Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reveling At Injuries - What Is and Isn't Okay

Rather than watch the Red Wings implode today, I've been watching Top Gear and reminiscing about a topic that gets kicked around from time to time and was brought up again by Nick Cotsonika following Sidney Crosby's latest injury.

I responded with level headed assessment but it got me thinking more in depth about the subject, and I posed the question: at what point do you move from basic fandom glorification and schadenfreude and cross over into rejoicing over someone's injury? And to expand off that, is there any level of "rejoicing" or happiness that is acceptable when an injury happens.

And let's be clear: I do hate Syndey Crosby. Oh I'm sure he's a good person and part of my hatred for him isn't really his fault. Yes, he is a bit of a whiny douche hat on the ice, he dives a lot to draw penalties while simultaneously cross checking guys in the back and throwing temper tantrums. A lot of guys do that in the NHL, and it's annoying when they do it too. Much of my hatred for him is the NHL and much of the hockey media being absolutely insistent on focusing on him at the expense of other world class players. And I'm not just talking about the Red Wings. Toews, the Sedins, Loui Eriksson, Martin St. Louis and Stamkos, Ovechkin, Gabriel Landeskog, and so many more guys deserve a ton of attention, praise and accolades. Not to mention Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

But back to the original question, when you see a player on another team get hurt, is it acceptable to be happy even the slightest?  In my mind there are a couple of factors:

1: How serious was the injury?

It was announced today that Crosby will be out indefinitely with a broken jaw. Initial reports were that the injury was largely cosmetic dental damage, but obviously it's a lot worse, and obviously this injury is considerably worse than a cut from a high stick, or a pulled groin. And I think the seriousness of the injury has to weigh into your reaction. And I'll give you an example from my life that illustrates this point perfectly.

Back in my hockey days, I spent some time playing indoor roller blade hockey, and one summer I was on a team with a bunch of my friends and during warm ups, I was standing with my friend Jeff at the blue line. Jeff says to me, "Hey Mike, I betcha I can put it in the top right corner". Now, Jeff had been playing ice hockey for years and I knew he could, and he did put it top right corner, if by top right corner I mean square into our friend Kyle's head. And we laughed. Very hard. Until Kyle took his helmet off and bled all over the surface. It stopped being funny at that point.

So Crosby getting hit in the face with the puck? Yeah, it was a little funny, because he took a puck to his stupid mouth and it was originally reported to be largely cosmetic. Until you found out he had a broken jaw and then it's not really that funny anymore.

So you can laugh and "rejoice" so long as the injury is minor.

2: Does the player have a reputation for hurting other people?

The point I made to Cotsonika is that as much as I dislike Crosby, he's not Raffi Torres. For those unfamiliar with Raffi Torres, he's pretty much only known for doing this:

Now, there's a lot of historically dirty players, and they've done a lot of terrible things to the game of hockey. It's already a brutal, physical, dangerous game. Once you inject people into that game who seem to be hell bent on diving over the edge and dragging the careers of other people down with them, you go from a hard hitting clash of the titans to a street mugging.

I've caught flak before because I felt that there was some poetic justice in a guy like Chris Pronger going down due to concussion problems. The man assaulted and manhandled endless numbers of players throughout his careers, causing untold numbers of injuries - and the fact of the matter is, if that happened to anyone outside of the sporting world there'd be a mostly unanimous response of "serves 'im right!"

Do I wish all of the terrible things that will chronically plague Chris Pronger as the result of concussions for the rest of his life? No, I wouldn't really wish that on anyone. But to feign sadness or shock or indignation would be dishonest. If and when someone finally takes Torres' head off his shoulders, I'll shrug my shoulders because to some extent, the guy has it coming. However, the preferred method for dealing with these problems is not to have guys destroying each other, but rather the NHL step in and make meaningful progress from weeding these kind of behavior out of the game.

The big concern for me regarding Sidney Crosby is the that the NHL and the Pittsburgh Penguins may have been responsible for or complacent in his injury. As we all know, he was hit once and possibly concussed, and then kept playing and hit again and was concussed for certain. It's one thing for us to encourage faster skaters, bigger hits and flashier goals and it's completely something else that a player be kept off the injured list in order to make sure your figurehead can keep bringing in viewers and selling tickets.

