Monday, November 30, 2009

Wings vs. Stars GP...

Wings vs. Stars @7:30 PM

1. The Wings broke out of their scoring slump Saturday night with three goals. More importantly, they were the kind of gritty goals that the Wings keep talking about needing to score. So, can they keep it up tonight?
2. Todd Bertuzzi scored a big goal to win the shootout on Saturday. Will that help his confidence and get him to snap out of whatever funk he’s been in? I’ve done a lot of ragging on Bert over the last couple of months, but I would like nothing more than to see him get on a roll.
3. We all know what happened last time the Stars visited the Joe. We’re also aware of what went down against Calgary on Friday. This question is kind of sad, but what percentage of the goals that the Wings score tonight will actually be counted on the scoreboard?
4. Will Darren Helm be able to finish the breakaway he inevitably gets tonight? I kid, I kid…but only a little. One of these times he has to put one of those away.
5. The Wings’ special teams units both enjoyed 100% success rates against St. Louis on Saturday. This was a positive sign since both units have struggled lately. Can they build on that tonight?

I’ll be at the game tonight using the tickets I won while failing epically at turkey bowling the day before Thanksgiving. With any luck, this game will be more enjoyable than the last time I made the trek down to the Joe. Please. Now that they’ve figured out a way to put pucks in the net (and make them count) again, this is as good a time as any to start stringing wins together to start climbing the standings.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wings 4, Blues 3 (SO): Post Game Snipes...

  • When the Wings finally scored during the second period, I actually yelled “Hallelujah” in my family room. I never thought I’d be that excited about a goal in the regular season.
  • The third and fourth lines looked fantastic early in the game. During the first period, they were better than the top two lines by far. I figured it was going to be a long night upon seeing that.
  • When the Wings finally scored, it had been 175 minutes since their last goal. That’s almost three whole games. Three.
  • Tonight was also the first time in a week that the Wings had scored more than one goal. Getting into the plural was a nice change.
  • The first period wasn’t particularly good. Jimmy Howard had to work much too hard. The team woke up for the second half of the game and I actually felt like they were controlling play at times. It was a welcome change.
  • It was nice to see the Wings pick up a win in the shootout. Really nice.
  • That first goal was a thing of beauty. Datsyuk absolutely threaded a pass to Z who got it to Homer for a perfect tip-in. The boys looked downright relieved to see the puck in the net.
  • The last-minute goal was fluky to the max, but sometimes you just need those kind of bounces to go your way. FSN awarded the goal to Pav at first, but it was announced at the arena as being Zetterberg's. At that point, I could not have cared less who they credited. All that mattered was that the puck was in the back of the net.
  • Is it sad that every time the Wings scored, I was looking at the referee to make sure he wasn't waving the goal off?
  • Justin Abdelkader played ridiculously well. He didn't have much to show for it on the stat sheet, but this has to have been his best game of the season.
GP Answers:
1. They managed 3 goals tonight, including an “ugly” one to tie the game up with less than a minute left in the third. It was good to see the Wings’ stars score and to see them grind out some goals. Now they just need to maintain it.
2. See above. Mason played well, but the Wings managed to do what they needed to win.
3. This one was a bit sarcastic, but I can’t complain about the officiating tonight. Sure I would’ve liked to have seen the Wings get a few more powerplays, but they were consistent and that’s more than we get on most nights.
4. The first period was a little rough, but I’d say they had a pretty good showing overall. @Mserven said it best on Twitter: “nice to see the Wings playing like they want to win rather than like they should win.”
5. Three goals in fact. Plus a couple in the shootout.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Jimmy Howard
He had entirely too much work to do throughout the game, and made some spectacular saves. I can’t fault him on any of the goals he let in. The second one in particular was an absolutely ridiculous shot. My mom pointed out earlier that I was a little harsh about him at the start of the season, and I’m happy to say that he’s been a pleasant surprise. (She would also like me to state that she liked him the first time she saw him play when we made a family trip to the Joe four years ago.)

An Extra Stick Tap for Todd Bertuzzi
When I saw that he was going in the shootout, I yelled, “Oh Jesus, Bertuzzi?!” While he was taking his long, winding approach, I promised him that I would lay off and give him a free pass for a week if he buried it. He did, and I’ll keep my word. There’ll be nothing negative about Bert on this humble blog until next Saturday. With any luck this’ll give him some confidence and he’ll start producing.

Darren Helm gets the Golden Facepalm
I hate to do this because he actually didn’t play badly, but oh man did he ever miss some glorious opportunities. He’ll probably be having nightmares about those two chances he didn’t bury with a few minutes left in the third. The Wings came back to tie it up, so all is well, but I was pounding my head on my keyboard there for a minute.

What I learned:
That seeing the Wings score a goal feels ridiculously good.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wings vs. Blues GP...

Wings vs. Blues @ 8PM

1. No really, where is the scoring? I don’t want to hear about outshooting the other team or running into hot goalies (although, seriously, is it really necessary for every goalie the Wings face to have his best game of the season?) or continuing to plug away. Good teams find ways to win games even when things are tough. The Wings haven’t been able to do that recently and it needs to change. (Copy/pasted from the previous GP because nothing has changed…)
2. I don’t know who’s starting in net for the Blues, but I’m sure he’s going to choose tonight to show off. Just how good will the Wings make him look?
3. What glorious display of incompetence will we see from the officials tonight? I just can’t wait.
4. The Wings are 2 points ahead of the Blues, a conference rival, in the standings. You’d like to think that this would be the kind of game they’d show up for. Will it happen?
5. Can the Wings please, pretty please score a goal tonight? Seriously.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wings 0, Flames 3: Post Game Snipes...

  • Well, we’ll start out with the obvious: the Wings got hosed by the referees. Again. There’s absolutely no reason the powerplay goal they scored to tie it up in the first period should not have counted. Except that this is the NHL.
  • At one point, I even tried using Twitter to jinx Kiprusoff’s shutout. I feel like I’ve reached a new low.
  • The Wings managed to get shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since 1977. That’s almost a decade before I was even born. I’m obviously not equipped to deal with situations like this.
  • If ever there was a time to try shuffling the lines, I would think it would’ve been the third period tonight. It baffles me to continually see the same ineffective line combos thrown out there game after game after game.
  • The Flames scored less than 30 seconds into the game. It naturally resulted from some horrible defensive coverage which consisted of a bunch of Wings standing around and possibly staring off into space.
  • Is it really necessary for every goalie the Wings face to have his best game of the season?
  • Mike Babcock didn’t hesitate to bench Leino and Helm earlier in the season when they weren’t performing. Why hasn’t he tried it with Todd Bertuzzi?
  • I fully intended to go to the game today, but ended up canceling my plans. Boy, am I glad I didn’t. I don’t think I could’ve handled being present for back-to-back shutouts.
  • Bertuzzi tried a behind-the-back pass that not only ended up on a Wings’ stick, but resulted in a good scoring chance. It figures that if you try it enough times, it’s going to work at least once. I’m just concerned that he’s going to think that means it’s a good idea and keep trying it.
  • The good news is that the Wings were generating shots and they had a lot of traffic to the front of the net. That’s a very good sign. At some point, you have to believe that they’re going to get things figured out.
GP Answers:
1. Still no answer. I don’t think there is one.
2. It wasn’t necessarily the defense that was the problem tonight. The Flames’ first goal was a result of a pathetic defensive effort, but unless the team can figure out a way to score a goal the defense isn’t going to make much of a difference.
3. Not one bit of line shuffling for the offense. I would appreciate someone explaining that to me.
4. The powerplay generated tons of shots, and actually managed to put a puck in the net in the first period. On the plus side, Calgary didn’t score any on their two powerplays (although one was abbreviated).

Cookies and Cupcakes for Chris Osgood
Letting in three goals probably doesn’t indicate that he had a great game, but he had no chance on the first one because of poor defensive coverage,the second one was just plain weird, and the third one was off of a great shot. Besides, nobody else did anything spectacular.

Mike Babcock gets the Golden Facepalm
Seriously, there’s wanting to stick with line combinations in order to develop consistency and then there’s plain old stubbornness. Things obviously aren’t working, but he can’t seem to bring himself to shake things up. I just…don’t understand. I wish he would tell us what it is he sees so I could at least get what he was going for.

What I learned:
It is possible for this season to be more miserable.

Wings vs. Flames GP...

Wings vs. Flames @ 7PM

1. No really, where is the scoring? I don’t want to hear about outshooting the other team or running into hot goalies (although, seriously, is it really necessary for every goalie the Wings face to have his best game of the season?) or continuing to plug away. Good teams find ways to win games even when things are tough. The Wings haven’t been able to do that recently and it needs to change.
2. What’s the deal going to be with the defense tonight? It looks like they’re going to be going with the same rotation from Wednesday night. I’m not entirely opposed to this. Ericsson looked a lot better when matched up with better partners and I think being out there with guys like Lidstrom and Rafalski will be good for him long-term.
3. Babcock was doing quite a bit of line shuffling during the last game. What’s he going to come up with tonight? The lines obviously haven’t been producing, so something needs to get changed. (I suggest finding someone else, anyone else, to replace Todd Bertuzzi on the top line. Datsyuk deserves better.
4. So far this season, it seems like the Wings have been living and dying by their special teams (a bold observation, I know). Over the last few games, neither the powerplay nor the penalty kill has done anything worthwhile. Will either of the special teams units give me hope tonight?

