Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dollar Hotdog Power Hour Podcast: Episode 8

Hockeypucks are conversed about!
Kevin and Michelle join me as per usual to chat more about the Red Wings. We discuss the Nashville and Vancouver games and debate the Patrick Eaves goal. We make fun of our listeners - or at least we make fun our listeners who advocate stupid trade offers that the Red Wings should make. We are pro-Lashoff and Pro-Brunner and undecided on Filppula. We answer a couple of your questions and make fun of Michelle's poop re-tweet. Also, I mistake Niklas Kronwall and Nicklas Lidstrom because I'm sad.

Michelle's audio issues continue and she sounds like she's talking through one of those toy megaphones set to "robot" voice. But at least you can understand her this time. And I didn't cut it out.

Kevin's Blog and Michelle's Blog should be checked out and shared, as usual.

We hope you enjoy it and as always, you should share it will your friends, family and complete strangers. They'll appreciate it.

Editor's Note: We have a fairly low limit for space on our Podbean account, so I may have to delete/archive older podcasts. If for some reason you want to hear past episodes that aren't working normally, let me know and I can somehow get you the original mp3 file.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recap: Red Wings 8, Vancou-Wait, what!?

You're seeing that correctly. The Detroit Red Wings took Roberto Luongo to the cleaners this evening and put 8 pucks in the back of the net. There were also two goals that were waived off, so in essence, the Red Wings scored 10 goals tonight.
Unfortunately, you will be responsible for the tax liability of all goals given as gifts by Roberto Luongo.
Again, the Wings met a determined opponent. The Vancouver Canucks came into town, having shut out Nashville the night before the Wings shut out Nashville. It appeared in the first that the Canucks were going to take advantage of the Wings having played a hard fought game yesterday. They came out firing on all cylinders and the early 2 goal lead had me extremely nervous. However, the Wings battled back, and even though it was touch and go there for a good while, suddenly in the 2nd period the Red Wings found another gear and never looked back.

Oddly enough, that extra gear was called "The Power Play" - an overdrive the Red Wings seem to forget they have.

I could sit here and summarize the entire game, but it would just be a series of "And then the Wings scored again". So I'm going to hit some bullet points, hand out the awards and get ready to enjoy The Walking Dead.
  • I don't care how well he plays, I will not praise Jordin Tootoo. That being said, I would like to set up some kind of Goal to Fight ratio that he's required to meet before getting in anymore fights. Because I think we're better off with gritty body checking and goals from him rather than only fisticuffs. 
  • Also that check wasn't charging. That check happens at least once a game in every game played and isn't called. I'm pretty sure the ref just saw a stick go flying and assumed there was some kind of penalty. Of course it didn't help that it was Tootoo who made the hit, but even Raffi Torres can check a guy clean
  • Speaking of the refs, we actually shouldn't be mad about the two goals waived off. On the Eaves "goal", there was a delayed penalty and Eaves' shot hit Luongo pretty much in the mid-section. I'm like any Red Wings fan in that I am livid whenever the Wings' opponent gets a short whistle while our opponents are allowed to gang rape our goaltender. But this wasn't a quick whistle, it was spot on given the delayed penatly. And Datsyuk's stick was very obviously above the cross bar.
  • And hey! They actually called someone for running Jimmy Howard, even though the worst of it was the fact that Kent Huskins basically cross checked him in the face! 
  • I've long argued against the Red Wings attempting any kind of dump and chase tactic. However, with lines composed of Tatar, Andersson, Eaves, Miller and some other guy, it actually works. Speed, grit and a nice touch of finesse. Imagine if you had Darren Helm in there.
  • Jimmy was not as strong tonight, to be sure. First goal, not his fault. Second goal, half his fault. Third can't allow a wrap around Jimmy. You just can't. I didn't expect him to shut out Vancouver, but he did make some big saves again, and basically got to take a nap about half way through the second period until the end of the game. 
Hey guys, remember that time the Red Wings scored 8 goals on Roberto Luongo? That was pretty sweet. Let's give out the awards for that game and go eat some...whales, I guess? That's the Canuck's logo right? 

