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

Mmm... pop culture reference
  • Gustav Nyquist is...grr! More chances tonight and he still can't capitalize! I know he's young, and it's early in his career, and it's only been about 15 games, and he's still got plenty of assists and potential. But I want him to score so much! 
  • The first goal by the Wings was poetry. Great heads up play by Filppula for the pass to Hudler who wait just long enough before a perfect pass to a streaking Homer for another PP goal. 
  • I really like Justin Abdelkader. He's a great power forward with a lot energy, a lot of grit and he's willing to drop the gloves and go at it. But I think he needs to be more than just that. I think he needs to score some goals and make more offensive plays. I know he has it in him. A little less Kirk Maltby and a little more Brendan Shanahan. Or even Darren McCarty 
  • I really feel like Jimmy Howard is 95% or better. He's looked really strong the last couple of games, especially against New Jersey. Making big saves, being solid and reliable in net and keeping the Red Wings alive and in games. If this is a forecast of things to come, I'm more confident of our playoff chances. 
  • I'd like a referee to explain to me how the Devils can shove a player into the net, knocking the net off its pegs, and that means the face off has to come out of the zone. Explain it to me in person so I can punch you in the god damned taint. 
Time for the Awards Segment of Our Show:

The Bret Lebda Game Puck:  I struggled to decide this puck because while there were a lot of things that could have gone better, I didn't notice anyone failing spectacularly or repeatedly. But after thinking about it, I'm going to give it to Justin Abdelkader. He has one or two scoring opportunities that he doesn't capitalize on and he blew his assignment in front of the net to allow New Jersey to go up 1-0 in the first period.

The Kris Draper Game Puck:  Drew Miller, because I should have given it to this to him yesterday. I've gotten away from giving this to more bottom line players, but I'm going to get back to it. Drew Miller has been a mainstay on the PK, especially without Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves. Sacrificing his body, busting ass, going into corners with a ton of speed and physicality.

The Derian Hatcher Game Puck: Attitude, because the Wings don't have it. They had a winning attitude against Columbus and blew them up 7-2. And against Carolina and came back to score 4 unanswered goals for a 5-4 win. But then didn't have it the following game against Columbus, didn't have it against Nashville, and didn't have it for most of tonight after finding it late against St. Louis. The Wings need to draft a new attitude.

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck:  Jimmy Howard for being the best guy on the ice consistently. Neither of the goals were his fault. He made big saves to keep the game close, and without him, this game is 7-1. I really feel like he is back on his game: the kind of game that earned him an all-star appearance and leading the league for much of the season.

The Wings are probably not going to earn a 4th spot and home ice advantage over Nashville. I've been hoping by not being blatantly on top of the West the last few seasons it would remind the Red Wings what they risk by not playing well. I guess the message hasn't gotten through. I don't know if it's a coaching change, or a bench change, or them missing the playoffs. But the team is missing an intangible right now. They need to get it back if they want to continue to have the success they've enjoyed for 21 years. 

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