Happy shopping if you’re one of those crazy enough to risk life and limb venturing out in search of good deals today. I’ll be busy having Second Thanksgiving (which is a little like Second Breakfast, come to think of it [I’m pretty sure this is the second GP in a row in which I’ve made a nerdy joke. I should probably stop doing that.]) and possibly trying to snag some more Student Rush tickets.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wings 0, Thrashers 2: Post Game Snipes...

  • I’m so glad that I only paid $15 to see this game. The Wings looked terrible, the crowd was pathetically quiet for most of the night, and the highlight of my night was watching Ozzie and Draper goof around in the net during warmups.
  • Although, I have to admit that getting to go out on the ice as part of the turkey bowling thing was pretty cool…even though I looked like an idiot. If you were one of the people who I’m sure was laughing at me, I just want you to know that I had a strategy. It just failed miserably. But our team still won and I’ve got a pair of free tickets to Monday’s game, so the joke’s on you. Also, I had the pleasure of walking around the Joe while my brother carried a frozen turkey for the next two hours. Amazing photographs obviously ensued.
  • We went down right behind the Wings’ net to watch warmups and I’m reasonably certain that Justin Abdelkader was trying to kill me. He personally fired at least half a dozen shots that hit the glass directly in front of my face. My little sister was not amused by the whole firing squad effect. If you’ve never watched warmups from that spot before, you’re missing out. It will give you a whole new appreciation for the work that goalies do.
  • The News’ recap of the game began with this paragraph:
    It might be time to call in a priest to bless the sticks, or maybe a witch doctor to remove the curse. Because no matter how hard the Red Wings grind, no matter how many shots and chances they create, the puck will not go into the net for them.
    I’ve got a better idea. The team could just bother showing up to play hockey games from time to time. There's a pretty reasonable chance that that would help.
  • Todd Bertuzzi is officially a waste of ice time. And bench space. And cap space (although that’s less of an issue at this particular moment).
  • Also from the News’ recap was this beauty:
    In the third, Bertuzzi broke up a play and went into the Thrashers' zone on a 2-on-1. Yet, he tripped before he could make a play. There was nobody near him, he simply lost an edge -- can you say snakebit?
    I’m not sure ‘snakebit’ is the right word (or the correct grammar for that matter). “Snakebitten” is something you say about a guy who’s having rough couple of weeks on the scoresheet. When you’re having a rough five years, well, then you have to consider the possibility that you just suck.
  • Datsyuk tried that thing he does where he flips the puck over the back of the net. One of these times it’s going to work and I think my brain is going to explode from the sheer awesomeness of it.
  • Brett Lebda and Brad Stuart should probably never share ice time again. I don’t know what their deal was, but whenever I noticed them paired together bad things were happening.
  • My pictures are up on photobucket.
GP Answers:
1. The defense wasn’t the only thing Babs was mixing up. The forward lines got put through the scrambler too. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to help.
2. Howard was fine. He gave them a chance to win and they didn’t take it. To think that going into this season my biggest worry was the goaltending. I’m not saying it’s been stellar, but the guys between the pipes are certainly not the reason the Wings have been losing.
3. Still no answer for this one. Someone needs the team’s ability to score goals on a milk carton or something.
4. Same old, same old on the powerplay. I guess the answer’s ‘yes’ for this one.
5. Please refer to the second passage that I’ve quoted from the News above. Yes, that really did happen. And yes, it did look every bit as pathetic in person as it did on TV.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Jimmy Howard
Because nobody else deserves any.

Todd Bertuzzi gets the Golden Facepalm
Once again, please refer to the passage from the News quoted above. This one is a no-brainer.

What I learned:
That carrying a turkey around Joe Louis Arena can actually be ridiculously fun. Especially if your little brother holds it on his head to mock the people wearing the turkey hats (yeah, people actually bought those).

PS. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wings vs. Thrashers GP...

Wings vs. Thrashers @7:30

1. Well Babcock’s announced his slightly wacky and yet oddly logical plan for the defensive rotation. Somehow, through rotation, line-juggling, and possibly the use of a Time Turner from Harry Potter, he’s going to make the six-man defensive lineup resemble an eight-man lineup. I kind of get it, and I’m all about anything that prevents a third pairing of Lebda and Meech from taking the ice, so I’m willing to give it a shot. Will anyone (on the ice or otherwise) have any clue what’s going on by the end of the game?
2. Babs is also going with Jimmy Howard in net tonight, which worries me much less than I would’ve imagined it would a couple of months ago. Can he keep up his strong play?
3. I asked the same thing last game; it still hasn’t been answered, so I’ll go with it again: Where have all the goals gone? After going on a tear of 19 goals in 3 games, the offense has absolutely dried up. I know the offense has been depleted, but except for the loss of Kronwall, the lineup that’s been on the ice for the last few games is not markedly different from the one that was lighting it up.
4. Part of the offensive stall has been due to the issues with the powerplay. The first unit has been generating some buzz, but if they can’t score, that leaves a second unit of Cleary, Bertuzzi, and Leino. Now, I like Cleary a lot, but there’s a reason we call him Charlie Buckets. He’s the kind of guy who has an uncanny ability to take advantage of the strengths of his linemates. On this unit, there just isn’t a whole lot for him to work with. At this point, I would rather see the third line get powerplay time over this bunch. Are we really going to have to suffer through a one-unit powerplay interminably? And I'm not even willing to discuss the PK...
5. Over the summer I made it very clear that I was unhappy with Bertuzzi’s signing. However, I resolved to give him a chance. I would say that a quarter of the season counts as a fair chance. So far he has done absolutely nothing to impress me. So what fine work does he have in store for us tonight?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wings 1, Predators 3: Post Game Snipes...

  • The Wings were lucky to survive the first period only down by one. Their effort was sad.
  • Drew Miller had his best game in a Wings uniform tonight. He was rewarded with his first Wings goal. It came off of a great individual effort.
  • I really strongly dislike Todd Bertuzzi. More and more each game.
  • Pavel Datsyuk had a beautiful check at one point during the second period. That’s an aspect of his game that continues to be underrated.
  • Every time a goalie made a save, the Versus announcer would say, “____ says no.” Every time. I swear.
  • The Wings really turned things on during the third period. It looked like one of their patented late-game awakenings. Unfortunately Pekka Rinne stood his ground and nothing came of it.
  • Train whistles should be permanently and unconditionally banned from every live sporting event ever. Really, unless you are a train, there is no need for you to have one of those.
  • A Predators fan decided that it would be a good idea to throw a hat on the ice after Erat’s second goal. Lame. Very lame.
  • Darren McCarty did a decent job in his Versus debut. He looked nervous and I didn’t quite follow what he said during the first intermission, but he looked much more comfortable during the second one and in the post game.
  • There is a very real problem with the powerplay in that if the Circus line fails to score…the team is left with a line of Cleary, Leino, and Bertuzzi.
GP Answers:
1. Well, the defense didn’t look spectacular for most of the game tonight, but neither did the rest of the team.
2. Well, Big Rig didn’t see any powerplay time but led all Wings skaters in time on the PK. This picture tells the story of the Preds’ first goal.
3. I didn’t notice Ericsson often, which is a good thing for a rookie defensemen. There’s no doubt that having a better defensive partner will improve his game. Just how much remains to be seen.
4. No answer for the lack of offense. Another game with only one goal scored. That’s not going to cut it.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Chris Osgood
There’s no doubt that he kept the Wings in it when they were busy sleepwalking through the first half of the game. He made some huge, huge saves.

Todd Bertuzzi gets the Golden Facepalm
This really could’ve gone to Tomas Holmstrom too, but Homer has actually made a contribution to the team so far this season, so he gets a reprieve. Bert took two stupid penalties, one of which led to the Preds’ first goal. The Versus announcer, in what may have been the first display of intelligent thought by one of their guys, said that he just didn’t think that Bertuzzi had the speed to play the Wings’ style of hockey.

What I learned:
This really is going to be a long season.

Farewell Shanny...

I kind of missed the boat in terms of career eulogies for Brendan Shanahan on account of him choosing to retire during the busiest week of my life (See how I manage to deflect blame for it away from myself? That’s talent.) But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least make a couple of comments on the career of the guy who was my second favorite hockey player for the better part of my formative years.

I vaguely remember being upset when the Wings traded away Paul Coffey. I have no idea why, but I’m assuming it had a lot to do with the fact that I was barely 10-years old and not particularly bright. I do, however, know that I took an immediate liking to the Wings’ new arrival. He could score and he could fight and a few of you might remember the little-known incident in which he clotheslined Patrick Roy. At some point after the ’02 Cup, he became know as my alter-ego. It was mostly because I wore a Shanahan walking-jersey-foul to school the next day when we went around bestowing Wings players’ names on all of our friends. It was okay though, because I was Irish (I say “was” because we recently discovered that we actually have Scottish blood, not Irish…) and I embraced it. I still miss hearing the Irish Jig blasting from the speakers at the Joe.

How many guys left in the league could put it all together like Shanny did? Not many. And I think we’re all a little worse off for that. He deserved a better ending than his break with the Devils prior to the start of the season.