I should also say, a penalty is a penalty, and a cheap shot is a cheap shot. I don't want a penalty being called for Zetterberg that isn't called for everyone else simply because he's Zetterberg. Or Crosby, or Brad Richards. We should protect all players, not just the ones whose names are on the marquee.

So how should we react?

We cheer for a big hit. We cheer for a fight. And with a guy like Crosby, it's natural to think that someone should wipe that smug smile off his stupid face. And when someone lines him up with a good hit, you cheer that much louder. And when he takes a puck to the face, you laugh, and when you realize it's more than a few broken teeth and a wounded ego, it's time to tone it down.

When Datsyuk deked Logan Couture so badly his legs exclaimed "fuck it!" we all laughed. Had Couture been hurt on the play, I would have kept laughing. Had he been seriously hurt, I would have wished him the utmost of luck in his recovery, but it still would have been funny. Because that was a hockey play. It's different than when Torres or Patrick Kaleta decides that someone's head would look better removed from their shoulders or buried into the boards.

After all these people are people, and there is a certain level of human decency and respect that they deserve.We shouldn't be asking for bad things to happen to people, that's just kind of one of those rules. One of those rules above and beyond sports and the game of hockey.

If you're sitting there hoping that Crosby gets another concussion and never can play again, you're just an ass. If you were sad because Hossa recovered from the Torres hit, you should probably re-evaluate your moral compass. What exactly have these guys done to you besides push the limits of human athletic achievement to provide you with the utmost pinnacle for professional hockey? Oh they scored a big goal against your favorite team? Sidney Crosby is a whiny, diving prissy boy who is coddled by the NHL? Fine, hope that the Penguins gambit this year blows up in their face and next year they don't win again.

But don't wish for injuries to strike players. Even those who are exceptionally god awful individuals. You can ask for them to get laid out with a huge body check, you can demand that they square off in a fight and get their face smashed in, but what you should really be hoping is that Gary Bettman and Brendan Shanahan will set these guys down for good.

Dollar Hot Dog Power Hour: ON LOCATION

Sorry for the delay guys, but I have a wonderful podcast to share with you! Our good friends Michelle and Josh Howard went to a Grand Rapids Griffins game and did some reporting for us on location.

It's a wonderful thing to listen to, and it's only 6 minutes long so you can have a listen while you're digesting your Easter ham and getting ready for the Red Wings versus Blackhawks today.

Michelle and Josh break down an unfortunate loss, but highlight some of the great prospects that are currently playing for us in Grand Rapids and some major improvements that are coming along. I for one am thrilled to hear about Tomas Jurco getting stronger and bulking up and hope to see him in the NHL before Datsyuk's exit.

Thanks so much to Josh and Michelle for doing this. You can check Michelle's blog and Josh can be found doing his thang over at Winging it in Motown and Nightmare on Helm Street.


Friday, March 29, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Danny DeKeyser*

This analysis is brought to you by a guy who knows nothing about Danny DeKeyser. Well, I do know some things about him. I know he's 23, a highly prized prospect across the NHL and the Red Wings got him. I know he's 6'3 tall and just shy of 200 lbs. We've seen the comments from the analysts on his smarts, his mobility, his breakout passes and his maturity.

Although to be terribly honest, he looks like a guy who would fart in your cereal when you're not looking
We won't know how good he is until he gets games under his belt at the NHL level. Hell, we probably won't know until midway through the next season. That is, of course, unless you can read the intangibles. I'm consulted with oracle bones, a ouija board and some ground up dollar hot dogs to pierce through the fabric of the cosmos to reveal the truth. 

This guide could also be named "The Penultimate Guide for Ty Schalter and Similar People Who Just Heard About Danny DeKeyser Today"

1: His Name - He's an adult who goes by Danny. I get not wanting to be called Daniel - I go by Mike casually because Michael is formal and sorta awkward for social settings - but Danny is for children and guys who are the subject of bittersweet Irish folk songs. Not to mention we have a Danny already and plus, there's this one guy at work who guys by Danny and he's a cock.

