Monday, April 30, 2012

Operation Eaves: The Culmination

Patrick heard the message loud and clear, my fellow Red Wings fans.
Photo courtesy of whoever took it and put it on Winging it in Motown
I know I didn't necessarily play a huge role in any of this. I'm sure anyone who saw this here saw it on WIM or The Production Line first. I'd like to think that there were maybe a couple of people who contributed because of me cajoling them here or on Twitter. One of my sort of neurotic things in life is to be part of things bigger than myself that matter, because I often times feel insignificant. It's one of the reasons I became a teacher: to positively affect the lives of students because doing something less than that would just be unsatisfyingly insignificant to me.

But I digress. If you don't believe that contributions like this matter...

To the Fans:
“I want to thank everyone who sent a get well card or left a message on this website with such encouraging comments. I appreciate everyone keeping me in your thoughts during this tough year for me. Between the cool poster and all the kind words, I was blown away by the best fans in hockey. The cards and comments brought up my spirits and I just want to thank all of you for your support. I look forward to coming back next season.”  -Patrick Eaves
...P-Eazzie (can that be his nickname now?) said that we lifted his spirits. If you don't believe that, or if that doesn't mean anything to you, well...okay then. But it means something to me that it meant something to him. It means that my love for hockey and the Red Wings isn't based only on my proximity to the team. And that money isn't the only reason they play for us. That we're better than Nashville cuz seriously, who the hell throws cat fish on an hockey rink? That's just stupid. And because we do things like this.

I just have to say one last thing though...because I can't help it. P-Eazzie... what the fuck is up with the hair and the handlebar mustachio dude? I mean seriously. It's's so bad but so awesome at the same time. And everyone, do me a favor, scroll up and look at the picture, look at his face and his hair and that...confusingly sweet mustache.

Now look at this...

Diedrich Bader as Lawrence in "Office Space"
...and you look me in the eye and tell me I'm fuckin' wrong. Better yet, look Diedrich in the face and tell me I'm wrong.

Let's Go Red Wings

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm Forever Yours....Faithfully: End of Year Wrap Up

Because Journey is the Red Wings' soundtrack.

For starters, if you haven't yet read The Production Line's post on this subject, you need to go read it right now. It's sad and harsh and concerning and it's also insanely honest, forthright and accurate. I pride being honest and forthcoming, even if what you have to say is not what people really want to hear. Actually, I pride those traits ESPECIALLY if what you have to say is not really what people want to hear, but they need to hear it. 

I also want to say that I know I come off as critical, and maybe overly critical. And while I would never claim to be the greatest Red Wings fan ever, I don't think anyone should question my loyalty to the team. I love my Red Wings and I love hockey. I appreciate that these guys have skills that I also possess, but on a level that I just cannot ever reach. I appreciate their dedication to their craft, to their team, to the city of Detroit and the professionalism they display. My criticisms always come from a place of "I know the level you guys can be at, I want you to be there, and I think you want to be there, too"

My passion for things is very roller coaster-esqe. Fantastical highs and rage fueled lows. With all it's strengths and faults - and believe me, I recognize its faults - it's the kind of person I am.

It needs to be said how much hope and optimism I had for this season. I disagree with TPL and others in thinking Ian White didn't live up to the standard set by Brian Rafalski. I think he did. I think Ian White was a perfect fit into the team, I think he was a great pick up in the off-season, and I have high hopes for him down the road. I think he could play on the top line, and the first PP team. I think he could compliment Kronwall excellently in years to come. I thought we had the weapons up front, provided they had the seasons they needed to have, to be strong offensively. I thought we were solid defensively and the team was making a stated point to be better in their own zone. And they were.

Jimmy Howard needed to step up this year, and anyone who thinks he didn't, we can no longer be friends. Like, we need to form West Side Story street gangs and fight over that, because I am ready for a brawl. Jimmy Howard is everything this team needs in net, and I think he can get even better.

That being said, as a historian who values context, who values chronology, who values connecting ideas and themes and events to form coherent theories and predictions, I do agree with TPL and others that the Wings find themselves at a crossroads here. I think we can put this team into a historical context that will very accurately demonstrate what they need to do in the off season.

The Post 2008 Stanley Cup Red Wings are the 1994-1996 Red Wings

The beginning of the Scotty Bowman Red Wings marked two events. First, it was the beginning of the Modern Red Wings Dynasty. Secondly, it marked the beginning of yours truly getting into hockey and the Red Wings. One of the things I very distinctly remember about the Red Wings at the time is that they were good, but they were behind the league in strategy. When they lost to New Jersey in 1995 in the SCFs and the Colorado Avalanche in the WCF's in 1996, they had a good team, but it wasn't yet a great team. There were pieces missing.

Yes, the Red Wings had high powered scorers in Steve Yzerman and Sergei Federov. Yes, they had a great offensive/power play defenseman Paul Coffey. Yes, they had a net front presence with Dino Ciccerelli. However some critics felt as though the Red Wings didn't have the grit to win. They were getting out worked, beaten physically by bigger, stronger, harder working Colorado and New Jersey teams. They also needed not just veteran players (like Coffey and Ciccerelli), but better veteran players.

Konstantinov needed Fetisov. Kozlov and Federov needed Larianov. A young Nicklas Lidstrom - I'm going to say again so it sinks in, a young Nicklas Lidstrom - needed Larry "This is a Guy" Murphy. Chris Osgood, a promising young goaltender, needed Mike Vernon. We also needed to get one of the weapons that beat us; a strong, gritty, I'll kick your ass power forward with a wicked shot and great hands, so we went out and got Future Controversial League Disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. 

On top of that, coach Scotty Bowman pointed the finger at Steve Yzerman and said "You're going to be a two way player" and he pointed his finger at Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Joey Kocur, Darren McCarty and other 3rd and 4th line players and said, "You have to have an impact every game; whether it's winning face offs, wearing down the other team, scoring goals or all of the above. You can't just be extra guys on the bench".


Fast forward a few years, and a couple of Stanley Cups under our belts, 2001-2002 we had to do it again. Murphy was gone, but Lidstrom was there. We brought in Chris Chelios, to have defensive leaders and models for Dandenault, Fischer, Duchesne, Olausson and others. Federov and Larionov were there for a young Pavel Datsyuk. While we were yet to see some of the weapons we have now, they were laying in wait: Zetterberg, Kronwall, Hudler, Ericsson, Filppula, Howard, Quincey, Franzen, Kindl, Abdelkader, and Helm were all drafted and/or started playing between 2000 and 2005. 

They all came into the Red Wings system watching guys like Federov, Yzerman, Hull, Shanahan, Robataille, Lidstrom, Murphy, Draper, and so many others be successful. They learned what it meant to be a Red Wing and to win because of the foundation that had been set. The Red Wings learned what it took not just to compete in the NHL but to win in the NHL and set the bar in the NHL. When you could no longer just have Wayne Gretzky stand behind the net and throw passes out front, and Steve Yzerman or Sergei Federov finesse their way to goals, when you had to have guys like Shanahan and Draper and McCarty, the Wings embraced that and then showed the rest of the league how to do it better. 