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Ian White - I've been a pretty stout defender of Ian White since he came to Detroit, but this was a pretty bad game for him. In the first period, he wasn't in position or staying with his guys very well and that made him partially responsible some of those first period goals allowed. The biggest thing is that in an 8 to 3 rout, Ian White was a -2. Only Huskins and Cory Emmerton had a negative +/- rating (both were -1). I don't expect him to be an offensive power house, but if he's not going to, then that means it's that much more important for him to be defensively sound.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Some Guy - He was throwing his body around, grinding hard in the corners and even scored a wonderful trash goal to get the Red Wings churning. Even after throwing a completely legitimate body check that was called for a bad charging penalty, he didn't take the bait when the Canucks jumped him. So instead of going on the PK, the Wings got a 4 on 4. It was a great game by that guy. I'm just really glad he's not Jordin Tootoo because I hate that guy.

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Joakim Andersson - I thought his first goal tonight was his first career, but I was wrong. Didn't matter. It didn't matter that they were two super late goals while the Wings had a solid 6-3 lead already. What mattered is this kid has been busting ass ever since he came up from Grand Rapids and punked Roberto Luongo not once, but TWICE. Good for him. 

The Perfect Puck: Pavel Datsyuk - He was great again tonight, and even though his goal was (correctly) waived off, he had two assists, including the one he's getting this award for. I know we all love to watch Datsyuk dangle and snipe, but I'm seriously okay if he just skates around, dropping dime passes and getting 2 or 3 assists a game. I mean, this is just art, with a great finish by Zetterberg.

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Damien Brunner - 4 points for Brunner tonight. He was just fantastic. It's understandable why he and Datsyuk are competing for the Red Wings' top goal scorer, and why he's tied with Kronwall for third in points. Babcock said he was going to be a top 6 forward, and a lot of us scratched our head and said, "Okay, sure Babs, we'll believe it when we see it". We've seen it. We believe it. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recap: Red Wings 4, Predators HAHAHAHA

The Detroit Red Wings came out playing the type of hockey that they're capable of playing. It was a relief to see this team with energy, with passion and a desire to win. This team wasn't fucking around from the get go, and it was awesome to see.

To their credit, Nashville showed up to play, and they had a lot of chances and there were chunks of time when they controlled the play in the Red Wings' zone. After two periods they had a lead in the shots over Detroit, but it didn't matter because they had the lead in goals. Nashville really tried to take the play to Detroit all game, especially as the game wore on and they needed to get on the board.

Nashville kept working a drop play against the Red Wings that they were just kept not picking up. Two guys would draw the attention of the defense and they'd drop the puck back to a streaking third man in the slot for a wrist shot or one timer. Somehow, the Wings managed not to get burned by it. Other than that they did a great job keeping Nashville to the outside of the ice, collapsed on the puck well and fought hard in the corners and along the boards.

I'm going to take a break from discussing the whole game to point out that Dan Cleary scored a deflection goal on the power play and it sort of broke my brain for a moment. Then I realized that Cleary would be fine on this team if he was a net front guy on the power play and a bottom six forward the rest of the game.

This picture makes about as much sense as saying "Danny Cleary rocks"
The name of the game was James Tiberius Howard. Like he's done so many times in the past, Jimmy Howard kept the Wings in the game during times of struggle. The difference between this game and a lot of the games we've seen recently is that Howard gave the Red Wings a chance to win, and they took advantage of those opportunities.

Everything about the Wings looked solid tonight; it was a complete win. The PK shut down the Nashville power play, even preventing them from getting a shot on goal on the second opportunity. The Red Wings power play was good for a goal on just two PP attempts. Three goals even strength, the opener was from Drew Miller just being smart and working hard in front of the net and potting a rebound. Tatar with some slick hands in front of the net and Kronwall with a shotgun blast of a slap shot.

Were the Predators tired? Yes. The Red Wings took advantage of it, came out with the throttle down and never let up until the final horn sounded. They needed to win this game, and they won it decidedly. I know some people will thumb their nose at the win. "Oh, whoopty shit. You beat a tired Nashville Predator's team. Good for you." Well, the Red Wings have been struggling, and despite great play the last game against Nashville, the Predators won in overtime. Plus, Pekke Rinne gives Detroit a ton of problems; we struggle to find the back of the net on him and when we get chances he comes up big.

But not tonight. Tonight, we got the puck behind him and had a ton of chances. We took this game seriously and it showed.

If the Red Wings can take the momentum from this game, and keep the wind in their sails, they could start to turn this season around. Especially if they play every team the way they played tonight.

Let's hand out the awards and call it a night.

