Saturday, March 24, 2012

In Joe Louis Arena, You Rock Hurricane!

So I've started writing this post with about 30 seconds left in the game, where the Wings are ahead 5-4, coming back from a 4-1 deficit. I intend to interrupt whatever points I'm making in this post with my reaction to how the game ends. Needless to say, I've been more bipolar than usual when watching the Wings. FUCK YES! YES! 

Holy Christ that was intense. They often talk about "playoff atmosphere" in games towards the end of the season. Sometimes I feel it, sometimes I don't. Tonight I definitely felt it. Heavy work in the corners, hard fore checking, big moments, fear, anxiety and joy. But I think to best sum up the game, I just want to quote the Winging it Motown Twitter feed: "Any opponent who doesn't fear a healthy Wings team just a little bit is delusional". I'm going to have plenty to say about tonight's game, I have a lot of notes, but I want to bullet point them.

Bullet Points After the Break

  • If luck was a natural resource, we'd have invaded whatever country was rich in it and start a "regime change": I had a Twitter back and forth with @LarryLage about what happened with the first goal. We agreed that Ian White could have and should have played better against Jiri Tlusty on the 17 seconds into the game goal. It was also agreed that it was a goofy, fluke of a goal that doesn't happen 99.99% of the time. It took goofy bounces and ping ponging pucks off skates to get the Wings back in motion. 
  • If luck was directly proportional to work ethic, the Wings would have had 30 goals: For serious. Kronwall hits the post. Quincey hits the post. Before the Wings took a couple bad penalties and let in two power play goal, they had about 10 minutes of non-stop pressure, shots on goal and scoring chances that wouldn't go in. It wasn't until late in the 2nd period that they finally got the breaks. The entire 3rd period was all Red Wings. 100%. Hurricanes didn't get a shot on goal in the third probably for the first 10 or 15 minutes. 
  • @The Production Line: We had a Twitter debate/argument about Gustav Nyquist. I'm pretty sure I've seen several pro-Goose tweets from TPL, and I've been singing Nyquist's praises as well. But he had a number of opportunities to score tonight that he couldn't quite finish. I said I was losing faith, and I admitted I was being hyperbolic (or melodramatic) about it. TPL correctly pointed out he's done a lot of great things in his 11 games for the Wings this season. I believe he had 5 assists in the last 6 games coming into tonight. Allow me to put the high emotional levels of that game aside and more clearly articulate my concerns, and I hope you can respond in kind and we'll have a good discussion about it.
    • I've watched Filppula struggle to become the more complete player that can live up to his scoring potential finally break out this year, much to our collective relief. I watched Jiri Hudler be great for us, then have a really shoddy year last year, and re-emerge this year. I watched Ville Leino show flashes of greatness, disappoint us, and go off to other teams and have more success. I just don't want Nyquist's story to end that way. And I'm probably projecting my frustration with the losing streak onto him, which isn't fair. I just want him to be a great addition for the Wings, and would like him to have some really big moments this year so he doesn't fall victim to free agency and waivers and cap space and earns a permanent spot on the Wings.
This is what happened to the last guy who pissed off
Mike Vernon. I hope he doesn't take exception to my
praising Cam Ward's goaltending tonight. 
  • I have to tip my hat to Cam Ward: You cannot say that Cam Ward wasn't trying to win it for his team. He was standing on his head at times, making huge saves, and playing larger than life. If it wasn't for some of those weird bounces that have been handcuffing the Wings and their goalies at times this year, Cam Ward is the #1 star of this game and potentially shuts out the Red Wings. The last time I saw a goalie play that well and let in 5 goals was March 26th, 1997. 
The awards tonight are going to be as flukey as some of the goals, because some of them don't quite apply. But fuck it, they're my awards, I can hand them out as I please. 

Time for the Awards Segment of Our Show:

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: The Approximately 25-30 minutes where the Carolina Hurricanes were thoroughly dominated. As I said earlier, there was about 10 minutes in the 2nd period and pretty much the  entirety of the 3rd period that was all the Red Wings. They couldn't clear the zone, and when they did it was just long enough to get a full or partial line change and the Wings were right back in. They couldn't break out, couldn't make passes and were kept from any real shots or scoring chances (save for the 2 PP goals).

The Kris Draper Game Puck: The Entire Red Wings Team. Without a doubt, for the vast majority of the game, even being down by 3 goals, the team took terms carrying the pressure and kept working their asses off all game. Yes, there were moments when people made mistakes (I'm looking at you, Dan Cleary and your penalty to give Carolina a 5 on 3 PP). But every player on that team was able to put their mistakes aside and help bring the team back into the fight and eventually win the game.

Nobody loves you, Tetherball Pole!
The Derian Hatcher Game Puck:  The Goal Post: How many times in the last 2 or 3 games have the Red Wings hit you when the puck should have gone into the back in the net? You are the cock blocker of the hockey world. You are what stands between us and that sweet, sweet Goaltang. I hate you. You're a couple of welds and some red paint away from being the tether ball pole on the playground that nobody plays with.

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Henrik Zetterberg takes it again. Once again, when the Wings needed a goal, he was there. And when they needed another goal, he was there again. And for the second game in a row, Zetterberg was one of the leaders in terms of work ethic and dedication, despite being down. 

Honorable Mentions: Niklas Lidstrom, Jakub Kindl, and Jiri Hudler. Both defense men coming back from injuries. Both of them playing really well tonight, despite some cobwebs and rust. Kindl took a cheap shot at center ice and after some time on the bench came back into the game. Lidstrom looked great, and at 41 years old he rushed back in the 1st period after pressing in on offense to turn a developing 3 on 1 into a completely harmless play. Hudler contributed with a ton of hard work, and while he didn't capitalize on all his opportunities, he came away with an important goal.

On Notice: The rest of the NHL: We're getting healthier, we're getting our game back. We're still dangerous. 


  1. Nyquist is going to be a hell of a player. It'd be great to see him pot a puck or two, but 7 assists in 11 games (including 5 in 6) is unreal. Goals will come, but for now... we should all be pumped for the potential he's shown.

    Curious to see if he sticks in the lineup when Franzen returns.

    1. Oh, for sure. I give him credit for working hard and getting those assists. Part of my concern, aside for what I wrote here, is I'm looking down the road for Datsyuk and Zetterberg's replacements in terms of goals. I know they're not done, and they'll still have a lot to offer the team in terms of leadership, two way play, play off experience and such.

      I just want Nyquist to be that guy.