I mean, seriously, Wingels?
Also, I'm not wild about "DeKeyser". Is it "Dee-kee-zer?" or "Day-Kee-zer" or "Da-Kaiser?" which is a little too Von Bismark for my tastes. And don't tell me this shit doesn't matter. There are guys who I wouldn't want on the Red Wings based purely on their names. Such as Grant Clitsome, Cal Clutterbuck, Guillaume Latendress, B.J. Crombeem, Rob Klinhammer, Mark-Edouard Vlasic and the latest addition, Tommy fuckin' Wingels. 

Minus 10 Points, Danny Boy.

2: Jersey Number #65 - I like my defensemen's jersey numbers like I like Jimmy Howard's goal against average - low. 65 breaks with all conventional wisdom regarding jersey numbers in the NHL. Your defensemen are numbered from one to the high twenties, with a few forwards allowed to be scattered in there. Your Brendan Shanahans, your Pavel Datsyuks, your Martin Lapointes, etc. From the high twenties to your high thirties, you have your goaltenders. The 40's and 50's are a crap shoot and everything above that is reserved for your forwards. 65 for a defenseman is doin' it wrong.

But he did wear #5 in college. 

Plus 5 points (Net -5)

3: Location - He's from Michigan, which is like plus ten points, the Detroit area, which is another 10 points, but not from South Detroit, because South Detroit is Canada, which is minus 10 points for Steve Perry.

However, he fielded offers from teams not named the Detroit Red Wings and made us wait before signing. As a kid who grew up being a Red Wings fan, and as a prospect who we knew was watching the free agency stuff this year, he should have known better than to fuck with the emotions of Red Wings following the Suter, Parise, Schultz fiascos. 

Minus 30 points (Net -35)

4: College - As a Central Michigan University alumni (Fire Up, Chips!) I'm supposed to hate the guy, him being from our rival school, the Western Michigan University Broncos (Boooo!) But here's the thing - I couldn't care less about college sports. I'm one of those people who thinks college is for getting an education and that college sports detract from that goal and from money that could go to educational endeavors. I acknowledge this puts me starkly at odds with like 99% of the United States, especially during March Madness.

I think the deciding factor is that Central-Western weekend was just an awful time to be in Mount Pleasant, even when the game was away. So...

0 Points (Net -35)

5: All of that stuff that we've all read about him by journalists

Plus 20 points (Net -15)

6: We got him when 29 other teams wanted him, and he signed with us


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Game Recap: Red Wings 2, Anaheim Ducks 1

First game I got to watch in a while, and it was a good one. Red Wings came out with a ton of energy. It got really sketchy as the game went on as it became increasingly obvious that the Anaheim Ducks didn't want to lose back to back home games against Detroit. It didn't matter, because for two nights now the Anaheim Ducks were forced to contend with a brick wall named Jimmy Howard. I tweeted during the game that I admit that Jimmy will never be Martin Brodeur, but if you think he's not the Red Wings' franchise goaltender you're absolutely out of your mind.

No helmet? NO PROBLEM
It wasn't as clear of a win as the 5-1 one shallacking that they gave the Ducks Friday night, but that's to be expected. There was no way that Anaheim was going to let that happen again. However, that didn't deter the Red Wings either. There's always a concern that after a very strong win like Friday, that there will be back sliding by the winning team and the following game will not fare well. That didn't happen, thankfully. The same kind of strength and determination that brought them to win 5-1 is what kept them alive and kicking, even when the Ducks turned up the heat.

