Sunday, January 31, 2010

Red Wings 1, Penguins 2 (SO): Post Game Snipes...

  • The shootout was disappointing for sure, but let’s not kid ourselves…the Wings were lucky to get a point today. The first 40 minutes of the game were far more disappointing than anything we saw in the skills competition.
  • I’ve decided to stop trying to understand this team’s inability/unwillingness to show up for games. Instead of driving myself crazy trying to figure it out, I’m just going to accept it for what it is.
  • I had a Qdoba burrito for brunch today. I didn’t realize the irony until I was halfway through eating it. Does Bylsma still do that before every game? It can’t be good for his waistline.
  • Pierre McGuire kept saying that the game was being played with playoff intensity. He was either watching a different game or only referring to the Penguins.
  • It was nice of the Wings to wake up in time for the third.
  • Thank goodness Jimmy Howard brought his A-game today. Otherwise, the score could’ve been ugly. He got some help from the posts, crossbar, and some near-misses by the Penguins, but he’s the one and only reason the Wings skated away with a point today.
  • Every time the third line takes a shift, I fall in love.
  • Filppula missed a couple of glorious chances. It made me sad.
  • Why would you send Jason Williams (Who?) out in the shootout before Zetterberg? I know Z’s not the greatest in shootouts, but Williams didn’t even appear to try. He shot it directly into MAF’s glove. He didn’t even have to move it to make the save. I would’ve sent Filppula out before him too, for that matter.
  • Great job everyone over at the Winging it in Motown fundraiser. It was a lot of fun, even though it was weird to see Twitter so quiet during the game.
GP Answers:
1. Are the Wings going to have some semblance of a defense? The kind of game they played Friday night isn’t going to fly against the Penguins.
The turnovers weren’t as much of a problem today as they were on Friday. The Wings’ main issue was a complete and utter inability to play hockey for most of the game.

2. How long is it going to take for NBC’s broadcast to make Wings fans want to off themselves? Between missed goals and Crosby worship, this game is going to be filled with goodies for all of us.
I don’t think they even made it to the opening faceoff before we were all ready to mute our TVs. At least we didn’t miss any goals this time around.

3. I wrote about the powerplay sarcastically on Friday, and the Wings made me look silly by converting two of them, and scoring just three seconds after another one. Can they make that a trend so that powerplay success becomes the norm again instead of an exception?
No. They even had a powerplay chance to end overtime and couldn’t convert. That needs to get fixed. Soon.

4. The first line has been acting like a first line lately. You’d like to think that they would show up for a game like this. Will we see the brilliance from the Eurotwins that we’re accustomed to in big games?
Datsyuk and Zetterberg were the Wings’ best forwards all game, not that it took much to stand out today for most of the game.

5. The Wings got passed in the standings again. Petty desires for revenge or retribution for us fans don’t really matter anymore. The Wings need to win this one to jump back into the 8-spot. Can they do it?
Well, no. They’re now tied with Calgary point-wise, but are still in 9th place because they lose the tiebreaker.

6. I hate wondering if the Wings are going to show up before every single game. It’s been a valid question for all of this season, though. What kind of effort are we going to see from the whole team?
Hahahahaha. Don’t even get me started. It’s disgusting, it’s frustrating, it’s appalling, it’s disheartening, etc, etc, etc.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Jimmy Howard
I have this secret hope that Jimmy walked into the locker room after the game and beat every single one of his teammates with his goal stick while screaming incoherently. I’m sure that didn’t happen, but it has to be annoying to consistently be the only one showing up for games.

Darren Helm gets the Golden Facepalm
I love the guy, but you just can’t leave Sidney Crosby wide open like that. This really could’ve gone to a number of guys, though.

What I Learned:
The Office is NBC’s only redeeming quality.

Red Wings vs. Penguins GP...

1. Are the Wings going to have some semblance of a defense? The kind of game they played Friday night isn’t going to fly against the Penguins.
2. How long is it going to take for NBC’s broadcast to make Wings fans want to off themselves? Between missed goals and Crosby worship, this game is going to be filled with goodies for all of us.
3. I wrote about the powerplay sarcastically on Friday, and the Wings made me look silly by converting two of them, and scoring just three seconds after another one. Can they make that a trend so that powerplay success becomes the norm again instead of an exception?
4. The first line has been acting like a first line lately. You’d like to think that they would show up for a game like this. Will we see the brilliance from the Eurotwins that we’re accustomed to in big games?
5. The Wings got passed in the standings again. Petty desires for revenge or retribution for us fans don’t really matter anymore. The Wings need to win this one to jump back into the 8-spot. Can they do it?
6. I hate wondering if the Wings are going to show up before every single game. It’s been a valid question for all of this season, though. What kind of effort are we going to see from the whole team?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Red Wings 4, Predators 2: Post Game Snipes...

  • I missed the first half of the first period, so I have no idea what happened then. I made it back in time to see the Wings’ first goal, so I guess I didn’t miss anything of great importance.
  • Before they scored their first goal, the Wings missed two glorious chances. I would’ve been upset about it if they hadn’t buried one almost immediately afterward.
  • Brad Stuart scooped another sure goal right off of the Wings’ goal line tonight. He seems to have a knack for that.
  • The first part of the third period was weak. I used to like the good old days when I could relax with a two-goal lead in the third period because I had a reasonable expectation that things would turn out well. Instead, the Wings let the Preds narrow their lead to one goal and sat back and let them walk all over them for several minutes.
  • Lidstrom scored again. Watch out, world.
  • Jimmy Howard was either shaky or brilliant tonight. I can’t decide. He made some huge saves, but he also got a ridiculous amount of help from the goal posts. Maybe that was his strategy…I don’t know. He got hung out to dry by the defense on numerous occasions, though, and came up big.
  • The Wings were lucky to come away with two points from this one. They really didn’t deserve to win. They had far too many turnovers and several times they appeared to attempt to hand goals to Nashville. However, the Preds’ many goal posts, crossbars, and near-misses on their glorious opportunities seem to indicate that they didn’t deserve to win either. Someone had to take the points home though, and I’m glad it was the Wings.
  • When Rafalski took that penalty with 1:35 left in the third period, I began having flashbacks to the Phoenix game. Luckily, this one had a happier ending.
  • When Zetterberg’s goal went to review, I began arming myself with things to throw at the TV. I was just waiting for them to wave off the goal. Even after watching the replay with my own eyes, I was holding my breath to hear the call. The Wings seem to have a special talent for finding ways to get screwed by reviewed goals, so I was pretty excited/mildly surprised when they let the goal stand.
  • The bottom line is that the Wings skated away with two points tonight. it wasn’t necessarily pretty at times, but they needed to get the job done tonight, and they managed to find a way to do so..
GP Answers:
1. The top line’s been dynamite since Cleary got moved up. I kept trying to explain to my brother why moving Bertuzzi down was a good move, but he won’t believe me. Can the top line keep rolling?
I’ll go with a yes on this one. It’s nice to see the stars stepping up and acting like stars for a change.

2. The Kings have climbed the standings from 8th place to 5th in just a few short days. Why can’t the Wings do that too?
Well, they picked up two points tonight, and they did it in regulation. They’re now in 8th place since Nashville has more wins than they do. There’s a 5-game roadtrip coming up, and now’s as good a time as any to start making a run.

3. The PK’s been slipping lately, and the powerplay still isn’t doing much good. At some point, the special teams are going to, you know, be special, right?
The Wings scored two real, live powerplay goals tonight, and a third one was buried just three seconds after the expiration of one. That’s what the Wings need to keep doing.

4. Are the Wings even going to look like they care?
There were far too many turnovers and sloppy plays in their own zone. I did notice, however, that on the final penalty kill, the Wings looked incredibly determined to keep the puck out of the net. Nashville was pressuring, but the Wings were blocking shots and disrupting plays all over the place. It was nice to see, and I hope that effort can carry over to the next game.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Drew Miller
He made the first deflection on the Wings’ first goal, and then buried a nice one of his own later on in the game. I don’t know how the cap and roster space will work out for the Wings, but I really hope they find a way to keep Miller.

An Extra Stick Tap for Jason Williams (Who?)
I don’t think anyone expected him to score in his first game back. Especially me, since I completely forgot that he was returning to the lineup tonight. I didn’t really notice him doing much else during the game, but it was a good way to remind people of his existence.

Jonathan Ericsson gets the Golden Facepalm
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. He wasn’t the only one, but it seemed like every time he had the puck, it ended up on a Nashville player’s stick.

What I Learned:
The Wings can actually hold onto a lead sometimes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Red Wings vs. Predators GP...

This is pretty bare bones. I have a hard time putting effort into these when I feel like I’m working harder than the hockey team. Plus, I hate writing these the night before. It somehow feels lazy.