As far as the jersey retirement debate goes…I don’t see it happening. If the organization had any intention of doing so, they wouldn’t have let the likes of Derek Meech take it. I would have no problem with the team choosing to retire it, but I’m not sure he spent enough time in Detroit to have earned a place in the rafters. He played too many games for too many other teams, and even though his strongest legacy will be as a Red Wing, I think that’s going to keep #14 in circulation. That being said, I would much, much rather see his number on a banner than Fedorov’s. This post from Malik has two articles from the Edmonton Journal that sum up why.

Wings vs. Predators GP...

Wings vs. Predators @7 PM

1. The big question is the defense. While this one game obviously won’t be indicative of the next 4-8 weeks, it’ll be a preview into life with a defensive pairing that consists of Brett Lebda and Derek Meech. How many near heart attacks will those two tag team to give fans?
2. Ericsson finally got some powerplay time on Saturday. I think it’s safe to say that I liked him a lot better there than on the penalty kill. Reason dictates, however, that he’ll be seeing a lot of time on both special teams units in the coming weeks. How will he step up into his expanded role after a fairly shaky start?
3. Also regarding Ericsson, he’s slated to be paired with Stuart. How much will having a better partner improve his performance?
UPDATE (11/23/09 1:35 PM): It turns out Ericsson will actually be paired with Lidstrom. This is even better. It's no accident that his best games came when he was forced to fill in for Rafalski during the playoffs last season.
4. Where have all the goals gone? After netting 19 in 3 games, the Wings have only managed 4 (even if we count Brad May’s, 5 isn’t much better) over the last 3 games.

The Preds have come a long way from the days of their obnoxiously annoying tradition of squeaky air quotes fangs (They don’t do that anymore, right? I haven’t heard it in a while.) that inspired my siblings and me to take a picture in front of their building mocking them. They currently sit one point behind the Wings, so this would be kind a nice win to pick up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kronwall Update...

Well, the news on Nik Kronwall’s injury is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that looking at the hit and knowing Kronner’s past knee issues, I immediately assumed that he’d be setting a date with a knee surgeon in the near future. From that perspective, the current estimate of 4-8 weeks seems like an early Christmas present.

However, if he were to come back in exactly four weeks, the absolute best-case scenario for his return, he would still miss 14 games. That’s right: 14 games minimum of a third pairing that consists of Derek Meech and Brett Lebda, but it’ll probably be closer to 20 because, let’s face it, that’s how this season’s gone. This next stretch of the schedule is as densely packed as I’ve ever seen, with numerous back-to-back games and only a couple of two-day breaks between games.

Losing Kronwall hurts even more because he’s been having the best year of his career so far. He’s currently ranked third in team scoring behind only the Eurotwins, and had absolutely been on a tear for the last couple of weeks. (And the fact that it came against the Habs, for whom I have always harbored a semi-irrational hatred only makes it that much worse.)

The NHL has apparently decided to review the hit to potentially punish Laraque further. Which is nice, but not particularly likely to help fill the hole on the blue line he caused. Predictably, the league asked for a medical report on Kronner to factor into their decision. This is a perfect example of why the disciplinary process is such a joke. It shouldn’t matter if he’ll be out for four weeks or four days, if the hit itself was dirty, it should be punished. (The same goes for headshots.) A dirty hit is a dirty hit whether the player on the receiving end has his career ended or shakes it off and doesn’t miss a shift. But we all know that’s not how the league rolls.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wings 3, Canadiens 2 (SO): Post Game Snipes...

  • The first period was absolutely ridiculous. Every time I thought the Habs’ parade to the penalty box was over, they got whistled again. I know the Wings scored two powerplay goals, but I felt like they should’ve had more. Especially since they had two extended 5-on-3s.
  • In one single shift of destruction, Georges Laraque managed to cut Darren Helm with a high stick and take out Nik Kronwall’s knee. I was still worrying about Helm as he was collecting himself behind the play when I saw Kronwall go down. At that point, I was no longer particularly concerned with Helm's facial well-being. For his efforts, Laraque got six minutes in the box.
  • I’m still not sure how Laraque only got a two-minute minor for his knee-on-knee hit on Kronner. I mean he still took six minutes of penalties at once (something I don’t ever recall seeing without a fight or a game misconduct being involved), but it was a dirty hit and there’s no place for stuff like that in the game.
  • There’s no official word on Kronwall’s injury yet, but I can’t imagine it’s going to be good news. Babcock said “it ain’t pretty” when asked if he might be out months. CBC’s HNIC intermission report mentioned that the team thinks he suffered some MCL damage, so things certainly aren’t looking good. However, the Freep is reporting that, while we can expect him to miss 2-3 weeks minimum, it might only be a sprain. I’m choosing to assume the worst-case scenario of him being out for months, so on the off chance that it’s not that bad I’ll find myself excited instead of having my spirit crushed.
  • The Wings, predictably, went to sleep in the third period and let the Habs claw their way back into the game.
  • I don’t think I noticed the fourth line out there once all game.
  • I like Jonathan Ericsson much better on the powerplay than the penalty kill. However, with Kronwall’s injury, he’s now one of the Wings’ top four defensemen. I’m not looking forward to seeing their defensive lineup on Monday. At all.
  • Matt from On the Wings tossed out the idea of bringing Chris Chelios back into the fold. Signing him to a two-way contract would not be the worst thing in the world.
  • At one point while waiting to start the rush, Brad Stuart paused behind the net to adjust the foot guards he’s apparently recently taken to wearing. He even took his glove off to take a second try at fixing it. Meanwhile, Montreal just kind of stood around in the neutral zone and watched him. I’m pretty sure that this incident was the single best argument against using the neutral zone trap that I’ve ever seen.
  • Nick Lidstrom had a very rough game by his lofty standards. The third period was one of the worst that I’ve seen him play. And by that I mean that it was one of the approximately three instances in his career when he hasn't been a vision of perfection.
  • Is it just me or is the FSN crew getting loopier and loopier every game?
GP Answers:
1. About halfway through the game, I caught the first rounds of that stupid “Ole” song. I know it’s semi-irrational, but I cannot stand hearing that.
2. We got treated to good Jimmy today. He didn’t have a whole lot of work in the first period, but he made some big saves when the Wings went to sleep later on in the game.
3. The Wings definitely slowed down toward the end of the game. That may be partially due to having to cycle 5 defensemen after losing Kronwall early, but I’ll give this one to Montreal.
4. Over the last couple of games, Pav has made it clear that Todd Bertuzzi is out of his league on the first line. A lot has been made of Datsyuk’s slow start, but you have to look at how many glorious opportunities he’s set his linemates up for only to see them fire it wide or whiff on the shot. For his part, Pav scored for the second game in a row and added a ceremonial tally in the shootout.
5. They were still buzzing tonight, but slightly less noticeable than they were on Friday. No breakaways for Helm, unfortunately.
6. The UM loss was tough, but losing Kronwall hurts more.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk
They both buried their shots in the shootout to ensure that the Wings limped away with two points tonight. I was going to give this to Hank on account of using his, “the puck was not my friend,” quote as a tiebreaker, but then Pav went and said, “Now it’s known I be try to dangle,” when discussing his shootout strategy, thus returning them to a deadlock.

Ville Leino gets the Golden Facepalm
His turnover led to the Canadiens’ first goal a whopping nine seconds into the third period. You could pretty much tell from that point on, things were going to be a challenge.

What I learned:
That this season could, in fact, get more depressing.

Wings vs. Canadiens GP...

Wings vs. Canadiens @7 PM

1. I really dislike the Canadiens. Despite the fact that they rarely face the Wings, I always take great joy in seeing them lose. I was thrilled to see their 100th anniversary season end in a first-round sweep. There’s something just absurdly arrogant about their fans. And that’s saying something coming from a Wings’ fan. So what antics are they going to come up with to make me want to throw things at my TV?
2. Jimmy Howard’s back in net tonight. I have to admit that he’s earned the start based on his performance during Ozzie’s illness. So will we see good Jimmy or the Jimmy who needs a dog shock collar to keep him in the crease?
3. Like the Wings, Montreal played last night so there’s no excuse for anyone about being “tired.” Who is going to have legs left for tonight?
4. Can Datsyuk follow up his strong game last night with another one?
5. Can the third line keep up the torrid pace it had in the game last night? Will Darren Helm manage to capitalize if he gets a breakaway?
6. Most importantly, will I have any voice left with which to yell at my TV or energy with which to care after the UofM game? It's my last in the Big House as a student, and let's face it, what this weekend's really all about. So, one last time: GO BLUE!!!

It's unclear if I'll be able to watch the game tonight or not, so no promises about a recap.

Wings 1, Panthers 2 (OT): Post Game Snipes...

