Monday, December 14, 2009

Wings 3, Puppies 2

A regulation win. Ericsson got hurt early in this one and it didn't look good. Still, Newbury with his first as a Red Wing, Meech with the game winner and is it just me or did Eaves look a bit like Brett Hull out there? He scored 20 before...

Just sayin.

PK was good. I love seeing hustle and blocked shots on the PK.

PP was good. Even though the Wings didn't score, they had pressure and chances. In the long run, I'd rather they go 0-4 and look good doing it, than go 1-4 because of a lucky bounce after playing uninspired.

Jimmy Howard was good. I'm starting to like him as a goalie.

Notice a theme? It was a good game. Not great, but good enough to get the job done. Now let's just hope for a miracle so we can have Ericsson in the lineup.

Wings vs Puppies

Big game tonight. Let's see how long Bert can keep this up. 4 goals in 2 games. 2 OT winners. Franzen-like. I won't get ahead of myself, but yeah... Franzen-like...


I remember not all that long ago when being a Red Wings fan automatically meant you were a bandwagon-fan. Who knows, maybe it still does, but the fans of Detroit are witnessing something we have not seen in years. The season is almost half over and the Wings are fighting for a playoff spot.

Yet, Detroit is still in the top 10 in average attendance. 6th at home, 8th on the road which means all those Red Wings fans in Phoenix and Nashville that are supposedly only fans because they win a lot, are still watching games even though Detroit is struggling.

I also remember 2004. Back then, you couldn't find a Penguins fan unless you went to Mellon Arena itself during a game and found a few true fans in a Jagr or Francis jersey. Now? Stupid hockey blogs all over the net are crawling with "fans" who swear up and down that they have been Penguin fans since the 80's and they say so in ALL CAPS so it must be true...

Chicago fans are no different. 2006 and 2007, they were 29th in the league in attendance. 2008? Word spreads that they have a couple nice draft picks and they bump up to 19th. 2009, they mistakenly believed they could beat Detroit and soared to #1.

I don't necessarily mean to attack fan bases, I just want to know where attendance would be with other teams if their entire second and third line was on the IR list. If a fourth line forward who should probably be in the AHL is on their teams second PP unit.

They'd be 29th in the league in attendance, that's where.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanks, D-Mac.

Where were problems like this one when I was in school?

Maybe I wouldn't have hated school so much if math class involved Red Wings equations. This was in a comment in A2Y today:

Anybody + Anybody + Bertuzzi = Anybody + Anybody + Turd

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 12/07/09 at 11:39 AM ET
I believe this problem is more complicated than simply algebra. You see, your equation gives,

Anybody + Anybody + Bertuzzi - Anybody - Anybody = Turd

The Anybodies cancel, leaving us with

Bertuzzi = Turd

However, I do not think this adequately explains the true reason for Bertuzzi’s play. I believe the real character of this quandary can be expressed as a derivative.

Let us write our original equation as f(x) = Bertuzzi(x), where x = that element which made Bertuzzi such a valuable player early in his career and f(x) represents his total on-ice effectiveness.

The following equation represents a certain key moment in his career, where x was subject to an exponential increase in intensity and an additional constant was added to the equation, with disastrous results.

g(x) = Bertuzzi(x)^2 + Moore(x)

From this point onward, the Moore constant never leaves the equation.

To account for Bertuzzi’s change in play, we must take the derivative of g(x) and subtract it from the original equation.

g’(x) = 2Bertuzzi(x) + Moore

Subtracting from f(x), our new equation for the play of Todd Bertuzzi is written

h(x) = Bertuzzi(x) - (2Bertuzzi(x) + Moore)

As you can see, h(x) > f(x).

Integration will be required to completely understand the behavior of h(x), but first we must re-write it as a function of time. This requires a lengthy digression into various obscure realms of mathematics, including differential equations, the specifics of which are too complex to adequately explain here. Suffice to say that our new equation is,

j(t) = Bertuzzi/(t)

Integrating the foregoing, we have

∫Bertuzzi/(t)dx, with endpoints at 0 and 15, representing each year Bertuzzi has played in the NHL.

The antiderivative of j(x) is Bertuzzi(ln(|t|). Evaluating this equation at both end points gives us

Bertuzzi(ln|0|) = promising rookie

Bertuzzi(ln|15|) = poopie

Subtracting the equation left endpoint from the right, we have a total area of

promising rookie - poopie = suck

As you can see, the relationship between time, x, and suck become quite clear once we’ve applied the proper mathematical model. Some corrective is clearly required, and given the comparatively high value of the “poopie” term, I suggest an elephant laxative, or failing that, a hefty meal from a badly-maintained Taco Bell.

It’s the only way.

Posted by Quarkstar from Out there on 12/07/09 at 02:09 PM ET

Now, I personally think Bert has improved a lot over the past few games and is earning his $1.5 million, but that doesn't mean this isn't funny.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where I've been...

It's been tough writing about what's wrong with my favorite team. I still watch every game, but the Wings are under siege from the media right now because of their slow start and I'm a little tired of trying to think of reasons why they're wrong. Until I get my motivation back, check this blog out:

Nightmare on Helm Street. It's a great blog that is updated constantly by Animal Drew and Chris. Both play hockey, which automatically makes them smarter than anyone on ESPN, but Chris is 'a stupid goalie'.