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Rich Clune - What a dick. "Yeah, I'm totally going to board Ian White, because he's such a dirty, gritty player that gets under your skin" And I get that you have guys like Tootoo and Clune who play on the edge. But if you're going to cheap shot guys, at least have the courage not to do it while you're wearing a fucking Bane mask on your helmet so that nobody can force you to drop the gloves and answer for your shit. And of course, had Tootoo run your ass, everyone would have been in butthurt tears about going after a guy recovering from an injury. Eat a smorgasbord of dicks, Rich Clune. 

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Patrick Eaves - If someone told you that Patty Eaves wasn't back to 100%, this game would be a strong counter-argument to that claim. He had a ton of energy, he was hard and gritty in the battle zones and at the end of the 2nd period, he was ready to duke it out with anyone who looked at him wrong. That's what the Wings want from Eaves and that's what he gave them.

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Tomas Tatar - It'd be easy to just point to Tatar's goal and give him the award for that. But the real reason I'm giving it to Tatar is what he did after he scored the goal: he zipped around the ice trying to get another goal. He wasn't satisfied, in fact he seemed even more driven to score after he got the first one. He made a lot of smart plays, including a couple of beautiful passes - one to Joakim Andersson and one to Kent Huskins - and got some power play minutes that he took advantage of. Tatar obviously wanted to win tonight. 

The Perfect Puck: Brian Lashoff - So good again tonight. But the play that earned him this award tonight came in the second period. Mike Fisher got a one on one chance against Lashoff and to be honest, I was worried. This could have been one of those momentum goals that swung things to Nashville's favor. Fisher tried to make a pretty slick move, but Lashoff just stayed with him and made a smart play to completely diffuse the situation. Don't even know if Fisher got a shot on goal. It was just so smooth and effortless it was everything that Nicklas Lidstrom did.

Edit: Now with video!

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Jimmy Howard - I mean, come on. 1st star of the game. Stops 33 shots for a shutout, and some of those saves were spectacular. These are the kinds of games that I shove in someone's stupid face when they try to shit talk Howard. Obviously, after the blurry vision scare, they got Howard to Dr. Ramani and got those wide eyes back in focus. 

Big thanks to weallbleedredd for the videos. 

Musings: Does Nyquist Need to Issue an Ultimatum?

He's done it before. "Y'know, when I first realized we were going to Detroit, all I could think about was getting that trophy. I gotta be straight with ya, Babs, now I'm just thinkin' about..." wait, no sorry. That's one of the riveting scenes from Top Gun where Tom Cruise struggles to come to grips with his talent, responsibilities and limitations, as well as the haunting death of his father. Wrong Goose. My bad.

"I'll never let go, Jack. I'll never let go" - Christian Bale to Brad Pitt in, "Inception"
This is a thought I've been kicking around for some time. With the injuries and guys being moved around and lines being juggled, the one thing that Red Wings fans still have not been able to see is Gustav Nyquist as a staple figure in the Detroit line up. Instead he's played 2 games, where he's seen bottom line minutes and had few opportunities to make good on the talent that he possesses. It's been frustrating. Meanwhile, Tomas Tatar has seen 9 games this season; while he's been on the bottom pairings as well, he's also gotten some power play time and has been able to develop chemistry with his team mates. To his credit, he's potted 2 goals with 2 more assists and is only -2. He's a year younger than Nyquist, was drafted a year after Nyquist and on a team that touts seniority, paying your dues in the minors and earning your spot on the roster, Tatar over Nyquist seems odd. So what gives?

Well, during the off-season and lockout, Tomas Tatar made a number of comments that demonstrated his desire to play in the NHL. This link and this link are Google translations of some interviews he gave - and a big thanks to George Malik for getting these to me. The translations are rough, but the message essentially comes down to: If the Detroit Red Wings don't want to play me, then they should trade me. Play me, or I want to go somewhere that will. There was also a post on Tatar's Facebook profile along the same lines that has since been deleted.

I'm not so naive as to believe that Ken Holland immediately called Mike Babcock on the phone and said, "Tomas Tatar posted stuff on the Intrawebs demanded playing time or else he's going to leave! PLAY HIM, BABS! PLAY HIM NOW!" You don't get to be Ken Holland if you can be publicly blackmailed by an AHL prospect, even if that prospect is showing a ton of upside. That being said, you also don't get to be Ken Holland if you aren't tuned to what your players are thinking and feeling and are completely deaf and numb to what they're saying. Tomas Tatar's words had to have resonated with Holland a bit. It strikes me as curious that Tatar would be bumped ahead of Nyquist in the depth charts, and I'm convinced that Tatar's ultimatum contributed to that. Now the end game of the decision could be to get Tatar NHL exposure so he can be traded, and this is all Holland being a genius again.

