Posted on: February 10, 2009 7:15 pm

Is Paul McCartney Really Dead?

premature articulations:

That question will be addressed in great detail on a future blog entry, where warped minds reveal a couple of new death clues (supplied by the Beatles themselves, over two years before the "Paul is dead" hysteria started) that as far as I know are genuine Warpy originals.  At least, they are strong clues that I haven't seen presented in any form of media to date -- and when it comes to the Fab Four, I've seen and read more than my share.  But enough with the "off topic" stuff, eh?  It's time to fire up the Warpy Psychlotron and see if the Minnesota Wild offense has any signs of life:

dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  There are a few strong kihntenders from Sunday's win against the Edmonton Oilers, but the Top Quark has to go to Mikko Koivu.  In addition to his usual sterling defensive play, Koivu dished off a work of art assist to Antti Miettinen, and finished off the game with a shootout clincher against former teammate Dwayne Roloson.  The only downside was Koivu's "cellie" which no doubt got him lots of grief from his teammates, not to mention a couple dozen fellow Finns who happened to be at the X for Sunday's game.

Up Quark(s):  Cal Clutterbuck adds an Up Quark to his rapidly growing collection for his continued hard-nosed play, and also for getting under the proverbial sphincters of several Oilers players.  Last year, it was Derek Boogaard who goosed Oilers agitators into taking runs at him while drawing the penalties, but nowadays the guys are on their best behavior whenever #24 is on the ice.  It's good to know that the Wild have their own agitator now (even though Clutterbuck is too clean and too good at backing up his actions to qualify as a true Matt Cooke or Cody McLoudmouth type of agitator..)

Props are also in order to Nick Schultz for one of the better games he's played in quite some time.  #55 was not only solid defensively on Sunday, but he also threw in some nice offensive charges, and picked up a well deserved assist on the Koivu to Miettinen beauty.

Down Quark(s):  Not much in the way of downers in Sunday's massively entertaining game, but a Down Quark call has to be given to the refs for their questionable pattern of calls and non-calls.  The refs set the tone early by calling everying tight (actually, too tight for my liking, since this sort of micromanagement deprives players the chance to police themselves) but at least they get credit for being consistent early on.  In later stages of the game, the calls and non-calls were sporadic (to put it tactfully) and the penalty minutes were way too one-sided given the all-around evenness of the game.  So much for the marble theory, eh?  The interference call on Pierre-Marc Bouchard with less than a minute left in the third period was an absolute joke.  After calling nothing for the entire period, how does a ref justify awarding a potential game deciding power play on a ticky-tack play like that?!

Bottom Quark(s):  In order to cut down on the amount of typing I'll need to do on further entries, I might as well put Martin Skoula's name here on a permanent basis.

Once again, Skooly actually played pretty darn well.  #41 did make a handful of his usual bumbling plays, and also did quite a bit of his usual standing by the goalpost facing the wrong way routine, but Skoula made enough good plays to cancel out the bad plays and end up with a quarkless game.  Since he seems to play better when I leave him permanently in Bottm Quark Land, I'm not going to repeat my earlier mistake of removing his name from this section, but will give due props when called for.

The real Bottom Quark goes to Brent Burns, hands down.  #8 has looked totally lost since his return to the blue line.  His defensive play, always physical and positionally sound before, is now looking more and more like Kim Johnsson's impression of a five million dollar turnstile, while his offensive play is declining almost as badly.  Burnsie almost singlehandedly killed off the last Wild power play with his bumbling excuse for stickhandling by the blue line, and his offensive charges came more often than not at the wrong time.  If I didn't know better, I would've sworn that #8 and #5 swapped jerseys before the game.

One can only hope that Kurtis Foster's impending return to the Wild's defensive corps induces Jacques Lemaire to put Burnsie back on wing, and forget about him being a defenseman for the remainder of this season.  Then, if the Wild brass are smart, they will hire Keith Carney as a defenseman coach/consultant so he can continue to give guys like Burns and Schultz the tutoring they need so they stop looking to Johnsson and Skoula for veteran tutoring.  If Carney gets too expensive, Warpy hereby volunteers for a negotiable fee.