Anyways, that's where I've been hanging around.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Avs 4, Wings 3 SO

Up 2-0 to start the 3rd period, Detroit managed to lose a point. Lots of chances to finish it off, including Hank's point blank shot that was stopped and the double minor, but it wasn't meant to be. Osgood looked great until the shootout. Bertuzzi was very good, Hank was awesome and the Leino, Filpulla, Williams line was jumping. Abdelkader got his first goal. Duchene, the 3rd overall pick this year, got his first career goal for Colorado.

Good to get a point, but terrible to blow a 2 goal lead for the 3rd time this season in just 7 games. Yes, we could easily be 6-1. Hope the younger guys are learning that you can't let off the gas in the third.

Pavel should be back the next game, which is Thursday at Phoenix.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Red Wings 5, Kings 2

MUCH better effort tonight from Detroit, though it took 25 minutes for it to happen. PK was very good, Ozzie was great and our offense looked like it's supposed to. No Pavel? No problem; at least in this game. Bertuzzi looks more and more comfortable in a Detroit uniform, picking up an assist on a goal by Maltby. Zetterberg got his first goal of the season, Abdelkader got his first career point with an assist on the first goal by Ericsson and Lidstrom picked up 2 assists, giving him 1,000 points. He's only the second Swedish player (first defenseman) to achieve that milestone, the fourth Red Wing.

I wish more games could be like this one, but sometimes I'm not sure which team is showing up to play.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Red Wings 2, Sabres 6

Terrible all around. Ozzie wasn't good, but what could he do? Buffalo had their way around the net. Miller was good, but he didn't really have to be. Detroit had few great chances. Where are Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi? Sure, they got into the Sabres' zone a few times, but few good chances. Filppula seemed somewhat interested in winning, but that's not enough. After 2 periods, everyone on Detroit had at least a -1. Lidstrom and Ericsson were -2 after 2 periods.

Having Franzen in the lineup would not have mattered. Osgood got hung out to dry in the second.

Hopefully, this is the worst game I see all year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wings 3, Caps 2

This was a great game to watch! Detroit looked like they did in 2008. Datsyuk was all over Ovie tonight and Osgood was great when he needed to be (except for the first goal). Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom were the three top scorers in the NHL coming into this game and only Ovie got on the board with an assist.

Datsyuk looked great, Bertuzzi looked a lot better playing on a line with Pav and Z, Filppula was physical and the PK was great despite a bad break on the one goal it allowed.

If Detroit can play this way all year, they can win the Central.

Muskegon Lumberjacks Jersey... why the Pens?

I was thrilled when Muskegon changed their name from the Fury back to the Lumberjacks in honor of the team that used to play in the LC Walker Arena. I was instantly in the market for a jersey, but when I clicked on the Jersey, I couldn't help but notice something:

It was one of the Penguins old jerseys.

Now, I understand that most minor league teams just take a NHL jersey and slap their own logo on it and call it good, but the Detroit Red Wings fans are in a bit of a feud with the Pens right now and I would guess that I'm not alone in my feelings that I don't want to wear something that someone might mistake for a Pens jersey. Take yourself back to 1996 and pretend the Fury changed their colors and took on the Avalanche jersey and tell me how many you would buy.

The Lumberjacks did wear a third jersey for a few games last December, but they only sold those actual jerseys worn in the game in an auction. That's fine; minor league teams do that all the time. Heck, Ilitch probably makes a killing selling the Red Wings old jockstraps at Hockeytown Authentics, so why not? Well, they're a smaller market that only reaches West Michigan, so it's probably not cost-effective to mass produce a third jersey. But why not just ripoff another NHL team with similar colors? The Boston Bruins have similar colors. Close enough for a third jersey, anyways.

I love my local minor league team and will support them no matter what their colors are or what their jersey looks like, but unless they make a change in the future, I'll just stick with a hoodie.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Franzen out 4 months with torn ACL

Not really much to say about this other than try to look on the bright side:

This is going to give Abdelkader and other younger players the chance to shine. Also, if your team is going to be plagued by injuries, October is the month to get it over with.

Get well soon, Mule.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2

Not a bad first win of the season for the Wings. PK looked much better, though still not perfect. Powerplay was good. Osgood was awesome in the first period, keeping Chicago off the board after they carried the majority of the play. He made the big saves that Detroit needed him to make, including a breakaway chance by Madden in the third. With a SV% of .941, he was the first star of the night.

Patrick Sharp got the Hawks on the board first with a goal at 1:23 of the second period. Detroit responded on the power play when Lidstrom's pass hit off of Madden's skate and went in the net at 10:36 of the second. Then at 16:15, Draper took a pass from Maltby and beat Huet top shelf to make it 2-1. Franzen made it 3-1 at 17:49 when he tapped Datsyuk's shot past the goal line, on the power play.

The third period got a bit scary as the Hawks out shot the Wings 15-4 and made it 3-2 at 10:24 with Versteeg scoring on the power play. Detroit was much lazier and sloppier in the third as they seemed to assume they had the game in the bag already. They've led by 2 goals in every game so far this year and have only one win, so that will need to be addressed.