Or maybe he did call up Tatar because he didn't realize how close he was to losing a valuable prospect. It's hard to say.

Maybe Gustav Nyquist needs to do the same. He seems like a ridiculously nice guy, a team player, and you have to respect the fact that he also seems to be ridiculously patient. So maybe it's just not his style. But I have to believe that the guy wants to play in the NHL, and I have to believe he's disappointed and/or frustrated by watching guys get bumped ahead of him. Tatar and Joakim Andersson both got the call, Petr Mrazek (while a completely different position) has as many games this season in net for Detroit as Nyquist has had on the ice. Nyquist has also logged almost twice as many games in Grand Rapids this season than Mrazek, plus he's been there for a few years now.

I want to be clear: I'm not saying Tatar, Andersson and Mrazek shouldn't be on the team. Mrazek and Andersson do have a queue ahead of them. As long as Howard and Gustavsson are healthy and playing well, Mrazek should be in Grand Rapids. Andersson should come up if Eaves, Miller, Abdelkader and Emmerton aren't getting the job done. But I absolutely applaud the Red Wings for giving them both the opportunity to compete at the NHL level. Still, it's troubling not to see Nyquist given the same chance.

1st of what I hope will be many, many more while rocking the Winged Wheel.
I've been trying to brainstorm why Nyquist hasn't been given more of a chance in the NHL this year. So far I've come up with a number of potential scenarios. #1: He did something terrible to the Babcock or Holland family. Something unspeakable. #2: The Red Wings decided that he's already proven himself as an NHL player and they want to test out other prospects. #3: The Red Wings have already assessed his value and have decided he's worth more to them as a trade or as draft picks when someone offer sheets him. #4: Having taken Tatar, Andersson and Mrazek at various points this season, the Red Wings feel like taking Grand Rapids' top scorer and point leader would cripple them. #5: Ken Holland and company have a strategy that would make an M. Night Shamalamadingdong/Inception hybrid movie look simplistic by comparison. #6: They're mad. They're absolutely crazy and just doing it wrong.

Ultimately the point I'm trying to make here is that maybe it's time for Nyquist to make his desires and expectations known. Next year, teams lose 6 million in cap sace, dropping from $70.2 million to $64.3 million. The Red Wings have to (potentially) resign Filppula (UFA), Cleary (UFFFFFFFFFFF please God no), Damien Brunner (UFA please God yes), Joakim Andersson (RFA), Drew Miller (UFA), Ian White (UFA), Jakub Kindl (RFA), Brendan Smith (RFA), Kent Huskins (UFA), Brian Lashoff (RFA), Jimmy Howard (UFA) as well as Gustav Nyquist (RFA). That's $17,894,721 dollars in cap space opening up. Some of those guys have to be resigned, some could be resigned, some should be let go. Some will get raises, some won't. They'll be sitting at $44,515,166 in salaries after this season, giving them $19,764,834 to spend.

Goose, if you want the playing time you deserve, and if you want to be a part of that $19 million spent on making this team better, then maybe you need to stand up and ask for it. And if the Red Wings aren't willing to give it to you, then as sad as it will be, maybe it's time to start talking to teams who will.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recap: Predators 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

This was a crazy game. It was surprising that it went to over-time because there were times when it looked like the Red Wings would blow past the Predators to an easy win, and other times it looked like they'd get pinched off for a close loss. And in the end, a blown play on the 4 on 4 - which always seems to give Detroit problems - gives Nashville another win.

I was basically raging for a huge chunk of the game for things that are beyond the Red Wings' control. It's beyond the understanding of man or deity how this team can be treated so badly by luck or fate or the Hockey Gods. Let's take a look of the list of Detroit Red Wings currently injured: Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Smith, Darren Helm, and Todd Bertuzzi. Mikael Samuelsson got hurt (again) before tonight's game, Jimmy Howard is out with an undisclosed upper body injury and Cory Emmerton took a puck to the face, and somehow managed to come back to the game.