  • While I'm pulling desperately for Nyquist to be successful, I was a little frustrated with him tonight because there seemed to be moments when he was just standing still. That's a huge no-no in hockey; you always want to be moving in some fashion to keep the momentum under your feet so you can make a play and react quickly. 
  • Another injury scare this evening as Brian Lashoff took a puck to the face. Thankfully he dodged the same injury that Kyle Quincey suffered and was able to return for the second period. Why do these things have to keep happening? Can't we just be healthy and have that be the end of it?
  • I've talked shit about Danny Cleary a lot this season, but I'll be damned if that wasn't a sweet deflection on the Red Wings' power play. 
  • Also, how good was Jakub Kindl? Good for him.
  • I've been really tired of Anaheim Duck goaltenders getting really hot whenever the Wings come into town and destroying our hopes and dreams. I was relieved to see that didn't happen these last two games. 
  • Why was there no penalty on Hank getting hauled down by three Anaheim Ducks? That just seems like a weird penalty not to be called.
Despite a much better Ducks team playing in front of a more confident goaltender, the Red Wings still played very well. For a lot of the 2nd period and most of the 3rd, the Ducks threw the throttle all the way down and were able to come within a goal, but the Red Wings managed to stave off the onslaught and secure 4 very much needed points. 

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Ryan Getlzaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne - What a tool bag these three are, especially that troglodyte Getzlaf. You can argue for and against the tripping penalty, though what I saw seemed like pretty obvious tripping or interference. But then those three threw a coordinated temper tantrum? Corey Perry breaks the glass with his stick, Getzlaf runs his mouth and Selanne's tears drench the refs sweater, earning them all misconducts. These are the guys who "lead" that team.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Drew Miller - I did want to give this to someone else tonight, and that's not say that there weren't other guys out there working their asses off, because there was. But a lot of hard work by Drew Miller lead to a game winning goal as he banged away out front. Miller was on our "Deserves a Goal" list and he finally broke out and freed himself.

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Brian Lashoff - Joakim Andersson was good, Nyquist was good, Smith was good and so was Lashoff. But only one of those guys took a puck to the face and came back into the game and that was Brian Lashoff. Also, he stumbled on a one on one play, recovered nicely and made a good defensive play with an assist from Datsyuk.

The Perfect Puck: Danny Cleary - Like I said before, that was a damned impressive deflection for the first goal this evening. Kindl's shot was going wide and Cleary pulled a Tomas Holmstrom and brought it back on net and passed Hiller. Nicely done, Buckets. 

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Jimmy Howard - I mean come on. This game ends completely different if Howard doesn't play this well. Two goals allowed on 68 shots (34 each night, 1 goal each night) for a 97.1% save percentage is phenomenal. Some very big saves and a lot of routine but need to be made saves gave the Red Wings the extra something special both of these games. It's making Howard's salary stock rise, but also means the Red Wings are going to be that much more likely to resign him. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday HodgePodge

After dropping against the Minnesota Wild 4-2, the Red Wings traveled to Anaheim to face off a very good Ducks team. I was at work for the first half of the game, so I didn't see how it started off but the second half of the game made me extremely happy.

I always like it when we get grinders and energy guys putting up goals in big games. Or little games. Or just ever. Remember when Darren McCarty scored a hat trick against Patrick Roy in the playoffs? Yeah, that was awesome. Which is why it was mind bogglingly awesome to see Michigan's own Justin Abdelkader put up not one, not two, but three goals against Anaheim. And this wasn't Pasha Magic where he's having pucks banked off him. They were honest to God goals. Hell, the first one he made an outstanding individual effort around Sheldon Souray and beat Fasth five hole.

How mad were Duck's fans at Justin Abdelkader after his first goal? They were kind of mad. I wonder what this guy
did after goals number two and three.
It continues to perplex a lot of Red Wings fans, that we could drop 4-2 against the Wild and then waltz into Anaheim and bitch slap them so thoroughly. It's the frustrating reality of our current Detroit Red Wings. Again, the team is better than we give them credit for, but they're not playing well as they can as consistently as they should. Damien Brunner did contribute last night, but not with goals, but Pavel is still Pavel and we got scoring from one of our "energy" guys. Defense was good, maybe even great, and Howard continued outperforming expectations.

Just going to hand out some quick awards before we move on to talking about the greatest injustice suffered by Red Wings fans since the last injustice.