Strange Quark(s):  One of the surest signs that Doomsday is near?  The fact that warped minds can say "Martin Skoula is playing way better than Brent Burns" and expect to be taken seriously.  Yes, Lord Vader, it really is happening that way.

Charmed Quark(s):  Gotta give a call to our old goalie, Dwayne Roloson.  It's nice to see Rolli doing well, and he certainly did his share to pick up a point for the Oilers on Sunday.  Just when the Wild's offense is rumored to be dead, the good guys threw 39 shots on goal, with at least a dozen quality scoring chances.  Where the hell was this sort of game against the freaking Predators?

The Invisible Higgs Boson Award(s):  At the rate things are progressing, the Europeans will fire up their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and disCERN the real Higgs particle before Marian Gaborik is seen in skates again.  It's enough to make warped minds fire up their THC (that would be "titanic hadron colliders", in case your twisted mind was thinking about chemistry instead of physics...)

Speaking of invisible, how 'bout Stephane Veilleux

post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  The Wild kihntinue to tease fans with the old "good game, bad game" routine.  Unfortunately, time is running out for the good guys to put some space between themselves and the playoffs bubble.  With a brutal schedule that sees the Wild play 12 of 16 games on the road against tough opponents in March, the good guys need to snatch up every point they can while the schedule is in their favor this month.  GO WILD!!!

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

If my wife to be or not to be is watching, now that you're finally showing some interest in football, whaddya say we practice the spread formation a few times, eh?  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: If the women don't find ya handsome, they should at least find ya handy.

Category: NHL
Posted on: February 2, 2009 7:37 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2009 2:42 pm

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

premature articulations:

If there's one thing that has been consistent with the Minnesota Wild in the last two months, it's been that fans never know what to expect in any given game.  Warped minds were all set to gleefully witness the carnage the good guys would inflict on an Edmonton Oilers team fresh off a 10-2 waxing at the hands of the Sabres, only to see the Wild lay another egg.  Then, with back to back defeats looking as inevitable as Republicans blaming Obama for everything short of jock itch, the Wild go and grab a road win against the Vancouver Canucks, then pitch a shutout against the Anaheim Ducks for good measure.  Go figure.  But enough robtangled politcs talk, eh?  It's time to fire up the Warpy Psychlotron: 

dangling sub-atomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  Friday:  It's tough to find anyone from either team worthy of the Top Quark, so we'll give this one to Cal Clutterbuck by default for his continued inspired physical play.  Normally, I'd give the top call to one of the Oilers after a two goal victory that wasn't as close as the score suggests, but the Wild's defense was so bad Friday night that even the Oilers couldn't screw up this easy win.

Saturday:  Lots of choices in this game, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets the Top Quark call again.  It's too bad he couldn't quite finish off that glorious chance by the crease, but props are in order for Roberto Luongo's acrobatic save on that play.  PMB did dish off assists on three of the four Wild tallies against the Nucks (and also got a helper on Minny's lone goal Friday) so it looks like Butch is on one of his streaks where he'll make multiple point games look routine.

Wednesday:  Another tough one to call here, with several good choices, but PMB gets the Warpy nod again.  Man, has Butch been on fire lately, or what?  #96 is all over the ice these days -- both on offense and on defense -- and things are getting to the point where fans will panic if Bouchard has a game where he doesn't get multiple points.

Up Quark(s):  Friday:  A collective Up Quark goes to the Edmonton Oilers for taking advantage of a somnambulent Wild team and grabbing two quick points in the standings.  The closet thing to an Up Quark for the Wild on Friday would be the three best defensemen on the ice that night: Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Eric Belanger.  An honorable mention goes to Josh Harding for his fine work filling in for Backstrom after he got pulled.  Despite little help from the D, Harding pitched a shutout the rest of the way.