The Red Wings are in the exact same situation now. In the early 90's, the Red Wings' strategy had become stale and lost effectiveness. They stood up, took notice what was changing in the league, and changed in order to be successful. As a result, they became the standard of what to do. Once again, the Red Wings' strategy has become stale and lost effectiveness. It's on their shoulders to stand up, take notice what has changed in the league, and change to continue to be successful.

Speed: The league has struggled since the lockout to increase the speed of the game. They have tried to open up the game so faster plays through the neutral zone would be more exciting for players and fans alike. The Red Wings have also struggled at times to accomplish a speedier game. Darren Helm is a great addition to the Red Wings in favor of speed. But the Red Wings don't utilize speed effectively. 

The Red Wings aren't very good at the dump and chase game. Watch this first goal by Nashville in game 5.

Notice how Legwand is moving forward as the puck gets dumped. He stays onside, but he's already moving into the zone with speed. The Hudler Goal happens for the same reason. You have to approach the offensive blue line already moving and gaining speed. You can't be standing at the blue line, get the puck and THEN try to gain the zone. You can't be standing at the blue line and THEN try to chase the play in. The number of times I saw the Wings get beat to and/or out worked on a dump in was nerve wracking. Check out another one of my fabulous infographics.
Black dot: Puck. Black X: Dump location
Red Letters Red Wings' player at the time of dump
Piss Yellow: Defender's location at the time of dump 

The puck gets dumped in, and that big blob of yellow indicates the defensive player having to turn around and chase the puck. While they'll be moving backwards, that turning to skate will cost them some time and speed that the pressing forward has to take advantage of.

The red squiggles behind the Red Wings players indicates the amount of time and space they've had the throttle down, trying to gain as much speed as possible before they hit the blue line. The green lines are to help emphasize the space between the pressing forward at the time the puck is dumped in.

You have almost an extra third of the distance on the ice that the forward has to close between them and the defensive player. On top of that, they've had less space to gain speed and momentum, so they aren't up to full speed unless they're Darren Helm. (Hint: The entire team is not comprised of Darren Helm clones)

If you're the pressing forward, you have to have as much speed as possible in order to maximize the amount of distance closed as the defensive player turns and tries to gain speed to chase the puck. The pressing forward has to have as much speed and be as close to the blue line as possible at the time of the dump. 

Granted, you have to communicate well, you have to know that's the plan and you risk a lot of off-sides penalties. You also have to be ready in case the dump shot is blocked and you have a streaking forward who now has to turn and skate back. Also you have to giggle at any sentence with the words "dump" and "streaking" in it. But it's a matter of risk versus reward, and I'd rather they take some risks than a bunch of wimpy offensive pushes that yield little to no pressure and scoring chances. 

Size: Simply put, the Red Wings have to get bigger. Now granted, unless they all take steroids and HGH, it's not likely that the Red Wings will magically get bigger. Red Wings forwards average 6'0, 197lbs. I'd like to see that closer to 6'1 or 6'2 and break 200lbs. Why? Well the Red Wings defense averages 6'1 and 206 lbs. That means they have about an inch and about 10 lbs on their own forwards. And this is a team who some may argue is a bit too small. Including me.

NHL forwards are getting bigger. The defensemen are getting bigger. And they're not getting super slow. They're not the guy from QWOP flailing around haphazardely and uncontrollably; these guys are pretty damned nimble and fast for their size. When the Red Wings lose Brad Stuart, they're going to have to find a replacement that can be a physical presence on the blue line and who has some size to them. They need to be able to lay a lot of good hits on guys and wrestle these bigger, stronger forwards off the puck . Ryan Suter is 6'1 and 200 lbs, so he'd be good. Doug Janik (6'2, 211), Jakub Kindl (6'3, 216) and Brendan Smith (6'1, 199) are all great choices, too.

The Wings should start searching for players via trade or draft that can bring some size. Unless they posses skill sets that are astronomically high, I wouldn't look at any player that isn't 6'0 or taller, and at or breaking 200lbs.

Strength: The Red Wings need a guy in the top 6 who meets the definition of a power forward. And by power forward, I don't just mean a gritty, physical forward. We have Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, and Drew Miller for that. I'm talking about a gritty, physical forward that is a 30 or 40 goal scorer. I think the Wings had one of the first ever power forwards. You may have heard of him, a guy by the name of Gordie "I'll Punch You in Your Stupid Face and Score Goals" Howe. We got another one in the late 90's with a guy named Brendan "I Would Kill Myself but then I'd Have to Fine Myself $2500" Shanahan. Toronto had Wendell Clark, Vancouver had this guy named Todd Bertuzzi who over 6 seasons with the Canucks scored 174 goals, 244 assists for 418 points. He apparently then left the planet in search of necks to break elsewhere in the universe and sent his less talented twin brother Clod Barfluzzie to take his place in the NHL 18 months later.

I'm pretty sure this is the guy Johan Franzen is supposed to be. At 6'3, 233 he's the biggest Red Wings forward who is closer to 30 than he is to 40. Problem is, Franzen likes to go 3, 4, 5, 6...14 games without so much as an assist. He's prone to injuries. He scores 1 goal in the playoffs that is banked off his ass. He doesn't really hit people. He doesn't fight people. I think the most physical I've seen him ever were the last 2 or 3 games of the playoffs this season. That's not a power forward. That's a forward who happens to be big and is wildly inconsistent.

The Red Wings need a guy that is a double threat: He can go into the the corner and deke it out of the corner or just beat you down until you cough up the puck. We need a guy who can score pretty goals from the slot or camp the front of the net and do things other than take goalie interference penalties. Parise, Semin, and Andrei Kostitsyn are all UFA's this year, although I wouldn't call any of them "power forwards". There's Jagr, who...I dunno. We passed on him this past off-season and after the season he's had with Philadelphia, no way to know if he'd come to Detroit. There is David Jones of Colorado who's put up just shy of 30 goals these past two seasons. He's 6'2, 210 so he's a bigger guy.

We need that guy again. We don't need an aging one of those guys. We don't need one of those guys who clams up for multiple games, especially when those games are in the playoffs. Maybe if Jiri Hudler goes elsewhere and Franzen gets promoted from guy who sweeps the stairs to the guy who tells Gustav Nyquist to sweep the stairs, he'll become the forward we need him to be. Otherwise, we have the hockey equivalent of a 5.25 million dollar paper weight.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Education and the NHL's Officiating/Discipline Crisis

It's very odd to see sports fans unite together and all agree on something. I mean, yeah, generally they all hate the owner(s), but with a handful of exceptions across the sports world, everything is up for debate. Nothing has a consensus, especially as events unfold and tempers are high. But across the NHL right now, regardless of whether or not your team is in the playoffs, regardless of whether it's happening to or against your favorite team or player, hockey fans across the board are virtually unanimous on a handful of current events: 
  1. The officiating these playoffs has been questionable at best
  2. The dirty hits/cheap shots/fighting/brawling have gotten way out of hand 
  3. The NHL and Brendan Shanahan have done a poor job of regulating the league in this years playoffs.
Now as a teacher, I have a lot of skills and methods to teach and problem solve. I also have a lot of skills and methods to maintain a positive classroom environment, keeping kids safe and happy, and using discipline as a way that both curbs negative behavior and encourages positive behavior. So Gary, Brendan, I need you two to go ahead and have a seat, and we need to talk about what's been happening in these playoffs and how we can fix them. Together. Go ahead, have a seat.

