pitch a shutout in order for the good guys to win?  From the looks of tonight's 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the answer is "no".

Sure, it's only the first game of the season, but warped minds are ready to fire up the Warpy Psychlotron for the first of what may become a repetitious looking blog entry; it's hard to disCERN much of a difference between Todd Richards' and Jacques Lemaire behind the Wild bench.


dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  A 2-1 snoozer doesn't make for much Top Quark material from either team, but the nod goes to Andrew Brunette for potting the Wild's lone goal, giving him an even 600 points in a fine NHL career.  Bruno had a few other nice chances in the game, and was one of the few Wild players who showed a desire to do business in front of the net.

Up Quark(s):  The Blue Jackets get a collective Up Quark for doing a much better job of getting bodies in front of the net; Backstrom had lots of company in the crease area, and played exceedingly well to limit the Jackets to two goals.  Columbus also did a much better job of utilizing the middle part of the ice, whereas the Wild continued to aggravate warped minds with their obsession for keeping the puck along the boards as if they expect to get quality shots there.

Down Quark(s):  Pierre-Marc Bouchard coughed up the puck just enough times to eke out a Down Quark.  In Butch's defense, he only saw limited time during preseason, so a little rustiness is to be expected.  The same can be said for several other Wild regulars, which makes warped minds wonder why Coach Richards gave them so little time to get a chance to gel with new linemates in a supposedly new system before the start of the regular season.  Sure, preseason is a chance to look at younger guys, but in reality, only a couple of roster spots were ever in doubt, so Richards missed an opportunity to give his lines some extra chemistry time, and he also denied them a chance to break old habits left over from the Lemaire regime.

Warped minds can't help but suspect that the Wild offense will spend several upcoming games paying for this mistake; the issue now is that the games are for real.

Bottom Quark(s):  In order to reduce the amount of typing I'll need to do on future blog entires, I hereby award Kim Johnsson (a.k.a. "I don't wanna touch another guy because then people might think I'm gay") the Bottom Quark on a premanent basis, and will just fill in the necessary details on the next line after each game.

Yep, the Five Million Dollar Salary Cap Boat Anchor strikes again.  Johnsson wasted no time going to his patented Swedish Pansy style of defense.  Nowhere was his pathetic excuse for "defense" more evident than on Columbus' winning goal: Johnsson not only decided to set a screen on his own goalie, he then all but invited a Jackets player to join him to make it a two man screen -- he sure as heck did nothing to discourage the player from setting up camp there, that's for sure.

The normally calm and serene Backstrom was livid after that goal, and he appeared to direct his emotions right at good old #5.  Who can blame him?  Johnsson probably singlehandedly cost the Wild enough goals last year to deny Backs a Vezina trophy, and he appears determined to pick up right where he left off this season (which is thankfully the final one in his contract)

Strange Quark(s):  It looks like the next half dozen games or so will constitue the real Minnesota Wild preseason, where players get a chance to gel with their new teammates and get the rust out of their system.  This does not bode well for a team that's used to starting seasons in red-hot fashion, then having to desperately hang on at the end of the season for a shot at the playoffs.  If Richards' up-tempo style comes to fruition, the Wild may pick up enough points during their normal mid-season swoon to make up for a slow start, but I'd sure hate to take that gamble in my first year on the job.

Charmed Quark(s):  The Wild power play showed some signs of life tonight, and I was impressed with the defensemen being more active participants in the offensive zone.  Once they get a chance to get used to playing with each other, the passing should improve noticeably, and opposing teams will have their hands full any time they're shorthanded.  Did I mention yet that this could have should have been accomplished during preseason?


The Invisible Higgs Boson Award(s):  For old time's sake, we'll give a shout out to Martin Skoula.  Warped minds were looking forward to glogging the next Wild/Panther tilt with Erin Brown and comparing Skooly notes, but it looks like the Panthers aren't interested in extending his glorious career long enough for that to happen.


post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  The Wild drop another preseason game, but pay a regular season price (kinda like we fans do normally anyway, eh?)  Next up is Tuesday's home opener at the X against the Dirty Ducks of Anaheim.  If the Wild can't pass, shoot or score in regular season form yet, at least fans might get treated to a healty can of Boogaard.  GO WILD!!!!!


and now, a word from our spawn's heirs...