Brad May fought Radek Smolenak and beat him pretty good. Way to make your presence known, Brad.

Speaking of Brad... Brad Stuart put a hurtin on quite a few Blackhawk players tonight, including Tomas Kopecky. I would say that he was Detroit's third star tonight. He was great on the PK, physical and disciplined.

Lebda sat out after taking a heavy hit in Sweden, giving Derek Meech his first action of the year. Meech was +1 in 11:20 of ice time.

Ericsson left the game in the third after blocking a shot with his ankle, again, so hopefully he's alright.

Williams was very good tonight, even on the power play. He was fast and created quite a few chances with his speed. I didn't care for his slash that led to the third period goal, but he had an assist on Lidstrom's goal.

Bertuzzi seems bored and lazy at times. He's huge, yet any contact against him and he falls to the ice and stays there lazily poking at the puck until it's too far away. I think he'll contribute as the year goes on, but he's going to have to look alive pretty soon.

Should be a good game on Saturday against the Caps!

Red Wings sign Brad May

After his tryout during the preseason, I lost track of Brad May and assumed he was let go, but apparently not. Detroit signed him for one year at $500,000. Now, I assumed that the Wings would sign Cloutier if they had any cap space left, but Holland must be confident that either Osgood and Howard can do the job, or that Cloutier could not. Now, I'm not a bettin man, but if I were, I'd put my money on the latter.

ESPN actually covered this today and, for the first time in ages, did a better job than CBS in covering the story. (Of course, they managed to misspell 'Detroit' in the headline. Detriot? Spell-check much??) Anyways, they have a quote from coach Babs saying: "It was pretty interesting, we had May in a couple of games in exhibition, and no one got hacked or whacked or touched, and then we don't have him and we get run." "You get tired of watching it." He went on to say: "Our guys, I think, do a real good job of competing hard, but we don't have a team that twists off helmets at stoppages, and when you start seeing it all the time, it's just nice when you've got someone to look after that stuff."

So very true. Red Wings players have always been battered and beaten after whistles, because players rarely have to pay for it. The refs allow it and Detroit doesn't have an enforcer so why not take liberties? Well, Brad May, it's up to you to put a stop to the cheap shots. Let's paint the ice of Joe Louis Arena with the blood of our enemies! Just try not to end up in another one of these pictures. How embarrassing...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Osgood in the HoF?

If Chris Osgood wants to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, he needs to start playing like a Hall of Famer. For years, people have said that he only wins because of the team he plays for. I would remind them of Curtis Joseph, a great goalie in his prime, who failed like it was going out of style when he played for Detroit. Osgood isn't the best goalie or an average goalie; he's the right goalie. He fits in Detroit's style, and seems to be at his best when the pressure is on.

Well, the pressure is on. After a poor outing by Osgood and a sad showing by Howard, the Red Wings are 0-2. The two things I've mentioned over and over in my preview posts is that Detroit needs to improve their PK and their goaltending can't be an issue. According to those two games, they didn't and it is.

There are 80 games left to turn it around, so no need to panic just yet, but Detroit's standing at the end of this season could be the difference between Osgood making it into the HoF or not.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Blues 5, Red Wings 3

Get a lead, blow a lead. Get a lead, blow a lead. This is starting to remind me of last season, but it's worse now, because it's BOTH goalies doing it. It's a team game, yes, but once again, no big saves from Howard and plenty from Conklin. PK is looking sad on paper, but it will always look bad when your goalie won't make a big save. If this keeps up, we'll see Daniel Larsson in about 15 games.

Allowing four goals is not the end of the world, but allowing four goals by the time the game is half over can be. That allows your opponent to play their game, which happened to be a very tight defensive game.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blues 4, Red Wings 3

I can just hear Keith Jones now:

"Mason, Mason, Mason. Blah blah blah."

Then Brian Engblom jumps in with:

"Osgood, Osgood, Osgood."

Well, they're right. Mason won the game for the Blues. The Red Wings looked really good to me and only allowing 23 shots isn't bad, but Osgood wasn't there when they needed him to be. You need your goalie to pull off a few miracles every now and then. Mason did all game long and Ozzie didn't do it once. If Detroit keeps playing the way they did today, they will win the Central Division, but only if Osgood improves. That was not good enough.

Ericsson left the game early, so hopefully he's ok. Lebda scared me pretty much the whole game and was -2.

Malts and Draper had wheels today. It would be nice if that lasts a while. Thoughts about the game? Comment below.

Tim Thomas is...

A condom, apparently. OK, I know Semin's name is spelled a bit different, but honestly, the NHL couldn't think of a different headline for this save? It wasn't even that difficult of a save, which leads me to believe that some guy at has been waiting all summer to write that.

2009-10 Preview: Jimmy Howard #35

He's only won 1 game in his NHL career and that was back in 2005-06. His GAA and SV% are decent, but I still feel nervous when he plays. I would love to be wrong about Howard, though. It would be great to see him outplay Ozzie and become a fan favorite out of nowhere...

I see this season ending in one of two ways:

Ozzy and Howard both struggle because Osgood feels no pressure to fight for his starting job and Howard caves under the pressure of picking up Osgood's slack, or Howard plays so great that Osgood feels the need to pick up his play, or lose the starting job.

