Posted on: April 16, 2008 7:08 pm

Where's the Beef? (part 2 of 3)

premature articulations:

Unfortunately, after viewing last night's debacle, it looks like part 3 of this quadrilogy will be posted after Saturday's game.  I was looking forward to seeing a game not end up 3-2 in OT, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  The Colorado Avalanche outplayed, outhustled, outscored and outeverythinged the Minnesota Wild last night.  At least last night's performance makes for easier work on the Warpy Quark awards.

dangling subatomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  No single individual stands out from last night's game (at least none from before I got hammered) so we'll go with a collective Top Quark to the entire Avs team for their thorough domination of our homeboys.  Man, that was ugly, but you've gotta give props to the Avs for taking advantage of a tired and sloppy Wild team to put the game away early.

Up Quark(s):  Nobody in a Wild jersey played well enough to merit consideration for an Up Quark.  Joe Sakic gets a mention in this segment for being one of the few Avs players to consistently play at a classy level.  I used to be a big fan of Peter Forsberg, but his "let's see how many people I can get to care about my foot this year" antics gradually soured me to #21, and his wussy tactics in this series (particularly last night) have cemented the end of my respect for the Swedish meatball.  For a guy who does as much stickwork on opposing players as he does, Forsberg sure knows how to make himself scarce when anyone over 150 pounds is around.  Sakic, on the other hand, doesn't resort to crap like that, which explains all of the respect he gets -- richly deserved -- from hockey fans everywhere.

Down Quark(s):  Too many downer moments to mention, so the entire Wild team gets a collective Down Quark.  Actually, scratch Niklas Backstrom from the downer list -- the Wild defensemen could easily have been credited with assists on three of the Avs goals, so it's hard to blame the goalie for last night's disaster.  Martin Skoula and Kim Johnsson played like their old selves yesterday, but everyone else played so badly that even the Dildaphonic Duo didn't really stand out.  That takes some serious doing.

On the Avs side, we'll toss Down Quarks to Ian Laperriere and Cody McLeod as well as to Forsberg.  For all the griping the Avs homer fans are doing because of the supposed "goonery" by the Minnesota Wild, it's ironic to watch the play of Lapansyass and McToofless: they sure act and talk tough when separated by linesmen or dividers, but neither one of them has shown enough hair on his balls to take on anyone bigger than Gaborik or Bouchard.

Bottom Quark(s):  Bottom Quark has to go to Jacques Lemaire for double shifting the Gaboriks and Koivus of the world after the score got out of hand, while at the same time keeping the Boogaards and Simons on a sphincter-tight leash when the opportunity presented itself to send an emphatic message.  Presumably, Doug Risebrough obtained guys like Chris Simon and Todd Fedoruk to prevent a repeat of last year's mauling by the Anaheim Ducks, but the message sent by J-L last night was essentially: "go ahead, hit our smaller guys all ya want -- it's all free."  Earth to Lemaire: what's the point of bulking up a roster if you're not going to utilize the advantage that it offers?  Can you imagine Glen Sonmor preaching "let's just play old time hockey, Toe Blake style" with a quartet of Ogie Oglethorpes on his bench?

Strange and Charmed Quark(s):  The refs and linesmen pick up the Strange Quark for their strange job of officiating throughout the series.  I'm not going to grumble about all the penalties called on the Wild last night (because most of them were fully deserved) but the officials have nobody to blame but themselves for seeing the game get out of hand in the later stages.  When Avs agitators have free rein to do their thing while officials keep the Wild enforcers at bay, chippy (and dangerous) stickwork is inevitable.  If the zebras would let a couple of guys duke it out for a while, the frustration would vent itself off in a much more civilized fashion.

