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.