Jakub Kindl got called for 3 penalties in one period and only one of them was deserved. Brunner got called for a trip on a hip check, and Jonas Gustavsson lost his stick and froze the puck in one of the circles and was called for delay of game.

The Predators got six power play opportunities and only scored on the one that was actually a penalty. The Red Wings looked fairly hapless for much of the first period, and if it wasn't for Pavel Datsyuk - remember that name because it's going to be important later on - the Wings would have ended the first period down by two goals. But due to a valiant effort where he once again stole the puck from some poor son of a bitch in a Nashville Predator jersey and fed the puck to Dan Cleary for a short-handed goal, we escaped the first period down by only one.

The 2nd and 3rd periods were all Detroit. Gustavsson looked a little rusty at first but seemed to really find his stride as the game went on. Keep in mind, Monster was coming off a groin injury - which is probably the worst injury for a goaltender - and had only played a bit in the AHL before being called up. Then Jimmy Howard went out with an injury and Gustavsson stepped in. The forwards were buzzing and the defense were being responsible and strong in their own zone.

Jordin Tootoo finally did something other than get in fights/take penalties, and netted his first goal as a Detroit Red Wing against his former team. The third period the Red Wings actually looked mad. They looked like a team that was sick and tired of losing to this trash team in Tennessee and they probably would have gotten even more mad if you told them how it was going to end. 

This was one of those frustrating Red Wing losses where they did all manner of things right. They had energy, they had chances, they were physical, they were smart and responsible, and pistons seemed to be firing well and in sync. Bad bounces, lucky fuckin' breaks, and referees who obviously don't understand what a penalty is snatch it away. That's not to say there weren't mistakes - Jakub Kindl - but those mistakes didn't decide the game as far as I'm concerned.

Well, okay, one did because I'm not sure what Jonas Gustavsson was doing on that Weber goal.

Let's hand out the awards and hope for better things down the road.

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Jakub Kindl - The man seemed to be on a mission to do his very best Bret Lebda impression. I think a lot of people feel the same way about Kindl - we want him to pull out of this tailspin he's been in and grow into the defenseman that we all hope he can be. Similar to Jonathan Ericsson; it's watching a teenager mature, it's painful and frustrating and you think you're making progress. Then you have games like this where he's just not good and you want to throw him off the team jet on the flight back.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Cory Emmerton - He's been playing really hard and with a lot of heart, and then tonight he took a shot to the face at the same moment he was getting elbowed in the back of the head. And then came back to play more hockey. He made good plays, was physical across the ice and never let his injury slow him down.

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Jonas Gustavsson - Despite the sloppy final goal and some scary moments, the guy played extremely well. As I talked about before, the guy was coming off an injury and came into the game cold as far as NHL games are concerned. After tonight he's played 1 full game for Detroit, plus some over time. We can't pass full judgment after one game, but assuming we could, I'm not sure I understand what Leafs fans were so unhappy about. Then again, they're Leafs fans, they're unhappy about everything because they wake up every morning remembering they're Leafs fans.

The Perfect Puck: Henrik Zetterberg - I haven't been able to find video of it, but trust me when I say that Zetterberg made a very Lidstrom-esqe play. The puck ended up in the Red Wings' zone with the Predators streaking in, and out of no where Zetterberg swooped in with a perfectly time and aimed poke check and knocked the puck away, out of harm's way. It was brilliantly and perfectly executed during the third period when the Wings were buzzing and needed to keep the puck headed in the other direction. 

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Pavel Datsyuk

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dollar Hotdog Power Hour Podcast: Episode 7

Now that I've gotten this flu out of the way and am back to form...
ZOMG RED WINGS HOCKEY! Kevin and Michelle are back and we've got actual real Red Wings hockey to talk about. It's been a roller coaster of a season but at least it's Red Wings hockey. We just talk about hockey, we talk about Mrazek, we talk about Franzen and Lashoff and what we like and don't like. It's a good talk

I need to offer an apology to Michelle. There was a chunk of audio of her talking about Mrazek where her microphone was cutting in and out. I did my best to save it with editing but I just couldn't and it had to be removed. I'm sorry Michelle. The Internet can only handle so much Mrazek before it explodes with awesome.

Kevin's Blog and Michelle's Blog should be checked out and shared, as usual.

We hope you enjoy it and as always, you should share it will your friends, family and complete strangers. They'll appreciate it.

