Thursday, April 12, 2012

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:

Time for the Awards Segment of Our Show:

The Bret Lebda Game Puck:  The referees. Because while there may have been mistakes here and there, there weren't any that I can point to and say "This guy screwed up a lot". For more on my decision, check after the awards.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Justin Abdelkader. I thought he had a really strong game and is maybe going to bring some of that Abdelkader playoff magic we've seen in the past. He had a great drive the net moment that should have resulted in a goal, and I'd like to see him take it to the next level in upcoming games.

The Derian Hatcher Game Puck: Brad Stuart, although I have to admit much of this is out of his control. I just have a hard time feeling like I want to keep the guy around when he's either making major mistakes, or bad luck is happening off his stick or skates. It's frustrating. I will give him credit that he was a lead checker in game 1. So less screwing up and more body checking people.

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck:  Darren Helm, because the guy was back for a total of 3 minutes and change of play time before tragedy ended his post-season as quickly as it ended the rest of his regular season. But the reality is, for those 3 minutes that he was on the ice, you could see immediate impact from his presence on the ice. He didn't even look like he lost a step, you'd have never known he had had a knee injury. The guy was lightning fast, putting pressure on the defense and throwing around the body.


Okay...about the fucking refs last night. To say that Chris Rooney and Brad Meier blew more donkey dick than a college girl on spring break in Tijuana is a greater statement of the obvious than saying Shea Weber is a giant douche. Because Shea Weber is both large in size and excellent at cleaning out someone's asshole prior to anal sex.

And yes, Chris Rooney and Brad Meier are the actual names of the actual referees last night, and I want you to know their names. I want their to be names to that God awful show of officiating, so these nameless ass clowns can't slip away into obscurity.

It wasn't the number of penalties I object to. I have no problem with referees calling a lot of penalties when a lot of penalties are committed. But how is it that two of the least penalized teams in the regular season are assessed 16 penalties during actual play time (17 if you count Shea Weber's douche penalty after time expired). Roughly 32 minutes of penalty time - less than that due to goals being scored and such - over the course of the game. That means approximately half of the game was played on special teams - 5 on 4, 5 on 3, or 4 on 4. How is that even possible?

How is Gabriel Borque allowed to stay in the game and get two goals after boarding Ian White? What, because Ian White managed to get up and get up quickly? Sorry that he didn't get hurt on the play, Chris Rooney and Brad Meier, but if your mission was to call penalties to dissuade both teams from committing penalties, then why is Borque still sitting on the bench? How is that possible?

Pictured: An OBVIOUS dive by Jarret Stoll.
How is it possible that you can give Jiri Hudler a diving penalty on the same play that you call Roman Josi for a hooking penalty ON JIRI HUDLER!? Either Jiri Hudler dove and Josi did nothing, or Josi commited a hooking penalty on Hudler and Hudler fell over as a result. It can't be both.

And if you're going to call embellishing a play to bring notice and sympathy to something that is actually a penalty, then last night's game aside, you have to put the entirety of the NHL in the penalty box for all 60 minutes. If Johan Frazen giving someone a bit of a shot in front of the net after the play because he's defending himself is roughing, then why isn't every play made against Tomas Holmstrom called? The Red Wings should have been on a permanent power play if getting slightly upset and scrapping with someone in front of the net is the standard for "roughing" in the NHL's playoff.

And besides just the shit calls - and the Red Wings got power plays off weak calls, too. I'm not saying they didn't, it's just as a Red Wings fan/blogger, it's my prerogative to write from their perspective, plus you also have to admit the Wings got screwed more often by bad calls last night - the feverish, angry, blood thirsty, intrastate feud game between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (two teams with known goons and/or divers) had 1/4 of the penalty minutes of the Wings/Predators game. Philadelphia was the most penalized team in the league this year, with 100+ penalty minutes more than the Red Wings or the Predators. Pittsburgh had about 50 more PIM. Yet those two teams get a fraction of the calls in a huge game 1 between those two teams? How is that possible?

But my worst fears? First, that instead of correcting the mistakes, punishing these terrible refs, and having a reasonably called series, the NHL is going to blow it off. Shea Weber won't be fined or suspended for trying to crush Zetterbeard's head into the boards, and the refs won't be replaced. Moreover, Game 2 in Nashville is going to be the complete opposite, where the Nashville Predators will be allowed to lumberjack chop down Detroit players and Clod Barfluzzie will be allowed to do to Martin Erat what he did to Steve Moore and get a stern talking to by either Chris Rooney or Brad Meier. Instead of having a game that is called right, they'll drastically over-react to the criticism and just not call anything ever in game two.

Secondly, that what would have otherwise been a great, physical, hard fought hockey game. A close game between two teams that were evenly matched and played about as well as each other for most of the game, was ruined because of crap officiating on both sides. If the Red Wings play like they did last night the entire series, and the Predators play slightly better, and win the series, I can live with that. I won't be happy, but I can live with that. If this series is decided by shitty officiating and lucky ass bounces going towards Nashville's favor, I will murder someone.

If we win for those same reasons, I'll feel the same way I feel after watching a Red Wings game on NBC Sports: dirty, used and slightly dumber. But I'll take it. Let's Go Red Wings

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I have to admit that I was wrong in that the NHL wouldn't fine Shea Weber. Because they did fine him $2,500.

    For those of you unaware, $2500 is roughly the amount it costs to have a professional engraver chisel your name into a band of sterling silver