Charmed Quark goes to the Avs for continuing to get more than their share of the non-calls.  As long as the officials prevent the Wild from exacting payback -- and as long as J-L refuses to let his enforcers exert their civilizing influence on the agitators -- the Avalanche have no reason to change their tactics.

post-dramatic syndrones:

And in Kihnclusion:  What an ugly abomination that was last night!  Hopefully, the Wild enforcers are putting on the foil in preparation for a badly needed donnybrook right off the draw tomorrow.  If the officials let some guys go in the early stages of the game, they'll probably be surprised at how clean and civilized the rest of the game goes.  I can't wait to see how Avs fans react when their team is on the receiving end of a wax job like last night.  I'll just copy and paste some of their own "quit whining at the refs and play better hockey" posts from today, and we'll see who the real sniveling homers are.  GO WILD!!!

...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs...

If my wife to be or not to be is watching, PETA is not interested in my beaver shooting.  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, keep your stick on the ice, and remember: if it walks like a Duck and quacks like a duck, but has teefus like Leon Spinks and runs like a chicken, it's probably Cody McLeod.

Category: NHL
Posted on: April 15, 2008 2:33 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2008 6:52 pm

Stick a Fork in 'Em - They're Medium Well Done!

premature articulations:

This is incredible!  Whoever did the study suggesting that sports fans have greater risk of heart attack during Super Bowls and World Cups obviously forgot to factor in Wild/Avalanche playoff games.  The Wild had much the better of the play in OT -- which made me afraid the Avs would get one good chance and promptly cash it in to further frustrate the good guys -- but in the end, the Wild walked out with a well earned win and the series lead.  Buckle up; it's a busy day for the Warpy Quark awards.

dangling subatomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  For the first time, we have Top Quark co-winners today.  I would've split the Top Quark, but funding cuts by the Bush administration prevent any American facilities from pursuing the Higgs Particle prize, so any quark splitting will have to take place at the European LHC.  Jose Theodore gets a Top Quark for yet another stellar performance in nets: without his insane goaltending, the Wild would've put games 1 and 3 away well before any thoughts of overtime kicked in, and we'd be talking about a possible sweep tonight.  Brian Rolston gets the other Top Quark for his timely scoring plays: the homer commentators are right on when they say that Rolston seems to be around every Wild goal lately.  Maybe there really is something to all this "aura" stuff.

Up Quark(s):  Pierre-Marc Bouchard gots an Up Quark for being in the right place at the right time, and more importantly, for finishing the opportunity when it presented itself.  Pavol Demitra must have some aura stuff of his own going on, because #38 also seems to be around the puck on more than his share of the Wild goals.

Joe Sakic gets an Up Quark for scaring the bejeezus out of me every time he handles the puck inside our blue line.  Somebody's gotta hit that guy instead of letting him waltz around in the offensive zone.  I'm not talking about a goon (or even Anaheim Duck) type hit -- just a clean but hard knockdown hit or three would make Sakic a little more tentative, which in turn would ease the heart rates of Wild fans everywhere.

Petteri Nummelin also gets an Up Quark mention for continuing to do what Kim Johnsson was brought here (and paid over four mill a year) to do: create some offense, and inject some life into a moribund power play.  Well done, Nummie.  Now if we could only get Johnsson to play to a fraction of what was expected of him when he signed here, the Wild would be in really good shape.

update: I can't believe I forgot to add a huge Up Quark for Todd Fedoruk: in addition to setting a bunch of fine screens in the last several games, now Fedoruk is dishing out some fine centering passes for his linemates to bang home.  I thought it was a dumb move to pick him up this season (after all, how useful can a guy who had his face rearranged by Derek Boogaard be??) but he's showing enough these days to merit serious consideration for a nice raise and contract extension -- both of which could probably be done without making an overly large dent in the salary cap.