Editor's Note: We have a fairly low limit for space on our Podbean account, so I may have to delete/archive older podcasts. If for some reason you want to hear past episodes that aren't working normally, let me know and I can somehow get you the original mp3 file.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Midday Recap: Red Wings 2; Oilers 1

Afternoon games can be scary. It seems like sometimes it can disrupt players' schedules and habits and throw them out of sync. The Red Wings didn't seem to be too out of sync today in what was a solid, all around well fought win against a young, talented, fast and dangerous Edmonton Oilers team. This team is still a ways away from being Stanley Cup competitive, but there is still a lot to be happy about and as we get more and more into this partial season, I think we're seeing more and more of what this team can be and the challenges they'll need to overcome to get there.

Challenge #1: Can we play Howard and Mrazek in net at the same time?
Now, this is my first game recap since the end of last season. I've been struggling to get consistent access to Red Wings games and haven't been watching them as much as I'd like to, hence why I've been doing more of weekly wrap ups. But I do want to get back into game by game analysis, and I decided that I would switch up the game pucks a little bit.

I'm going to keep 3 of the 4 game pucks that I used last season, and I'm going to add a couple more awards. So let's review:

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: This puck is awarded to the person who did the most in their power to fuck everything up during the game. Often times given to players who struggle to do even the simplest things correctly, this award is also frequently given to the officials. This puck is named for the hapless former Detroit defenseman who was so mediocre even the Maple Leafs don't want anything to do with him anymore.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: This puck is awarded to any player whose work ethic and sacrifice out shine their stat sheets. Generally reserved for 3rd/4th line forwards and 2nd/3rd d-men, this award recognizes players who continue on the Red Wings' traditional of relying on their energy players to make a difference on and off the score sheet. 

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck:  This is my MVP award. I give this puck out in honor of Oh Captain, My Captain Steve Yzerman who regularly shouldered his team in body and in spirit and lead them to become the most dominating franchise in the history of everything everywhere. This puck is given to whoever carries on that legacy.

New Awards:

The Perfect Puck: It seems only fitting that I should add a puck to honor Nicklas Lidstrom. What made Lidstrom The Perfect Human was his ability to consistently and perfectly do every little thing about his job, every single game. We will never see another player like that, I don't think, so this puck will be given to the player who makes that one perfect play. This award could also be called "WWLD"

10 Points to Griffins-dor: This award will be granted to the new Red Wing that makes significant contributions to the team. This award can go to any player who satisfies one of the following criteria: 1) Is on a call up from the Grand Rapids Griffins or other minor league affiliate, 2) is in their first year having been signed by the Red Wings, having never played for the Red Wings before. Ex: Nyquist, Tatar, Mrazek, Brunner and Huskins are eligible, Mikael Samuelsson and Kyle Quincey are not.

Recap and Awards after the Break

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Week in Review: I hate the Flu

It's been an up and down last few games for the Detroit Red Wings. And this illness I've been battling seems to be a really good parable for the Wings performance as of late. Which, by the way, I do want to apologize because I wanted to do more writing and I had to cancel our latest podcast because of this blasted flu. But I also wanted to offer my thanks because once I mentioned I was sick on Twitter a lot of people offered their support and well-wishes, and that was pretty sweet.

I promise I'll get back into form here soon and we'll be reschedule the podcast as soon as our schedules re-align. But enough about me, let's talk about the Red Wings.

I almost feel like we should crack open a copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and read what the criteria for bi-polar disorder, because I think that might most accurately describe our current Detroit Red Wings. "One or more manic episodes...a depressive or hypomanic episode is not required for diagnosis but it frequently occurs". That sounds about right.

This pass brought to you by a guy nicknamed Riggy Shitbox
They've got a winning record, sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference with a 4-3-1 record. They've got a 22:24 goals scored/goals allowed ratio and just snapped a 2 game win streak with an embarrassing loss to Columbus. So what the hell is going on with this team? What does all this mean?

1) The Red Wings do have a potent offense

It's one of those things that seems so obvious, but there have been games this season when it seems like we were looking at the most impotent offense the Red Wings have seen really since the drafting of Steve Yzerman. Blown out by St. Louis in the home opener, held to a goal against Dallas, held to a goal against Chicago, and only two last night against Columbus and Steve Mason. With names like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Filppula and Brunner, that seems like impossibly impossible. And redundant.