  • Darren Helm had not one, but two breakaways tonight. He didn’t score on either of them.
  • He and Patrick Eaves were absolutely flying for the whole game.
  • Scott Clemmensen did not look like a backup goalie tonight. I hate it when that happens.
  • Can someone explain to me why the Wings are so terrible at overtime? I cannot wrap my head around that.
  • After scoring 19 goals in 3 games, the Wings have managed only 3 2 goals in their last two games. It’s either feast or famine. A little more regularity would be nice.
  • How miserable must it be to be a fan of a team that plays the trap like that? I don't know how you could stand to watch games like that 82 times every season.
  • The Wings should've won this game. They had more than enough opportunities to put it away and didn't capitalize on them.
GP Answers:
1. Ozzie looked good during regulation. He wasn’t terribly tested, but he made some pretty good saves. The OT winner was weak, though.
2. They actually had a pretty quick start. They outshot the Panthers 11-2 in the first period. I had high hopes for the outcome of the game when I turned it off at that point to take care of other obligations.
3. Ericsson was, in fact, not involved in either of the Panthers’ goals. Kudos.
4. The tripping call on Miller was weak, but I prefer to save my complaining about penalty calls/non-calls for the playoffs. There weren’t really any horrendous moments.
5. Datsyuk certainly responded. I’m not sure Bertuzzi looked any better.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Pavel Datsyuk
He looked much more lively tonight. Babcock called him out and he certainly rose to the challenge. The Wings need him to get going.

Brian Rafalski gets the Golden Facepalm
I’m not sure exactly what he was doing on the Panthers’ tying goal, but it involved a lot of standing around and watching the puck get deposited into the Wings’ net.

What I learned:
Having twice as many shots on goal as your opponent does not mean that you will win a hockey game.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wings vs. Panthers GP...

Wings vs. Panthers @7:30 PM

1. Obviously the big story of the night is Chris Osgood making his long-awaited return from a mysterious virus. How long will it take him to shake off the rust?
2. How will the team look after having a couple of days to stew about the blown call from Wednesday night? I’d like to see them come out with a little bit of fire and attitude, but then again, that’s what I would have liked to have seen immediately after the whole fiasco. The Wings have a tendency to play their best when they feel like they have an axe to grind, so hopefully we'll see a disgruntled bunch of guys out on the ice tonight.
3. How many goals is Jonathan Ericsson going to score for the Panthers tonight?
4. What spectacular display of incompetence will we see from the NHL’s officials tonight? This doesn’t even have to occur in the Wings’ game. Really, anything’s up for grabs.
5. Mike Babcock has called out the top line of Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, and Holmstrom. Datsyuk and Holmstrom were fairly invisible against Dallas, and the only reason anyone noticed Bertuzzi was because he kept making mind-boggling blind passes right to Stars. Babcock’s messages seem to have worked so far this season, so how will these guys respond?

It’s recently occurred to me that I keep asking all of these pre-game questions, but I very rarely bother addressing them in my post-game wrap-ups. I’m going to give that a shot starting tonight, even though I’m probably going to miss a good chunk of the game. And probably the one tomorrow.

Wings 1, Stars 3, Dennis LaRue 1: Post Game Snipes/Ranting...



Okay, I’m a little behind the ball on this one thanks to an epically long paper that I chose to hold off on writing until 48 hours before it was due. However, now that it’s all safely uploaded, I’m free to finally get my hockey-rant on. And, yes, rant I will. If you’re not in the mood for a good old-fashioned upbraiding of the league, you might try checking out a non-Wings blog for the time being. It’s been over 24 hours now, and this one still stings.

It’s frustrating as a fan of both logic and hockey to see these things that defy any standard of reason occur over and over again. Let’s not kid ourselves here. This is ugly, and it’s embarrassing for the league. If we want to move on to legislating things that are arguably judgment calls like, say, hits to the head, that’s going to be pretty darn hard if we can’t even figure out the simple things like whether or not the puck’s in the net.

Every person watching that game last night knew that the goal should have counted. The Dallas Stars knew that. So did their fans, come to think of it. Everyone, that is, but one Dennis LaRue. Because in the moment that the puck entered the net, he was apparently distracted by a bumblebee. Or something shiny.

His rationale for waving off a game-tying goal? It seems that he had already blown the play dead when the puck entered the net. He didn’t even bother to invoke Wings fans’ favorite “intent to blow” rule. He tried to tell us that not only did he intend to blow his whistle, he had, in fact, already done so. Never mind that there was clear evidence that this was a fantasy. Never mind that every standard of reason and logic said that it should have been a goal. Never mind that whatever shreds of credibility that the NHL’s officiating system had been clinging to were blown away along with the goal.

The league (admittedly to my surprise) issued a statement addressing the controversy that was amusingly labeled as an “explanation.” It managed to pretend to apologize for “apparently” blowing the call while at the same time supporting the decision process that led to the travesty. It really was an artful maneuver. Some people seem to think that the NHL’s admission of an issue represents intent to enact something to remedy similar situations in the future. I, however, am not nearly that optimistic. I will, as always, continue to expect the worst from the league until I am given concrete proof (something for which I have an innate respect, thus disqualifying me from ever being a part of the NHL’s staff).

If we’re to assume that the play was ended by LaRue’s intent to blow his whistle instead of the actual act of blowing it, we then have to question what on earth he was thinking. In order for this to be a legitimate reason, he would have had to have lost sight of the puck somewhere when it was out in the open. There was no scrum in front of the net. There were no bodies falling every which way and obstructing his view. There was no need to protect Alex Auld. If LaRue can’t keep track of the puck in that situation, he quite simply should not be refereeing games in the NHL. And the league’s “explanation” is tacitly admitting that much…but not really, because that would also involve an unseemly admission of fallibility.

And I haven’t even gotten to the issue of what was going on with the phone call from Toronto. I can’t believe I was actually relieved to see that they were going to weigh in on the situation. I mean, what’s the point of having a video review if they can’t overturn the ref? Even if he was adamant that he ended play before the puck ended up in the net, why couldn’t they say, “Listen, sunshine, we know you think you know what you saw, but we’ve got this fancy moving picture box here in Toronto that proves you’re delusional. Best not make fools of the whole lot of us.” Now I’m not normally an advocate of pulling rank, but if ever there was a time for that it was last night. (Yes, I understand that “intent to blow” calls are non-reviewable, but the sheer ridiculousness of that little rule is another rant for another night…or rather one that I seem to recall making sometime in the not too distant past.)

Do you honestly think that the NHL (or any employer for that matter) would tolerate that level of incompetence from anyone else on its payroll? If, say, an accountant made a catastrophic and incredibly public error while doing his or her job, how much longer do you think they’d be employed? If a member of the league’s legal staff screwed something up as epically as LaRue did, don’t you think they’d be polishing their resumes faster than you can say “intent to blow?” But for some reason, the league likes to imagine that its referees enjoy some mythical level of infallibility. Kind of like how Dennis LaRue imagined that he had blown the whistle before the puck ended up in the net.

And you know what one of the worst parts of this is? That it’s getting blown up into a Wings-fan-conspiracy-theorist debate. This is ironic, because I’ve spent a pretty good amount of time reading Wings blogs out there today, and I have yet to find one that is crying conspiracy. I fully do not believe that the NHL could be competent enough to pull of a conspiracy of the scale that size. Let’s be realistic. They can’t even figure out how to tell if a puck’s in the net, and you expect me to have a theory about an elaborate plot against my team? Please. That would require some level of competence, which clearly is not possessed by the NHL.

Instances like these are why it’s so difficult to be an NHL fan. Every single die-hard out there is a hockey fan because they made an active decision to become one. Hockey’s not an easy sport to get into, especially in the United States where it doesn’t have a presence like the other major sports. People are probably not going to stumble onto a game on tv when they’re flipping channels and they’re not going to discover it by watching mainstream media coverage. For the most part, we fans came to the sport, drawn in by family or friends who were fans before us. But how do we sell the game to others when we ourselves can’t even stand to think about the league? When the utter absurdity that emanates out of the league offices continues to baffle even those of us who know the game inside and out? When inconsistency and arrogance never fail to win out over justice and humility?

Honestly, sometimes I think that the fact that I keep coming back to watch games and spend my money night after night after horrendous mistake-filled night is clearly indicative of some level of masochism at best if not full-blown clinical insanity.

Post Game Snipes:
  • I really would’ve liked the Wings to have come out with a little fire after getting robbed like that. It would’ve been a nice show of character from a team that still seems to be struggling to find an identity and consistency.
  • Although, to be fair, I would’ve liked to have seen them show up to play from the beginning of the game instead of relying on Jimmy Howard of all people to keep them in the game.
  • Speaking of Howard, he’s playing…well. He gave the Wings every chance to win last night, and they, with a little help from LaRue, chose not to take advantage.
  • The one highlight was Henrik Zetterberg’s beautiful goal. Z is absolutely on fire. Keep it up, please. I want more.
  • At one point during the first period (possibly in response to Brad May’s “slashing” penalty), I posted this on Twitter: “Another cheap call against the Wings. Is this really what I'm going to have to deal with all night?” Oh how sweet and na├»ve I was at that point. Little did I know what was lying in store for me.
  • Babcock called May’s rant-inspiring non-goal (I’m still searching for what to title this one as The Goal That Wasn’t has already been assigned to Brad Watson’s playoff magic.), “as dumb as I’ve ever seen.” Which is putting it mildly…
  • But really the killer quote out of all of this is the one from Alex Auld regarding the play. He said, “That’s the ref’s judgment call obviously. We caught a break there but I feel like you work for those too.” Now, I’m really curious as to what kind of “work” he put in to earn a gift like that. How exactly does one go about earning something like that? No really, do tell. We’d all like to know.
Cookies and Cupcakes for Jimmy Howard
I literally never expected that there would come a time when I would feel like he was the best Wing on the ice. And yet, there he was Wednesday night, keeping the score close enough that the non-goal will be causing us sleepless nights for weeks on end.