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Joakim Andersson - The kid seemed to be struggling last night. When I came in, I saw others commenting that he seemed to be struggling and sure enough, it definitely seemed like he was having some troubles. It wasn't terrible, and I didn't seem him cost us any goals, but the Ducks did get some opportunities. One play in particular, Andersson tried to go one on one against Corey Perry, who promptly stripped the puck and waltzed into the zone. I like the kid, but he's gotta know who he's on the ice against.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Drew Miller - I really am enjoying him up with Filppula and Zetterberg. It's working out so well that the Anaheim commentators spent a good couple of minutes talking about him and how well he's playing up on that line. We give Mike Babcock a lot of shit, but maybe he really is as good of a coach as we think he is when we're winning. Miller really plays bigger than his size and hasn't shied away in the slightest from playing more minutes against harder competition.

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Brendan Smith - He gets this award for one reason: He beat Bobby Ryan's ass. He threw a good clean check on Ryan when Ryan tried to check Smith, then Ryan threw a fit and wanted to drop the gloves. Smith all too willingly obliged and won. For this reason, Brendan Smith's new nickname is Hank Hill - because he beat the shit out of Bobby. Honorary Mention to Brian Lashoff for his first NHL fight.

The Perfect Puck: Johan Franzen - The Mule was playing really well last night. Justin Abdelkader owes two of his goals to great passes from Johan Franzen. It's obvious, but when Franzen makes use of his size, the threat of his shot, and his deceptively great hands, he can create a ton of opportunities for himself and for others. That's what he was doing last night, and particularly on Abdelkader's third goal.

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Justin Abdelkader - Just watch the video. My god the guy was on fire last night. 

In Other News: Fox Sports Detroit has fired Larry "This is a Guy" Murphy for some reason. They say ratings but it's hard to know. I love Murphy, and from the outrage, it sounds like 99.99% of Red Wings fans did, too. If you're angry about it, please go and sign this petition and be sure to tweet Fox Sports Detroit and use the hashtag #BringBackMurph to make your voice heard.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dollar Hotdog Power Hour Podcast #10

We've made it into double digits!
Kevin and Michelle return and we were expecting a prompt arrival of our friend Peter, who is busy in Ireland being all Irish and drinking massive amounts of alcohol to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Whatever, like anyone wants to do that instead of talk about hockey.

You know, what you were late Peter, so Happy St. Patty's Day!

We all maintained a pretty positive attitude about the Red Wings, despite some bumps along the way. We're happy with the last couple games the Wings played, and love everything that is Pavel Datsyuk. Once again we discuss Red Wings who are deserving of goals and Peter slurs his way through analysis. He may also be pregnant, we're not quite sure yet.

Kevin's Blog and Michelle's Blog should be checked out and shared, as usual. Peter writes for Octopus Thrower and once got to talk to Drew Miller, so that's pretty sweet.

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, March 10, 2013

100th Post: Recap - Red Wings: 2, Blue Jackets 3 (SO)

I've written 100 posts, which is kind of crazy. What's also crazy is that the Red Wings have only beaten the Columbus Blue Jackets once this season, and that was in overtime. There is something seriously wrong with that sentence, but it's the reality we're facing. Back when I played hockey, there was a team we played four or five times. Before our first match up, my team mates told me, "Oh these guys are a garbage team, we always beat their asses last year. Easy win." And every time, we'd lose to them, usually in a close game.

We just didn't show up with the same kind of intensity, the same level of poise and the same level of drive to win. And the results spoke for themselves. You cannot take any team for granted, ever. It doesn't matter what their record is, it doesn't matter how many of their best players aren't playing, and it doesn't matter how much better you are than they are. If you don't show up and play to win every night, you're going to lose hockey games. 

The first period was a story that I think we're all sick and tired of hearing: the Red Wings got out worked by the other team and Jimmy Howard bailed us out. The second period saw some bad beats, some sloppy play, but the Red Wings came out of it only down by a goal. We tied it up on a 5 on 3 power play goal from Franzen and took it to the shootout where the Blue Jackets danced around Jimmy Howard. 