Down Quark(s):  Not much in the way of downers last night, though a couple of candidates do present themselves.  Brent Burns had enough nice offensive rushes and chances to vie for an Up Quark, but gets a small Down Quark for getting caught in deep -- then being a little slow once he got back on D -- during the first Avs goal.  Sean Hill gets a bigger Down Quark for his bumbling play on the second Avs tally.  Hill had plenty of time to make a good clearing play, but his blind effort off the boards saved the Avs the trouble of holding the the zone.  He then compounded the error by letting himself get spun around (and down) in a play eerily reminiscent of many a Martin Skoula misplay earlier this season.

Speaking of Skoula, he leaves last night's game quark-free -- or "quarkless" if you consider his recent collection of Up Quarks.  #41 made a couple of good plays last night, and also a couple of not-so-good plays, but nothing to stand out either way: all in all, a steady, solid and unspectacular performance (which is as acceptable as money in the bank when one's job is to be a defensive defenseman:)

Bottom Quark(s):  Once again, the Bottom Quark has to go to the refs.  The penalty calling wasn't as one-sided as the homer commentators made it out to be, but it was pretty close.  I kept waiting for the refs to move some of their marbles from one pocket to the other in order to balance out the weights a bit, but it never happened.  Just about everything that was called a penalty was legit, but the Avs sure got more than their share of the non-calls.  To their credit, at least the refs put their whistles away for the third period -- except for the call on Jones, which was too blatant to not call -- and let the players decide the outcome of the game for a change.

Strange and Charmed Quark(s):  No doubt about it, the OT goal calls for a Strange Quark and Charmed Quark.  The gods of hockey finally decided to cut the Wild a break on a touch-up icing play: after costing us the services of Kurtis Foster, a touch-up icing situation won the game for the good guys last night.  Not exactly a great exchange, but it's a start; the hockey gods still owe us some more love.

post-dramatic syndrones:

And in Kihnclusion:  What a huge win the for Wild!  The Avalanche will be in desperation mode tonight in an effort to avoid going down 3-1.  If Jacques Lemaire doesn't tighten up the defensive sphincters on our guys too much, the Wild should have plenty of chances to pot some early goals for a change.  Sakic and Forsberg looked totally gassed in OT last night, so even if the latter plays tonight, two of the biggest Wild killers will be at less than full speed.  If the Wild come close to duplicating last night's effort, the Avs will be making tee times for this weekend, and tonight's game will be the last hockey played at Pepsi Center until fall.  GO WILD!!!

...and now, a word from our spawn's heirs...

If my wife to be or not to be is watching, if ya didn't want that circular saw for Valentine's Day, why so much talk about the sharp and powerful turning you on?  To the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, keep your stick on the ice, and remember: if it walks like a Duck and quacks like a duck but runs like a chicken, it's probably Ian Laperriere.

Category: NHL
Posted on: April 14, 2008 2:24 pm

Delayed Gratification (but worth the wait, eh?)

premature articulations:

One strange and funky result deserves another.  48 hours after the Minnesota Wild outplayed the Colorado Avalanche in every measurable category only to end up with a loss, the good guys even up the series in a game that was much more tightly Kihntested.  If either team had an edge in play Friday night, it was the Avs, but for once the gods of hockey smiled on the Wild and gave them a long overdue break.  Speaking of breaking stuff, it's time for the Warpy Quark awards.

dangling subatomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  It's hard to single out a play or player in this game for the top award, so we'll give a collective Top Quark to the Wild defensive corps.  The blueliners have done a much better than expected job of stepping up their play in the absence of Kurtis Foster and Nick Schultz.  On second thought, let's give the Top Quark to the Wild D, minus Sean Hill...

Up Quark(s):  Lots of Up Quarks to go around today.  Martin Skoula gets a huge call for another fine performance: for the second game in a row, he dang near grabbed solo possession of the Top Quark.  The mano a mano play in the third that ended with Skoula crunching his man into the boards was a thing of beauty.  His tattooing czech on another guy seconds later wasn't too shabby, either: the fans were plenty vocal in expressing their delight and approval.  Brent Burns gets an Up Quark for a fine, goal-saving poke check, and Petteri Nummelin gets one for continuing to create moves inside the faceoff dots in the offensive zone -- a commodity sorely lacking in the Wild offense lately.  Even (gasp) Kim Johnsson gets props for a well played game.