1. The top line’s been dynamite since Cleary got moved up. I kept trying to explain to my brother why moving Bertuzzi down was a good move, but he won’t believe me. Can the top line keep rolling?
2. The Kings have climbed the standings from 8th place to 5th in just a few short days. Why can’t the Wings do that too?
3. The PK’s been slipping lately, and the powerplay still isn’t doing much good. At some point, the special teams are going to, you know, be special, right?
4. Are the Wings even going to look like they care?

If you can’t tell, I’m not very happy with the team right now. Accordingly, I'm coming across as a wee bit cynical. I'm just glad that it's a home game so I don't have to deal with the train whistles. That really might push me over the edge. I’m also going to miss some of the game tomorrow night, but with any luck, I’ll get to see half of it. Oh, and do me a favor and cross your fingers that my ankle’s not broken.

Red Wings 2, Wild 5: Post Game Snipes...

  • I missed the first period because I was on my way home from a meeting. I listened to it on the radio in the car, and I got all excited when they called Datsyuk’s second goal because it was the second night in a row that the Wings bounced back from a goal against in spectacular fashion. Unfortunately, their success was short-lived and it was all downhill from there.
  • Is this the part where I make the obligatory lame joke about it being a Wild end to the first period?
  • Stuart’s day-to-day with his shoulder injury. This is good news, but I’ll be more relieved when I see him actually take the ice. This season’s made me a wee bit paranoid. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get this recap up earlier, because I had a cute little one-liner about injury reports all set to go.
  • One good thing to take away from these last two games: Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Lidstrom are firing on all cylinders. Halfway through the third period, I became more interested in rooting for Datsyuk to complete his hat trick than the outcome of the game.
  • On a related note, scoring two 1st period goals and not finishing the trick is just cruel. If the second goal came late in the game, I’d understand, but he had a full 40 minutes to toy around and buy us all lunch at Arby’s. Come on, man.
  • I expected Ozzie to get crucified on the blogosphere a lot worse than he did. The media more than made up for it, though.
  • During the game, my brother tried to tell me that I’m not a real hockey fan. I laughed at him.
  • The most astounding thing about this season is the way this team almost appears to be making conscious decisions to NOT win games. When was the last time you saw them come out with determination and fire and you just knew deep down that they were going to do whatever it took to win that night? Most of their victories seem accidental and we’re left saying things like, “Wow, I can’t believe they held on to win,” and “Luckily, the other team missed six open nets tonight, or they would’ve taken the Wings to the cleaners.” It’s pathetic. Either man up and go win some hockey games, or stop toying with our emotions. It’s getting old.
GP Answers:
1. The second game of a back-to-back, with travel in between, against a lower-ranked team, after a ridiculous loss? This one should be fun. Can the Wings rebound from last night’s disappointment?
Ha. Haha. Ha. It’s become all too predictable.

2. Once again, how many minutes of hockey will the Wings show up to play tonight? It turns out that a 58-minute effort doesn’t quite cut it.
Don’t even get me started.

3. Kronwall looked wonderful last night. Can he keep it up for the second night in a row after a long layoff, or is his conditioning going to slow him down?
Even if he was crab-walking around the ice and trying to play with a mini-stick, he probably would’ve looked right on par with the rest of the team.

4. The newly-constituted second line had a good game last night, even though they didn’t have much to show for it. It’s nice to finally have more than one line that has the potential to score for a change. Cleary’s addition to the top line also seemed to spark the Eurotwins. Will we continue to see some chemistry from the offense, or was it just a fluke?
I’m willing to announce the revival of the Eurotwins. They just need to keep it up. The second line…needs to be more second-line-ish.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Pavel Datsyuk
He’s doing his Datsyukian thing again, and that’s bad news for opposing players. Please, just stay hot, Pav. We need you.

An Extra Stick Tap for Nick Lidstrom
If you’re a believer in the law of averages, hold onto your socks because Nick Lidstrom is a man on fire.

Dan Cleary gets the Golden Facepalm
That penalty he took in the third period was crushing because of the goals that followed on the 4-on-4 and PK. I know, I know, it was accidental, and he had two assists, and in all likelihood the Wings weren’t going anywhere anyway, but I have to single someone out here. Believe me, it wasn’t easy picking one guy out for this, and well, I’ll admit that this was kind of a cop out.

What I Learned:
My brother hates Abdelkader with a passion for reasons that make little to no sense.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Red Wings vs. Wild GP...

1. The second game of a back-to-back, with travel in between, against a lower-ranked team, after a ridiculous loss? This one should be fun. Can the Wings rebound from last night’s disappointment?
2. Once again, how many minutes of hockey will the Wings show up to play tonight? It turns out that a 58-minute effort doesn’t quite cut it.
3. Kronwall looked wonderful last night. Can he keep it up for the second night in a row after a long layoff, or is his conditioning going to slow him down?
4. The newly-constituted second line had a good game last night, even though they didn’t have much to show for it. It’s nice to finally have more than one line that has the potential to score for a change. Cleary’s addition to the top line also seemed to spark the Eurotwins. Will we continue to see some chemistry from the offense, or was it just a fluke?

The Wings need to win this one, plain and simple. I was all excited for a victory yesterday after having a pretty rough day in my real life. Things were looking good, I was happy, the boys were about to win in regulation…and then the next thing I knew, the wagon was on fire and all of our bullets were lost. What I’m trying to get at here is that the Wings owe me one. And, yes, I’m done with the Oregon Trail references now (I think).

Red Wings 4, Coyotes 5 (OT): Post Trail Snipes...

  • At some point during the game, the Twitter conversation turned to Oregon Trail references. I think it had something to do with the Versus guy saying that Filppula was circling the wagons, when really Phoenix had circled their proverbial wagons and Filppula was circling them. Or something like that. In accordance, I decided to write this edition of PGS in those terms. So, I set out on an online journey through the original version of the game. My wagon leader was Mike, and he was joined by Nick, Patrick, Pavel, and Jimmy. (No word on who was wearing the dresses. I'll leave that to you to decide.) I’m sure you can guess how things ended.

  • Kronwall threw a check on his first shift of the game. I liked it a lot. In fact, I liked it so much that I forgot to use punctuation when I twittered about it. It was like that promising moment when you leave Independence with just your wagon full of belongings and 5 imaginary friends to set out across the open frontier.

  • I was not happy about Brad May being in the lineup tonight. I’ve been hard on Leino, but I still think he’s better than May. That being said, May actually had one of his better games as a Wing. He threw together some shifts full of hard work and even drew a penalty, if my memory serves me correctly.
  • Henrik Zetterberg’s play to set up Datsyuk’s goal was a thing of beauty. When he knocked that puck out of midair and settled it down, I thought to myself how awesome it would be if they scored off of it because of how great the play was. The boys didn’t let me down…at least in that one instance.
  • It should be mandatory that the Draper-Helm-Eaves line take the shift immediately following a goal against for the rest of forever. When someone in your wagon party dies out on the trail, you don’t hang around and wallow in misery. You want to get away from that spot as fast as possible and escape the bad karma and memories. To do that, you rely on your fastest oxen (Is that an oxymoron? I’m not all that familiar with livestock.) to get you away as fast as possible. And also to score goals. Or something like that.
  • There was a weird turn of events in which the Wings actually recovered from giving up goals against rather well (see above bullet point for part of the reason for this). Usually, they just kind of roll over at the first sign of adversity, but they kept up their strong play even after the wagon capsized while trying to float it across the river.

  • During the third period, the Eurotwins got involved in a scrum in front of the Wings net. Pavel looked particularly feisty, and Z was dragging guys off of Jimmy Howard. I liked it a lot. You have to stick together and defend your wagon party if you’re going to make it to Oregon. Everyone’s in it together.
  • Things were looking good when the Wings took a 4-2 lead late in the third on Lidstrom’s second goal. I was feeling happy for a change, and was getting ready to thank the Wings for cheering me up after a bit of a rough day. We were so close to Oregon, you could almost see the Willamette Valley on the horizon.
  • And then this happened. I’m pretty sure it’s more accurate of a description of the last two minutes than I can give:

  • I was absolutely not surprised one bit when Phoenix scored in overtime. I was hoping the Wings could survive it and take their chances in the shootout, but I’m a realist. I could see that coming a mile away, just like those rocks downstream.


  • This has nothing to do with the game tonight, but it made me laugh kind of a lot. I guess you could apply it to most of the rest of the season, though:

GP Answers Lessons from the Trail:
1. There’s a lot of hype surrounding Kronwall’s return tomorrow, and I’m as excited as anybody. I know it’s going to take him a couple of games to get up to speed, but what kind of impact will he make tonight?
Oh boy, was it nice to see him out there on the ice. He just…looked good. There was one play during the second period (I think) when he held onto the puck in the offensive zone, deked a couple of Coyotes, and made a pass. I just sat there wondering how that play would’ve looked if Derek Meech had been there instead. Hint: It wouldn’t have been nearly as pretty.

2. How many minutes of hockey will the Wings actually show up for tonight? 20? 30? 55? It’s anybody’s guess.
58 give or take a few seconds. What is it about SIXTY minutes that the Wings can’t seem to get into their head? This team got all the way to the Columbia river, decided to float down it instead of taking the safe toll road, and crashed and burned in the rapids. It was pathetic.

