What a crazy game. Just when it looked like the Minnesota Wild were applying the proverbial rubber stamp of life to a boring 3-1 victory, the Buffalo Sabres managed three goals in a span of 4:44 to sneak out of the X with two points. The hadron collider might be offline for the winter, but the Warpy Quark machine is just starting to warm up.
Top Quark(s): No one particular player or event stands out as Top Quark material from last night's game, so just to prove that warped minds don't simply regurgitate the "three Stars of the game" awards or rely on newspaper hacks for hockey insights, Eric Belanger gets the top nod today. In addition to chipping in an assist last night, #25 was once again all over the place whenever he hit the ice. A common complaint of newer hockey fans is the difficutly of following the puck on TV. A good shortcut trick would be to keep an eye on the Wild's #25, #9 or #96 whenever they're on the ice; wherever they are, the puck is sure to be nearby. That goes for both the offensive zone and the defensive zone, which should keep Jacques Lemaire grinning for a while.
Up Quark(s): Sabres goalie Ryan Miller gets a big Up Quark for keeping the game close enough to allow his team to rally for the win. The Wild got off to their customary lethargic start in the first period, but absolutely peppered Miller with quality chances in the second period, and had their share of chances in the third. Miller may have made the blooper play of the year on the Brent Burns goal, but he made enough huge saves to keep the score from getting out of hand.
Mikko Koivu gets an Up Quark for his usual slick play on offense, along with being a virtual extra defenseman whenever the opponents gain the blue line. Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets a mention in the Up sector of warped space-time for picking up right where he left off last season: being another assist machine and extra defenseman. If the trade rumors of Marian Gaborik straight up for Evgeni Malkin have any merit to them, Koivu and Butch can look forward to racking up many an assist by feeding someone who can finish strong (and stay reasonably healthy).
Down Quark(s): A few posters on the Wild home page (fans of Marc-Andre Bergeron's former teams) talk about #47 the same way fans here talk about #41. I haven't seen Bergeron play enough games to have a strong opinion one way or the other yet, but if has a few more games like last night, the "he helps our team more when he's one someone else's roster" crowd might get a little bigger. Earth to Wild defensemen with a 4 in their jersey numbers: when opposing players are camping in front of the net, feel free to take your eyes off Nicklas Backstrom's chest long enough to turn around and defend against them.
Bottom Quark(s): In order to reduce the amount of typing I'll need to do on future entires, I'll just plug in Martin Skoula's name here on a permanent basis, and insert the needed details later.
Actually, Skoula played another pretty decent game last night. That's 2 for 2 decent Skoula games since I decided to make his name a fixture here, so maybe we've hit on a solution that doesn't need fixing 'cause it ain't broke. Warped fans did holler the usual "fornicating Skoula!" a fair share of times (mostly reflex action on my part, since he didn't do anything all that bad last night) but I also caught myself saying "nice play, Skoula" a few times, and threw a hat toward the TV when Skoula hit the proverbial hat trick.
The Bottom Quark goes to the channel 45 TV commentators for missing out on the larger nuances of last night's game. Teerhar and Greenlay have done a good job of cutting down on the blatant homerism so far this year, but sometimes I wonder if they're watching the same game that I see on my TV screen. When Jacques Lemaire used his timeout in the third period, T&G commented on how J-L was trying to get the guys to focus on their defense for the last six minutes; when the Sabres did their thing late, the Twin Talking Heads kept going back to the "that's what Lemaire was trying to guard against when he called the timeout..." angle.
Uhhhh... here's how warped minds saw that scene: The Sabres had just spent nearly two minutes solid peppering Backstrom with shots, and the Wild couldn't buy a clearing attempt until someone finally got his stick on the puck long enough to ice the damn thing. The good guys were totally gassed after that shift, but since the icing team can't substitute before the next draw, Lemaire used hit timeout to give the players a badly needed breather. I thought it was sound strategy on J-L's part, and I'd be surprised if he said more than a handful of words to anyone during the break. Jacques Lemaire has been making far better use of one timeout per game than Brad Childress ever will with three timeouts per half -- whaddya say we get Zygi to make J-L the next coach of the Vikings?
Strange Quark(s): No doubt about it, the Strange Quark has to go to Jacques Lemaire for the scenario alluded to above. The irony is that the Wild were getting the better of the play in the final period right up until the fateful couple of minutes that made J-L call timeout to let his guys catch their breath. The move may have appeard to "backfire" last night, but as often as I disagree with Lemaire's strategies, he did the right thing last night, and just ran into some crummy luck.
Charmed Quark(s): The gods of hockey were in a strange mood last night, that's for sure. Virtually every goal was scored via a funky bounce and/or mis-hit shot. Even Benoit Pouliot's goal off the Derek Boogaard rebound looked like a clunker on replays; after Pouliot caught the puck and dropped it to his stick, it took a hop just as #67 was taking the shot. Luckily, the puck hit the sweet spot of the shaft a few inches above the blade, so no style points were lost for the shot's appearances.
post-dramatic sin drones:
And in Kihnclusion: The Wild really hosed up their chance to stay undefeated, but 9 out of a possible 10 points is still a mighty good start. Next up is Saturday's tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Some warped fans are temporarily out of internet access at home, so if y'all want to read about that game before lunch time Monday, Tangletown Rob might be the place to go: http://robtangle.blogs.sportsline.c
om/mcc/blogs/view/5851671 GO WILD!!!
...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs...
If my wife to be or not to be is watching, "phila-show" is what we avid stamp collectors call the philatelic conventions and swap meets that I like going to so often. Honest; it's not what your gutter mind thinks it is. To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, keep your stick on the ice, and remember: daedsiyllaerluap.