Saturday:  PMB is a pretty tough act to follow in Saturday's game, but a maverick Up Quark call goes to Eric Belanger.  It's nice to see him get rewarded with a goal after the fine job he's been doing on defense.  Belanger has been nowhere to be seen on the score sheet lately, but anyone who watches #25, #9 and #96 regularly would swear that these guys are regular defensemen, and not to be mistaken with pylons covered in #41 and #5 jerseys.

Wednesday:  Mikko Koivu gets an Up Quark for his goal and assist performance last night.  #9 has been a little quiet lately on offense, but given the recent scoring bonanza by Bouchard, Nolan and Clutterbuck, if Koivu starts to get in on the scoring action, the good guys will be able to win some games on offense for a change, and give the goalies a well earned breather.

Down Quark(s):  Friday:  The entire Wild defensive corps gets a Down Quark for playing like they were on quaaludes.  A special Down Quark goes to Brent Burns for his Skoula-like play where he turned his back to the action and decided to go for the puck instead of fundamentally playing the man.  To make a bad play worse, Burnsie dedided to do his impression of Rogie Vachon by sticking his leg out -- just in time to get in Backstrom's way and cost the team a goal.

Saturday:  Not much in the way of downers in this game, but a huge Down Quark goes to the refs for the bogus major-game misconduct call on Clutterbuck.  I have no problem with a penalty being called on the play, since Cal did hit the guy in the back by the boards.  But the refs had no business tossing him.  A minor penalty?  Fine.  Even a double minor would've been OK, since the hit did result in a cut, and a rule is a rule.  But a game misconduct was way overboard -- especially seeing as how the Nucks player embellished the play by turning his back to the hit at the last second.  The referee duo of Polish and Pockmark obviously feel that "out of sight, out of mind" is the easiest way to handle guys who refuse to play like European pansies.

Wednesday:  It's really hard to find a downer after last night's win, but I've gotta give a Down Quark to Derek Boogaard.  Boogey missed a few chances to civilize some Ducks who wanted to take cheap shots at Clutterbuck.  His failure to drop the gloves is probably more Lemaire's fault than Boogey's, but #24 still gets a downer call for missing virtually every check he's tried to throw lately.

Bottom Quark(s):  In order to cut down on the amount of typing I'll need to do on further entries, I might as well put Martin Skoula's name here on a permanent basis.

Friday:  Brent Burns gets the Bottom Quark for Friday's debacle, mostly for the play mentioned above, but also making enough other chowderheaded plays to make Kim Johnsson's bungling look inconsipcuous in comparison.  His offense hasn't been anything to write home about lately, either.

Saturday:  Kim Johnsson can run from a Bottom Quark, but he can't hide.  Just when it looked like the Wild were going to cruise to an easy road win, #5 decided to make what has to be one of the most awful plays I've seen him make in a Wild uniform (and believe me, that's some pretty stiff competition).  In his classical "people might think I'm gay if I touch another guy" style of defense, Johnsson decided to eschew a body check in favor of extending his arm for a lame attempt at a stick check.  Needless to say, the forward skated right through this "check" and potted a goal while making Johnsson's body spin like a limp turnstile.  The Swedish Meathead hereby earns a new nickname for that play:  The Five Million Dollar Turnstile.

Wednesday:  I can't think of any Bottom Quark material from last night's game, but warped minds will leave Skooly in the permanent bottom zone anyway.  Last time #41 played a few good games in a row and got himself removed from the bottom of the warpy barrel, he promptly began to play like his old self again.  Skooly has been playing pretty darn well the last few games (and was downright excellent last night) but I learned my lesson from last time, so I'm not about to change the luck this time.

Strange Quark(s):  Has anyone else noticed that Nick Schultz and Martin Skoula have not been paired up on D since the last Red Wings game when Skooly cost the Wild a regulation win in the waning moments, much to Schultzie's disgust?  Lemaire juggles defensive pairs even more often than he changes line combinations, but I havent seen the #41 and #55 combo out there in weeks.  Not that I'm complaining -- actually, the Skooly/Burnsie duo looked pretty good last night.