I have my fingers crossed for the second scenario. You just never know in this sport. Howard could pull a 'Jonas Hiller'.

2009-10 Preview: Chris Osgood #30

Ozzie played great in the playoffs last year. He also played great in the playoffs the year before. As long as he doesn't have another breakdown in the regular season, the Wings should be able to win their division and make another run at the Cup. I'm really not worried about Ozzie. He seems to be at his best when people write him off.

I'm more worried about Howard...

2009-10 Preview: Henrik Zetterberg #40

Hank's numbers dropped a bit last season, but I'm not the least bit worried about that because his shooting percentage changed very little. He just needs to shoot more this season. The more Zetterberg shoots, the more he scores, the more we win. A lot has to do with whoever he plays with, of course. If it's Pavel Datsyuk, he can score 45+ goals, but if it's someone else, he'll probably net 35.

If Lidstrom retires after this season, he could be the next guy to wear the 'C'.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009-10 Preview: Jason Williams #29

It's too early to say 'I told you so!' since it was only preseason, but guess who had one heck of a preseason? That's right, Jason Williams. The same Jason Williams that no one seemed to want on the team. Now, I know the biggest complaint about him was how he whined about not playing a few times, but he's older now. More mature. Hopefully he'll keep quiet when he's a healthy scratch (if that happens) and just support his team like any other player would.

Depth scoring and staying healthy will be the key to success for Willy. I'm willing to bet that he'll be on the power play quite a bit, so 20 goals is not a stretch. Considering his paycheck, 15 goals or more would be perfect.

2009-10 Preview: Kirk Maltby #18

Malts will always be a fan favorite, but he's nearing the end of his career. He's really not a threat to score and he doesn't kill penalties like he used to, though he still has a place as a mentor for guys like Helmer and Apple-Gator. Look for Malts to be a healthy scratch from time to time this season. I only hope that when he does retire, he retires a Red Wing.

2009-10 Preview: Ville Leino #21

Leino has great hands, but he's not very big. If he can survive an entire season without injury, he can score 20-25 goals. Leino is the guy who teams forget about when they're trying to figure out how to shutdown Datsyuk and Zetterberg. He brings depth to your lineup.

2009-10 Preview: Tomas Holmstrom #96

Holmstrom sure took a beating in the playoffs, but he's used to that. His numbers has slipped a bit over the last 2 years, but he missed so many games because of injury.

Homer can still score 30 goals in a season if he's healthy and plays on the right line. Really, the only thing Holmstrom needs help with is out of his hands. No one else in the entire league takes more punishment than Holmstrom. I'm not sure why other players are allowed to give such cheap and dirty hits while the Ref turns a blind eye, only to call a penalty on Holmstrom when he's finally had enough and pushes back. It's really pitiful. I would love to see Crosby play under the same rules as Holmstrom.

2009-10 Preview: Brad Stuart #23

Stuart took some heat last summer after two mistakes led to two Pittsburgh goals in game 7. It's too bad that it happened at that time, but it does happen. Bad bounces and missed calls happen. Stuart is still one of our better defensemen.

This season, improve the +/- a little. With only 26 PiM, he's very disciplined considering how physical he plays. I believe he has a little bit more offensive ability than what he showed last season, but since he won't see a lot of time on the power play, 5 goals would be good. Stuart will be killing penalties. If he can win battles along the boards and clear the puck, we win games.

2009-10 Preview: Darren Helm #43

Is there a faster skater in this league? I don't think so. Darren Helm is quickly becoming my favorite player and he has yet to score a goal in the regular season. Goals win games, but plays like these can win you the Cup. And though he has yet to score in the regular season, who cares, as long as he keeps doing this and this in the playoffs.

This season, once Helmer recovers from his injury, look for him to score between 10-15 goals. His regular season +/- is a bit lacking, but when you don't score much, it may seem worse than it is. Helm can kill penalties, and the Red Wings need to improve on that this season or possibly lose their division for the first time in forever. If he can help bring the PK back to the top 10 or so, score some goals and check a few guys that I don't like, I may just have to buy his jersey.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009-10 Preview: Brian Rafalski #28

Rafalski was on fire last night with 4 assists against the Penguins. OK, so it was only preseason and the penguins best players weren't out there, but if it's a glimpse of things to come, this could be his best year. We could use a "best year ever" or two this season.

Rafalski is an offensive minded defenseman who's +/- got an amazing boost thanks in large part to being Lidstrom's line mate. Not that Raf doesn't have defensive skill, it's just not his strength. This season, I would like to see Rafalski as a Norris finalist (along with Nick, of course). To accomplish this, he'll need between 15-19 goals, 50 assists and be at least +20. I think the main reason Rafalski wasn't mentioned for the Norris last season isn't because he doesn't have better numbers than Lidstrom, it's because he plays on the same line as Lidstrom. This season, I want to see Rafalski out-shine Lidstrom. Way easier said than done, but if he can (and I think he can), this is the year to do it.