Pretty typical classroom at this point: one student with dead, lifeless eyes and another who won't shut up.
Why are we here? Brendan, you are here because of what can be best described as "inconsistent" discipline. The league has stated goals of protecting player safety and a reducing in violent cheap shots, and you were specifically selected to achieve that. Gary, you are here because you are supposed to be leading the league. You're here because you have struggled or failed to handle those duties well.

But overall, this is about how the decisions that you both have made with regards to Shea Weber caused the incident between Raffi Torres and Marian Hossa. How you are responsible for what is happening in the playoffs this year. And how your mistakes are becoming deciding factors in games and series.

Raffi Torres didn't attack Marian Hossa because Shea Weber slammed Henrik Zetterberg's head into the glass. And I won't even say that your only giving Shea Weber a $2500 fine for a flagrant assault on another human being made Raffi Torres do what he did. Raffi Torres did what he did because he's a terrible human being. I actually think Torres' behavior stems from a psychopathic need to distance himself from his name sake.
One of these guys is a soulless torturer of children, the other plays for the Phoenix Coyotes. So...same thing
He has a history of being a goon that cheap shots people. This article shows his discipline history:
Torres' has been suspended twice: This hit on Jordan Eberle, which forced him to sit for four games, and the hit on Prosser netted him a 2 game suspension. Torres is a head hunter who needs to be out of the league unless he can reform his game. But how does this relate to Shea Weber? Put on your metaphor hats, because it's analogy time!

One of the hardest things to do as a teacher is discipline and classroom management It's even harder to start off lenient and become strict later on. It's better to start off strict and become lenient over time. Doesn't mean you walk in and Sparta kick a student in the chest, but it does mean you set the standard of behavior and discipline early.

Starting off lax and then becoming strict later on is abrupt. It's confusing. It's shocking to the students. It'll be seen as retribution and revenge and not as appropriate discipline. It's less likely to engender respect from them and more likely to create feelings of resentment and create victims.

Instead, you have to codify your rules and standards of your classroom from the beginning and enforce them strictly and consistently. For example, when I'm in a classroom, I generally do not allow electronic communication and entertainment devices in the classroom, I.E. iPods, iPhones, smart phones, cell phones, handheld video game systems, etc., etc. While there are valid and appropriate uses for those technologies in the classroom, rarely are they used those ways. They're instead used for texting, Facebook, youtube, music and games. So I don't allow them*

I tell the students exactly that and I tell them that if I see such devices out, I will confiscate them. And the first time it happens, I have to do what I said I was going to do. I have to set the precedent there. If I don't, if I'm lenient, then everyone is going to reach into their pocket and pull out their electronic devices. And trying to confiscate those devices becomes in exercise in obnoxious whining: "But you didn't take THEIR iPod so what are you taking MINE!? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

*Now, here's the thing: once I've followed through on my promise, I can exercise a bit of leniency. If the students demonstrate their ability to follow directions and behave, and as long as they can continue to do that, I can relax my rules a bit. But if they don't demonstrate acceptable behavior to begin with, we never move to that leniency.

The analogy is not perfect, I admit. A hit to the head is not the same as texting in a classroom. But the point about defining acceptable behavior from the start, following through on discipline procedures, and only allowing for leniency when the criteria have been met has merit. That's why Zetterberg's incidental but dangerous hit this year on Nikita Nikitin went unpunished beyond the in-game penalty. Yes, it was dangerous, but Zetterberg is known to abide by the rules, play a clean game, and his slight contact on Nikitin was secondary to Nikitin's legs slipping out from under him. Had Zetterberg pushed more forcefully and/or had a history of deviant behavior in the NHL, it would have went differently. 

In all honesty, I think you started off this season doing the job right, Brendan, and I have largely defended your decisions as appropriate. I agreed when you suspended Brendan Smith for 8 games for his head shot in the preseason. I agreed with no discipline for Zetterberg, and I agreed with the suspension on Quincey. I believe that if players are going to be taking cheap shots at each other with reckless abandon and a disregard for player safety, they should fear the fierce punishment from the Shanahammer. I also want to praise something else that should be the standard for all professional sports. While your delivery may be dry, the explanation videos are exactly what is needed. It's very similar to discipline processes used in schools. If a student (or player) is breaking a rule, you go through the process:
  • What are you doing? (What did the player do? "An incident occurred...")
  • What is the rule about...? (Same thing. "Rule #XZ.Y says... ...this is in violation of...") 
  • Decide what, if any, needs to happen, and explain why you're doing what you're doing
So the videos are great, and going through that process publicly with the players and fans is great. And showing examples of good plays is great. Showing the difference between good behavior and bad behavior is essential. It's so essential that I'm doing it right now. 

Gary, the problem I have with you, is that you're undermining everything that Brendan is trying to do, and insulting fans and players in the process. It's bad enough when a mistake is made. It's worse when the head of the league comes out and says stuff like this and this:
"When I mentioned that the league had been inconsistent with penalties — contrasting Shaw's three-game suspension with Predators defenseman Shea Weber's $2,500 fine for slamming Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg's head into the glass — Bettman scoffed."

'The Shea Weber situation was one that I think people have given excess attention to (but) nobody thinks it should have been more than a one-game suspension,' Bettman said. 'The attention it is getting has nothing to do with the other situations on the ice.' "
Gary, why would you say that? What do the league, the players and the fans have to gain from that statement? Detroit fans have been furious since the hit and that fury was intensified since the weak discipline from Brendan. And you mocked them. You mocked their anger and their dissatisfaction. You "scoffed"? You scoffed at them, Gary.

I said at the beginning that I was going to connect the Shea Weber incident to the Raffi Torres incident. Simple: Brendan, you are a teacher who started off the second semester being lenient with your discipline, and are now frantically trying to regain control of your classroom. Your players (students) have sensed your uncertainty, they caught wind of your mistake, and they are behaving without regard for your authority. Like I said, Torres didn't try to murder Hossa because you handed Weber a $2500 fine. But there was no incentive not to. He's been treated with relative leniency before and the first incident of the playoffs, the Weber incident, sent a message of further leniency.

If the rest of the students notice your lack of discipline, there's less of an incentive to try to stay within the boundaries of the rules. If you have two students whispering to each other during a lecture, and you don't keep an eye on it, two more start whispering, and then two more. Then first two, needing to hear each other over the lecture and the other students, talk louder. They start talking louder and louder to be heard over each other. By the end of it, even very well behaved students who usually aren't a problem fall victim and are being disruptive. If you don't believe that, look at the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia Game series. Claude Giroux, who had 29 PIM during the regular season and 8 PIM in 4 games played in last years playoffs has 11 PIM in 4 games played so far this playoffs. Including a 5 minute fighting major.