Jonathan Ericsson gets the Golden Facepalm
He had a beautiful tip-in during the first period. Unfortunately, it was into the Wings’ own net.

What I learned:
That no matter what reason and logic and your eyes tell your brain about reality, it’s still okay to ignore them in favor of your imagination.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wings vs. Stars GP...

Wings vs. Stars @7:30 PM

1. So it appears that we won’t get to see Marty Turco tonight. That’s a shame, considering how he’s historically fared at the Joe. Will his backup manage to fail as spectacularly in Detroit as Marty has in the past?
2. I’ve seen different reports today regarding which Wings forward will be scratched. As of now, it sounds like Brad May will be in the lineup, though. Who’s taking bets on how long it’s going to take him to square off against one of the Stars? (Ott, anyone?)
3. Speaking of Ott, how many minutes into the game will it be before I begin throwing things at my TV whenever I see him on the ice?
4. Jimmy Howard is making his fourth straight start tonight. He was almost untested against Columbus, looked pretty solid against Vancouver, and looked shaky during the third period of the Anaheim game. All in all, it hasn’t been a bad run for him. I was starting to consider turning my opinion of him around until the issues toward the end of the game on Saturday caused me to hold off on that. Will he use tonight to continue work his way into my good graces as a reliable backup (please) or live up to my pre-season perceptions?

Okay, so I may or may not have phoned this one in. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing something important here, but school and illness are forcing my hand. I might be on Twitter during the game tonight. I might not. It depends on how much of my gigantic paper that’s due tomorrow night that I get done before puck drop.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Off-Season Brilliance?...

So I got to thinking the other day about Ken Holland’s off-season work. And I came to a conclusion that I wouldn’t have expected a few months ago: Thank goodness the Wings didn’t re-sign Marian Hossa.

Now, I liked Hossa when he was here. I certainly wasn’t happy with his performance in the payoffs, but I liked him and I liked what he brought to the team. I kind of figured he’d be gone this summer and my only real problem with his departure was that he ended up in Chicago. I was kind of ambivalent about the possibility of re-signing him because while I liked the thought of another year of the kind of offensive firepower he brought, I knew it would be tricky to fill out a full roster with the kind of money it would take to keep him. And you know what? In the pre-lockout world, he would’ve been a Wing for life. And I would’ve been okay with that.

I also wasn’t thrilled with some of the free agent signings this summer, although that had a lot to do with my personal dislike of Bertuzzi and Williams. I questioned why Holland signed three bargain-priced guys instead of going after a bigger name with some scoring touch to replace what had been lost. While I still can’t say that I’ve entirely warmed to all of the new arrivals (Yes, Todd Bertuzzi, I’m looking at you.), we’re lucky that Ken Holland played his hand the way he did.

So far this season, the Wings have been dropping like flies (not to mention the fact that Hossa has yet to play a game), as the injury bug that began in the playoffs last season has blossomed into a full-on epidemic. The Wings’ depth has been tested as much as any point in recent memory, and it’s been an issue of having enough healthy bodies to field a lineup every night. Before picking Drew Miller up off of waivers, the Wings were dressing every healthy NHL forward they had. That includes Justin Abdelkader, who everyone expected to spend the majority of the season developing in Grand Rapids.

If the Wings had gone ahead and signed Hossa, it would’ve prevented them from making those additional signings (whose necessity I admittedly questioned back in August). Even with his salary coming off the books while he’s been on IR, the Wings would’ve had to have made more call-ups from Grand Rapids (none of the options are particularly appealing) or it would’ve forced Holland to make a move that probably wouldn’t have been beneficial to the Wings in the long run.

Anyway, whatever ambivalence I might have had at one time about Hossa’s departure has gone, and I’m just thankful that the Wings were able to sign three bodies with their precious salary-capped dollars. Even though Williams is one of the guys down with a long-term injury and Bertuzzi still makes me want to bang my head on a wall on a regular basis, I think it’s safe to say that Ken Holland made some wise decisions over the summer. I know there’s no way he could’ve foreseen the injury situation, but it’s just another example of why we Wings fans continue to subscribe to the motto “In Kenny We Trust.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wings 7, Ducks 4: Post Game Snipes...

  • I live blogged the game from a bar tonight with two of my classmates. It was a pretty good moment in my college career. So if you happened to be out and about and you saw three people typing away on their laptops, there’s a pretty good chance it was us. I can't imagine that there were many other people out with a setup like that on Saturday night. I’m fairly certain our waitress thought we were nuts. Especially when we asked if there was any way we could move closer to an electrical outlet. Fun times. It probably would’ve turned out better if we hadn’t sat around talking the whole time instead of blogging. Maybe.
  • Z scored a hat trick. Guess what I’ll be having for lunch tomorrow. I don’t think anyone else understood why I yelled, “Yes! Arby’s!” when he put it in the empty net. I’ve been coveting that for quite a while now, as it fits perfectly into my freegan lifestyle. He was buzzing all night. You just kind of had a sense that he was going to put one in eventually.
  • The Wings looked excellent during the first period. I was pretty happy with their effort when they went to intermission. The second period was a little shaky, but they managed to escape with the lead. The third period was just...crazy-nutso, to quote the great Wayne Brady.
  • During the third period, George Parros left his feet to hit Ericsson, driving his face into the boards. You know you got some good air when you manage to do that to the Big Rig.
  • The Wings took a pretty obvious too many men on the ice penalty during the third. I was really confused because I was reasonably sure they were on the penalty kill, but there were actually 5 skaters on the ice. They realized and one of the guys bolted for the bench, but they got called anyway. This kind of made me wonder why that call couldn’t have been made in the Stanley Cup Finals. Apparently the NHL didn’t think of teaching their referees to count single digit numbers until this summer.
  • Ericsson’s non-fight amused me a lot. While he never did quite get his helmet off, it was nice to see him step up and at least attempt to defend Z after he got mauled out in front of the net.
  • It was nice to have a little confirmation that, yes, I do in fact still hate the Ducks.
  • Cleary, Rafalski, and Helm also picked up goals for the Wings. Cleary's was briefly reviewed, and while I was fairly certain that it would count, after watching the video from last night's Toronto-Chicago game, I wasn't ready to take anything for granted.
  • At one point, Brad Stuart made an awesome save in the crease. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure this was his best game of the season.
  • Zetterberg had a 5-point night. Datsyuk had a goal. Kronwall had two assists. I mention this because all three of them are on the fantasy team that I’m matched up against this week. It figures that they would choose now to wake up. I can’t really complain, though.
  • The Wings have scored 19 goals in their last 3 games. Not bad for a team that had 1,192 goals walk away in the off-season, eh? They’ve also already equaled their win total for all of October so far this month. They currently sit exactly one point behind Chicago for the division lead. I’d also like to point out that the Wings have scored 10 goals more than the Hawks have thus far, for what it’s worth.
  • No games until Wednesday again. I hate long breaks like this. Don’t people know that I need my hockey fix? I guess it’s a good opportunity to get Ozzie healthy, though.
Cookies and Cupcakes for Henrik Zetterberg
Z finally, finally hooked the citizens of Hockeytown up with our long-awaited free Arby’s. As if, you know, we needed another reason to love him.

Jonathan Ericsson gets the Golden Facepalm
You know why. He apparently thought Christmas came early and decided to gift wrap a goal for Corey Perry. I’ve watched the replay of this goal several times now and I still don’t understand what he was thinking or trying to do or looking at.

What I learned:
That there is, in fact, such a thing as free Arby’s.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Night's Alright...

What better way is there to spend Saturday night than sitting at a bar with two friends and your laptop? I think it's safe to say that this is the best homework assignment I've ever gotten. This has to be the ultimate college/grad school experience. We should be getting rolling around 6:45 or so. I'm not sure if we'll be blogging the whole game, but feel free to join us. I hope we don't get too nerdy.

Wings vs. Ducks GP...

Wings vs. Ducks @7 PM

1. Chris PYG may have departed from the formerly mighty Ducks, but there’re still plenty of goons to hate. So who’s going to make me want to throw things at the TV tonight? Perry? Getzlaf? Niedermayer? Someone’s bound to throw an elbow or two. I’d also steer clear of the press box if Bob Murray is in attendance, or at least make sure the seats are bolted down. Anaheim’s classiness doesn’t stop on the ice, sunshines.
2. I’m getting really tired of asking this question every day, but which Red Wings team is going to show up tonight? The one that absolutely walked all over Columbus or the one that had to rely on Jimmy Howard of all people to keep them in the game against the Canucks? I swear this team is schizophrenic.
3. Saturday’s aren’t always kind to us Wings fans. Will the boys put on a better show than they did last weekend?
4. There’s going to be a ceremony to honor Nick Lidstrom for his 1,000th point before the game tonight, so how long is it going to take the Wings to get their heads in the game? In addition to having a case of schizophrenia, I think this team has the attention span of a 3-year-old.
5. I’ve been assigned to live blog an event of my choosing for one of my classes. Since it was obviously a no-brainer to choose a Wings game, two of my classmates and I will be setting up shop at a bar tonight to run an event using Cover it Live. Yes, you read that correctly: I’m going to be doing homework on my laptop in a bar on Saturday night. I feel like it’s gong to be the ultimate college experience. How many strange looks will our little trio get? How many times are we going to be informed that we’re the ultimate nerds? It should be a rollicking good time, so feel free to join us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Night I Met Steve Yzerman...