3. The top two lines have apparently been shuffled with Cleary slated to play with the Eurotwins and Bertuzzi moving down to the second line. Will that have any impact?
The Eurotwin connection was beautiful. I noticed Cleary a lot over the course of the night, but Bertuzzi was fairly invisible. The Eurotwins once again looked good early on, but seemed to fade toward the end. They (and the rest of the team) need to get it in their heads that the destination is Oregon. Not the Green River, not Independence Rock, not the Snake River. Oregon. Finish strong.

4. How many times will the Versus broadcast make me angry tonight?
Every time they said, “[Goalie] says no.” There were also two instances during the first period when a penalty was called, the announcers mentioned it, and then said that they’d get back to it after the break. That makes me want to bang my head on the wall. It’s also possible that I have anger issues. Let’s just say that the Versus broadcast team would not be welcome in my wagon train. They would've been the first ones cast out when the food supply got low.

5. The Wings backed into the 8-spot in the Conference due to Calgary’s loss last night (thanks, Ty Conklin). A loss tonight puts them back out of the playoff picture, while a win will help them start to solidify their position. Which direction will they go? They haven’t exactly wowed us this season when they’ve had chances to pass opponents.
I’m not even going to touch this one. There’s no doubt in my mind that this team would’ve died out on the trail. At least they got a point out of it.

Cookies and Cupcakes Buffalo Meat for Nick Lidstrom
His first goal was absolutely vintage Lidstrom. When was the last time you saw him do that? Here, I have a screencapped picture of a snipe I made while hunting bear that I think captures the beauty of his first goal (His second wasn’t exactly shabby either.):


An Extra Stick Tap Ration for Henrik Zetterberg
I’ve watched the replay of his play to set up Datsyuk’s goal numerous times and I’m still amazed by it. Maybe it’s because of my previous life as a bunting specialist in softball, but that kind of hand-eye coordination wows me. He would’ve been a good guy to have around on our trip down the Oregon Trail.

Brad Stuart gets the Golden Facepalm Dysentary
That was brutal. Where is the Brad Stuart we fell in love with not so long ago? Kronwall coming back was supposed to help him, not make him even worse. I don’t get it. There’s a reason he didn’t get to come along in my wagon tonight. He would’ve been the first to die for sure, even though Patrick suffered not one, but two broken arms on our journey.


What I Learned:
I’m better at Oregon Trail than the Wings are at holding leads. (For the record, I actually won the game these are screencapped from. I don’t lose.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Red Wings vs. Coyotes GP...

1. There’s a lot of hype surrounding Kronwall’s return tomorrow, and I’m as excited as anybody. I know it’s going to take him a couple of games to get up to speed, but what kind of impact will he make tonight?
2. How many minutes of hockey will the Wings actually show up for tonight? 20? 30? 55? It’s anybody’s guess.
3. The top two lines have apparently been shuffled with Cleary slated to play with the Eurotwins and Bertuzzi joining Filppula and Miller on the second line. Will that have any impact?
4. How many times will the Versus broadcast make me angry tonight?
5. The Wings backed into the 8-spot in the Conference due to Calgary’s loss last night (thanks, Ty Conklin). A loss tonight puts them back out of the playoff picture, while a win will help them start to solidify their position. Which direction will they go? They haven’t exactly wowed us this season when they’ve had chances to pass opponents.

Episode 7 of The Obstructed View is now available for download. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm sure it will be fantastic. As always, you can download it here or subscribe on iTunes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Good News (Yes, You Read that Correctly)...

As I’m sure you know by now, Niklas Kronwall is slated for a return to the lineup tomorrow. This is huge for the Wings. His presence should have a trickle-down effect on all of the defensive pairings, as well as the offense. Having him in the lineup allows us to rid ourselves of either Lebda or Meech. My money’s on Meech sitting because Lebda occasionally has flashes of brilliance in which he appears to be a real, live NHL defenseman. Granted, they’re few and far between, but they do exist. Meech just goes out there and skates around and does…I don’t really know. He should be an evangelical preacher because every time he sets foot on the ice, a million Wings fans start praying. Stuart and Kronwall were dynamite together before Georges Laraque saw fit to remove him from the Wings’ lineup, and his presence may help settle Stuart down after a rough patch. He’s also been sorely missed on the powerplay over the last couple of months. I have no idea what the Wings’ percentage is since the beginning of November, but it has to be close to single digits. How excited are you for a powerplay unit that doesn’t feature Derek Meech?

I was also surprised to hear that Andreas Lilja is potentially nearing a return. A couple of days ago, Mickey Redmond mentioned that he was close to returning, but I think we fans universally wrote that off as crazy talk. This impression was confirmed when Ken Holland said that nothing had changed regarding Lilja’s status. Lo and behold today, though, Lilja said that he had gone 13 straight days without a headache. Should he reach that elusive 14-day mark, he could potentially be cleared to play. (On a side note, we’re coming up on 11 months since his concussion. Can you imagine how rotten of a mood you’d be in if you’d been having almost constant headaches for that long? I’m pretty sure even my dog would’ve stopped liking me by now.) This would be another huge step for the defense because it would mean that a) we would also be rid of Lebda and b) Jonathan Ericsson could be paired with a more experienced defenseman who he could potentially learn something (good) from. I’ve been a critic of Lilja in the past, but he was looking pretty solid last season before he broke his head, and at any rate, he has to be better than Lebda.

On top of all this, Jason Williams is nearing a return to the lineup, Tomas Holmstrom is hoping to be back soon, and Johan Franzen is considering a miraculous pre-Olympic break return. I’d probably prefer that he wait until after the break because it’s basically two weeks of free rehab for him and there’s no sense rushing him back. I have no idea what this means for the salary cap, but I'll leave that to smarter folks to figure out.

If I were a member of another Western Conference organization, I’d be looking over my shoulder right about now. The Wings have been hanging in there on the periphery of the playoff race like some kind of zombie that you just can’t kill. Now that they’re finally getting healthy, I can’t imagine that the other teams in the West are thrilled about the idea of the Wings creeping up behind them.

We have a little less than three weeks until the Olympic break. A lot can happen in that amount of time. Let’s hope they’re good things. Also, it’s unbelievably fun to be writing about happy news for a change. All this excitement has put me in a pretty good mood. I’m starting to feel a strange sensation that may in seasons past have been called optimism.

Random semi-hockey related quote of the day:
My dad, while assessing the swelling on my newly-sprained ankle: “Just be glad you’re not a hockey player so you don’t have to worry about fitting it into a skate so you can go back out and play.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Red Wings 2, Kings 3: Post Game Snipes...

  • Another chance for the Wings to climb the standings, another lackluster effort from the boys. Yawn.
  • There was apparently a man up in the rafters at some point during the game, so they cleared an entire section of the lower bowl. I’m still confused about this. It was never mentioned on FSD’s broadcast, but I remember seeing a shot of the Wings’ bench during the second period when they were all staring at something up above. I assumed it was something on the big screen, but I guess they were looking at the guy.
  • Filppula’s goal was beautiful, but so was the hard work Dan Cleary put in beforehand.
  • Bertuzzi’s goal came on a fun deflection off of his knee. I was amused by it.
  • After the first period, things were looking good. The last minute of play was dominated by the Kings, but the Wings had a two goal lead and looked like they could stay in control.
  • The Wings actually scored on the powerplay. It was a 5-on-3, so there was no excuse not to. The second penalty that the Kings took was brutal.
  • And then the rest of the game happened. Just out of curiosity, when was the last time you saw this team play a full 60 minute game? It’s been a while.
  • One positive trend that I’m noticing is that the Wings’ defensemen are getting more shots through to the net from the blueline. Earlier in the season, they were passing more or getting them blocked. This will be even more important when Holmstrom returns.
  • Stuart made another awesome goal line save that seemed huge at the time. It went to review, but even though the replays clearly showed that it didn’t go in, I held my breath. You never can tell how they’re going to rule anymore. Someone on FSD (I can’t remember who) said, “That was a goal last week against Dallas.” And he was right.
  • Meech had a breakaway. There’s nothing else to say about that. I’m sure you can guess how it ended if you don’t already know.
  • The Kings’ first goal was ugly. Ericsson made a bad turnover, and then Howard tried to grab the rebound but missed. The rebound itself wasn’t bad, but he should’ve been able to cover it up. He just whiffed on it.
  • At one point during the broadcast, Mickey Redmond took it upon himself to announce that Lilja could be back as soon as next week. Everyone was astonished because nothing had been said about his progress recently. Ken Holland (and common sense) refuted that. Part of me wonders if Mick got a little telestrator happy and circled the wrong guy on the graphic FSD had up at the time.
  • Mick also jokingly suggested that players use blood capsules a la WWE to draw the extra minor on highsticking calls.
  • I really wanted to go down to this game, but I’m glad I didn’t make the trek. I would just be more angry.
GP Answers:
1. Can the Wings pull it off today? This game needs to be won, and it needs to be won in regulation. None of that OT/SO nonsense this time around. I don’t care about any of the trivial stuff I usually ask about in these GPs, as long as the Wings come away with two points, and LA gets none.
No. They had a chance to pass LA in the standings and continue working their way into a solid playoff spot, but they couldn’t be bothered to play more than one period of hockey. Again. Wasn’t this team supposed to be angry this season? Weren’t they supposed to have something to prove? I know they’re still missing important guys, but missing talented guys is not an excuse for lack of effort.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Valtteri Filppula
He showed some great hands and patience on his goal to open the scoring. It was a pretty good-looking goal.