2009-10 Preview: Johan Franzen #93

I was concerned that Franzen's molten hot streak in 2008 may have been a fluke and he would return to his average self the next season, but he didn't. Yay! He was second on the team in goals (34) last season and with Hossa out of the picture, he may be the best goal scorer on the team. While I hope that the rest of the team puts a great deal of emphasis on defense, I want to see Franzen light the lamp at all costs. Goals, goals and more goals from the Mule.

If Franzen has a 40G season up his sleeve, this would be the year to pull it out. 40G, 30A and a +/- of whatever is what I'm looking for from the Mule. I would also like to see more hits and less dives. He's huge, so he should be pulverizing the other team and... he's huge, so why would a little love tap from Ryan Getzlaf make him crumble to the ice like he'd been shot? (Of course, Getzlaf deserves to be in the box constantly and that weak call makes up for the blatant crap he always gets away with.)

2009-10 Preview: Derek Meech #14

Another young guy with plenty of room for improvement. Meech was -12 in just 41 games last season, and -5 in one game against Nashville. His offensive totals (2G 5A) were fine for a 25 year old defenseman, but -12 is not going to cut it.

This season, Meech has to tighten up in his own end. If he plays 60 or more games, scores one goal and ends the season at -5 or better, I would call it a good year for Meech, though I would love to see +1 or better. There's just something about that "-" sign...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sporting News: NHL Player of the Decade

No surprise here.

2009-10 Preview: Valtteri Filppula #51

How best to describe Filppula... streaky? Yeah, that's the word. I think he could score 30 goals if he were more consistent, but that hasn't happened yet. Still, how many teams out there would love to have 40 points coming from their third line?

This season could be a real money-maker for Flip. With 80 goals worth of offense gone, Filppula could get his name out there if he gets anything in the area of 25+. In the end, I'm hoping for 20 goals and 30 assists as well as a +10 or better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2009-10 Preview: Andreas Lilja #3

Most Wings fans hate this guy. Personally, I think he's good for the team. I'm not about to spend $150 on his jersey, but he's good in his own end. Good penalty killer. GOOD, not great. Sometimes, I think that maybe Red Wings fans are a bit spoiled. Not every player is Nick Lidstrom or Pavel Datsyuk. Now, I mentioned before that Holland had said he might move a defenseman sometime around training camp. If the choice is Lebda or Lilja, I'd take Lilja (unless he doesn't recover from his concussion), because he's better in his own end.

Lilja was +13 this past season before getting a concussion. That's great, but his 66 PIM are an issue. A few of those minutes are from fighting, but most came from little hooks and holds. This is the "New NHL" so a 'free hand' is now considered 'Holding'. Most of the other guys on the team have gotten the message.

The two stats I'll be watching the most this season will be his +/- and his PIM. +10 and 50 penalty minutes in 75 or more games will be a good season for Andreas Lilja.

2009-10 Preview: Kris Draper #33

Jack of all trades, master of none? Not exactly. Drapes is the master of whatever you need him to be the master of. Need depth scoring? He's been that guy before with 24 goals in 2003-04. Need a guy who can play shutdown-defense? Draper can do it. Kill penalties? Call Kris. Gotta win an important faceoff? Kris Draper.

This year, the only stat I'll be looking at is his +/-. He's been a combined -15 the last two seasons, so some improvement in that category is in order. At 38 and on the 3rd or 4th line, I'm hoping for +1, but even -5 will be acceptable if he continues to be the best faceoff man in the NHL.

P.S. Bring back the 'Birthday Bandit' videos!

2009-10 Preview: Nicklas Lidstrom #5

Let's be honest with ourselves... Nick could show up to all 82 games in his PJ's and sit on the bench with a bottle of Jack Daniels and he would still be a finalist for the Norris. If he played goalie, he would still be a finalist for the Norris. If he played baseball... you get the idea. He's just that good. So what do we need from Lidstrom this year?

Another 60-70 points and a +/- above 35 would be great.

Is this his last year? I hope not, but he'll be 40 in April and this is the last year of his contract. Larionov and Chelios both played extremely well after 40, though Chelly may have gone a bit far considering he was still playing hockey when most GM employees his age were full-time fishermen. Even if Nick does retire, Detroit's defensive core will be among the best in the league.

Friday, September 18, 2009

2009-10 Preview: Pavel Datsyuk #13

Keep doing your thing, Pav. Another season of 30 goals, 65 assists and a +40 rating is all we ask of you. Shouldn't be an issue for the best player in hockey, right? Assuming Pavel stays healthy, he should finish as an MVP candidate, once again. Aside from the 95 points, I want to see more hits from Datsyuk. Like when he flattened Malkin. Just as long as he stays out of the box.

Wow! Easiest preview, ever!

2009-10 Preview: Brett Lebda #22

I'm not sure if Brett Lebda is going to be a Red Wing much this year. He's definitely a good player and belongs in the NHL, but after hearing Ken Holland say they would probably 'move a defenseman' around training camp or preseason, I can't help but wonder if Brett will be the odd man out. It could easily be Meech or Lilja, but Meech is still young and could get better and Lilja is very defensive-minded, which will be key this season. I think it will come down to whether or not Lilja has fully recovered from last season's concussion.

In the event that Brett stays in Detroit, he's going to have to improve on something. Stay at home! I don't mean: 'Don't show up for the game.' Basically, stay on the blue line and stop fore-checking like you're a forward, because no matter how fast you are (pretty darn fast), we hate seeing 2 on 1 after 2 on 1 because you got caught pinching.