Kevin said there'd be a power play goal, and he was right. Josh said it'd be a close game and he was right. We all said the Red Wings would win the game and we were all wrong. It's hard to say more than that. Some bullet points, the awards and then we'll hope to forget these past couple of games.
  • We discussed in the podcast the role officials play in deciding games. It started off feeling like I was going to be vindicated early on with a slew of bad calls against the Wings. Then it just turned into a slew of bad calls across the board. I still feel slightly vindicated because I think it could have been a different game had it not been for bad refs and bad rules.
  • The first period, it seemed like the only line that cared about winning were the bottom lines. That's discouraging. 
  • It was good to see the power play score, but it's still not where it needs to be. I've said it before, but when Jakub Kindl seems to be the most dangerous power play threat, there's something wrong with your power play.
  • Jimmy Howard was great for the entire game right up until the shootout. It still seems to be a weak spot in his game. He's got to get more patient and be able to out wait the shooter. 
  • Two things need to happen: They have got to get Zetterberg and Datsyuk scoring, and Kronwall has to let himself off the chain and start getting more physical. This team is way less dangerous when those two things aren't happening. 
The Red Wings have a road trip coming up and it basically goes without being said that they have to come home with at least two out of three wins in regulation. 

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Henrik Zetterberg - This time, I'm honestly giving it to him with a heavy but honest heart. Zetterberg has to be better. Yes, he's working hard but he had so many issues handling the puck today, and one of his mistakes cost us a goal. He's the captain of this team, and I don't question him being captain. But he has to do a better job leading by example by being smart and responsible with the puck and putting it in the back of the other team's net. 

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson - They did a ton of great work, and the first period they seemed like some of the only players who gave a shit. If these guys are the future of the Red Wings, then I sincerely hope we see more of them and less of some of the guys currently skating for us. 

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Brendan Smith - He continues to show why he's going to be a leader on this team. He continues to jump up and be an offensive threat, although he still hasn't managed to get one in the back of the net. Today he showed that not only all of that, but he also decided it was time to stand up for himself and the team and beat the ever living tar out of someone. It was a good, clean fight by both sides and Smith won it.

The Perfect Puck: Damien Brunner - We need the kid to score goals. It's crucial to the future of this team. However, at least he managed to make a pretty sweet pass to Franzen in the slot. It was a great play all around but Damien got the puck down low, drew the eye from the defense and put it right into Franzen's wheel house for an easy goal. At least we know the kid can pass, too. 

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Pavel Datsyuk - He needs to score goals, he's well over-due and it looks like he continues to get pissed off with the sub par linemates he's been forced to play with. In the meantime, he continues to make amazing plays to his team mates and keeps the Wings alive in games. He's either going to snap and go home to Russia, or he's going to snap and score every goal scored in the NHL from here until the end of time. 

I hope you all have enjoyed the 100 posts I've made. I hope I can continue to make more and earn more readers and followers. It's been great so far. Let's just hope the Red Wings can get back to greatness as well.

Dollar Hotdog Power Hour Podcast: Episode 9

Pre-game discussion from your (nth) favorite bloggers!
Kevin and Michelle return and we're once again joined by our good friend Josh Howard. This morning we discussed the state of the Red Wings and try to get people to make their long term expectations a lot more reasonable. We debate the impact of officiating on the outcome of games, and once again I'm the only one taking the correct position. We make our predictions for the game today against the Blue Jackets before making Josh thoroughly uncomfortable in the post-game discussion.

The audio issues seem to be resolving themselves and I think the quality of the discussion is some of the best so far.

Kevin's Blog and Michelle's Blog should be checked out and shared, as usual. Josh can be found at Winging it in Motown and also at Nightmare on Helm Street.

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.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recap: Red Wings 3, Oilers 0

Great game for Detroit. Just a well executed win from puck drop to final horn. There really isn't much else to say besides that. I'm sure there will be nay sayers out there who will try to dismiss this win because it was Edmonton, but like I said the last time these two teams met: look at the offensive talent Edmonton has. It's scary how many guys they have on their team who can put up points. I don't know what exactly is preventing these kids from going wild and scoring goals, but as long as they keep doing that when they play Detroit, I'm okay with it.