However, the flip side of that is that this team has shown that it can put up big numbers against teams of different levels of skill. Against Minnesota who has solid goaltending and a defense whose best guy allowed this to happen, we put up 5 goals. Our first meeting against Columbus we put up 3, in our second meeting with Dallas, who has played well defensively and has a hot goaltender, we put up 4. Against St. Louis - a team that is competing with Chicago to be the best Central Division team, and against Chicago and San Jose to be the best Western Conference team, and is 5th overall in the league - who is extremely good on defense and has two extremely talented goaltenders, the Red Wings put up 5 goals. And by the Red Wings, I mean Henrik Zetterberg, who scored two first period goals on route to one of the greatest hat trick goals I've ever seen.

The power play has been looking better, Damien Brunner is really living up to the expectations of his ability as a play maker and a goal scorer, and he's doing so outside of the shootout, which is good. This immediately means he has more use than Todd Bertuzzi. Datsyuk continues to Datsyuk all over the ice and in people's faces, and Henrik Zetterberg seems to be taking this whole being the Captain of the Detroit Red Wings thing pretty seriously. He does still do his whole "skate into the zone with it on his backhand and then get pinched off in the corner and lose the puck" play, but much like last year, it often seems like he's one of the only guys on the ice trying to do anything, and that if he gave up that play, we'd never see the other side of the neutral zone.

Perhaps one of the most stunning stories so far has been Johan Franzen. He's averaged a point per game with 2 goals and 6 assists, and that really hasn't been indicative of the effort the guy has been putting forth pretty much game in and game out. He's had some very Mule-ish moments in terms of laziness and sloth, but also some very Mule-ish moments of being bull headed, stubborn and physical. I think everyone has noticed him out there throwing his weight around and actually back-checking. He's adopted his net front role very well and could end up being an excellent replacement for our favorite net from Swede, Tomas Holmstrom. This guy should probably have 3 or 4 more goals so far, and I don't really blame him for not having them.

2) The Red Wings defense could be good, if only...

"If only..." should probably be the motto of the defense right now. We all know there was a ton of uncertainty with this defense coming into the season, and I really believe that this defense could soar above those expectations, if only...

My last post laid out why we should continue to be patient with our blue line, and I stand by everything I wrote in that post still. We've only let Dallas, complete with Jaomir Jagr, score 3 goals against us. We prevented Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and the rest of the undefeated Hawks score only two on us.

Yes, we just let Columbus pot 4 against us, including another short handed goal, but let's also remember this happened after Brendan Smith went out with an injury. Kent Huskins was injured against St. Louis and thankfully came back for the game against Columbus. But the fact of the matter is everything that has plagued the Red Wings defense through this whole season - injuries, bad mistakes and inconsistencies, and Kyle Quincey - continue to be a problem.

Josh (Whoabot) solves a major problem for us
But let's be honest about a couple of things: #1: All things considered, this defense is really not that bad. They're even pretty good. They're just not great, and they're not what we've been used to. #2: We had a lot of these same problems last year and a lot of the same results, and that was with Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart on the team.

This defensive squad could be a solid, reliable group for the Red Wings if only Brendan Smith, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jonathan Ericsson, Kent Huskins and Ian White hadn't been wounded, if only Kyle Quincey could find confidence and consistency, and if only Niklas Kronwall would be smarter on the power play and more confident and physical in his game.

3) Jimmy Howard continues to be awesome, unbeknownst to many

He's 8th in wins (4), and his GAA (2.96) and save percentage (89%) has been suffering from the defensive breakdowns in front of him. But the fact of the matter is that Jimmy Howard has been a man on a mission, doing everything in his power to keep the Red Wings in games. Sometimes the guys in front of him have rewarded him, and sometimes not.

Pictured: Xang Ye Howard, Jimmy's long lost uncle
After last night's loss to Columbus, Howard described one of the goals he allowed as "garbage" and seemed ready to officially throw the entire team onto his back and then dive on top of the live grenade that had been thrown into the locker room. It's unbelievable this man's dedication to his team and his team mates, and I can only pray that the rest of the team will show the same devotion to James Tiberius Howard. Much like the defense, Jimmy has been hounded by injuries, both for himself and for the guy who was hired to be his very reliable backup, Jonas Gustavsson. Mike Babcock flat out stated part of the problem is they haven't had a guy to put in for Howard, and that's why he's logged the majority of the minutes.