Is it just me, or has the play of the Minnesota Wild improved lately with Kim Johnsson out of the lineup? I'm sure most of the so-called experts in the media will say it's just me (especially after reading some of my previous blog entries) but warped minds never did believe much in coincidence. I'm still laughing at the Versus commentators who said that we had lost our top defenseman when Kimmer went down: Johnsson might be #1 in terms of quantity minutes on the Wild blue line, but warped minds prefer quality over quantitiy, so let's fire up the Warpy Psychlotron and get the quarks a-flying.
dangling sub-atomic participles:
Top Quark(s): There's nothing like a winning streak to get warped minds in a good mood and hand out quarks like Halloween candy, so in no particular order, Top Quarks for the recent Wild games go to:
#25 Eric Belanger. Belanger spent time in and out of the doghouse in previous coaching regimes, but it looks like Todd Richards is really starting to appreciate what an asset Belanger is to an undersized and underperforming defensive corps. It's nice to see Eric getting more quality minutes on the ice, and his sweet shot 0.6 seconds before intermission that turned out to be the game winner was an absolute beauty. The feed from Havlat wasn't too shabby, either.
#32 Niklas Backstrom. Backs had to be on fire last night to survive the Pittsburgh Penguins onslaught, and he was definitely up to the task. The way the Pens dominated the offense for much of the game, one goal against (and zero points for Sidney Crosby) is damn good stuff.
#6 Greg Zanon. Warped minds were seriously down on Zanon after the first couple of weeks, and with good reason after witnessing too much Martin Skoula like defense in the early going. A couple of good games isn't quite enough to wipe out a history bad ones, but Zanon gets a big shout-out for his much improved play lately. Zanon was especially good in Friday's game against the New York Rangers; warped minds nearly had as many heart attacks as Fred Sanford after witnessing #6 throw one good check after another. Zanon had a less spectacular but equally effective game last night against the Pens, and made a sweet switch of hands on his stick to put himself in a better position to deny Crosby a good chance. Coincidentally, another defenseman who switched hands like that also wore #6 for Minnesota back in the original expansion team days of the North Stars. Happy birthday, Mike McMahon!!
Up Quark(s): #14 Martin Havlat and #21 Petr Sykora were largely invisible early in the season, but both appear to be finding their stride now, which could make for some mighty entertaining hockey in the winter months. I loved Sykora's saying that if the Wild brought him here to score more goals for them, he can't do it from the bench. Richards gave Sykora more ice time Friday against the Rangers, and he responded pretty darn well.
# 24 Derek Boogaard. The man can't skate, can't pass and can't shoot (and he doesn't fight like he used to) but he's earning more ice time from Richards now by doing what I've been screaming in my blogs for him to do for years: set screens and make trouble in front of the net. Boogey hasn't figured in any of the scoring lately, but seeing Henrik Lundqvist move from side to side to try and see around #24 was a thing of beauty, and will benefit the Wild down the road no matter who gets credit for the scores.
Todd Richards gets a shout-out for rewarding Boogey's good play early on in Friday's game by giving him more ice time in later stages of the game (heck, I could've sworn I saw Boogey out there on one of the Wild PPs -- now that's what I call throwing a guy a bone!)
#34 Shane Hnidy adds to his rapidly increasing collection of quality quarks, but the Warpy Psychlotron needs to shut down for temporary maintenance until the Vikings/Packers (and subsequent drinking to celebrate a glorious win or to drown out a terrible loss) come to a close.
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 and Shane Hnidy, #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): More on Brent Burns later.
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.
More on Marek Zidlicky later.
Strange Quark(s): More on LEAFS4LIFE99 later.
Charmed Quark(s): More on RCPhilly later.
The Warped Kim Johnsson Meter: The season total stands at minus 4. More on our recently improved play later.
post-dramatic sin drones:
And in Kihnclusion: We're on a roll now, baby! LET'S GO WILD!!!!!
...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs:
If my wife-to-be (or not to be) is watching, it probably wasn't meant to be. To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: if at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
quando omni flunkus moritati