I'm going to keep this post brief because otherwise I'll just write "THE RED WINGS PLAYED GOOD HOCKEY PUCKS!" over and over again. There are a few major points I want to make before I hand out the awards
  1. This was a team win from top to bottom. Howard was good in net, but let's be honest, he wasn't challenged with big saves tonight the way he has been against Chicago, L.A. and Colorado. The Red Wings defense definitely showed what it's capable of tonight in shutting down serious offensive power. In all fairness, they've been showing that these past few games. Winning or losing by a goal is a tight, hard fought game that is indicative of the skill level of the teams involved. The team seems to be discovering their identity and it looks like their identity is that of a winning hockey team.
  2. The refs actually let the guys play tonight, and it was refreshing. You didn't see too much clutching and grabbing, although there was some. They didn't give anyone an undeserved power play - although I admit I missed the only minor penalty that was called. But there wasn't a bullshit hooking penalty or one of those lame face off violations called. And guess what? Two teams played good hockey, and the team that played better hockey ended up winning.
  3. We learned today that all that was standing between Justin Abdelkader and scoring a goal were NHL goaltenders, apparently. 
  4. How good has Jakub Kindl been playing lately? He's apparently taking a page out of the Ericsson playbook, which is titled If I Live Up to My Potential People Will Get Off My Back. Soft cover should be in your nearby bookstores soon.
Now, I said this a couple of times on Twitter, but I fucking told you so. I've been saying for years that Detroit needed to put forth more effort to get the puck into the slot and stop with the crap shots from bad angles. They got serious scoring chances and two goals from a player jumping up in the play and/or driving into the slot and getting quality chances on net.

If I were other teams, I'd be very frightened that the Red Wings are getting healthy and in sync. Let's do the awards.

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Henrik Zetterberg - Hold up, sports fans. Before you pelt me with fiery rocks, I'm only saying Z for two reasons. First, because he had a few scoring chances that he NEEDED to bury. Two, there really wasn't anything about the game or the refs I could bitch about. Wings played great, Edmonton was okay, refs weren't idiots. I guess I also give mention to Damien Brunner for icing the puck twice at the end of the game while shooting for the empty net. But I'm just being nitpicky. Oh, and Mike Babcock's voice for abandoning its team.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Cory Emmerton - It has to be Emmerton! Dude was off his rocker all night. Checking hard, fighting for the puck and winning battles, and generated a ton of chances for his team, including a wicked snap shot from the slot. If he's going to play like this, he's just making it harder for Babcock to decide who to play every night as guys get healthy. 

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Brian Lashoff - Giving this to Lashoff is really just a microcosm of the defense as a whole. He was solid on the blue line, helped shut down the Oilers, and was jumping up in the plays to join the offense. He also seems to be getting more comfortable using his size against the other team, especially speedy skilled forwards.

The Perfect Puck: Patrick Eaves -  Eaves played his ass off tonight, had a ton of opportunities, played great all night and dished a great pass to Kindl for the first goal of the game. That pass is going to earn him the Perfect Puck tonight because it was just such a smart play that turned what should have been a broken, fail of a play into the game winning goal.

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Jakub Kindl - Are you serious? Yes I am. Kindl, as I said, is following Ericsson's example and has started to play the kind of hockey we've expected of him. Maybe he's seen the writing on the wall finally with Lashoff playing so great, but he has obviously stepped up. This goal was such a great individual effort and I was impressed to seem him hang with it and finally bury it. It was a little dirty and fluky as hell, but he earned it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recap: Red Wings 1, Blackhawks 2

Tough loss to take. The Blackhawks are obviously playing great hockey right now, and the Red Wings are still looking like a team trying to define their new identity and compete at a high level consistently. It wasn't a bad loss, with the exception of the first period. A huge part of the first period troubles was the result of a couple of really weak penalties called against Detroit. They came out a lot better and did a lot of things well in the second period, and they looked even better in the third.

That's the thing - as good as the Blackhawks are playing this year, they've had to go into overtime twice against the Red Wings and squeaked out victories in both games. First one was a bullshit lucky deflection of a Red Wings' stick, and this one went all the way to the shootout. The fact of the matter is: this Detroit Red Wings team can beat the Chicago Blackhawks, even with how great the Blackhawks are playing. 