Charmed Quark(s):  One of the surest signs that the end is near?  The fact that warped minds can say "Martin Skoula is making Brent Burns look good" and expect to be taken seriously.

The Invisible Higgs Boson Award(s):  At the rate things are progressing, the Europeans will fire up their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and disCERN the real Higgs particle before Marian Gaborik is seen in skates again.  It's enough to make warped minds fire up their THC (that would be "titanic hadron colliders", in case your twisted mind was thinking about chemistry instead of physics...)

Speaking of invisible, how 'bout Stephane Veilleux

post-dramatic sin drones:

And in Kihnclusion:  The Wild start February off on a good note.  With 8 of 12 games at home this month, the Wild will be well advised to pile up the points and get some breathing room between them and the playoff bubble now, because March sees the good guys play 12 of 16 on the road against some mighty tough opponents.  GO WILD!!!

...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: I'm pullin' for ya; we're all in this together.

Posted on: March 26, 2008 7:18 pm

Opportunity Knocks Again for the Wild

premature articulations:

Let's try this again.  Warped minds see the Northwest division coming down to a two horse race between the Wild and the Flames, with the good guys having a big scheduling edge in the final furlong.  Of course, if we have a couple more games like Monday's fiasco against the Oilers, things could get hairier than Uncle Jesse's ears.

dangling subatomic participles:

It's hard to find Top Quark winner for either side in Monday's game, so the only logical choice is to give it to the Colorado Avalanche for their delightful win against the Flames.  Up Quarks are equally scarce in this situation; aside from Benoit Pouliot, virtually everyone in a white sweater was brutal.  Just to balance the atomic resonance, we'll give another Up Quark to the Vancouver Canucks for almost giving the Wild a huge assist last night.  Naturally, Jarome Iginla gets props for finishing his chances -- something he makes an annoying habit of doing way too often against the Wild.

It's also hard to single anyone out for the Bottom Quark in a game like this, but I refuse to give it to Niklas Backstrom.  One of the three quickies he gave up might've been stoppable, but none of the defensemen were doing him any favors.  Kim Johnsson and Martin Skoula have gone back to their old "cost the team a goal a game" selves, but Monday night the Dildaphonic Duo decided to double up and both do it in the same game.  Even the normally reliable Brent Burns and Keith Carney got into the bumbling act -- you know it's a scary nigh when the words "one of the two best defensemen" and "Sean Hill" end up in the same sentence.

On the Strange Quark side, the Wild are finally starting to score three or more goals a game now.  The trouble is, if we keep losing those games, Jacques Lemaire will say "I told you so" and force everyone into the mother of all defensive shells.  The Oilers get the Charmed Quark for playing a wide-open, firewagon style of hockey on Monday and getting away with it against a team with our speed: if they use that same game plan again tonight, methinks the Wild will eat them for lunch.

post-dramatic syndrones:

Bottom line: the Wild have used up their mulligans in the division race, and need to take care of business at home.  Four of the last five are at home (and the road game is at Denver, so it might as well be a home game:) while the Flames finish with four roadies.  It's not panic time yet, but it's definitely time to get some W's, starting tonight.  GO WILD!!!

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

If my wife to be or not be is watching, they say a diamond is forever, so that new graphite driver I just got oughta double=bond our love, eh?  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: if it doesn't fit, force it -- if it breaks, it probably needed replacing anyway.

Category: NHL
Posted on: February 13, 2008 8:13 pm

Is Jacques Lemaire Strapped For Ideas?

What a strange game last night.  After a lackluster first period by both sides, the Minnesota Wild took it to the Edmonton Oilers in the second period, partially fulfilling my pregame prediction of the Wild buzzing the Oilers zone like hornets in heat and forcing a huge goaltender performance to prevent a blowout.  The Wild certainly didn't need any pep talk between periods, but Jacques Lemaire decided to shake things up anyway by making a goalie change for the third period.  Smooth move, dude -- I haven't seen a reversal in momentum like that for the good guys since Dennis Green decided to take a knee before hitting the high road.