An Extra Stick Tap for Brad Stuart
That puck he scooped out of the net was millimeters away from crossing the goal line. It turned out that it didn’t matter much, but it was huge at the time.

Jonathan Ericsson gets the Golden Facepalm
He made the turnover that led to the Kings’ first goal. It was a costly mistake, and he can’t be making turnovers like that in the defensive zone.

What I Learned:
The Wings haven’t really turned a corner after all.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Red Wings vs. Kings GP...

There’s only one question today, because only one thing matters. I really wanted to go to the game tonight, but stuff got in the way. Maybe it’s better this way. I won’t have to be seen in public while watching, which is good for everybody involved.

1. Can the Wings pull it off today? This game needs to be won, and it needs to be won in regulation. None of that OT/SO nonsense this time around. I don’t care about any of the trivial stuff I usually ask about in these GPs, as long as the Wings come away with two points, and the Kings get none.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

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

  • Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves had a 2-on-0 on the Wings’ first PK. They didn’t score, but it was pretty fun to watch. Those two are just dynamite together.
  • This game was breakaway city. It seemed like there were a dozen of them throughout the game.
  • The Wings had a fantastic first period. The Wild only had 3 shots on net. The second period, on the other hand, was not so fantastic. They let Minnesota tie the game, and seemed like they barely escaped it with the score deadlocked.
  • I knew that Minnesota’s goal that went to review was going to stand. I didn’t even need to see the replay. How did I know? I’ve watched the entire season. That being said, it was probably the right call. I just felt like Leggo owed the Wings one after screwing them over on Saturday.
  • Minnesota’s second goal had to be reviewed too, as it bounced in off of Marty Havlat’s foot. Where is Kronwall when you need him?
  • Larry Murphy is already gearing up for $1 Hot Dog Night at the Joe.
  • We were all astonished for a minute when we thought Meech had scored that third goal. I actually said, “What’s next? Ville Leino’s going to do something good?” Of course, as we all know, the goal turned out to be Miller’s thanks to a nice deflection, and Leino continued his streak of uselessness.
  • On a related note, I actually yelled at my TV when Leino was announced as a shooter for the Wings in the shootout. Not only did he miss, but he also fell over. I think it was fitting.
  • For the life of me, I don’t understand why Filppula is so low on the shootout list. He’s got great hands, and is definitely more of a scorer than Cleary or Leino…which he demonstrated by scoring on his shot.
  • The Wings have GOT to work on their shootout skills. ASAP.
GP Answers:
1. The Wings have been looking like their old selves for the last couple of games. Unfortunately, they have next to nothing to show for it other than some warm, fuzzy feelings. Can they keep up that level of play, or sink back into the habits of their recent past?
The first period was excellent. They looked like the Red Wings that we all know and love. The second period was more typical of this season. The third was back and forth.

2. Despite their largely solid play, there are still glaring defensive lapses that need to get taken care of (see the Sharp goal against Chicago, and a couple of the Capitals’ goals on Tuesday). Minnesota isn’t quite as dangerous as the Wings’ last two opponents, but they’ve been creeping up the standings lately. Can the Wings find a way to lock things down and show the kind of defensive focus that they supposedly pride themselves on?
I’ll go with a hesitant yes on this one. The three Wild goals tonight were all fluky in their own way, and it’s hard to blame defensive collapses for them (ie. a shot that bounced off the glass, flew over the net, and bounced in off of a player’s elbow.). The second period was pretty shaky all around, though.

3. On a positive note, the Wings have been getting more of an offensive contribution from the blue line over the last few games. Lidstrom and Rafalski have both chipped in with key goals lately. This is a huge element that’s been missing from their game this season, especially since Kronwall went down (exactly two months ago today). Can the back end keep it going tonight?
I wasn’t really referring to Meech when I wrote this question, but he picked up two assists tonight. There was even a point when we thought that he scored the Wings’ third goal. It turned out to be Miller’s after all, but I’m not particularly broken up about it.

4. Pavel Datsyuk has looked phenomenal over the last few games after floating along for most of the season. (Not only that, but he’s graced us with two great interviews over the last couple of days. The one at Puck Daddy is a must-read, as is pretty much anything that involves Pav and speaking.) Is his recent performance a trend, or was he just showing off for NBC and AO?
Pav was flying again tonight. He was all over the place. His long pass to spring Bertuzzi for his breakaway goal was a thing of beauty. He also buried his shootout attempt, and while it wasn’t as pretty as his goal on Sunday, it got the job done.

5. “The young goalie” has a chance to cement his status as the Wings’ starter beyond any shadow of a doubt with a strong performance tonight. Even the most die hard Osgood supporters can’t argue that the Wings are better off with Ozzie in net right now. Can Howard keep up his hot streak and demonstrate why he won the starting job this season?
Howard was on again, of course. Sure, he let in three goals, but you can’t fault him for any of them.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Drew Miller
This one doesn’t need any explanation.

An Extra Stick Tap for Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi
They were the two best players on the ice all night. During the first period, I was pretty sure that Bert was going to net us all curly fries. It’s a good thing I didn’t say anything, because I would’ve been accused of jinxing things. He just looked like he was faster and stronger tonight. If only he could’ve converted more of his breakaways.

Ville Leino gets the Golden Facepalm
I have absolutely no idea why he’s on the powerplay or in the shootout. Or even on the ice. I liked it better when they called Ritola up to replace him.

What I Learned:
The Wings are capable of winning shootouts after all.

Red Wings vs. Wild GP...

1. The Wings have been looking like their old selves for the last couple of games. Unfortunately, they have next to nothing to show for it other than some warm, fuzzy feelings. Can they keep up that level of play, or sink back into the habits of their recent past?
2. Despite their largely solid play, there are still glaring defensive lapses that need to get taken care of (see the Sharp goal against Chicago, and a couple of the Capitals’ goals on Tuesday). Minnesota isn’t quite as dangerous as the Wings’ last two opponents, but they’ve been creeping up the standings lately. Can the Wings find a way to lock things down and show the kind of defensive focus that they supposedly pride themselves on?
3. On a positive note, the Wings have been getting more of an offensive contribution from the blue line over the last few games. Lidstrom and Rafalski have both chipped in with key goals lately. This is a huge element that’s been missing from their game this season, especially since Kronwall went down (exactly two months ago today). Can the back end keep it going tonight?
4. Pavel Datsyuk has looked phenomenal over the last few games after floating along for most of the season. (Not only that, but he’s graced us with two great interviews over the last couple of days. The one at Puck Daddy is a must-read, as is pretty much anything that involves Pav and speaking.) Is his recent performance a trend, or was he just showing off for NBC and AO?
5. “The young goalie” has a chance to cement his status as the Wings’ starter beyond any shadow of a doubt with a strong performance tonight. Even the most die hard Osgood supporters can’t argue that the Wings are better off with Ozzie in net right now. Can Howard keep up his hot streak and demonstrate why he won the starting job this season?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Red Wings 2, Capitals 3: Post Game Snipes...

  • Okay, the Wings should’ve won this one. There’s no question about that. They were clearly the better team, but blew it in the third period.
  • The Wings should’ve had more than two goals tonight. They had more than enough shots on net, and Jose Theodore isn’t nearly that good. I know that because he’s been dragging my fantasy team down all season. Of course, the night that I benched him with the hope of a Wings’ win, he plays well. So thanks for that.
  • According to Ken Daniels, Rafalski’s goal went through Theodore’s pearly gates aka five hole. I was disturbed. He should know better than to pre-game with Murphy and Keating.
  • The Wings’ powerplay needs to start sucking less ASAP. They’ve shown some flashes over the last few games, but they’re still having issues capitalizing when it counts.
  • Filppula had one of his best games since returning from his injury. The Wings need more of that from him because they’re still largely a one-line team.
  • I missed the interview with Datsyuk, and that makes me sad. If it’s not on Youtube by the time I get up tomorrow morning, I’m going to have some serious issues. I’ve been told that it was a good one.
  • And that’s all I really have to say.
GP Answers:
1. The last time the Wings played Washington, we barely noticed Alex Ovechkin. Thanks largely to Nick Lidstrom, he just didn’t look threatening very often. The box score says that he got an assist, but the Wings did a great job limiting his chances. Will they be able to repeat that performance?
They held the guy without a shot for only the third time in his career. I’d say that that counts.