Down Quark(s):  The biggest downer I can think of is Sean Hill's bumbling misplay of Peter Forsberg on the first Avs goal.  It's easy to see why Jacques Lemaire lacks confidence in #6, even when the rest of the D is gasping for air: plays like the "should I take the man, should I play the puck, or should I just fall on my ass like a clown?" fiasco won't exactly convince J-L to increase his ice time any time soon.  Niklas Backstrom shot Skoula a quick, nasty glare for screening him at the worst possible time on that shot, but we'll give #41 a mulligan there because it's pretty hard to make anything decent happen when your defensive partner hangs you out to dry.

Bottom Quark(s):  No doubt about it: the refs have to get the Bottom Quark just on the basis of that incredibly godawful call against Kim Johnsson late in the game.  Replays clearly show Ryan Smyth diving for the loose puck, with his body almost parallel to the ice before Johnsson even attempts to lift Smyth's stick (Johnsson's aversion to any contact more intimate than stick checking has been well documented in earlier entries and posts..)  Bottom line is, that would've been a bad penalty to call at any point in the game, but was absolutely inexcusable with 1:09 left in regulation.  Luckily, the gods of hockey smiled on Keith Carney in overtime, otherwise the X would have turned into a complete zebra lynch mob.

Strange and Charmed Quark(s):  Strange Quark goes to Jacques Lemaire: can somebody tell me what Keith Carney did to justify all the time he's spent in the doghouse this year?  Granted, Carney has made his share of misplays -- including a few real dandies -- but other defenders playing a lot worse this season (*cough* Johnsson and Skoula) still keep getting all the ice time they can handle and then some.  Maybe the secret to piling up the Charmed Quarks and ice time in J-L's system is to keep playing worse.

post-dramatic syndrones:

And in Kihnclusion:  With two rounds in the books, the judges have this battle scored dead even on their cards.  Hopefully, the Wild will have enough time to get acclimated to the altitude before game time.  I never noticed the difference when driving on road trips to Denver, but flying out there is a whole different story.  It would be a bummer for the Wild to be on the slow side tonight because of the altitude factor, then have to try and muster up enough energy for the second half of the back-to-back tomorrow.  If the good guys can leave Denver with a split, we'll be in mighty good shape.  If the Wild win both games there, the Foothills golf course by Wheat Ridge (just off Wadsworth, if memory serves:) should be ready to accommodate the Avs and their fans all summer long.  GO WILD!!!

...and now, a word from our spawn's hairs...

If my wife to be or not be is watching, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" was your idea, so no, I can't explain how those bras and panties got into my suitcase.  For the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, keep your stick on the ice, and remember: the Procrastinators Anonymous meeting has been postponed until sometime after the tax deadline.

Category: NHL
Posted on: April 10, 2008 7:41 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2008 7:49 pm

Where's the Beef?

premature articulations:

Unreal.  The Minnesota Wild outplay, outskate, outhit and out-everything but score the Colorado Avalanche, and find themselves in a 0-1 hole.  For all the talk of Chris Simon or Derek Boogaard giving Ian Laperriere a free education in the unwritten code of hockey conduct, the Wild enforcers looked like the Charlestown Chiefs in the first period of their final game, playing "old time hockey" ala Reggie Dunlop before learning that NHL scouts are in the stands with contracts in their pockets.  The end result was not unlike getting a big burger, mostly bun.  All is not lost, though: the good guys played well enough to win more than their share of the next six games if they can duplicate last night's effort.