If my wife to be or not to be is watching, the Beatles really did have a stand-in for Paul McCartney in 1967, as I shall kihnvincingly demonstrate in a future blog entry.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: it's OK for guys to read instruction manuals before starting work on something.  The gals will think we're being smart and sensitive, but we guys prefer to think of it as getting away with cheating.Laughing

Posted on: August 21, 2009 6:59 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2009 5:15 pm
 

Warped NHL Power Rankings (pre-season)

premature articulations:

Greetings, sports fans!  You've read the rest -- now read the best non-Favre related sports article this side of I-94.  Yep; it's time for Warpy's pre-season NHL power rankings!  These rankings are brought to you by the guy who correctly predicted the rise of the Nucks and Hawks last year, and also by the guy who correctly predicted the fall of Minnesota and Montreal.  When's the last time y'all got four quality experiences from one eunit?  OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I did miss badly on my Sens prediction last year -- but so did almost everyone else, so what you're about to see here is still as good as it gets, suckas.

Rankings are broken down into the six quark flavours that my readers (all three of 'em:) have grown to know and love, but I've included arabic number rankings in parentheses after each team's name for the benefit of the rest of you peons out there.  But hey, enough with the fogitated condensation, eh?  It's time to fire up the Warpy Psychlotron and disCERN the order of this season's NHL teams.


dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  The Pittsburgh Penguins (1) may not pile up the most points in the regular season this year, but Warpy's rankings also take post-season intangibles into account -- and all the Pens have done in the last two seasons is go from Cup finalists to Cup champs.  Like 'em or not, any power rankings post worth reading has gotta have Pittsburgh ranked numero uno.

The San Jose Sharks (2) probably will finish the season with the highest point total again this year.  But expect the Sharks to draw a lot more blood in the playoffs this trip around the sun (sorry; I couldn't resist the chance to work in a subtle lyrical reference there for my bicoastal musician friends in California and Maine:)

Unless the Boston Bruins (3) make some serious Risebrough-like personnel moves -- or get decimated by more than their share of key injuries -- Beantown will see some serious quality hockey this season (and will do so for a few years running, I suspect.)

The Detroit Red Wings (4) are an aging team with more talent approaching retirement than they have replacements coming in to carry the proverbial torch going forward.  But a Wings team firing on six cylinders is still a match for most teams running on all eight -- which is probably why you don't see too many six-legged octopi out there, eh?  A rubber match finals would not surprise the Warped One too greatly, but if that happens, Ozzie may finally come down to earth and prove that he's mortally human in the playoffs after all.

The Washington Capitals (5) and the New Jersey Devils (6) round out the list of Top Quarks in what looks to be a Patrick Divison-heavy year for the NHL's upper class this year.

Up Quark(s):  The Vancouver Canucks (7) will prove that last year's division title was no fluke by being right there again this season.  The Philadelphia Flyers (8) make up yet another former Patrick Division team in the NHL's top ten this year -- even the Bettmanized version of this division promises to be a real doozy for longer than our favorite commissioner is likely to have a job.  BTW, is Daniel Carcillo the perfect name for a Broad Street Bully or what?

The Calgary Flames (9) will be the prohibitive favorites to win the NW division this season, tho warped minds expect Vancouver to give the Flames all they can handle; the Nucks rank slightly higher in Warpyland because I see more balance on that team.  One thing's for sure: it's gonna be a long way down from second place to third in the NW for the next season or three.

The Chicago Blackhawks (13), the Buffalo Sabres (16) and the St. Louis Blues (17) round out the Up Quarks list.  "Hey!  What happened to the numbers in between?!" you ask?  As any atomic physicist will be happy to tell you, particles don't always go in a straight line when they're smashed.  Heck, most of 'em can't go straight even when they're sober, but I digress (tho I can't remember now whether I'm talking about the particles, or the dudes who study 'em when we're talking about the ability to go straight --or the lack thereof:)  The Hawks, Sabres and Blues are all promising looking teams on their way up; most of the other missing teams ranked in front of them are on the way down (or sideways) which brings us to:

Down Quark(s):  The Anaheim Ducks (12) or the Mighty Ducks of Call Us Anything But Los Angeles (or whatever the heck they call themselves these days) will most likely see post-season play this year -- but it will most likely be of the one and done persuasion.  The Edmonton Oilers (20) were a trendy pick by some (actually, by many) to win the NW division last year, but it didn't happen then, and I don't see it coming close to happening this season either.