2. The Eurotwins were in vintage form on Sunday. They were the best players on the ice, and I think we’re all still trying to piece our minds back together after Datsyuk’s shootout goal. If the Wings want to gain any ground, they’re going to need efforts like that from them on a consistent basis. Are they going to live up to our lofty expectations?
Datsyuk looked like he was flying tonight. He always seems to get up for games against the Caps for some reason. I think he likes taking on Ovechkin. Zetterberg was less noticeable, but he had a good game too. He had a couple of glorious chances that he just put wide.

3. I haven’t heard who’s slated to start in net yet. Will Ozzie finally get a chance to redeem himself? He played the first game against Washington this season, and since it’s against an Eastern Conference opponent, a potential loss would hurt less, I suppose. You’ve got to figure that he’s going to get a start one of these days. I know Howard’s on a hot streak and is young, but at some point he’s going to need a break.
Ozzie got a chance, but he didn’t exactly wow anybody. I was hoping for a statement performance from him, but I was expecting one like we got.

4. The Wings have a chance to break into the top 8 with a win against the Caps. They’ll need LA to lose to San Jose, but it’s within reach again. They’ve had a few chances to do that over the last few weeks, and haven’t been able to put a good effort together. Can they finally get over that hurdle and start working their way up the standings?
I’m going to stop writing GP questions like this because every time I do, the Wings lose. Maybe it will magically reverse-unjinx-will the Wings to an important win the same way dropping the Nick Lidstrom question got him to score.

5. The Chicago game on Sunday was by far the best hockey I’ve seen since the playoffs. The Wings dominated for large stretches and controlled the play. They looked like the better team out there despite still missing some key guys from the lineup. I know we won’t be treated to that kind of hockey every minute of every game, but can the Wings keep up that level of intensity and drive on a regular basis? It sure would make moving up in the standings a lot easier.
I thought the Wings had a good effort throughout the game. The Caps seemed to pick things up a bit after their first goal, but with the kind of shot disparity that the Wings had tonight, it’s pretty clear which team was in control. This loss hurts.

6. Ville Leino or Brad May tonight? Does it matter?
Not really, no. For some inexplicable reason, Leino was back on the powerplay. If somebody out there understands why, by all means, let me know because I sure don’t.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Dan Cleary
His goal came off of an awesome second effort. I loved it, even if I’m not entirely sure why.

An Extra Stick Tap for Pavel Datsyuk
That guy was on tonight. He didn’t have anything to show for it on the scoresheet, but he looked like the best Russian on the ice. This probably would’ve gone to Bertuzzi on account of how good he looked for most of the game, but I have a self-imposed rule that you can only qualify for one award per game. Which brings me to…

Todd Bertuzzi gets the Golden Facepalm
Oh, Todd. I want to like you. I really do. It just seems like for every great thing you do, you make a glaring blunder that just drives me crazy. An offensive zone penalty late in the game 8 miles away from your own net? You’re killing me, Todd. Killing. Me.

What I Learned:
The Wings are incapable of taking the opportunity to climb into the playoff rankings.

Red Wings vs. Capitals GP...

1. The last time the Wings played Washington, we barely noticed Alex Ovechkin. Thanks largely to Nick Lidstrom, he just didn’t look threatening very often. The box score says that he got an assist, but the Wings did a great job limiting his chances. Will they be able to repeat that performance?
2. The Eurotwins were in vintage form on Sunday. They were the best players on the ice, and I think we’re all still trying to piece our minds back together after Datsyuk’s shootout goal. If the Wings want to gain any ground, they’re going to need efforts like that from them on a consistent basis. Are they going to live up to our lofty expectations?
3. I haven’t heard who’s slated to start in net yet. Will Ozzie finally get a chance to redeem himself? He played the first game against Washington this season, and since it’s against an Eastern Conference opponent, a potential loss would hurt less, I suppose. You’ve got to figure that he’s going to get a start one of these days. I know Howard’s on a hot streak and is young, but at some point he’s going to need a break.
4. The Wings have a chance to break into the top 8 with a win against the Caps. They’ll need LA to lose to San Jose, but it’s within reach again. They’ve had a few chances to do that over the last few weeks, and haven’t been able to put a good effort together. Can they finally get over that hurdle and start working their way up the standings?
5. The Chicago game on Sunday was by far the best hockey I’ve seen since the playoffs. The Wings dominated for large stretches and controlled the play. They looked like the better team out there despite still missing some key guys from the lineup. I know we won’t be treated to that kind of hockey every minute of every game, but can the Wings keep up that level of intensity and drive on a regular basis? It sure would make moving up in the standings a lot easier.
6. Will Ville Leino or Brad May be in the lineup? Does it matter?

One other note: Ville Leino did this the last time these two teams met. Remember when we thought he’d actually be good? I’m pretty sure that was the last time he’s been anywhere near the crease.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Belated UofM-Western Pictures...

This is a little bit late (and not at all Wings-related), but I drove out to Kalamazoo last Friday night to watch UM play Western. I have to say that it was a fantastic place to watch a hockey game. My friend hooked me up with her roommate’s student ID, so I got in for free. Not only that, but we ended up sitting right on the glass at the faceoff circle in the end that UM defended twice. The game was fantastic all around. UM ended up winning 4-3, and the game was exciting right up until the final buzzer. The game winning goal came on a 5-minute powerplay after Western took a boarding call. I happened to be leaning forward with my elbows on the dasher at that point, and he got boarded right in my face. I was upset because a UM player could’ve gotten hurt, but it was pretty sweet as a hockey fan. The next step is finally finding time to make it to a game at Yost.

The only downside was the fact that when I excitedly pulled my camera out to capture the awesomeness, I discovered that I had forgotten to take the battery off of the charger. I have a feeling that this is going to be a recurring theme in my life now that I’ve gotten my first camera that doesn’t run off of AAs. Anyway, that didn’t stop me from testing out my new phone’s camera, and I got some pretty fantastic shots. Some of them are a little blurry, but they were cool in their own way. This is by far the best shot. He actually looks like he has Wolverine claws a la X-Men. The rest of them are on Photobucket.

Okay, and now back to your regularly scheduled Red Wings nonsense.

TOV Episode 6...

In case you’ve missed the 5,000 tweets about it, Episode 6 of The Obstructed View is available for download now. This week’s episode features Jessie from Bingo Bango, Andy from Fight Night at the Joe, and Petrella from The Production Line, as well as Chris Hollis from Motown Wings and Brian Kiernicki, of course. I haven’t listened to all of it yet, but I can promise that it’s awesome.

On another note, because I haven’t written nearly enough about it, I have to talk about Herm to Hockeytown. If you haven’t already donated, shame on you. The H2H team has some awesome stuff in the works, and you don’t want to miss this. I’ve already bought my ticket, and I’m counting down the days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

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

  • The Wings took four penalties during the first period. Four. One was a joke, but all that time on the PK really took the life out of the team.
  • They actually started pretty well considering that they had played less than 24 hours previously.
  • Nick Lidstrom’s last-minute goal in the first period was almost identical to that chance he had in the final seconds of Game 7 of the Finals last season. All things considered, I would’ve rather he buried that other one.
  • The Wings had a 10-minute stretch in the first without a shot on net. I realize that they were on the PK for most of the time, but that’s still kind of pathetic.
  • Patrick Eaves got into a fight late in the first. I was surprised. I think that was kind of the general consensus amongst Wings fans on Twitter too. Even Babcock said that he didn't know Eaves could fight. He did a pretty good job handling himself. He got taken down, but I thought he got better swings in than Versteeg did.
  • During the first intermission, Mike Milbury said that the trailing ref and linesmen had “courage” to make the call on the Ott goal yesterday. Apparently he’s confused courage with incompetence. We have a different definition of courage here in Detroit, sunshine.
  • The Wings scored another powerplay goal. One more game with a conversion, and I’ll be willing to pronounce it functional again. The play was absolutely vintage Eurotwins hockey. Datsyuk mad a strong play bringing it into the zone and fighting through what seemed like the entire Blackhawks team to dish it to Zetterberg. He took the pass awkwardly, fought to control it, and buried a great shot. Let’s see more of that, please.
  • Patrick Sharp’s goal in the second period came off of a pretty play that had the NBC guys gushing. It looked great, but it probably wouldn’t have happened if the Wings had bothered playing defense on that play. The look Brad Stuart gave Brett Lebda after the puck went in the net kind of said it all.
  • Datsyuk was all over the place this afternoon. Now that Lidstrom looks like he's gotten going offensively, if the Wings can get Pav to start putting pucks in the net, things will be looking pretty good.
  • We missed seeing the live view of Eaves’ tying goal because NBC was showing needless replays. What a joke broadcast. Everybody was confused because we were hearing the live call from the PBP guys, but it didn’t match up with the replays on the screen or anything that had happened so far today. Way to go, guys, way to go.
  • The five minutes of overtime were insane. If that can’t sell hockey to a national audience, I don’t know what will.
  • Both of the Eurotwins had glorious chances during OT, but neither one of them could finish.
  • Datsyuk’s shootout goal was ridiculous. There’s not really any way to accurately capture it in words, but I think ridiculous comes closest.
  • Bertuzzi’s goal was pretty awesome too. It was a good thing that he scored on it because otherwise he would’ve looked kind of silly. It was especially awesome because of his use of Brian Campbell’s patented spin move.
  • After Hossa scored to send the shootout into extra rounds, I knew the Wings were done. I just don’t think Cleary has the moves to get it done in a situation like that. I’m not sure why Filppula doesn’t get a shot in the shootouts when they go to extra rounds. He’s got some hands.
  • Even though this game had the same result as yesterday’s did, I feel much better about it. Instead of blowing a two-goal lead, the Wings fought back from a two-goal deficit. Plus, there weren’t any moments that had me yelling at my TV and considering if I had the willpower to walk away from the NHL once and for all.
  • Patrick Eaves’ post-game interview was pretty good. I liked his description of his fight. “We hit each other in the face.” Awesome. On the other hand, I don’t understand how he can talk with all of that hair in front of his face. I got side bangs a week ago for the first time in almost 10 years, and it took all of two minutes for me to realize that I couldn’t stand it. They’ve been bobby pinned out of the way ever since. Eaves could use a few of those.
GP Answers:
1. It’s been less than 24 hours since the start of the Dallas game (Oh, NHL, your wonders never cease), and while I’ve never been a professional hockey player, I can’t imagine that the quick turnaround—combined with flying home from Dallas—is easy on the guys. Chicago also has a short turnaround, so we should be in for a spectacular, fast-paced treat for the national TV audience. What are the odds that the Wings will be awake for the start of the game today?
They came out looking pretty good in the first halves of each of the periods, but seemed to fade toward the end. They looked much better as the third period came to an end, so maybe they found their second wind.