And it's bad enough when it's a lecture, but guess what happens when it's test? You let people start cheating and people are going to continue cheating.

Alright, it's been a long class. Everyone take a couple moments to process what's been said, and then we'll move on to solutions after the break.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Heavy Sigh

As I Tweeted, there will be no official post until the proper mourning has taken place.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Game 3 - Detroit v Nashville: On the Books

I just don't get it. How can this happen? How can the better team not win the hockey game? How can the team that tried its hardest to win the game, who needs to win the game the most, who is the better team, who is the most deserving team, not win? How can one team gets so god damned lucky? How can the Nashville Predators be so god damned lucky? How can they get the posts to do their bidding? How can the puck sit on their goal line?


The Bret Lebda Game Puck:  Henrik Zetterberg, because I'm tired of the corner crap. I know he's working hard. I know he's busting ass, and yes, so often he's the only guy on the ice who has been this series. But what good is hard work when you drive to the corner every time. And you get pinched off like a turd every time. And you spin around every time. And you throw a crap pass or shot from a terrible angle that goes no where every time? Where is the value in that?

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Ian White, for a great hit and for taking sticks and pucks to the face and trying to stay on the ice.

The Derian Hatcher Game Puck: Danny Cleary, because he knows the fuck why.

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck:  Kyle Quincey, for making a couple of huge plays. And I want the Red Wings to think about. The guy I was probably the hardest on was better than all of you assholes tonight.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Red Wings Offensive Critique

J.J. from Kansas over at Winging it in Motown wrote a really good post about the Red Wings offensive problems. There are things about his post I totally agree with and things I totally disagree with. I've been thinking about writing a post like this, but I've been so busy trying to cover the games that I've been putting it off. Then he wrote his and I was all mad at myself. Because now I feel unoriginal.

In any event, I made some comments about the Wings' need to get to the slot, and how detrimental leaving that area open is to their scoring goals. J.J. pointed out that perhaps I am being a little too simplistic. "Just go to the middle and score" - just like that, because Nashville won't stop you. Except for that whole middle part where they will certainly try. That being said, I still think the Wings need to change up their plan, if for no other reason than I think the league is on to their game. It's getting stale. Now this is going to be a long post with a lot shitty diagrams, I mean awesomely drawn diagraphics, and lot of points and arguments being thrown around. So hunker in.

I won't pretend to be a super hockey expert. I played hockey, both forward and defense, and I was good at it. No, I'm not one of those "I totally coulda made it to the NHL!" guys. I topped out at J.V. hockey in high school. For a lot of reasons, I didn't go further than that, but I was really good at it. This isn't just me theorizing after watching a lot of hockey. This is also me playing it.

5 on 5
Please note the large blog that is Rinne. 
Pictured to the right there is the standard set up the Wings (Black Numbers to avoid conflicting with red lines) and the Predators (Yellow to signify the piss color of their jerseys) will end up with in the Wings' offensive zone. There are a couple of major problems with this strategy:

#1: The player in front of the net is effectively covered by 3-4 players at any given time. If the Red Wings' forward in the corner wants to get him the puck, Predators 1, 2, 3 and the goalie can all potentially make a play on the puck. While cycling the forwards along the boards and in the corners can potentially work a player out of position, as J.J. points out, it's also very likely that the puck can get pinned against the boards, reclaimed by the Predators and moved out.

#2: In the event of that happening, Red Wing players 1 2 and 3 have a longer distance to cover in order to get back. Now, think about the players who usually are in front of the net: Tomas Holmstrom, Clod Barfluzzie, Jiri Hudler, Johan Franzen, and Drew Miller.

Which of those players would you say are known to be fast skaters? I would say Miller is probably the fastest out of that set. Franzen can skate pretty well, Barfluzzie is strong on the puck, but I wouldn't call him fast. Hudler and Holmstrom are regularly show cased as Red Wings who struggle with skating. Let's look at their strengths
  • Holmstrom takes a huge beating, gets under the skin of defender and goalie alike, can win battles, screen the goalie and is great with deflections and rebounds. 
  • Clod Barfluzzie is strong on the puck with good puck handling skills and a decent shot
  • Franzen has surprisingly good stick handling skills and an absolutely WICKED shot. Also strong.
  • Drew Miller is a fast, grindy, hard working forward
  • Hudler has an excellent wrist, snap and slap shot, good puck handling skills. 
Only Holmstrom is really built for a "front of the net" kind of play. Miller and Employee #44 can play there, too, but they have other strengths (Miller's speed and Barfluzzie's puck handling) that have value elsewhere. Franzen and Hudler are built for the slot. So not only are you placing guys in front of the net who could arguably better serve elsewhere, but those same guys are also largely unable to cover the distance back to prevent an odd man rush.

#3: It puts too many bodies between the goalie and a point shot. Traffic in front of the net is a good thing. Screening the goalie is a good thing. But this many bodies hurts your chances to get the puck to the net.

How many shots have the Predator's blocked? How many shots have skipped harmlessly off to the side or wound up sitting in the slot with only Predators to pick them up and move them out? There is much too big of a gap between the goal and the points. Way too much unoccupied space for the puck to go to and the Red Wings are not in position to recover it.

Moving a Player to the Slot:
This diagram shows the options of movement if you move a player back a bit into the slot. If you follow the blue lines the deep forward (1) can shift behind the net, the slot forward (2) can shift to the far side deep wing , and the deep wing (3) can move to the slot. Both defenseman shift over to cover the new point positions. If you follow the green lines, the deep forward (1) can move to the deep wing (3), the deep wing can move to the slot (2), and the slot can move to the deep forward position. The orange lines show how the deep forward (1) can move to the deep wing (3), but also somewhat occupy the slot; the deep wing (3) moves into the deep forward position (1), and the slot man moves into a far side position between the slot and deep forward positions.

With these strategies, you can still puck cycle down deep. But you can have so much more separation. It prevents the Predators from collapsing in too strongly. As J.J. pointed out, the Predators are really good at collapsing in on the puck. If you put too many in too small an area, it's that much smaller of a target for them to collapse on. And as J.J. pointed out, the Red Wings need way more movement. They can't simply reduce themselves to standing in whatever position they are supposed to be in. 

  • By spreading the Red Wings out further, you also spread out the Predators
  • A greater distance apart can encourage more movement, which can cause more confusion for the Predators, and generally work them out of position
  • The player in the slot is in a prime scoring location for a wrist shot, snap shot or one timer
  • The player in the slot is in a prime position to crash the net following a shot attempt, to put a shot on net after a high rebound
  • He can also deflect shots from either point
  • He is in a better position to back check in the event of a turn over
  • Forces the Predators to respect a play to the middle and feel threatened by a slot chance
  • Greater distances between players means passes have to be longer, harder and better
    • This means it's more likely to be intercepted, bobbled or missed
  • Means players have to travel a greater distance to cover for another player or to cycle the puck
  • The slot is a high traffic, high value area and a slot player is more likely to be watched after there
  • Forwards covering the point can make a play on a slot player if they feel they won't risk too much by breaking coverage with the point man
  • A pass into the slot that is missed or mishandled can be picked up and cleared out by the Predators or skip out of the zone and break up pressure and scoring chances
Power Play After the Break

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Game 3 - Detroit v Nashville: On the Books

I can probably copy-paste most of my game 1 review for this one. And that's not even talking about the score. There is one major difference between this game and game 1 however and it's pretty simple: Unlike game 1, I don't think the Red Wings deserved to win this one. It kills me to have to say that, but it's true.