The Nashville Predators (24) showed some signs of life last year, but I still see too many pucks going in the wrong net for the Preds to be a serious playoff contender this season.  The Colorado Avalanche (25) and the Los Angeles Kings (26) round out the list of teams whose prospects for success appear to be on life support this year.

Bottom Quark(s):  Then again, being on life support is better than being clinically dead, which sums up the post-season chances this year for the New York Islanders (27), the Tampa Bay Lightning (28), the Atlanta Thrashers Thrashees (29), and the Hamilton Phoenix Coyotes (30).

Strange Quark(s):  "Strange" best describes the roller coaster performance of the Montreal Canadiens (14) over the last two seasons, as well as the Ottawa Senators (18) and the Minnesota Wild (19).  The Wild may do some damage this year if the up-tempo game plan comes to fruition, but if the Dany Heatley to the Wild rumors come true, warped minds suspect it'll happen at the expense of gutting what's left of our defense -- in which case Niklas Backstrom will have to stop everything bigger than a Higgs Boson in order to keep his team in the hunt.  If Josh Harding isn't traded for Heatley (or for someone else) expect him to see a lot more games between the pipes than he did under the previous regime.

Rounding out the list of Strange Quark teams is Erin Brown's beloved Florida Panthers (22) and the Dallas Stars (15).  Things were looking mighty good for Florida going into the final month of last season:  a playoff spot in their grasp, and a Panther-friendly schedule full of creampuffs to finish the home strecth.  But alas and alack, "easy" games are like games in hand: if you don't win 'em, you're still gonna get hosed worse than septic backup in Winston Rothschild's truck, eh?  Expect both the Panthers and the Wild to be bubble teams again this season.  On the other hand, the Sens and the Habs could end up anywhere in the standings, hence the Strange Quark designation.

Speaking of ending up anywhere, the Stars haven't changed their erratic ways much since the good old Norris Division days.  The Stars will have streaks where they look virtually unbeatable, but at other times they play like a team that could desperately use Martin Skoula on the roster.  Unfortunately for hockey fans in Dallas (I still say that's an oxymoron.. ha hah) the Stars will have to earn a post-season berth these days, since they no longer have the luxury of being able to bum a free ticket to the playoffs at Toronto's expense.

Charmed Quark(s):  The New York Rangers (10) make it five former Patrick Division teams in the NHL top ten this season.  Did I mention yet that this division will be a total barnburner?  The Rangers were looking pretty darn good last year, and adding Marian Gaborik's goals sure won't hurt them any (tho it might hurt their salary cap room big time if Gabby turns into The Groin Pull Of The Franchise...)

The Carolina Hurricanes (11) may have overachieved in last season's playoffs, but they look solid enough to punch a return ticket to the dance this year.  The Columbus Blue Jackets (21) are probably one more season from being a playoff contender, but they're definitely headed in the right direction, unlike the Dirty Ducks of Smog In The Suburbs (or whatever the heck The Team That Can't Even Goon It Up Like They Used To A Couple Of Years Ago calls themselves these days...)


The Invisible Higgs Boson Award(s):  Last but not least (in rankings or in quarkdom) comes the Toronto Maple Leafs (23).  Years of reflex action have caused warped minds to think of the Leafs last whenever the subject of hockey comes up.  But Toronto has some promising youngsters in their system now, so unless the franchise gets mismanaged (again) the days of the Leafs being the butt of jokes for Red Green fans may finally be over.


post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  Let's play hockey!!  It's almost time to drop the puck and drop the gloves.  GO WILD!!!!!  Whooooooooo!!


...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs...

If my wife to be or not to be is watching, the butterfly position isn't just for goalies anymore.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: the sooner you fall behind, the more time you will have to catch up.



And if my old coach is reading this... Ah!  What a delight!  The proverbial Room of Life still brings back fond memories:)

Category: NHL
Posted on: March 30, 2009 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 6:34 pm
 

...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs...

After digging to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years, and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network in place more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story in the Times read: "California archaeologists, finding traces of 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced, high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers."

One week later, the Dispatch, a local newspaper in St. Paul, reported the following:

"After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near Lake Elmo, Minnesota, Ole Olson, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing.  Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Minnesota had already gone wireless."

Thank Heavens for Ole.  Who said we're hicks??

Category: General
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com