For a team that lost a lot of goal scoring firepower in the offseason (Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston leap to mind) the Minnesota Wild are sure lighting the lamp a lot in the early going. Just when warped minds were wondering how long the trend of four goals in a game could last, the good guys kicked it up a couple of notches in last night's 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Thursday's Warped Quark awards are:
dangling subatomic participles:
Top Quark(s): Mikko Koivu gets the top call today. Koivu has been playing like a man possessed on offense and defense in all three games, so it was only a matter of time before #9 would start collecting the Top Quarks. His backhand pass to Andrew Brunette to start the scoring was a thing of beauty, and his feed to Antti Miettinen wasn't too shabby either. If linemates continue to finish off plays started by Koivu at the rate they're going, Marian Gaborik's leverage in the contract negotiations will fall faster than both Bush economies combined.
Up Quark(s): Antti Miettinen gets a huge Up Quark for keeping his hot streak going. Another game, another two goals, and suddenly Wayne Gretzky's record of 92 is starting to look touchable. Marian who??
Props are also in order for Benoit Pouliot for his jock strap shredding move that turned a harmless looking 1 on 2 play into a sweet breakaway goal, and also to Nick Schultz for starting to play like his old reliable self again after looking somewhat mortal in the first two contests.
Down Quark(s): It's hard to find much fault with the good guys when they deliver a 6-2 spanking, so a collective Down Quark goes to the hockey fans (such as they are) in Atlanta and Florida for the sea of empty seats in their arenas. If the economy ever stops its free fall and at least recovers to Nixonesque levels, warped minds smell some winter road trips to southern hockey games in the future.
Bottom Quark(s): Martin Skoula. I might as well plug in his name here in order to cut down on the amount of writing I'll need to do for future Bottom Quark awards. The Master Of Having His Back To The Action was in top (or in this case, bottom) form last night, being on the ice for both Panthers goals. That makes Skoula 6 for 7 in goals against presence this season. While neither goal against last night came as a result of a blatant Skoula gaffe, #41 did do his usual stunt of camping in front of the net and setting up screens that would've made Mark Parrish or Todd Fedoruk green with envy. If the Wild move Skoula to forward and tell him to play defenseman by the other net, there's no telling how many goals we could rack up.
Strange Quark(s): Jacques Lemaire gets the Strange Quark award for putting both members of the Dildaphonic Duo on the ice while the Panthers had a 5 on 3 power play. J-L has paired Skoula and Johnsson a lot less often so far this year, but he must've been feeling sporting and/or charitable to put them out there in that situation last night. Say what you want about Lemaire's coaching style (I often do) but if nothing else, the man proved that he has balls the size of watermelons.
Charmed Quark(s): How 'bout that Wild power play?! Another game, another two PPGs -- nothing will protect the Wild skill players from potential goonery better than cashing in on the man advantage. So far, the Wild are doing that in spades, which will no doubt make the Gaboriks and Koivus of the world breathe a lot easier. The penalty kill hasn't been too shabby either, keeping its perfect streak intact.
And in Kihnclusion: After a lethargic first period (in which the Panthers had the better of the play) the Wild came out blazing in the second and put the game virtually out of reach for the final stanza. Slow first periods have been the pattern in all three games to date, but if the good guys make a habit out of putting games away in the second period, warped minds won't be the only fans whooping it up. 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, keep your stick on the ice, and remember: if at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.