Brett, if you finish this season at +10, but have no goals and no assists, I'll buy your jersey and wear it all summer. Of course, a few goals wouldn't hurt, but the +10... that's required.

Brett Lebda high-sticks two players at once, a new record.

2009-10 Preview: Dan Cleary #11

I'll admit, some time during the second round against the Ducks, I was trying to send ESP messages to Mike Babcock, begging him to scratch Dan Cleary in favor of... just about anyone. Play after play, Cleary would skate into the offensive zone, then coast into the corner with his head down, get plastered up against the wall, then slowly get up as Anaheim skated off with the puck. Then he scored the series clinching goal in game 7, put a whooping on Chicago and had a respectable series in the Finals. If my ESP message had reached Babs, we could have lost in the second round, which is why I get paid $0 to write articles for friends and family, most of whom don't even like hockey. So, now that I have managed to distance myself from any credibility, here's what I think Dan needs to do this season to help the Red Wings:

As I have said in previous articles, this season needs to be all about defense and that system fits Dan Cleary, perfectly. 2007-08, when Detroit won the Presidents Trophy and the Stanley Cup by smothering their opponent with team defense, Dan Cleary scored 20 goals in 63 games. Last year, when Detroit played poor defensively, Cleary scored 14 goals in 74 games. More games, less goals. The most troubling stat, however, is his +/-. He went from +21 to EVEN.

Dear Dan Cleary,

Since Detroit lost roughly 80 goals worth of offense over the summer, your fans would greatly appreciate it if you could score 20 goals or more and have a +/- of about +20 or so. Wings fans want to see the 2008 Cleary. Please leave the 2009 version in Newfoundland.

Some Guy

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009-10 Preview: Niklas Kronwall #55

This is the last year of Nick Lidstrom's contract and at 39 years of age, possibly his last in the league. What does that mean for the team? Someone will have to step up and be the new #1 when Nick does decide to retire. Rafalski? Yeah, he'll be there, but he's an offensive defenseman and Kronwall has the tools to be great all-around. So what we need from Kronwall this year is:

Shutdown defense in our zone and some offensive touch in theirs. Emphasis on 'some' because, again, this has to be a defensive-minded team if the Red Wings want to be successful. I think Kronner is capable of netting 10 goals and adding 35+ helpers this season. Kronwall was a +25 the year the Wings were a defensive juggernaut, but only +2 last season when the team was offensive-minded. The Wings need Kronwall to produce about 45 points this season and finish with a +/- of 15 or better. Wouldn't hurt if he played disciplined, too, but that hasn't really been an issue with him in the past. Keep 'Kronwalling' people!

Don't be surprised to see Kronwall paired up with Rafalski on the first power play unit if the score is lopsided for either team in any given game, but he'll spend most of his power play time with the second unit. I do expect to see him on the first PK unit and coach Babs will probably match him up against some teams top lines. He was amazing when Lidstrom was out against Chicago in the playoffs.

This is a big year for Kronwall. Let's hope he exceeds expectations.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

2009-10 Preview: Todd Bertuzzi #44

Big Bert is back in Hockeytown. How do you feel about that? Well, most people are ticked off that he's a Red Wing again and even more are angry that he's in the NHL all together. If you're one of the 10 people on the planet who don't know what happened, click and read. Regardless of what you think of him, he's ours and he's cheap. Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk hockey:

Todd Bertuzzi can score goals. At least, he used to be able to score goals. He really hasn't been the same since the incident, but 15-25 goals is above average. After losing 80 goals worth of offense over the summer, the Wings needed help scoring and because of the salary cap, Bertuzzi got a job. All I'm looking for from Bert is 20 goals and 30 helpers. I'll be happy with 15 because of his low salary, but we need him to score 20. What I don't want to see is dumb penalties. This is the NHL so we can expect plenty of phantom hooks and holds, but I want to rip my hair out when someone retaliates and makes my team shorthanded.

I see him on the third line with Filppula and Leino which could make that line pretty impressive if Bertuzzi plays physical enough and he'll probably get some time on the second unit of the power play, but with all the depth Detroit has, he'll probably be rotated in and out to give power play time to younger players. At least, that's what I would do...

2009-10 Preview: Jonathan Ericsson #52

I knew Ericsson was going to be good, but I didn't expect him to be so good, so soon. He's only 25 now, so I see him getting even better in a couple of years. We're not worried about what happens in a couple of years, however. This is a preview of this coming season, so lets get to it:

Ericsson showed off some of his offensive skills during the playoffs, but his strength is his defense and his positioning. With Lidstrom nearing the end of his career, I would love to see Ericsson on the power play from time to time as well as being paired with a veteran. Lidstrom will most likely stay paired up with Rafalski and Kronwall and Stuart are a great match, which leaves Lebda or Lilja. Earlier in the summer, Holland said that he would most likely move a defenseman around training camp or preseason and based on the Wings past decisions on who they keep and who they let go (Kept Chelios and let go Quincy) I wouldn't be surprised if Lebda is job hunting October 1st.