2. The last time the Wings got screwed on a goal call against Dallas, they fell into a pathetic spiral of hopelessness. According to HNIC last night, the organization is “irate.” Will the team come out looking like they’ve got some fire, or let Chicago walk all over them like they did in their last two meetings?
They didn’t exactly look angry or seem like they were playing to make a statement, but they at least put up a fight.

3. I haven’t heard if Leino or May will be in the lineup today, but it probably doesn’t matter much. Either way, I have to ask: what new level of uselessness will they accomplish today?
I’m told that May spent one commercial break jawing with one of the Hawks. I was shocked that he did anything. Patrick Eaves had to fight today.

4. Is there any chance that the Wings can actually score a goal against the Blackhawks this time around? The last two games against them didn’t really work out too well.
Hey look at that, the Wings actually scored three goals, plus two in the shootout.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Patrick Eaves
He had a good fight and scored the Wings’ tying goal…even though NBC didn’t see fit to televise it live. Today was yet another solid effort from Eaves, who I’ve liked more and more as the season has worn on.

An Extra Stick Tap for Pavel Datsyuk
I can't say enough about that shootout goal.



Brett Lebda gets the Golden Facepalm
I’m about 90% sure that he should’ve been the one covering Patrick Sharp when he scored the Hawks’ third goal.

What I Learned:
I like the shootout less and less every day. That game deserved a better ending.

Red Wings vs. Blackhawks GP...

1. It’s been less than 24 hours since the start of the Dallas game (Oh, NHL, your wonders never cease), and while I’ve never been a professional hockey player, I can’t imagine that the quick turnaround—combined with flying home from Dallas—is easy on the guys. Chicago also has a short turnaround, so we should be in for a spectacular, fast-paced treat for the national TV audience. What are the odds that the Wings will be awake for the start of the game today?
2. The last time the Wings got screwed on a goal call against Dallas, they fell into a pathetic spiral of hopelessness. According to HNIC last night, the organization is “irate.” Will the team come out looking like they’ve got some fire, or let Chicago walk all over them like they did in their last two meetings?
3. I haven’t heard if Leino or May will be in the lineup today, but it probably doesn’t matter much. Either way, I have to ask: what new level of uselessness will they accomplish today?
4. Is there any chance that the Wings can actually score a goal against the Blackhawks this time around? The last two games against them didn’t really work out too well.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

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

I’m not feeling particularly motivated to write a recap right now, so this is what you’re going to have to live with.
  • I hate Steve Ott.
  • I hate the NHL.
  • Dallas’ tying goal was a textbook case of interference that would’ve been called in a heartbeat if Tomas Holmstrom had been the one preventing the goalie from moving.
  • The Wings looked good during the first period, and then decided that they didn’t really want to play the rest of the game. They were probably lucky to get a point out of it, but they sure didn’t deserve to get the second point taken away from them the way that they did.
  • At one point, Ken Daniels said, “In quickly goes Helm…that’s redundant.” Never have truer words been spoken by a broadcaster.
  • Brett Lebda actually made a really good defensive play when he dove across in front of the net and prevented a sure goal. I felt like I should mention this since it’s not something we see very often.
  • Speaking of broadcasters, I think Mickey Redmond is going to have a hemorrhage about that shootout.
  • At one point in the third, Ott attempted to check Datsyuk and bounced right off of him. The same thing happened to my little brother when he was a kid and tried to tackle my dad. I laughed then too.
  • The fact that Dallas only took one penalty the entire game is an absolute joke. They should’ve racked up at least six minutes in high-sticking calls alone. That’s without even including the way the Stars were running Wings the whole game. Not to mention the fact that the linesmen seemed determined to keep Ott out of the penalty box all game.
  • Seriously, what purpose does Brad May serve on this team? If ever there was a game he should’ve dropped the gloves with somebody, this was it. If he’s not going to act like an enforcer, you might as well put Leino back in. At least he might accidentally do something good. Or call up Ritola again. Or something.
  • And finally, the reviewed shootout goal: The ref on the goal line had his eyes about a foot away from the puck and signaled no goal. He almost ran headfirst into the goalpoast because he was getting such a close look at it. However, the other referee and a linesman (no way that linesman had a good enough view to call it) outvoted the guy right on the spot and said it was in. That’s the ruling they went with when they contacted the War Room in Toronto, and they ruled that they didn’t have conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the ice. Since when are goals awarded by a show of hands from the officials? Seriously. Could this league be any more of a joke? I really shouldn’t ask that because it’s just begging for yet another display of incompetence. Watch this video. If you can honestly say that the trailing referee and linesman had a better view than the guy on the goal line...I'm still going to call you a liar anyway.
  • Of all the Stars, it had to be Ott who was gifted that goal.
  • After the game, FSN interviewed Alex Auld. He was asked why he’d had so much success against the Wings this season. He said he couldn’t really explain it. I’ve got a couple of ideas for him.
GP Answers:
1. The Wings are once again sniffing at a playoff spot tonight and they also have a chance to put some distance between themselves and a team that’s coming up behind them in the standings. They’ll need some things to fall into place for them, since both LA and Vancouver are also playing today, but by night’s end, the Wings could potentially be tied for 7th place in the conference. You’d like to think that this would be the kind of game the boys could get motivated for, so which version of the Wings will we get treated to this afternoon?
They started out pretty strong, but seemed to get progressively worse as the game went on. It was like they were confused and thought that the game was only 20 minutes long today instead of the usual 60. It actually was like a reverse of the usual Wings game in which they sleepwalk through the first period and then wake up as the game proceeds. LA won against Boston, so they’re officially two points ahead of the Wings. Just keep your fingers crossed that Vancouver loses tonight so that they stay within striking distance.

2. The Wings’ powerplay actually served its purpose a couple of times on Thursday night. This was quite an exciting change of pace for us Wings fans. Is there any chance that we’ll get to see a little more of that today?
It converted on its only attempt. The fact that the Wings only got one powerplay today was, as noted above, a joke.

3. Now that Lidstrom’s little scoring drought has been ended, I’ve decided to pick on Pav. He looked better last game than he has of late, but he’s had a tendency to fade away for a couple of games at a time before roaring back to life. Can he follow up Thursday’s effort with an even better one, or will we be wondering if he even played a shift by the end of the game?
Datsyuk was definitely more noticeable today, but he didn’t have much to show for it. His shootout attempt just looked lazy though.

4. Drew Miller had an amazing game Thursday night. If he keeps it up, he’s going to enter the realm of the unbenchable. Is he going to be able to follow that up with another remarkable effort?
Miller kept doing good things, even though he didn’t end up on the scoresheet. All he needs to do is keep working hard, and he’s just fine in my book.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Todd Bertuzzi
His goal to open the scoring was a thing of beauty, and he gets extra kudos for not killing Steve Ott. Not that I’m an Ott fan, but I figured the penalty minutes for homicide would probably put the Wings in a bad spot.

Brad Stuart gets the Golden Facepalm
He made another horrendous Game-Seven-esque turnover right in front of Jimmy Howard. It was…terrible even though LA didn’t score on it. He needs to reign it in. He played too well during the first half of the season to have a meltdown now.

