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