These are going to be even less coherent than normal due to the fact that I’m still a little bit giddy, and I’m not entirely convinced that I didn’t just imagine this entire evening.

Post game snipes:
  • So, uh, tonight I got to watch the game from a suite at the Joe, hang out with a bunch of other crazy Wings fans who Twitter, and MEET STEVE YZERMAN. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the game, though, since I was so completely distracted by the overload of awesomeness that I experienced.
  • I wasn’t particularly impressed with the Wings’ play tonight, but let’s face it, from the first intermission on, I could not have cared less about the outcome of the game. Vancouver outplayed them for most of the game, and on any other night, I would’ve been sitting at home frustrated and yelling at my TV. But not this night.
  • I was a little surprised/disappointed at the lack of "Stevie! Stevie!" chants during the puck drop ceremony. Who would pass up an opportunity to rock the Joe with that old favorite one more time? You never know when you're going to get another chance to do it. Shame.
  • I got to bring one person with me to the game, so after much agonizing, I selected my dad. We ended up getting to the Joe right as the door opened, so after picking up our Yzerman plaques, we decided to take a leisurely stroll around the concourse before heading up to the suite. It turned out that if we had gone straight there, we would’ve been able to watch the first period from right behind the Wings’ bench. Oh well.
  • We stopped to enter a raffle for a signed plaque with the famous picture of Kronwall destroying Havlat. The woman working at the table kept yelling, “win an autographed Kronwall!” I asked her which one. She didn’t get it. Maybe the winner gets to choose.
  • The Stanley Cup (and the Conn Smythe and some other trophies that we don’t really care about here in Hockeytown) was on display in the concourse in all of its shiny glory. I knew then that it was going to be a good night.
  • While we were waiting outside the Joe, we saw Filppula pull into the lot (driving one-handed, of course). Then Larry Murphy showed up a couple of minutes later. After seeing his vehicle of choice, my dad disgustedly said, “He drives an Audi?!” It was a pretty good moment.
  • During the first intermission, I was standing kind of in the door between the suite and the seating area watching the kids do their shootout thing when my dad grabbed my shoulder and told me to turn around. Right there, not five feet away from me was my childhood hero Steve Yzerman. (I would also like to take this opportunity to not how immensely proud I am that I didn’t do anything completely embarrassing. It turns out that I’m occasionally capable of not acting like a psychopath after all.) The Wings’ PR staff that was there said we could only take one group shot that they would send to all of us so we were a little disappointed. However, after we posed for the picture, he said, “So…you guys want any autographs? I can stick around for a little while.” As if there was a chance in this universe that we would’ve turned down that offer. A mad scramble for autographable items ensued as people pretty much dove left and right trying to find stuff to get signed (I’m kidding. Everyone in the suite was incredibly nice and I think we all had a wonderful time together.). I shook Stevie’s hand, and he signed the back of my gorgeous old-school #19 jersey as well as the front of the old midget-sized one that I intend to get framed. He was incredibly gracious and I think there was a general consensus amongst the 12 of us there that we could all die happy right then and there.
  • After he left, one of the guys realized that he had walked out with his Sharpie. He said (and this is one of those things that doesn’t really translate well to text), “Steve Yzerman just stole my Sharpie……*realization dawning*……STEVE Yzerman just stole my Sharpie! :)” I’ve included the little smiley face there to aid you in your interpretation of the quote. I really can’t do it justice. It was a pretty awesome moment in all of our lives. I just wish he had stolen my Sharpie instead. I don’t even know what that says about me.
  • Okay, I am most definitely not the excitable type. I tend to be even-keel to the point that I’m often mistaken as being heartless. So it was absolutely bizarre to discover that my hands were still shaking a little at the end of the second period. All things considered, though, I think I handled it well. Prior to arriving at the game, I had wondered if a meeting might maybe be in store for us, and I had warned close friends that if they never heard from me again that it was safe to assume that I had had a heart attack and died. But it would’ve been okay because then when I got to the pearly gates (whether this would actually be my destination sparked some debate…) I would be able to say that Steve Yzerman was the last person that I saw on this earth. It turns out, though, that I didn’t die, which is probably evident by the fact that I’m typing this post.
  • He was wearing his shiny new Hall of Fame ring. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I noticed it when he was signing things for people. Way cool.
  • It’s now 3:30 AM. I’ve been up since 5:30 AM. I barely got 5 hours of sleep last night. I have absolutely no idea why I’m still typing. I definitely need to fix my priorities.
  • Shortly after Yzerman departed, Joey Kocur stopped by. He stuck around for a while and chatted with us. He was not familiar with the concept of Twitter, so we took it upon ourselves to explain it to him. I don’t think we converted him.
  • After we got done explaining things to him, he looked around the suite and said, “Hey, you guys got beer in here?” When he was informed that we did not, in fact, have any beer, he joked that he should’ve stopped by the Molson suite first.
  • He actually signed all of his pictures “To Soandso, all my best…” This led to some fun moments when he was trying to talk and write people’s names at the same time thus leading to a couple of inventive spellings.
  • All in all he was a pretty fun guy and I didn’t mind missing the first few minutes of the second period chatting with him. Still though, I felt a little bad. How do you walk into a room after Steve Yzerman has just left and expect to wow people? It’s got to be a little disheartening. Talk about a tough act to follow.
  • I really liked Zetterberg’s goal. A lot.
  • Jimmy Howard didn’t make me want to bang my head against the wall. Sure he gave up some juicy rebounds, but he came up with a few big saves, and he was tested a whole lot more than Luongo was.
  • Kronner’s empty netter (Make sure you watch until the very end as Z gives Nik what must be some sort of strange Swedish sign of affection.) was one of the two most amusing empty net goals I've seen. We could see that the puck was heading on the right trajectory toward the goal, the only question was whether or not it would cross the goal line before the Vancouver player caught up to it. As it inched closer (seemingly in slow motion), the whole arena started to go, “oooohhhh,” rising in pitch as it neared the line. It was pretty awesome and completely unexpected. (For those of you who are curious, this is the other most amusing one.)
  • I uploaded all of my pictures over here for your viewing pleasure. With any luck, I’ll have time to go through and actually label them tomorrow…and maybe even rearrange them so they’re in the right order. I might slap together another post about tonight if I think of anything else or bother going back to discover just how incoherent the rest of this post has been.
  • Overall, we were treated like royalty by the Wings staff. We had an amazing time, and I can’t say enough about getting this opportunity.
  • We made out like bandits. Obviously the two jerseys were mine before, but everything else was given to me.
Cookies and Cupcakes for Steve Yzerman.
Sure he wasn’t on the ice, but he made my life tonight. I’m never going to forget this game. The only reason I’m convinced that tonight actually happened is because there’s a big old signature adorning the 9 on the back of my jersey.

Brett Lebda gets the Golden Facepalm
It was only a matter of time before he ended up with one of these. I’m going to admit that this is more of a reputation call than anything else. He made a couple of pretty bad defensive zone turnovers that really stand out in my mind though, and I’m almost positive that he was one of the D-men on the ice during that long stretch in the third period when the Wings were hemmed into their own zone and unable to clear the puck despite having numerous chances to do so.

What I learned:
That meeting The Captain makes me giddy like a schoolgirl. Not that that should come as a surprise to anyone who has ever met me before.

One final note:
For one of my classes at school, I got assigned to live blog an event of my choosing. Obviously, it didn't take a whole lot of thought to decide to do a Wings game. As such, two of my classmates and I will be setting up shop at a bar on Saturday night and live blogging the game against Anaheim. (Yeah, we're going to be sitting in a bar on a Saturday night with our laptops doing homework. I'm pretty sure it's going to be the ultimate college moment ever.) I'll post the live blog here and send some reminders on Twitter over the next couple of days too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wings vs. Canucks GP...

Wings vs. Canucks @7:30 PM

1. Roberto Luongo came back from his injury/sickness/whatever else was ailing him during Vancouver’s loss the other day. He entered the game after Andrew Raycroft gave up 4 goals on 13 shots. So far this season, he hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations that folks have for him (I know this because he’s on both of my fantasy teams), which naturally means that he’s probably going to choose tonight to find his game. Will the Wings manage to take advantage of the fact that he’s a little rusty, or make him look good by doing their little perimeter-shots-no-traffic-to-the-net thing that they’re apparently so fond of?
2. Daniel Sedin is still out with his broken foot. What creative way will FSN find to work the fact that the Sedin twins hold their sticks differently when they’re sitting on the bench into the broadcast?
3. The Wings haven’t played on back-to-back nights since the opening series in Sweden. How will they respond to the short turnaround?
4. Are we going to see the newly acquired Drew Miller tonight?
5. It’s Steve Yzerman night at the Joe today. I would imagine that that means there will be some sort of ceremony before the game. Will the team find a way to redeem itself for the embarrassment of Saturday’s Hall of Fame game in Toronto?
6. After a 9-goal outburst last night, will the Wings have any left for the Canucks?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wings 9, Blue Jackets 1: Post Game Snipes...