What I Learned:
It is, in fact, possible for the NHL to be more of a joke than we thought it was.

Red Wings vs. Stars GP...

1. The Wings are once again sniffing at a playoff spot tonight and they also have a chance to put some distance between themselves and a team that’s coming up behind them in the standings. They’ll need some things to fall into place for them, since both LA and Vancouver are also playing today, but by night’s end, the Wings could potentially be tied for 7th place in the conference. You’d like to think that this would be the kind of game the boys could get motivated for, so which version of the Wings will we get treated to this afternoon?
2. The Wings’ powerplay actually served its purpose a couple of times on Thursday night. This was quite an exciting change of pace for us Wings fans. Is there any chance that we’ll get to see a little more of that today?
3. Now that Lidstrom’s little scoring drought has been ended, I’ve decided to pick on Pav. He looked better last game than he has of late, but he’s had a tendency to fade away for a couple of games at a time before roaring back to life. Can he follow up Thursday’s effort with an even better one, or will we be wondering if he even played a shift by the end of the game?
4. Drew Miller had an amazing game Thursday night. If he keeps it up, he’s going to enter the realm of the unbenchable. Is he going to be able to follow that up with another remarkable effort?

Anyway, the one good thing about the LA and Vancouver games today is that they’re against teams in the East. I know the Western Conference is much better than the East, but at least if the results are favorable to the Wings, the two points will be going out of conference, and any potential 3-point games won’t hurt as much. Are you ready to root for Pittsburgh (and Boston, although that doesn’t hurt as much) tonight?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Red Wings 3, Hurricanes 1: Post Game Snipes...

  • Hey look, the Wings looked like an NHL hockey team tonight. How about that?
  • They didn’t exactly soar out of the gate, but you could tell right from the first shift that they had some jump in their step. They even controlled play for a few stretches there at the end of the first/beginning of the second. They definitely let off the gas after their second goal though.
  • Mickey Redmond developed a newfound mancrush on Cam Ward after he saved a shot with his mask off. I have to admit that it did look pretty sweet. (UPDATE 9:23 AM 1/15/10) See?
  • On one penalty kill, Patrick Eaves blocked two shots from Staal up high. Then on his way off the ice, he got clipped on the chin by his stick. I’m reasonably certain that Staal was trying to kill him.
  • The Wings scored not one, but two powerplay goals tonight. If they can get that unit going, and keep Lidstrom scoring, things might be looking up.
  • Speaking of Lidstrom’s goal, it ended a 43-game goalless streak. That’s more than half of a season. Incredible. The good news is that afterward, he seemed to be looking to take more shots.
  • Kirk Maltby made a fantastic play near the end of a key penalty kill in the third period. At the time, the Wings were leading 2-1 and Carolina was really pushing.
  • I don’t seem to remember Filppula taking this many penalties pre-injury.
  • Hank’s goal came on a fantastic tip-in after Bertuzzi stole the puck and threaded a pass to the crease.
  • Bert had another takeaway in the offensive zone and broke in on Ward. He managed to draw two penalties on that play, as he was hooked right after the turnover, and took a nasty slash right as he was about to pull his move. It was kind of a weird game.
  • With the Wings getting two powerplay goals and another one from the top line, I felt like I was watching a replay of a game from a previous season. But for the presence of Helm and Eaves and Miller and the like, I would’ve been checking my cable feed.
  • Lidstrom and Rafalski both logged 27+ minutes tonight. Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Bertuzzi were all over 20 minutes. I’m not sure why I’ve suddenly started looking at ice times on the box scores.
GP Answers:
1. So Tuesday night was pretty much a demonstration of how not to win a hockey game. Having to ask this question over and over again is getting frustrating, but which Wings team are we going to get to watch tonight? The one that looks like it’s hungry for a playoff spot, or the one that looks like it already has golf reservations for April? Like the game against the Isles, this is one the Wings should win. Unfortunately that’s been a problem for…oh I don’t know…the last several years or so.
I wouldn’t say that it was the best effort I’ve seen, but it was good enough to get the win. There were a few points during the second and third periods when it looked like they might be letting Carolina back into the game, but they were able to finish strong.

2. I haven’t heard yet whether Ericsson is officially slated to return tonight or not, but assuming he does how rusty is he going to be? He had really been starting to turn things around before he got hurt, so will the long layoff have caused him to regress to early season Ericsson or he can regain his relatively decent level of play? On a side note, it’s frustrating that he ended up missing a month when the original word was that he’d only be out for a couple of weeks, but when you consider how bad the play looked when it happened, a month seems like a blessing.
He didn’t look half bad. I honestly didn’t notice him a whole lot, which is a good thing for a defenseman in my book.

3. At the request of Andy from Fight Night at the Joe, I’m not going to include my question about Nick Lidstrom scoring a goal today just to see if it gets him to score. Not that he’s not doing other things well, but the offense could sure use his help. I’m also concerned that if he turns in a season with only a couple of goals, it’s going to make him less likely to re-sign during the summer. Instead, I’ll pick on Datsyuk again. Where is his head going to be tonight? Seriously.
Well, whaddya know? It worked. I’m pretty sure in ancient times, this would be the point at which we’d put Andy on trial for witchcraft or something. Not only did Lidstrom score, but Datsyuk actually appeared to be playing hockey tonight. It certainly wasn’t his best game, but he did some good things out there.

4. Is there any chance that the Wings’ leaders are going to step up and lead by example tonight instead of letting the young guys do all the work? Or is that too much to ask?
They got goals from Lidstrom and Zetterberg. I’d say that that counts.

5. I figure Jimmy’s going to be starting again tonight. Will he be able to keep up his torrid pace after stumbling a little on Tuesday night? There’s no way that the loss was his fault, but I worry about his confidence issues. (Seriously, between him, Bertuzzi and Leino and their confidence issues, the Wings’ dressing room needs a support group for feelings of inadequacy or something.)
He looked pretty good. The Carolina goal came off of a bad rebound, but I’m willing to cut him some slack on it.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Drew Miller
I really was going to give this to Lidstrom for finally scoring, but had a fantastic game. There’s no way he’s not the best waiver pickup of the season.

An Extra Stick Tap for Nick Lidstrom
There. He gets the consolation prize.

Todd Bertuzzi gets the Golden Facepalm
Shortly after Zetterberg’s goal, he broke in on the net, kind of got tripped up, and did a funny little fall flat out on the ice. It made me laugh out loud. (Remember, this isn’t necessarily for the worst player of the game…just the one who makes me want to smack myself on the forehead.) (UPDATE: 9:23 AM 1/15/10) This is what I'm talking about. I should also note that I stole that first picture from Petrella's post at TPL.

What I Learned:
Hey, look, the powerplay is alive.

Red Wings vs. Hurricanes GP...

1. So Tuesday night was pretty much a demonstration of how not to win a hockey game. Having to ask this question over and over again is getting frustrating, but which Wings team are we going to get to watch tonight? The one that looks like it’s hungry for a playoff spot, or the one that looks like it already has golf reservations for April? Like the game against the Isles, this is one the Wings should win. Unfortunately that’s been a problem for…oh I don’t know…the last several years or so.
2. I haven’t heard yet whether Ericsson is officially slated to return tonight or not, but assuming he does how rusty is he going to be? He had really been starting to turn things around before he got hurt, so will the long layoff have caused him to regress to early season Ericsson or he can regain his relatively decent level of play? On a side note, it’s frustrating that he ended up missing a month when the original word was that he’d only be out for a couple of weeks, but when you consider how bad the play looked when it happened, a month seems like a blessing.
3. At the request of Andy from Fight Night at the Joe, I’m not going to include my question about Nick Lidstrom scoring a goal today just to see if it gets him to score. Not that he’s not doing other things well, but the offense could sure use his help. I’m also concerned that if he turns in a season with only a couple of goals, it’s going to make him less likely to re-sign during the summer. Instead, I’ll pick on Datsyuk again. Where is his head going to be tonight? Seriously.
4. Is there any chance that the Wings’ leaders are going to step up and lead by example tonight instead of letting the young guys do all the work? Or is that too much to ask?
5. I figure Jimmy’s going to be starting again tonight. Will he be able to keep up his torrid pace after stumbling a little on Tuesday night? There’s no way that the loss was his fault, but I worry about his confidence issues. (Seriously, between him, Bertuzzi and Leino and their confidence issues, the Wings’ dressing room needs a support group for feelings of inadequacy or something.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Red Wings 0, Islanders 6: Post Game Snipes...