The whole first period belonged to Nashville. Towards the end, the Wings started to come alive, but not in any way that I feel was really meaningful. On top of that, when the 2nd period started, instead of coming out with a ton of urgency, they sorta came out with a whole lot of meh, and got scored on again. If it wasn't for Pavel Datsyuk, this game probably would have ended 4-0. The saddest part about all of that, more than just the loss, is how disappointing it had to be for the fans sitting in Joe Louis Arena.

Look at that. Look at that awesome show for the fans and by the fans. That's awesome.
And after such an awesome showing before the game, after loud chants of "Let's Go Red Wings!" rang out before the game even started and they showed great support for their team and even for Clod Barfluzzie, the Wings promptly dropped the ball and never really got it back until Datsyuk's goal. It's like they forgot where they were, and what time of the year it was, and what they were supposed to be doing. Allow me to help you guys out: You're playing in front of a sellout home crowd at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan - a place affectionately known as Hockey Town, it's April and the first round of playoffs, and you're supposed to be busting ass and winning hockey games.

I'm going to do some quick bullet points, hand out the awards and get on my way because like I said before, so much of what could be said from Game 1 can be said about Game 3.

  • How is Drew Miller's play on his breakaway goalie interference? All he did is what any coach ever would teach any player ever to do. If you're on a quasi-break away, and you've got a defenseman on your back, you have to drive the net, get the best shot you can, hope for a bounce or a rebound. And if you get pushed or forced into the goalie, as long as you do the best you can to avoid and minimize the collision, it's not a penalty.
  • More importantly, how is that a penalty when the Predators are allowed to gang fuck Jimmy Howard in the face and score a goal off it? Or at least get scoring chances off it. Also, Pekke Rinne gets fast whistles. Like ridiculously fast. 
  • Nyquist had probably his best game of the playoffs. He looked really good out there, even looking strong. Like, Barfluzzie just holding people off strong. If Babcock wants more physical play form his top lines, I fail to see how Nyquist can't be an option. I'm still frustrated that he hasn't yet capitalized on an opportunity, but it was good to see his hard work.
  • I think Jimmy Howard took a step back today. He still looked good, and definitely made some saves for Detroit, but he wasn't lights out like he was in Game 2. While the 2nd and 3rd goals were wicked shots and/or defensive breakdowns, he still could have had 'em. I'm not worried about Howard yet, but he'll need to refocus and get his game face back on.
  • If you ever want proof that life isn't fair, watch the third period of this hockey game. The Red Wings got so much great pressure, so many opportunities that wouldn't go, and then in a blink of an eye, Nashville gets the go ahead goal. It's crap. I mean, the Wings couldn't find the puck, which is something that they can control. But the game tying goal deflects off the shaft of a Nashville stick? I mean, come the fuck on. 
  • After the Weber hit and Tootoo gooning it up out there, and Legwand grabbing hold of Johan Franzen when Franzen is on the ice and Legwand is sitting on the bitch, it's no wonder Nashville fans are such ass clowns. Look at the example being set by the players on the ice. I love this Tweet by Kimberly Jako: "I enjoy the NBC schmucks calling Legwand's move cute. Sure, being dirty is down right adorable. He should pose for an Anne Gedes calender" 
  • If the referees make terrible calls AND Nashville gets a bunch of lucky bounces THEN the Red Wings lose. 
  • Hockey gods, I'll sacrifice a baby if it'll get you to remove Nashville's dumb fucking luck for the rest of the series. 
Awards after the Break

Friday, April 13, 2012

Game 2 - Detroit v Nashville: On the Books

This game. This game right here was a game. I can't say enough how much of a game this was, this game here. You want to know how much of a game it was? I started off with Larry Murphy-esqe coverage.
This is a guy with multiple Stanley Cup wins and poor
public speaking skills.
If the Red Wings were going to respond to all the crap from game 1 - the weak, stupid calls, the horrible Nashville fans and the dirty, cheap play of Shea Weber and company, they needed to send several messages. The first, that just because Brendan Shanahan was too scared or too stupid to not suspend Weber, doesn't mean the Wings were going to roll over and be his bitch. That could have come from scoring a goal every time Weber was on the ice, it could have come by throwing heavy, punishing body checks on him every time he touched the puck, or by slamming his head face first into a glass wall. Or there's this....

I had predicted, if there was going to be a fight with Weber, it was going to be Ericsson, Abdelkader or Bertuzzi. I leaned more towards Abdelkader, but Bertuzzi did the job. And he did it clean. He proded Weber into a fight, Weber agreed, and they squared off as gentleman. Or at least, as much of gentleman as two guys who are known for driving other people's heads into things. He didn't clean Weber out, because honestly Weber is a big, strong guy who can fight and hold his own. But the message was sent with the fight: You cheap shot my guy, I'll drop the gloves and square off against you. I will stand up to you. I will stand for me, and my team mates, and I will do so in a way that is better and more respectable than you.

The next message was that whatever message they sent to Weber, they had to send a similar message to the team as a whole. That message need to be hard fought, physically punishing, grinding play on all parts of the ice. And they did that. Hits were officially 13-19 in favor of Nashville, but winning corner battles and paying the price to win those battles don't count as hits. They fought hard and were the better team on the ice for the vast majority of the game.

Hey remember how Nashville had the best power playing in the league in the regular season? And how unstoppable Weber, Suter and so many others were with the man advantage. And remember how they've scored on every PP opportunity they've had? Wait, I'm just getting word that in fact the Red Wings PK have shut down every Nashville power play these two games, including two 5-3 on penalty kills. So yeah, there's that, I suppose. I have to say, I don't think the Red Wings have had a better forward on the PK than Drew Miller the last 10 or 20 games. Every PK I find myself saying "Great ___" by Miller. Insert block shot, screen, stick work, clear the zone, clear from in front of the net in that blank. Any will do.

Why can't I hold onto all these limes pucks?
Finally, the Wings needed to score first, and they needed to keep the lead. They did both. And here's how you know it's Red Wings playoff hockey time and the Wings are playing the kind of hockey we know and love: Ian White, Corey Emmerton and Johan Franzen were our goal scorers tonight. A defense man (out with the 4th line), a 4th line grinder, and a leading goal scorer. They came out and pantsed Rinne pretty early and kept pressure on him all game. Here's a photo made by a reader I know as Mike Clutter show casing Rinne's struggles tonight.

I seriously would like to know how to say "Fuck me!" in an exasperated manner in Finnish, because I'm pretty sure I saw him exclaim it after the puck skipped off the Mule's leg and into the net for the go ahead goal. Val Fippula will hopefully get back to me on that one, soon.

