Just when warped minds were ready to stick a fork in the Minnesota Wild's playoff chances this year, the good guys decide to start playing 60 minutes of hockey per game, picking up an impressive 5-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings, then backing it up the next day with a 2-1 against the Chicago Blackhawks -- in a building where visitors seldom find themselves in the win column. I didn't see yesterday's game against the Blackhawks, so the Warpy Psychlotron will concentrate its efforts on Saturday's tilt against the Wings.
dangling sub-atomic participles:
Top Quark(s): This one's a close call between Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Owen Nolan, but we'll give the Top Quark nod to Nolan for his two goal effort with an assist thrown in for good measure. Bouchard and Nolan are starting to get some serious chemistry going, and they seem to have a good sense for where the other is on the ice. Butch's pass to Nolan on the first goal was a thing of beauty, and Nolan returned the favor in the second period, springing Butch on a breakaway pass after playing some nifty D to get possession of the puck. Yo, Lemaire, it's amazing what players can do when ya leave 'em on this same line for more than a few shifts, eh?
Up Quark(s): Pierre-Marc Bouchard definitely gets a huge Up Quark for yet another muliple point performance. Niklas Backstrom also gets an Up Quark for his fine play in nets Saturday night. No doubt about it: despite the 5-2 final score, the Red Wings had the better of the offensive play for large chunks of the game, and Backstrom had to be sharp and use his head (literally) to keep Wings at bay. The Wild's defensive unit (including forwards like Eric Belanger and Mikko Koivu) gets a collective Up Quark for clogging up passing and shooting lanes in our zone, and blocking many shots that would've otherwise caused Backstrom many more headaches.
Down Quark(s): It's hard to find much in the way of downers when the good guys turn a sure loss into two unexpected points in the standings, but warped minds have to make a Down Quark call on Stephane Veilleux for his mostly invisible play this year. The few times Veilleux gets the puck in a good shooting position, he either misses the net badly, or else holds the puck too long to make any meaningful play on offense.
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 Kim Johnsson's name here on a permanent basis, and fill in the needed details later. The Swedish Salary Cap Boat Anchor plays "defense" as if he's afraid people will think he's gay if he's seen touching another guy. The closest thing Johnsson does to "checking" is the occasional sticking out of the arm or stick, which forwards easily skate through on their way to the net while #5 gets spun around like a five million dollar turnstile.
Actually, Johnsson played a halfway decent game Saturday. He even (gasp) checked someone into the boards, which is virtually unheard of. If Nick Schultz hadn't been observed wearing the #55 jersey, I would've sworn that he decided to wear #5 for a night. The real Bottom Quark for Saturday goes to Brent Burns. His continuing putrid defensive play was in form again on the first Red Wings goal: just like many of Martin Skoula's godawful plays earlier this season, Burnsie couldn't decide whether to defend the guy with the puck beind the net or defend the guy in front of the net waiting for the centering pass, so he chose to defend neither. Needless to say, when the Wings made the centering pass, #8 could do nothing but spin around like a Swedish turnstile, bumble around looking for the puck between his skates, then obstruct Backstrom from a chance to cover the puck; he looked like Skoula and Johnsson rolled into one on that play. And Jacques Lemaire presumably noticed that this whole play started out with Burnsie pinching in on offense at an ill-advised time and giving the Wings an odd man rush.
Strange Quark(s): 50% of Martin Skoula's goals in a Wild uniform have come against the Detroit Red Wings. Obviously, the Wings have no answer for #41, so they would be well advised to pick him up before the trade deadline; Skoula could be the final missing link to a Red Wings Stanley Cup repeat. If the Wings don't trade for Skooly, and end up doing their trademark "President's Trophy followed by a first round playoff exit" routine, expect warped minds to say "we told ya so."
Charmed Quark(s): Was that an octopus I saw flying toward the ice right at the end of the game? I was watching the game on the big screen TV at the local watering hole so we only got a fleeting glimpse, but warped minds have seen enough flying cephalopods during Wings playoff games to recognize the flying octopus shape when they see one, and this sure looked like the same shape:) If it was indeed a flying ock, I hereby tip my hat to the warped mind who chucked it -- although the best time to throw it would've been during the cellie after Martin Skoula's goal.
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 collider", in case your twisted mind was thinking about chemistry instead of physics...)
post-dramatic sin drones:
And in Kihnclusion: The Wild still have a brutal stretch of games in order to hang on to playoff contention, but at least now they're on the inside looking out, instead of the other way around. Next up is a home gimmie against the Lost Angeles Kings, who gave us a pretty good spanking last time I said something to this effect, but I like our chances better this time around. 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, ya know. To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, and remember: if at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.