  • Well I think it’s safe to say that the Wings showed up for this one. The first period was the best period of hockey I’ve seen the Wings play all year. And then they followed it up with a solid second and third. Granted, Columbus didn’t put up much of a fight, but the Wings controlled play and looked absolutely dominant. They came out and set the tone early and never let up.
  • One of the strangest aspects of the game was that the Wings’ first 6 goals were scored by 6 different players. Each one of them tallied his third goal of the season. Then Abdelkader scored two goals in the third for, you guessed it, his second and third goals of the season. All in all seven different Wings scored tonight, and each one of them notched his 3rd of the season. It was one of the flukiest things that I’ve seen in a while. With any luck, it’s a sign of good things to come for them and hopefully some of the scores have woken up.
  • Speaking of waking up, Dan Cleary finally got his 100th goal on Saturday, and his goal tonight marked the second game in a row in which he’s scored. I’m quite happy that I stuck with him on my fantasy team.
  • Early in the first, Datsyuk wound up for a shot and it hit a Blue Jacket right in the back of the head, knocking his helmet off, as he went down to block the shot. Pav hovered nearby while he was down on the ice, making sure he was okay. Classy guy.
  • Classiness aside, Dangle Dangle was absolutely on fire tonight. It felt like he was everywhere. I can’t believe he only had 13:29 of ice time tonight.
  • Eaves looked good in his return to the lineup. I absolutely love the third line right now.
  • Leino also had a much better game. He scored a goal (his third of the season, of course) and had a couple of very good chances.
  • Oh gosh I hope they’ve saved some goals for the Captain’s night at the Joe tomorrow.
  • During the first intermission, John Keating was interviewing Dan Cleary and he pointed out that 14 of Cleary’s career goals have come against the BJs. Cleary responded, “Thank god they’re in our division.”
  • At one point during the second period, Todd Bertuzzi found himself open in front of the crease with time to take two or three whacks at the puck while Steve Mason had his back to him. He didn’t score. I still don’t know how. He did manage to redeem himself with a goal (his third of the season, of course) shortly after though.
  • Jimmy Howard made some pretty nice saves throughout the course of the night. The BJs ended up getting credited with 26 shots, but it certainly didn’t feel like they had that many.
Cookies and Cupcakes for everyone.
These are the Wings that I’ve been looking for all season. The forecheck was strong, the puck was handled responsibly in their own zone, the special teams looked good, and I had a smile on my face the whole time.

An Extra Stick Tap for Pavel Datsyuk
He was far and away the best player on the ice tonight. And that’s saying something for a team that scored nine goals. Keep it up, please.

Todd Bertuzzi gets the Golden Facepalm
But only because I made an executive decision that this must be awarded to a Wing every game. This is for that glorious opportunity he had when Mason’s back was turned that he failed to bury.

What I learned:
That watching the 2009-2010 Wings can, in fact, be enjoyable.

Wings vs. Blue Jackets GP...

Wings vs. Blue Jackets @7 PM

1. Columbus is currently tied for the Central Division lead. This is yet another of the many bizarre things that have taken place so far this season. Ken Hitchcock has been vocal about wanting to knock the Wings off of the top of the standings this season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the BJs fired up for the game tonight, especially in light of their first round sweep during the playoffs. Will the Wings decide to show up tonight, or will we be treated to another lackluster performance?
2. Steve Mason has been underwhelming so far during his sophomore season (for the record, I called this during the summer). That, of course, means that he’s probably going to choose tonight to return to his rookie season form. Are the Wings going to get shut down by another young goalie? Again?
3. Jimmy Howard is starting tonight. How much hair will I have left by the end of the game?
4. How long is it going to take for Ken Hitchcock to start whining about how the Wings cheat on faceoffs? How many times is this going to be brought up during the broadcast? (Answer: Every time a Wing gets thrown out of the faceoff circle.)
5. What are the odds that Rick Nash scores a hat trick tonight? Seriously.

As far as I know, there isn’t any sort of pre-game ceremony scheduled for tonight. We can all be thankful for that. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why every opposing team doesn’t find some excuse to celebrate something before the Wings visit their arena. They could celebrate a former player’s birthday, the anniversary of a milestone, or even National Pickle Day and I think it would somehow manage to knock the Wings off of their game. Not that I want this to happen, but I’m just saying…there’s some history to the idea.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman...

That has a pretty nice ring to it, eh?

The Captain finally took his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame last night. He's been enshrined where all hockey fans will whisper his name in awe like we already do here in Hockeytown. Where parents will hold their kids up to his plaque and reverently tell stories about the feats they saw him accomplish. His status as a legend is fully cemented now, not that we didn't know that already. Stevie really has reached the "finish line" of his playing career, but you and I both know better than to think that his legacy won't continue to influence this team, this town, and our hearts and minds.

He delivered a wonderful speech that was everything we’ve come to expect from him over the years. It was humble and delivered with just a touch of nervousness from being in the uncomfortable spotlight. Instead of reflecting on his accomplishments, Stevie instead showered praise on those who surrounded him. It was a classic Captain moment, and yet another fond memory of Yzerman that I'll be telling my grandkids about someday. I’ve already had my say about how I feel about this even that’s been so long in the making, but there’s been quite the round of tributes popping up around the Wings’ blogosphere, and, I have to say, some of them really knocked it out of the park.

First up is the Chief’s entry over at Abel to Yzerman. Honestly, if you read nothing else this decade, read this post:
There are players who’ve been voted in who probably felt it was owed to them. There are “captains” who stayed too long, wore out their welcome in at least three different cities, loved the attention, begged for it, thrived on it, then missed it so much created ways to keep their name out there....like inventing a “leadership award” and finding a hygiene product to sponsor it. There are others who’s spectacular play earned their admission to the Hall, but their lack of character made you cringe to consider their place among the greats like Howe and Beliveau.

Steve Yzerman? He’s never felt like hockey owed him jack squat. And his character is spotless. He is the icon of our age. A hero in a time when defining one is nearly impossible.

So we’re gonna go ahead and break the glass tonite. We’re gonna smash it open and take him out. We present our Captain to you because he’s always been bigger than just one town. We’ve all known how lucky we’ve been and we’ve been stingy. Frankly, if it was just about us, we’d keep him to ourselves. But, it’s not and we know that. We owe it to Steve Yzerman, against his wishes probably, to let him wear the C for an entire sport, not just the red and white.

Four years later the legend was cemented with every shuddering rise from the ice. If you’re a Wing fan you look back at that playoff run and you hear stories of the kind of pain he was in and it brings tears to your eyes because you feel like he did it for you, individually. That’s the effect Yzerman had on Wing fans. You just felt like when he won, he willed it for you. And when the time came for credit and adulation, poof....gone.

But he’s ours no longer. Tonite he becomes hockey’s. And it’s a gift hockey had better be grateful for. Hockey had better stand on its feet tonite and understand that there can be only one. There has never been, and never will be, another Captain like Yzerman. No one has withstood the kind of pain he did, or led as well. Nobody. As Captain Norris said in a comment earlier today, the Hall had better be ready to be humbled.

He’s been ours for nearly three decades, hockey. Tonite we present him to you and the Hall becomes his keeper.
I know. I wish I could write like that too.

This is from On the Wings:
That’s all I can say. There’re more reasons why I love him, but I cannot put them into words. He has a quality. If you are a Wings fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And you cannot put it into words either.

He’s Steve Yzerman, and he’s my captain. He’s The Captain.
Exactly. I’m pretty sure that no words we could come up with would do Stevie justice. It’s just not possible.

Detroit4Lyfe brings us this little quote:
If you're a Red Wings fan, you know how hard it was watching Red Wings games following Yzerman's retirement not seeing #19 glide down the ice. But I came to realize over the past four years that Yzerman's not gone. There is an aura about him that will last eternally. He has forever stamped his legacy on the Detroit Red Wings, permanently in a way that will never fade, that we'll never forget.
It won’t fade because this organization simply won’t let it. And neither will we fans.

Kukla’s article on NHL.com said this:
Yes Steve, you have crossed one finish line, but I am sure there are many of those lines ahead of you. People say the first race they win is the one that is most remembered, and as a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, I must admit, that holds true.

You thrilled us, Steve -- we named children after you, we have hockey shrines built because of you and now we anticipate your next race and assume you will finish first again.

You made our dreams come true, you brought happiness into our lives and provided us with memories we can pass on to younger generations.

It is our time to thank you, Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman, for all that you have done for us.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve considered the name Steve for my future firstborn child. Boy or girl. It doesn’t matter.

And two final quotes, this time from A2Y’s Live Blog of the induction ceremony (Of course we live-blogged it. Why wouldn’t we?). So now Steve Yzerman, our Captain, sits amongst the greatest of the greats, forever to be cherished by all:
The Pantheon. That tiny sliver of Hall of Famers whom even the other Hall of Famers stand in awe of. Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Nicklas Lidstrom, Terry Sawchuk. Absolute legends. Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Rocket Richard. Players for whom the Hall just doesn’t seem adequate. --monkey
Followed quite poetically with:
The ancient Greeks had no problems whatsoever with the concept - there are gods, demi-gods, and mere mortals.

Demi-gods don’t rise to the level of gods, but they are more than mere mortals and have some of the same qualities of gods, just not as many or in such a large quantity.

Gods and demi-gods alike are in the Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean they are all exactly equivalent. Just that they are alike in being so far above others that they deserve special recognition. --Baroque
There are more excellent posts at Bingo Bango, Nightmare on Helm Street, The Production Line, The Triple Deke, and Winging it in Motown. The Freep also had a couple of good articles, as did the News.