I think my favorite part of the whole game though was when Anastacia Madhelost was so off-sides that the refs had a chance to go to a gift shop, buy an English to Russian dictionary, translate the NHL's official explanation of what it means to be offsides into Russian, and explain it to him before finally shrugging their shoulders and blowing the whistle. He proceeded to angrily scream at the referees like his head was just smashed into a glass wall by an out of control behemoth.

The Wings should be up 2 games to none. Instead they at least get to go home tied one game to one. We should be able to head back to Nashville with a 3 game to 1 lead and force them to eat a smorgasbord of dicks at home and close out the series in 5.

Awards After the Break

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Operation Eaves: The Product

After a lot of time, effort and kind words, the following was created by Josh Howard @jhowarddesign

Property of Josh Howard, link stolen from The Production Line.
Josh, any relation to Red Wings cherished goal tender Jimmy Howard?
Your words, if you contributed, which if you didn't, your mother and I are very disappointed in you, are on that poster. It will be delivered to Joe Louis Arena tomorrow. For more, head over to this post at The Production Line

Game 1 - Detroit v Nashville: On the Books

Okay, I'm going to resist the urge to flip out. I don't want to lose my cool and reduce this post from well-thought albeit passionate analysis into frothing at the mouth psychotic babbling. But I do want to communicate just how mad I was last night. Remember that scene from the first Ninja Turtles movie where, after once again not catching the Turtles, Tatsu comes back and beats the ever loving tar out of his own Foot Clan soldiers? That kind of grunting, uninteligable violent destruction of people and property is about where I was by the end of the game last night.
Pictured: Toshishiro Obata, who can communicate a wider range of emotions
through angry grunting than Kristen Stewart can using words, actions and
facial expressions. Also, a surfer ninja for some reason.
But I digress into my childhood because I don't want to have to face what happened last night. For the sake of my blood pressure and the coherency of this post, I'm going to hold of about talking about the fucking refs until after the break. Where I do refer to them until my end analysis, they will only be mentioned as TFRs.

The fact of the matter is, the Red Wings shouldn't feel that bad about the loss. While there were some moments when they got out worked or out played, whenever that happened they worked hard to even the tilt and even push the momentum back in their favor. They skated hard, they back checked well - hell I think I even saw Johan Franzen back check on someone and make a play in the third period. The lackluster Red Wing power play went 2 for 8 attempts (25%) which is a better percentage than they had in the regular season. However, they couldn't capitalize on the 5 on 3 opportunity, much to my chagrin. On the flip side of special teams, their improving penalty kill looked EXCELLENT. They killed of every PP opportunity that the best regular season PP got, including their own 5 on 3. Jonathan Ericsson came up big, Drew Miller was dominant again on the PK, and Darren Helm wa...

Jesus Christ I hope Darren Helm is okay. Before the game, I had said to people and I felt it in my heart, that I didn't want Dirty Darren Helm to rush back to the playoffs. I didn't want him to get hurt again. I know the two injuries have nothing to do with one another, what with one being his knee and the other being his wrist, but I just felt like it was going to happen. I don't want to say the Wings' deep playoff hopes rest with Darren Helm but...fuck. And of course, after I started writing this, I find out that while he'll be okay, he won't be back in the playoffs. FUCK!

My only major complaint about the Wings last night is their offensive strategy, including their power play strategy. I know this sounds really weird complaining about a 25% power play in the playoffs immediately after praising them for it, but hear me out. The Detroit Red Wings have got to knock off this perimeter/corner crap and get somebody in the slot when they are in the zone, especially on the power play. The rest of the league knows that if they let us, the Wings will just dick around with the puck out at the points, or in the corners, and throw easily blocked shots from the point or low success rate shots from the sides, which the opponent can quickly scoop up and move out. Or, in the case of a power play, just force the Red Wings to kill the penalty for them.

Putting somebody in the slot means the defenders can't easily keep the puck to the sides and points. It forces them to respect a play to the middle and spread them out. It means less crap shots from the points and sharp angles.
But that being said, what this game really came down to, was dumb ass luck for Nashville. Call it home ice advantage, call it evil vindictive hockey gods, call it the fact that Gary Bettman was in attendance and his mere presence destroys everything good and honest and true about the game of hockey, but Nashville was lucky. Officially the hits were even at 18, face offs were slightly in Detroit's favor (although Nashville won big defensive zone face offs late in the game) and shots were 37-26 in favor of Detroit. But that's not surprising since Detroit takes a lot of terrible shots and Nashville gives up a lot of shots.

While Pekke Rinne was the better goaltender last night, there wasn't a massive gulf between him and Jimmy Howard in terms of how well they played. It was more like a small river between them. Both had big saves to keep their teams alive, both were solid in net the entire game. Jimmy looked like goaltender that he was up to the All-Star break: An All-star goaltender who was leading the league in wins, and was atop the statistics that every goalie wants to be atop of, and was only derailed because of a broken finger and an ailing crotch. Rinne looked like the Vezina trophy contender who steals games.

But, if you take away a fluky goal off Brad Stuart's skate, and a fluky goal that deflected on its way to the net (that honestly Howard should have stopped anyway, but point is, it was a fluky deflection) then Nashville only has one goal that was the product of good play on their behalf and/or bad play on Detroit's behalf. Conversely, Henrik #Zetterbeard and Justin Abdelkader had chances that should have gone in. But didn't because Nashville was just lucky. Just obnoxiously lucky. So flip the luck and Detroit wins this game 4-1 on those merits alone. Hell, even if you give them the 2nd goal back because Howard could have saved it, Detroit still wins 4-2.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes down to it, this was a mostly even match game where the Red Wings lived up to expectations and the Predators did not. The Predators got by on lucky bounces and the Wings couldn't beat bad luck and TFRs to come out with a win.

Awards and TFRs Analysis After the Break:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's Playoff Hockey Time! LET'S DO THIS!

Just wanted to share some prep time photos before Game #1 tonight. Going to watch it with my wife and my buddy Paultacular. We're all waiting anxiously, killing some time. Waiting. Waiting.


Well...while we all wait for it (rggnnnfrrgg!) here's some prep photos

Step #1: Equip "Moves Like Datsyuk" T-Shirt

Step #2: Equip Lidstrom Jersey
Step #3: Acquire Red Wing Fan of a Wife
Step #4: Equip her with hard hitting Kronwall jersey
Step #5: Have good friends over to watch the game with you.
If necessary, loan them your Shanahan jersey.

So let's get it done boys! LET'S GO RED WINGS!

Monday, April 9, 2012

2 Days Until Red Wings Playoff Hockey? Ugh!

It's kind of hard to deal with to be honest. I can deal with the bulk of the off-season because I know there is no hockey. There's no hockey for anyone. And there won't be hockey for a while. But towards the end of the off-season I get itchy for hockey. And when there's this short lull in hockey, I get very itchy for hockey. It was actually terrible last season after the Wings swept the Coyotes, and everyone else was still playing.

I wanted my Red Wings hockey but I had to wait for another team to not suck so much so the Wings could play someone. I can watch other hockey, and sometimes I do, but I'm a Red Wings fan first and foremost. I will tolerate this wait as best as possible, but it doesn't mean I have to be all that happy about it.