But we didn't
I'm 100% convinced The Stig is actually Pavel Datsyuk
I'm going to hit some bullet points for today's recap and hand out the awards. Spoiler alert: Ericsson is not getting the Bret Lebda award. Yes, he had one major fuck up today that cost us the lead, but everyone hates that penalty and it's almost completely a bad luck penalty that isn't the fault of the player. It was a "Shitboxian" play from a guy who has been stellar all season and played extremely well in today's game. So no, Ericsson was not the worst player on the ice. Not even close.
  • I spent a lot of my tweets bashing the NHL on NBC people. I understand that calling them hacks is like calling water wet and Tim Thomas crazy, but I simply cannot stand their blatant favoritism.
  • Pavel Datsyuk really seems like he's had enough of playing with guys who cannot compete at his level. Before I think he took as a challenge: "Can I still get goals and points with these two bags of peat moss? Watch this!". But we've got to get the guy some talent to skate with.
  • You know who has some talent? Tomas Tatar. Great goal, kid. Way to go to the net in a way that was strong and smart. Mickey Redmond was no doubt happy you had your stick on the ice, too.
  • Don't boo Marion Hossa. Like I said, he's not a bad guy. I'm not a huge fan of him, but I have to admit we'd be better off with him than with Franzen. He's not a cheap shot artist. He's not a dick. He's a great hockey player. We're better than that, Wings fans.
  • Yes, I bitch about the officiating a lot. Yes, I'm a bit of a homer with some of my penalty assessments. But another high stick (to Tootoo), a flagrant trip behind the play (to Smith) and the biggest take down I think I've ever seen (to Brunner) without a call? Fine, I'm a conspiracy nut, but how can these penalties not get called whenever the Detroit Red Wings play? 
  • The defense is still not as bad as lot of people think it is. Quincey had one of his moments on the Kane goal and Kronwall struggled again, but come on. Against Toews, Sharp, Hossa and Kane you allow one goal and most of Chicago's shots were really not that great of chances. Give these guys a lot of credit. 
This team still has a lot of wrinkles to iron out, but that's the thing about wrinkles, you can still iron them out. You don't have to throw the whole thing away. A little spot treatment, another trip through the laundry, good as new. And here's the awards to help understand why.

The Bret Lebda Game Puck: Danny Cleary - This has been an award in the making. You might even say that Cleary kept having this award stolen from him by someone else. I said during the game that the problem on Datsyuk's line isn't Cleary or Abdelkader, it's Cleary AND Abdelkader, but Cleary certainly made the case for himself today. Several times, he had the puck on his stick and just couldn't make the right decision quickly. Wasted chances because he was too busy pondering about whatever the fuck people from Newfoundland think about. The best part was when Buckets thought he could outskate a back checking Marion Hossa. Good luck with that.

The Kris Draper Game Puck: Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves - They both did so much to help keep this team alive. Skated hard the whole game, were physical in the war zones on the ice and even had some opportunities to score. It was Eaves who got the play started that would lead to Tatar's goal by doing exactly what they need to do. But it could very well have been Miller because he was playing just as well.

10 Points to Griffins-dor: Brendan Smith - For blocking a shot with his head. Also because he did a lot of smart things in the defensive zone and had a couple of key moments to keep the Red Wings alive. He definitely continues to show why he's going to be a pillar of our future defense.

The Perfect Puck: Joakim Andersson - What a pass! Just a stellar, heads up play from behind the net to feed Tomas Tatar. I didn't know much about this kid before he came up to the majors this year, but he needs to stick around for a long time. 

O' Captain, My Captain Game Puck: Jimmy Howard - Once again the Red Wings called on their netminder to win the game for them and Howard did everything he could. He was stellar through all three periods and if it hadn't been for fluky penalties and mistakes from the guys ahead of him, he would have not only snapped the Hawks' winning streak but earned himself another shut out. Just go to this link and look at all of the highlight saves that are there and you'll understand why Howard was the MVP of this game.