  • I feel like I should just keep two standard recap posts with blanks to fill in team names and scores. The first would be the obligatory (and far too overused) “they played like crap with no jump or intensity” post in which I try to make sense of the team’s inexplicable failure to resemble anything close to a playoff hockey team. The other would be the one saved for those special games like the one against San Jose in which I think that all is finally right with the world and proclaim it to be a turning point. I think I’d save myself a lot of time and effort that way. If the Wings can get away with lackluster efforts like that on a regular basis, why can’t I? I’m pretty sure I put more effort into that game than any of their players did. And I was sitting on my bed at home in my pajamas eating a TV dinner.
  • Using the west coast roadtrip as an excuse would be passable if the team hadn’t shown that kind of effort on a regular basis all season. I think it’s just lack of caring.
  • This was the seventh time the Wings have been shut out this season. I’ll let that sink in for a minute…seven times. Somewhere, Ted Lindsay weeps.
  • The Wings mustered a grand total of 16 shots tonight. And, quite frankly, that number sounds generous. The Islanders probably could’ve played the entire game with their goalie pulled and still won. Sixteen shots.
  • The first period was atrocious. That’s all I’m going to say about it. I could tell pretty early on that it was going to be one of those games. By “early on,” I mean exactly 1:11 into the game when the Islanders opened the scoring.
  • This was Brad Stuart’s worst game since Game 7 of the Finals.
  • I really liked Babcock’s decision to swap Ozzie in during the second period. I thought it would give him a chance to get some ice time and try to earn his way back into the net. Instead, he looked just as bad as the rest of the team.
  • At one point during the second period, the Wings actually put together a good shift cycling in the offensive zone. It was novel enough that I actually twittered about it.
  • Someone threw an octopus during the second period. A) Why would you bother bringing an octopus to a meaningless game like that? and B) That was just an embarrassingly bad time to throw it in an embarrassingly bad game. At that point, the only place that octopus should’ve been thrown tonight was in the trash can.
  • For the life of me, I don’t remember seeing Zetterberg on the ice once tonight. Likewise, the only reason I noticed Datsyuk was because he took a penalty. Somebody needs to wake up the Eurotwins because the Wings need them to lead the team. Now. Not in a couple of weeks or next month. Now.
  • Another invisible Wing (not that it’s surprising): Ville Leino. I know I said that I didn’t notice Z or Pav at all, but that was a bit of an exaggeration. I literally didn’t see Leino once. Not one single time. Admittedly, I wasn’t paying 100% attention, but still…not once.
  • Only 5 Wings finished with an even +/- rating. Everyone else was negative.
  • Datsyuk only played 16:06 and Zetterberg 15:18. Bert led all forwards with 17:48 tonight. Who thought they’d see that day when the season started. Eaves and Filppula also beat out the Eurotwins in ice time. It’s also interesting that not a single Wing was in single digits for ice time. What does all this mean? Probably nothing other than the fact that I can read numbers in a spreadsheet.
GP Answers:
1. The Wings have a chance to enter the playoff picture with a win tonight. They also need to start to pull away from the teams below them in the standings, which is almost as important. Can they follow up their latest “statement game” with another performance that brings hope to Wings fans everywhere?
No, no, and no. It’s interesting that the Islanders were also on the cusp of a playoff seed tonight. I guess it’s clear which team wanted it more. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t the Wings.

2. Datsyuk roared back with a stellar game against San Jose on Saturday night. He’s been inconsistent all year, with a tendency to fade in and out from game to game. Can he put together another strong performance and start climbing out of Wings fans’ collective doghouse?
Hahahahahahahaha. How cute and na├»ve this question seems now. He was absolutely invisible for the entire game except for that part where he threw a nice, hard check into an Islander…who didn’t have the puck.

3. When is Nick Lidstrom going to score a goal again? It’s been the better part of a decade since he put one in the net, and I’m going to copy/paste this into every GP until he does.
Probably never.

4. What’s Darren Helm going to do to make Wings vans swoon tonight?
He hobbled off the ice during the first period. I wouldn’t classify that as swoon-worthy, but it darn near made every Wings fan faint in a fit of panic...which is kind of like swooning, I guess.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Darren Helm
I think I noticed him skating once or twice, which is more than I can say for most of the guys on the team. This is only being awarded tonight because I set a rule when I started saying that I had to hand this and the Facepalm out for every game. I'm going to make them non-fat cookies and cupcakes tonight so that they taste like cardboard and air.

Brad Stuart gets the Golden Facepalm
His turnover leading to the Islanders’ third goal was just horrific. I’m going to go warn my housemates that if I wake up screaming in the middle of the night tonight, it’s because I was having nightmares replaying that play in my head.

An Extra Facepalm for Derek Meech (still need a better title for this one)
He was -5 on the night. Enough said.

What I Learned:
The San Jose game wasn’t the turning point we’d all hoped for after all.

Red Wings vs. Islanders GP...

1. The Wings have a chance to enter the playoff picture with a win tonight. They also need to start to pull away from the teams below them in the standings, which is almost as important. Can they follow up their latest “statement game” with another performance that brings hope to Wings fans everywhere?
2. Datsyuk roared back with a stellar game against San Jose on Saturday night. He’s been inconsistent all year, with a tendency to fade in and out from game to game. Can he put together another strong performance and start climbing out of Wings fans’ collective doghouse?
3. When is Nick Lidstrom going to score a goal again? It’s been the better part of a decade since he put one in the net, and I’m going to copy/paste this into every GP until he does.
4. What’s Darren Helm going to do to make Wings vans swoon tonight?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Red Wings 4, Sharks 1: Post Game Snipes...

  • Brad Stuart made an awesome save early in the first period. He lost his stick and dove across the crease to swat a puck away from the wide open net. Stuart might have a higher save percentage than Ozzie at this point.
  • Abdelkader was all over the place during the first period. He looked like the only Wings forward who was doing anything for a while there.
  • Datsyuk’s goal was classic Pavel all the way. He had a nice takeaway in the defensive zone, took it down the ice, and wired a shot into the back of the net. He should do that more often.
  • I was almost surprised that the Wings’ second goal was upheld after the review. It seems like breaks don’t go their way very often. I was pretty convinced that it was a high stick but there just wasn’t enough conclusive evidence to overturn the ruling on the ice.
  • Darren Helm made an awesome play to clear the puck out of the zone early in the third. I can’t really describe it, but it was one of those little hockey plays that don’t end up on the scoresheet yet are ridiculously endearing.
  • Of course, I was even more excited to see him bury a goal to make it 4-1. He’s been on quite a roll lately.
  • Dan Cleary called it their biggest win of the year in his postgame interview.
  • He also got into a “fight” late in the third. He didn’t really throw any punches, but he did manage to take his man down.
  • Jimmy Howard was fantastic again. He didn’t have to stand on his head like he did Thursday night, but he was solid all around.
GP Answers:
1. It was a little disheartening (understatement) to see the Wings come out with such a poor effort in Thursday night. While I don’t really see them catching San Jose in the standings, it would be nice to see them stick it to them. Will they at least look like they care as much as we do?
It was a much, much better effort all around. I wasn’t thrilled with the first period, but I’m much more forgiving when the game ends well.

2. Earth to Pavel Datsyuk. Earth to Pavel Datsyuk. Dude, where have you been? Will tonight finally be the night that he resembles the Hart Trophy nominee that he was last year? Please.
He seemed to have more spark tonight than he has recently. His goal to tie the game up was huge.

3. When is Nick Lidstrom going to score a goal again? It’s been the better part of a decade since he put one in the net, and I’m going to copy/paste this into every GP until he does.
Not tonight.

4. Are we going to get to see something resembling a powerplay from the Wings tonight? It’s looked better recently, but still isn’t accomplishing a lot. I expect better from the boys.
Somehow the Wings ended up with only one powerplay tonight. Which was probably good because it continued to make me sad.

Cookies and Cupcakes for Darren Helm
I mean, really, how can anyone not love the guy? All he does is work and do the little things that make hockey special. Tonight showcased a little bit of everything that he does.

An Extra Stick Tap for Dan Cleary
Since he’s come back from injury, he’s picked up two goals and a semi-fight. That’s how it’s done, sunshines.

Brian Rafalski gets the Golden Facepalm
I had a hard time deciding who got this one because there wasn’t a whole lot to pick on tonight, but he didn’t tie up his man on the play that led to San Jose’s goal in the first period. He could’ve done a better job.

What I Learned:
Maybe the Wings missed Cleary more than most people thought that they did.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Red Wings vs. Sharks GP...

1. It was a little disheartening (understatement) to see the Wings come out with such a poor effort Thursday night. While I don’t really see them catching San Jose in the standings, it would be nice to see them stick it to them. Will they at least look like they care as much as we do?
2. Earth to Pavel Datsyuk. Earth to Pavel Datsyuk. Dude, where have you been? Will tonight finally be the night that he resembles the Hart Trophy nominee that he was last year? Please.
3. When is Nick Lidstrom going to score a goal again? It’s been the better part of a decade since he put one in the net, and I’m going to copy/paste this into every GP until he does.
4. Are we going to get to see something resembling a powerplay from the Wings tonight? It’s looked better recently, but still isn’t accomplishing a lot. I expect better from the boys.
5. What is Jimmy Howard going to come back with after that performance Thursday night? Hopefully the insanity will carry over.