In the meantime, I've started working on my playoff beard. It's no Kris Draper, or even the glorious Zetterbeard. My brother and I are both fairly baby faced, him more than I.

Glorious Zetterbeard Master Race
And while I rock a goatee and a mustache in my day to day life, the beard doesn't always want to come in as a full fledged beard. It likes to take its time, come in kinda splotchy at times, and be not awesome. Either way, it's playoff time and that means a playoff beard.

So here it is, in it's splotchy glory. I'll take update pictures as the playoffs go on. Either way: Let's Go Red Wings!

P.S. I would like Zetterbeard to become Red Wings slang and/or a Twitter hash tag. Please share your own playoff beards and help bring Zetterbeard to the lexicon! 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Detroit v Chicago: End of the Season Wrap Up

Just as an FYI: This is a really long post, as I'm wrapping up the season. So hit the bathroom now, grab yourself a beer, and settle in.

Due to a time confusion and working on some cleaning projects around the apartment, I missed the first 3/4 of the game today. When I turned the game on and saw it was 2-0 Chicago, my heart sunk. We were going to sink into the playoffs with a loss to Chicago. Then we got a goal and I felt hope and happiness. And we started to play super hard and get chances. And I was joyous. And then Chicago turned it around and my heart sunk deeper. Then we tied it and holy shit. I almost came leaping out of my chair and dumped my laptop to the floor. Then we lost. Fuck.

Me at the end of the game. And much of this season
Since I missed a huge chunk of the game, I don't feel right covering the game in total. Instead, I'm going to share my thoughts on the regular season, my hopes and my predictions for the playoffs. I'll also include my regular season awards, with a couple extra awards thrown in to wrap up the season.

The Home Streak: Was amazing, and it certainly ended too soon. However, I think it bears pointing out how important that come streak ended up being. With the injury bug that came sweeping through the Wings' dressing room, the struggles on the road, those points we built up during that 23 game home streak kept us in the middle of the pack. Without that streak, we may have been looking down at 7 or 8th place. Maybe fighting just to get into the playoffs instead of figuring out who we were going to play.

Defense: Was so much better this year than last year. We allowed about 40 fewer goals this season than we did last season. A ton of that credit goes to Jimmy Howard who, prior to being hurt, was an early Vezina consideration and an All-Star. But Lidstrom, Kronwall, Stuart and Ericsson all made more concerted efforts to be good in their own zone. Ian White came in and made an impact from the get go, Kindl and Smith were excellent interchangeable parts, looking to earn a spot.

Inconsistency: If there was one word to sum up the Red Wings this season, it would be that. They start off 5-0, then drop 6 games straight. We go on a home game tear and set a league record, but can't win outside of Wayne County. A huge sore spot from last season was how often they had to come from behind to try to win. They were better about it this season, but the last few games it seems like they gave up goals early on, and had to struggle back to win it. The Chicago game was a perfect example of that. Down by 2 goals and bust as to go to the shootout.

Pressure: I think the Wings felt it this season, maybe more than last. They win a cup, they make it back to the finals. We expect maybe a year or two of rough patches but Wings fans are hungry, impatient, passionate and dedicated. We want Stanley. We want him to purchase a home on Woodward Avenue and settle in. On the flip side, it seem like the Wings lacked pressure on the ice. I remember when I started watching hockey, and watched Detroit lose to New Jersey and Colorado, one of the things Scotty Bowman and Ken Holland wanted more of was grit, physical play and grinding play. That's why we got guys like Shanahan. That's why we let Konstantinov do his thing, and started the Grind Line against Eric Lindstrom, John Leclair and Mikael Renberg. And it worked.

I felt like at times the Wings spent too much time in their own zone, too much time getting out hit, too many times they'd gain the zone, get maybe one shot, and lose it off stronger physical play. San Jose has the same game strategy as the Red Wings, but with the added advantage of a faster, stronger forecheck.

Injuries: It could be argued, though, that a whole lot of the problems the Wings faced this year would have been nonexistent, or at least minimized, had the Wings not gotten murdered by injuries again. Datsyuk, Helm, Franzen, Howard, MacDonald, and something the Wings and fans were not ready for, Lidstrom. But, as I have said in the past when injuries happen: you still have to put a team on the ice, and they still have to perform and play to the level they're capable of.

That being said: injuries could have robbed Howard of a Vezina, and Lidstrom of his 8th Norris. And his recovery time may give him cause to retire.

Playoff Predictions and Awards after the Break:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Jersey is teh Debil!

As I said on Twitter, I had a dinner date to bring my wife dinner at work, so I missed the first half of the first period. Everything I've seen on the Intrawebs says that things started off great, then went back towards New Jersey. I got him just in time to see Ericsson play a 2 on 1 perfectly and Pavel Datsyuk hit the post.

"Not much, eh? Me? Oh nothing, just hanging out with my friend
Quick Sidebar: The NHL wants to know how I'd spend my morning if I got to have a day with the Stanely Cup. Then instead of letting me explain what I'd do, they force me to choose from 1 of 5 choices.  Well, what I would do is I'd spend the morning passive-aggressively calling everyone I know, asking them what their plans for the day are.

The Wings had a hard task tonight: after a hard fought, brutal come from behind shoot out win against the Central Division leading St. Louis Blues, they had to come back home and play a strong playoff Eastern Conference team in the New Jersey Devils. I have a lot of respect for the Devils. They've been a great team for a long time now, and as much as I love Jimmy Howard and admire Terry Sawchuck, Martin Brodeur is the greatest goaltender to play the game. Period. And Scott Stevens is the scariest hitter ever. More than Kronwall, more than even Vladimir Konstantinov. 

You miss this. Yes you do. We all do.

So needless to say, this was a big game that the Wings needed to win to keep themselves ahead of Nashville and Chicago and in 4th place. And in following the story of the Red Wings for much of this season, they seemed to flip a switch. They started off strong, then lost the momentum, then came out in the 2nd a completely different team. I don't know why they don't flip the switch on and leave it there is beyond me, but it's nice to say that they're not going off into the night in a profound "meh".

Thinking about it, I've come up with a theory that I'm hoping will catch fire in describing the Red Wings. I call them the "2 Minute Drill Red Wings". In football, you see teams take half a quarter (an 8th?) to head on down the field and kick a field goal or score a touchdown. But then they're down by 10 points, or they have a 3 point lead, and in the last two or three minutes of the game, they relentlessly plow down the field in like 36 seconds and score. The message being sent to me is: If an NFL team wants to score, they can. At any time. And I feel like the Red Wings are the same way. 

And last night against St. Louis, you saw a perfect example of 2MD Red Wings. They're fighting and struggling and scrapping all game in a zero-zero tie, then as soon as they're down by two goals and time is winding down: BOOM! Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom go to work and tie the game. And it's fucking infuriating as all hell. 

Bullet Points and Awards after the break

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'll See You (Choke) in St. Louis... or will I?

As I'm writing this, I don't know what the score ended up being, because I'm writing this after the second St. Louis goal. I just could not bring myself to watch the rest of the game. I couldn't do it. I pushed my wife out of the living room of the apartment with my vulgar screaming. I was that mad.