And now for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Time to Celebrate the Stevie...

(No snark today. This post is all heart.)

Well, this day has been inevitable for quite some time now. Tonight the greatest Captain in all of sports officially takes his place amongst the hockey royalty in the Hall of Fame. The three years since his retirement have really just been a countdown to today.

I can’t believe it’s been three years since he hung up his skates for good. There’s still a little part of me that expects to see him out there taking a key defensive zone faceoff late in a game. Can you honestly say that you don’t briefly see Yzerman every time a Wing uses his stick to prop himself up as he gets to his feet? Or whenever you catch a glimpse of the C on Nick Lidstrom’s sweater? I was born in 1986 not long before the NHL season started that year. When Stevie retired, I had literally never seen another player wear the C for the Wings. I honestly worried that I wouldn’t feel the same about the game after he retired. My hockey fandom was incredibly tied up in my love for the Captain, and on top of that, I was living in Florida at the time, completely cut off from the hockey world (my access to games was limited and I pretty much cut myself off from it in order to stay sane.). I wondered if I would feel the same way I had before when I came back to Michigan. Obviously, it wasn’t an issue since I’m here writing this blog. But that’s how much Steve Yzerman meant to me as a fan of this hockey team. In my mind, he wasn’t just The Captain, he was the Red Wings.

When I first got into the game, I was drawn to the speed and flashy moves of Sergei Fedorov. I quickly came to realize, though, that Steve Yzerman was more my style. His public approach to the game was very similar to the way I approach my life. And I don’t think I’m alone. He’s the kind of guy we can identify with here in Detroit. We aren’t flashy. We don’t seek the spotlight. We’ve had our share of disappointments and setbacks, but we haven’t given up. We may never be the biggest city or the most respected or the richest or a popular destination, but that’s not going to stop us from trying. And here we are hobbling along with the auto industry barely staying afloat and hearing about a friend or neighbor or family member who lost their job on a daily basis, surviving by determination and heart alone. So it’s no wonder this area fell head over heels for Steve Yzerman.

I can’t think of another leader whose personality came to embody a team in the way that The Captain’s did. This is even more amazing because of how understated Stevie’s public persona was. Even with the veritable all-star team that the Wings fielded in ’02, there was never any question that he was the guy. And that year, when expectations were higher than ever, he led the way. On one leg.

As the latest round of career eulogies goes out to mark this occasion, there is a lot of focus on the ’02 Cup run as the epitome of Stevie’s career. It surely was a highlight, but in my mind there are other ways to define him. I think of him being the guy sent in to win an important faceoff late in a game. I think of sitting on my family room couch as my Dad, just a few months old when the team won the 1955 Cup, tried to hide his tears as The Captain hoisted Stanley for the first time in ’97. I think of him coming back from a ridiculous knee surgery because he still had something left in the tank. I think of standing in the lower bowl of Joe Louis Arena in my bright red #19 jersey clapping until my hands were red the night he scored his 600th goal. I think of the way a picture of him hoisting the Cup can still bring grown men in this city to tears. I think of seeing him play an exhibition game at Yost during the lockout and sticking around to sign autographs for all of the junior players and some of the NHLers too. I think of sitting in the upper bowl in December of 2005, knowing that I was moving to Florida and that he would probably be retiring soon, watching every shift he took and wondering if it would be the last time I saw him set foot on the ice in person. I think of standing on a concrete barrier, craning my neck to catch a glimpse of him during the ’02 parade. I think about trying to explain to my roommate why I felt the need to watch the replay of his jersey retirement ceremony that they showed last month even though I had a mountain of homework, and only being able to point to my misty eyes because I couldn't find words. I think of the way he almost shies away from all of the praise and attention that continues to come his way. I think of the love that transcends the traditional fan/player relationship that the people in Detroit have for him.

Steve Yzerman is and always will be my favorite player of all time. And I couldn’t be happier to see him entering the Hall of Fame tonight. I was lucky to grow up watching Stevie here in Hockeytown, and his is the standard by which I will measure every other player who dons the Winged Wheel. The odds of anyone living up to them are pretty slim.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Another Lousy Saturday...

I didn’t catch enough of the game tonight to offer any sort of intelligent recap, but I thought I’d share what I saw. There’s really no reason for this other than the fact that I like to commiserate with other like-minded folks.

We arrived at a bar with 1 minute left in the 1st period. I managed to get left behind by my group when they got seated because I had naturally headed straight for the nearest TV. Much to my delight, I had arrived just in time to see the Leafs score their second goal of the night.

I was still feeling pretty good about things, though, because I hadn’t expected to see any of the game at all. On top of that, my friends had saved me a seat that was facing the closest TV with the Wings game on (clearly they know me too well). I got to semi-watch the second period right up to when Jason Williams got hurt. (Speaking of which, like everyone else, I initially assumed that he had blown out his knee. I guess compared to that, it’s actually good news that he broke his leg. Watching the replays makes me shudder though.) At that point, we were asked to move tables to make room for a large party, and we got exiled to a room where they were playing some out-of-conference football game that I could not have cared less about. So I spent the rest of the game leaning sideways out of the booth trying to catch glimpses of the game on the ½ screen that was still in view.

Judging by the final score and the recaps that I’ve read, I guess I didn’t miss much. Apparently, as someone was kind enough to point out in the comments on my GP post, my worst fears came true and the Wings sleepwalked through this one. They’ve got a long history of phoning in games against lowly teams and it’s always been one of my great frustrations with this team. Also, it turns out that Phil Kessel did indeed come into his own as the Leafs’ savior with his first goal of the season.

Also, I never thought I’d be genuinely upset to see Jason Williams go down with an injury. The options for replacing him aren’t particularly appealing if Eaves isn’t ready to go on Wednesday. I never thought the Wings would be facing a shortage of forwards after the three signings they made in August.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wings vs. Maple Leafs GP...

Wings vs. Leafs @7 PM

1. Despite all of the Wings’ early-season struggles, we can still be thankful that we’re not Leafs fans. They have exactly 2 victories. Two. In 14 games. They actually doubled their win total last night by beating the lowly Hurricanes. The Wings, on the other hand have put together three solid games in a row. They’re in Toronto with all kinds of autograph sessions and media fanfare for Steve Yzerman to play against a weak, Eastern Conference opponent. In other words, this is exactly the kind of game the Wings like to sleepwalk through. Will they decide to show up and not embarrass themselves with a loss to the Leafs? Please, Hockey Gods, make it so.
2. Will Phil Kessel come into his own in his role as savior of the Leafs tonight?
3. With any luck, the Wings have taken their off-day to recalibrate their collective aim. The last game looked like the team dressed 18 versions of Mikael Samuelsson with all of the missed shots they took. How many shots are they going to send wide this game?
4. Every once in a while, Todd Bertuzzi does things that make me smile. Sometimes I even feel like I’m starting to like him. Then he does things like make behind-the-back passes right onto the tape of opposing players in the Wings’ defensive zone that inevitably lead to heart-attack-inducing scoring chances. Is he going to finally set himself on a course that will earn him my good graces, or is he going to continue to be the guy who keeps making me scare my housemates by yelling at the TV all the time?
5. With a win tonight, the Wings can overtake Chicago and Columbus for the Central Division lead (although, the BJs are playing Carolina, so there’s a pretty good chance they’ll walk away with 2 points to stay ahead of the Wings). Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the Central, who pretty much everyone agreed was the best division in the league at the start of the season actually has the lowest first place point total of any one in the league? There’s no way that will stay like that for the whole season, but I thought it was worth pointing out.

On a side note, I really like the look of the Leafs’ official website. I’m a sucker for old-timey photos like the one they use as the background. I probably won’t get to see the game tonight, which is disappointing because I always love a good Original 6 match-up.

Now, it’s off to the Big House for some football and glorious fall weather. Go Blue!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Guess What I Want for My Birthday Cake Next Year...

Now it’s no secret that I’m a fan of baked goods. I’m also quite fond of mocking others’ mistakes. So it should come as no surprise that I’m an avid reader of the blog Cake Wrecks, which is dedicated to showcasing professional cake-making disasters. This morning’s post combined two of my great loves (sports and the aforementioned sweets) for an homage to poorly executed sports-themed cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. Imagine my delight at finding an inconspicuously hockey themed one as I was doing my daily skimming. Take a look at this little beauty:


It’s labeled “competitive sweeping.” If not for that handy handy title, I would have had no idea that it was supposed to be a broom. At first I was trying to figure out what it had to do with sports (curling?), but upon closer inspection I noticed the “Go Pen’s!” written on the cake board. (Although, for the record, I read “Pen’s” as something else. Beware the dangers of improperly placed apostrophes…) We’ll let that slide though, because I think the real genius is the list of player numbers written on what appears to be the broom handle. Now, non-hockey fans who saw the grid-like list were probably calling in Robert Langdon to break the code or running out to play a Pick-6 Lotto number, but I recognized it for what it was: a really lame attempt at a hockey cake.

Based on the sweep talk, I'm assuming that it's circa the Conference Finals this season, but it could date back to last season. Meanwhile, Wings bakers were turning out gems like these:

and

I know which cake I'd like to snack on. I'm just saying, we do things a little better here in Hockeytown.