Despite his offensive skills, I don't see him getting more than 5 goals this year, mainly because he'll spend the majority of his time as the 5-6 defenseman. Maybe 8 if he gets the power play minutes I'm hoping for. Add in about 10-15 helpers and a +/- rating of 5 or better and it's a good year for Ericsson.

2009-10 Preview: Justin Abdelkader #8

With training camp and the preseason just around the corner, it's about time I give my two cents on who needs to do what for this team to contend for the Cup. I'll be reviewing in alphabetical order and alternating between forwards and defensemen. I'm hoping to be done by the time the regular season starts, but we'll see. Anyways, here's the first:

Abdelkader (spell-check just had a heart attack.) Ab... dull... kay... dur, or just say apple-gator and Wings fans will know who you're talking about.

Justin Abdelkader got quite a bit of attention last year when he scored two goals in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, but it's important to remember that he wasn't drafted to light the lamp. If Abby gets 15 goals this year, that's great, but I'm expecting between 5-10 goals. Abby's value to the team will be based on his +/- rating. A rating of +10 would mean he's had an amazing season, but I'm guessing he'll break even.

Team success this season will depend on defense. The 4-3 wins have to be a thing of the past if the Wings are going to win the Central Division. We're looking at 3-2 and 2-1 games this year and that's where a guy like Abdelkader comes in handy. Think D first and create offense from turnovers and power play chances.

More to come soon and, as always, go Wings!

Best Corn Field on the Planet

Thought I'd share this article and picture I found on the Red Wings website. Hockey season is coming fast!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Canadian Love and Hate

I remember one evening a few years ago when I was driving from upstate New York to Michigan. I drove through Canada, like I always did, but this time it was special because it was during the NHL playoffs. I pulled into a truck stop to fill my gas tank, went inside to pay and could hardly believe my ears. There were people talking about hockey in that building! I felt so out of place, yet totally at home. Conversations about hockey are a rare occurrence in the states so I made up my mind to join the discussion. I walked over to the table where a Leafs fan was telling another fan about an amazing goal he saw earlier that night and proudly asked:

'Hey, do you happen to know the score of the game that my team played in?' (yeah, that's exactly what I said. I don't know if I thought he was a mind reader or if I just wanted to be asked who my team was, but that's what I said.) Of course, he wasn't a mind reader so he replied, 'Who's yer team?' It was a simple enough question, but I hesitated. Hmmm, should I say 'The Red Wings' or maybe just 'The Wings'? I decided to say 'Detroit' because it was a truck stop in the middle of the night and saying 'Detroit' might make them think that I'm from there and therefore very tough, just in case he was planning on kidnapping me and filming 'Deliverance 2'. 'Yeah, they won.' and he went back to his conversation with his fellow Canadian.

I've always loved traveling through Canada. Despite the hassle at the border, the exchange rate, liters instead of gallons, Kilometers per Hour and the fact that my cell phone switches to roaming, I can look past all of that because there's a chance I can talk hockey with perfect strangers. Also, McDonalds gives away hockey cards in their Happy Meals.

And yet...

When the Olympics start, it won't matter who's playing against Canada, I'll be pulling for their opponent. I'm not sure why that is, but it might have to do with the typical Canadian fans arrogance. I know all about that arrogance, after all, I'm a Red Wings fan, but it is wonderful to see the hopes and dreams of cocky fans destroyed, especially in their own backyards, playing their own game.

Also, I'm really getting a kick out of the Stanley Cup losing streak they have going on. 1993 was the last time a Canadian team won the cup. They've come close quite a few times (including 2004 when I really think the Flames won in 6), but they continue to disappoint. Now, while I'm enjoying the losing streak and hope it goes on for generations, I confess that I was pulling for Edmonton when they played Carolina and I had my fingers crossed that the Flames could beat Tampa Bay in that game 7, but that's just because I can't stand seeing the cup go to a team who's fans really don't care about hockey. It's just something to do until football season starts up again.

So where do I stand on 'Make it 7'? I say make it 29 if you want! Just as long as Detroit stays in Detroit. Since I don't live in Michigan right now, I'm forced to get NHL Center Ice in order to watch all the games. (Of course, when I do get back to Michigan, I'll still order Center Ice because I love watching all hockey games, even the ones my team isn't playing in.) When Detroit isn't playing, I try to find a Canadian team playing at home, especially if it's against another Canadian team. Calgary vs Edmonton or Toronto vs Ottawa are a couple of the best match ups you can find in sports because it doesn't matter who's building the game is played in, the crowd is divided and hostile. I think the closest you can get to this kind of atmosphere in the states would be Philly vs Pittsburgh, but only Philly fans are hostile and Pittsburgh fans resort to sobbing in the bathrooms saying, 'Leave Sidney alone!' In short, the best non-Red Wings hockey out there is played in Canada.

Make it 7. Give Canada an outdoor game every year. Fire Bettman. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah... Go Red Wings! or Go Wings!... Go Detroit!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oh, what could have been...

This time last year, Canadians were mourning the loss of their second national anthem. 'The Hockey Theme' was the intro to Hockey Night in Canada for 40 years, but CBC's license for the song expired and negotiations for a new license failed. So, there was a contest to come up with a new song, with the winner being 'Canadian Gold'.