Speaking of good, bad and ugly, it's time for the Warpy Quark awards.

dangling subatomic participles:

Top Quark(s):  Jose Theodore almost singlehandedly won the game for the Avs in the first two periods.  The Wild threw a lot of rubber at him (some of the shots were even good, but more on that later) but couldn't get anything by him early.  Had they been able to do so, the fans would've blown the roof off the X, and the Avs would've gotten a case of tight sphincters worse than the Rockies did in last year's World Series.

Up Quark(s):  First Up Quark goes to the Avs offense for making the most of the handful of chances they got to light the lamp.  Martin Skoula gets an Up Quark for some superb defensive play (especially in in the first period) though he'll also get a Down Quark for some not so great play in the second.  Petteri Nummelin also gets an Up Quark for an admirable job filling in for Nick Schultz.  The gossip vine has #33 already signed to play in Europe next year, which is too bad because we could use all the help we can get on D for the next few seasons, unless Doug Risebrough pulls a monster trade out of some nether orifice.

Down Quark(s):  The Dildaphonic Duo strikes again.  Martin Skoula gets a downer for his defense (or lack therof) on Ryan Smyth's power play goal.  I'm not sure what he was trying to accomplish by standing motionless with his back turned to Smyth while the latter was camped in front of the crease (though it did make for a kinky looking sandwich).  Niklas Backstrom gets a delayed Up Quark for not going postal on #41, or at least saying to him "hey man, if you're not gonna defend this dude in front of me, how 'bout making yourself useful somewhere else?"  It's a shame this non-play ended up being so costly, because Skoula otherwise played an exceedingly good game.

Kim Johnsson (the other half of the Dildaphonic Duo, as if you didn't already know) gets the other downer for his lazy excuse of a defensive play on the first Avs goal: I haven't seen a lamer looking wave of the stick since a steroidless Rondell White batted cleanup for the Twins.  I've long since given up thinking that Johnsson will ever learn to play the man on defense -- though that shouldn't be asking too much for 4+ mill a year -- but you'd think the guy would at least try to get in a guy's way once in a while.  Nope, not Mr. "if I touch another guy, people will think I'm gay" Johnsson.

Bottom Quark(s):  No doubt about it: Jacques Lemaire has to get the Bottom Quark for last night's game.  It's safe to assume that J-L put the reins on Simon or Boogaard in the early going, thereby missing an opportunity to engage in some manly intimidation and show everyone who was boss.  The game plan of constant perimeter play also left a lot to be desired (if this wasn't the game plan, J-L still gets the Bottom Quark for not doing something about it).  I'm tired of seeing all of our speed players' talents being wasted with constant cycling on the back wall, with no bodies in front of the net to receive a pass even if all the cycling works.  Almost every time a Mark Parrish or Todd Fedoruk get in front of the crease, the Wild get quality scoring chances -- unfortunately, this sort of play seems to be the exception rather than the rule, at least judging by the amount of time I see the Wild with nobody inside the freaking faceoff dots while in the offensive zone.

Strange and Charmed Quark(s):  The officiating last night definitely calls for a Strange Quark.  The Wild must've had a Charmed Quark in their pockets, because the Marble Theory of penalty calling never quite kicked in to even out the power play chances.  Not that I'll ever complain when the good guys get to hog the power plays -- unless of course they decide to keep the puck along the sideboards even with the extra man, which appeared to be the strategy last night.

post-dramatic syndrones:

And in Kihnclusion:  Despite all the negativity of today's post, the Wild played a pretty darn good game last night: they dominated in every measureable category (even faceoffs, which is no mean feat against the Avs) except the scoreboard.  Way more often than not, a team who does this will also end up dominating the scoreboard, so if the Wild can play the next four or five games like they did last night, I love our chances.  GO WILD!!!

...and now, a word from our spawn's hairs...

If my wife to be or not be is watching, String Theory is a Group of Lies.  For the rest of you, thanx for tuning in, keep your stick on the ice, and remember:  if you hear someone shout "that check's no good!" you're either at a cash-only establishment, or you're watching Kim Johnsson play hockey.

Category: NHL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com