The Minnesota Wild winning the Northwest division was as inevitable as Tom Reid faking Ken Dryden out of his jockstrap on a penalty shot... as inevitable as the Wild getting the short end of the officiating... as inevitable as a Cincinnati Bengal getting arrested... OK, maybe not quite that inevitable. What a win last night! It's good to see the Wild vault their way into the playoffs and grab the division title with impressive wins, rather than waiting for other teams to help them out. Now, other teams are the ones saying "uh-oh, I hope we don't have to play those guys in the first round!" Without further adieu, let's go to the Warpy Quarky awards.
dangling subatomic participles:
Top Quark for Friday's tilt goes to Marian Gaborik for another fine performance. As I said in my last blog entry, Gabby tends to score in bunches, so this is the perfect time to see #10 get on a roll. I love it when players make me look smart for a change:) A huge Up Quark goes to Todd Fedoruk for yet another fine game. #17 is becoming a frequent customer in front of the net these days, doing an excellent impression of Mark Parrish earlier in the season when #21 was the only guy who'd regularly play inside the faceoff dots in the offensive zone. If the Wild can get Fedoruk, Parrish, Boogaard, Voros and Simon to make a habit out of loitering in front of the net, there'll be a lot of goalies in a miserable mood before these playoffs are done. As a free bonus, those guys will command enough attention in front of the net to cut down on the number of defenders available to chase the Gaboriks, Demitras, Koivus and Bouchards of the world. It's too bad that J-L hates firewagon hockey so much, because the Wild have more than their share of speedy players.
Another huge Up Quark goes to Brent Burns for once again sticking up for an abused teammate. The only drawback with Burnsie fighting (even though he's good at it and jacks the building up every time he goes) is having one of our top blueliners out for 5+ minutes. In last night's case, though, at least he took Dion Phaneuf with him, so it was a fair exchange. Besides, that punk had it coming to him. If the rest of the NHL hasn't already figured it out, they're about to find out the hard way that it'll be a while before the Wild can be bullied or pushed around again like they were last year. One more Up Quark is in order for Jacques Lemaire's 500th win behind the bench. I've commented on his coaching style before (mostly unfavorably) and will no doubt comment on it some more in the future, but today he gets a tip of the cap and hearty congratulations.
Bottom Quark goes to the officiating crew. That was a badly called game all around last night. The non-calls weren't too hot, either. There wasn't much to hand out in the way of Down Quarks for the game: the only candidate I can think of is Brent Burns and Nick Schultz (particularly the latter) being less than ideally positioned on the Flames' scoring play. I almost never see #55 do anything bad, so we'll give him a downer today so people don't accuse me of having a man crush on him. Strange Quark goes to the replay review that should've confirmed the goal that wasn't, but still got it wrong -- the NHL regulars must've been on vacation and gotten some NFL dudes to fill in for them. The Flames get the Charmed Quark for being on the receving end of the Marble Theory of refereeing.
Bottom line: the Wild took care of business at home and finally answered opportunity's knock with authority. Now the good guys have the luxury of being able to loaf on Sunday and make like the Indianapolis Colts in a season-ending game with nothing to play for (except, perhaps *cough* help the Avalanche get 6th seed:) The way the Wild are playing now, they can probably handle any team that has to play them at the X, but it sure would be nice to start the playoffs with a confidence building creampuff like the Avs. GO WILD!!!
...and now, a word from our spawn's hairs...
If my wife to be or not be is watching, "I'm all in" doesn't mean what you think it does when we're playing cards. To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: if it looks like a Duck and quacks like a duck but fights like a chicken, it's probably Dion Phaneuf.