Now, I loved that old song and insist that it be played at my funeral to a string of photos and videos of my life, but honestly, Canadian Gold is way better.

Of course, there were other possibilities, many of them humorous. Since I like a good joke, here are my top 5 Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song Rejects:

"Come on in, come to the place where fun never ends! Come on in, it's time to party with Hockey Night in Canada."

That one made it in just for taking me back to the 80's.

Do the Mario! Just like that!

This one could easily have been first because I really like the song, but you'll see why it's only second...

I was browsing YouTube to kill some time when I decided to look up the old Hockey Night in Canada theme and maybe recall some of the finalists from last years contest when I found 'Potential New Theme #6'. I played it, expecting to hear some sort of symphony. I just about spewed pop all over my screen when I heard 'Hello Canada and hockey fans from the United States and Newfoundland... TROGDOOOOR!!!' It's also very epic to watch hockey highlights to the lyrics 'Burninating the countryside! Burninating the peasants!'

That video was the inspiration for my post today. There were quite a few others on YouTube, including a Full House version. Search 'hockey night in canada - potential new theme' for the rest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Huh... Bertuzzi, eh?

Yup, he's a Red Wing again. I know I'm going to take heat for this, but I'm ok with it, for the most part. Honestly, Big Bert should not even be in the league. Most people would agree to that. However, he is in the league and he has the ability to score. If he gets 20 goals at $1.5 million, I say it's a win. What I don't like is having someone with such a dirty reputation on our team. As if we don't get made fun of enough for our city.

This is going to be an interesting year for Detroit. In the event that all the 'IF's' actually happen for Detroit, then I see us as a cup contender. If not, then probably a first or second round exit.

What bugs me about all of this is when Detroit fans decide to get ticked at Ken Holland. I've said it before: Welcome to the salary cap. If this was 2003, Mike Ilitch would have opened up his wallet and POOF! Hoosa would have stayed and we probably would have added another star. Well, it's 2009 and POOF! We have retreads up the ying-yang. Relax, Red Wings fans. The rest of the league has the same issues as us right now. Notice all the one year contracts? Since the cap didn't go up a whole heck of a lot, it looks to me like GM's around the league are pretty much holding their breath and waiting to see what happens next year. If this was NHL09, most teams would be simulating until April just to get to the next season ASAP.

Still, I'm really looking forward to this season. Anything can happen in hockey so don't be surprised if Detroit brings the cup back home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Did I Miss Something?

ESPN has done it again. This epic fail of a sports network has reported that Jason Spezza has been invited to try out for the Canadian Olympic team. That much is true, but since when did the Ottawa Senator's move to Washington? And is that Washington state or do the Capitals have a new neighbor? Great going, ESPN. Does anyone there even watch hockey? The worst part of it is you can see by the screen shot that I took that this error has been online for 2 hours. I wonder how long it will take to fix, if it's fixed at all?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Welcome Back, Jason

OK Wings fans, like it or not, Jason Williams is back. Why having a 28 year old potential 20 goal scorer on your team is so terrible I may never know, but he's ours. I know, he said something disrespectful about coach Babs once or twice. Sure, he took a bad penalty or two in his day. Fact is, he is young and he can score. The real reason he's on the team? He's a right handed shot. Since Sammy left for the Canucks, we were left with one righty on the power play. You really need two. Having a lefty play the left point on a power play reduces the threat of the entire left side of the ice. It all but eliminates the one-timer, giving defenders and the goaltender the ability to cheat to the right side, knowing they will have an extra second to get across in the event of a cross-ice pass. Sammy was less than perfect on the point, but he forced the PK to respect his half of the ice due to the threat of the one-timer.

Williams has manned the point before, so he has the experience. He has the right handed shot. He just has what it takes.

Sometimes, sports fans remind me of hungry kids. They know they want to eat, but when mom offers PB&J, they throw a fit because that's not what they wanted! Sorry, Jonny, but all we have is PB&J. Sure, it would be great if we could order pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it just doesn't work that way. It's this, or nothing.

Not everyone is Nick Lidstrom. Not everyone is Pavel Datsyuk. Welcome to the world of the salary cap.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Moscow or Bust

So Hudler is off to Russia. All that remains to be seen is, if he comes back to the NHL, will he be considered property of the Red Wings.

I’ve been surprised to hear a lot of Wings fans giving Hudler a hard time. So, lets put ourselves in Hudler’s skates and see how we would react. (Remember, Hudler was offered a about half of what the KHL offered him.)

There’s a knock at your door. You go answer the door and find a guy with a funny accent and a contract in his hand. He knows that you make $20 an hour at Company A, but he’s there to offer you $40 an hour, tax free, to work at Company B. You know you’d take the money.

Rather than get all angry at someone for making the most logical decision of their lives, I decided to take a look back at the good times of Jiri. Here are my top 5 Jiri Hudler moments:

The clucking idea kind of sounded funny but I did find another video that actually showed it happening and it was a bit weird... anyways, on to my second favorite Jiri moment:

That was the game winner that gave Detroit a 3-1 lead in the 2008 finals.

By far my most favorite Jiri Hudler moment. "Let's go Red Vings! Let's go Red Vings!"

Good luck in Russia, Huds. Hope we see you in two years.