This picture roughly sums up how mad I was
This has to be the most frustrating loss (holy shit they fucking tied it?!) I've seen from the Red Wings all season. And I say that having watched them lose to Columbus. I mean, there was so much right in this game, I'd even go so far as to say for most of the game. And as soon as the Red Wings catch a huge break, as soon as they can put the game away and get a much needed win, the winged wheels come off the wagon.

I don't want to dwell on this game any longer than I have to, so I'm going to bullet point, hand out the awards, and get back to watching "Sons of Guns" because I really wish I could fucking shoot something right now.

  • The Wings PK looked strong again. Drew Miller worked especially hard. The guy has been a work horse for the PK in the absence of Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm. 
  • I thought the refs were going to be helping out the Blues today with a huge no call when Kronwall got hauled down. It did change later in the game, but for obvious reasons, I think I can say for once I'd rather the calls didn't go our way.
  • Blues fans cheer when Stuart gets hurt by a cheap shot to the head. Stay classy, Missourians. Stay classy. Assholes.
Ever notice the St. Louis Arch looks
like a giant asshole and/or
  • I've been pulling for Valteri Filppula lately, because he's been working hard and doing great things. But he had a great opportunity for a shot, and instead he tried to make one more pass to Hudler, who couldn't handle it (not Hudler's fault) and messed up a scoring chance. 
  • Red Wings PP looked great (until...). Their 2 and 3rd PP's especially. Their 3rd was probably the best PP I've seen all season, did everything but score. They dominated for most of the 2nd and a lot of the third period.
  • David Backes is a diving pussy. I'm glad Franzen punched him in his stupid head for being such a pansy.
How I will see David Backes from now on. 
  • The Wings gave up a short handed goal on a FIVE MINUTE POWERPLAY. They got outworked for the entirety of it, gave up a goal, then took a weak penalty, and gave up another goal on the 4-4. 
  • Franzen woke up all of a sudden, along with Datsyuk.
  • I'm going to tip my fucking hat to Todd Bertuzzi by actually using his name.
Awards after the Break

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kyle Quincey Suspended for One Game

Last night's game included the following hit. I spoke about it in my review, explaining how Kyle Quincey was an idiot for doing it and I want to see him gone for the massive liability he's shown to be. Here's the hit:
Dumb. Just....FFFFFFFUUUUU....

This came 8 seconds after Hudler scored the game tying goal. Which just....*sigh* I .... URG! One moment, I need to go break something.

Five Minutes Later

Alright, I feel better. Anyway, based on what I saw, based on Quincey not being suspended before, and the fact Kopecky came back into the game, I think there should be a 3-5 game suspension. I even predicted that there would be a 3 game. Brendan Shanahan decided it was worthy of supplementary discipline and handed Quincey a one game suspension.

See Shanahan's full explanation here

Shanahan said Quincey "leaped into the air, launching himself, and making significant contact with Kopecky's face". Furthermore, Quincey tries to say he was trying to hit Kopecky back because Kopecky was trying to hit him first. And Brendan Shanahan correctly called Quincey out on his crap for that. Shanny took into account that Quincey was not a repeat offender and Kopecky was able to return to the game. Is it a fair suspension? I actually think Quincey got off light.

I'm obviously pissed at Quincy for the hit. He left his feet, he elbowed Kopecky in the head. It's a pretty cut and dry decision. I blame the refs a lot for the shit they miss, the shit they get wrong. But they got the call right on the ice. And I've been a pretty staunch defender of the Shanahammer's decisions. I agreed with his Brendan Smith suspension, I agreed with him not suspending Zetterberg, and I agree with his suspending Quincey, but think Quincey got off light.  So great job by the officials and the disciplinary office at the NHL. Boo at Kyle Quincey. 

Here's to Ian White being back, and maybe seeing Brendan Smith back. And as always...

Let's Go Red Wings!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy Hudler Hands us a Home Win

Whew! That was quite the game! But before I start into my review, I promised I'd dedicate this review to Patrick Eaves. If you haven't already, please head over to Winging it in Motown and give some words of encouragement to Eaves. We won't see him again until next season, and with everything he's done for the Wings, he deserves to be recognized.

After years of putting up with Roy, I finally had my irrational
hatred of people named "Patrick" cured, thanks to Mr. Eaves
The Red Wings squeaked out a win in the shoot out tonight. If hockey games weren't already divided up into 3 periods, you could divide this game up into three segments. The first period the Wings were pretty terribad. Sloppy, anemic and slow. A lot of turnovers and a lack of offense. The saving grace during the 1st period was Jimmy Howard. He looked really really solid and made a lot of great saves to the keep the Wings in the game. He got a piece of the shot that gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead. But had the Wings not blown their assignments, that goal wouldn't have happened.

The second period I'd say was about even. Wings got some chances but the Panthers didn't let up. At times it seemed like the Wings didn't want it as much, and other times they really stepped up their game. If this game was decided by effort, it would have been a loss in the first period, a tie in the 2nd, and a huge win in the 3rd. The 3rd was all Detroit. Let's hit some bullet points, some video and pictures, hand out the awards and call it an evening.

  • Jimmy Howard didn't have to be over-the-top good, but he definitely seemed to be back in form and did what he'd been doing a lot this season: keeping the Wings in the game and giving them a chance to win.
  • Drew Miller smote a Panther with his stick. It wasn't a slash or a high stick, it was a Thor-esqe smiting. I'm not supposed to laugh when that happens, but I did. 
  • The jury has returned the verdict on Kyle Quincy: he sucks. He likes to hit the post a lot, be sort of meh the entire game until he takes a colossally stupid penalty. Like he did tonight. A huge boarding/elbow hit that earned a 5 minute game misconduct for elbowing. He got kicked out of the game, EIGHT SECONDS after the Hudler goal (Goal @ 5:30 in the 3rd, penalty at 5:38...served by Hudler). He's probably going to get a suspension for the play, and unless he plays miraculously come playoff time, I want him gone in the off season.
  • The Zetterberg-Hudler-Filppula line was amazing still. A lot of pressure, a lot of chances, and I thought Filppula had gotten the goal (which he deserved) but it was Hudler. Who also deserved it. And then Hudler buried a sweet shot in the shootout. While other line juggling did happen, and should happen, ZHF needs to stay together.
  • At one point I remarked Holmstrom and Nyquist were the two hardest working players on the ice. And it was true for some time, until the rest of the team woke up. I think the Masterton nomination has really lit a fire under Homer's ass (Woohoo!). Goose got a ton of chances again, and I'm still a tad frustrated that he didn't finish. But I keep my frustration tempered by other people reminding me that he'll come along. I just have to keep that mantra going: "He's still young, it's still early in his career, he'll come along".
  • Pavel Datsyuk did this. The rest of existence can just fuckin' deal with it. He told Larry "This is a Guy" Murphy he was trying to bank it off the back of the goalie's head. Again. Deal with it.

The Wings hung in there until the end and got 2 points. It was a good 2 points, but we need to get more wins in regulation, without coming from behind. Awards show after the break.