Top Quark goes to: Mathieu Garon for stopping almost everything larger than a Higgs boson.  The only pucks that got by him were one off an opportunistic rebound putback by Pavol Demitra, and a Brian Rolston slapshot that had enough velocity on it to smash said boson into smithereens.  Mark Parrish gets the Up Quark for making a pest of himself in front of the Oiler net all night long, and taking the punishment that comes with this territory.  Aaron Voros and Todd Fedoruk would do well to view every minute of available Mark Parrish footage from this game -- a more Parrish-like performance from these guys would have made Garon's life a lot more miserable last night.

Down Quark goes to: the entire Wild blueline corps.  Lousy defensive play gave the Oilers their first and third goals -- the key goals of the game.  On the third Edmonton goal, James Sheppard made a gallant effort to play defensive hockey; he was the only white jersey visible anywhere near the play.  If the Wild actually had defensemen on the ice at the time, even the 48" screen at the local watering hole couldn't pick them up.

The first goal (which set the tone that maybe outplaying and outshooting the opposition wouldn't do the trick this game) was vintage Martin Skoula Bottom Quark material.  The Oilers came in 3 on 2, with Sean Hill and Skoula defending.  Hill did a decent job of getting inside position on the left wing and forcing him to either take a wide angle shot or pass the puck.  Skoula, given the choice of defending one guy or the other (or at least taking up one of the two possible passing lanes) did none of the above, electing instead to defend the worthless piece of empty ice he happened to be occupying at the time.  Worse yet, it looked like he changed his mind on which misplay to make at the last possible second, leaving Niklas Backstrom hung out to dry.  Nik looked none too pleased afterwards, and it sure looked like he sent a quick expletive or two in Skoula's direction.  Whether Skoula deflected the shot or not, Backs had good reason to be upset at #41.  Could an intermission discussion between Marty and Nik explain why the latter ended the game on the bench?  Whether this was the case or not, Skoula gets the Charmed Quark because he can seem to do no wrong in Lemaire's book.  Apparently, the secret to getting more ice time in Jacques' system is to play worse.

Jacques Lemaire also gets two quarks today, a Bottom and a Strange Quark.  His decision to switch goalies after an inspired second period by the Wild is a classic case of pushing the wrong buttons at the worst possible time.  Why would anyone try to shake things up when your team just outshot the opposition 23-4, with no end to the domination in sight?  He can't fault Nik for either of the goals he gave up; aside from the Skoula gift mentioned above, the only other puck to get by him was a screened shot that he had no prayer of stopping.  Both of the goals given up by Josh Harding came off rebounds he could've prevented, so whatever Lemaire's thinking was, he'd do well give it the permanent deep six.

Bottom line: the Wild could really have used the two points for last night's game, and probably would've gotten them if Tinkercoach hadn't given in to his micromanagement addiction.  If Lemaire doesn't learn quickly that less is more when it comes coaching moves, the Wild's team chemistry will start decaying faster than a hadron in a uranium urinal.

Posted on: February 12, 2008 6:51 pm

Fearless Warped Predictions for Tonight's Game

Puck prognostications from a pitiful parlay player whose propositions typically perish:

The Wild start off slowly for the first 5-10 minutes of the first period, then buzz the Oilers zone like hornets in heat for the remainder of the game.  The Wild only lead 2-1 after two periods, thanks to Dwayne Roloson's stand-on-his-head goaltending, with a couple of metallurgy saves thrown in for good measure.  The good guys open a little breathing room on the scoreboard in the final period, making for a cruise control 5-2 win.  Brent Burns caps off the scoring with an empty netter that he shoots through his legs from center ice for maximum style points.  The Oilers take exception, but Zack Stortini finds out the hard way that fighting is yet another one of Burnsie's strong suits.  Last but not least, Martin Skoula and/or Kim Johnsson cost the Wild a goal tonight due to poor defensive positioning/play (every prediction parlay should have at least one sure thing, and in hockey, this is as good as it gets:)

Go Wild!!!  daedsiyllaerluap

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