Monday, June 29, 2009

Hockey Tatto Art 2: PASS or FAIL

PASS. Nothing quite like a hockey fan. This guy is obviously from the north and probably Canadian. Can't be from the south or it would just say "Breed Apart" with a picture of his cousin instead of a goalie mask. (Ouch, I went there)

FAIL. Big, fat fail. The location is OK since it's a female leg, but... It's an Avalanche tattoo! Way to have the worst team in the Western Conference permanently drawn on your leg. You must be so proud.

PASS. Nice coloring and I like the idea. Not a huge fan of Team Canada, but I do respect their fan's passion.

FAIL. First of all, what did I say about getting non-original six tattoos? Don't do it! They'll change their logo in the blink of an eye in order to generate revenue. Even team colors are not safe. Sadly, not only does this poor fool have an outdated logo on his shoulder, it's BACKWARDS! Way to go, Ace.

PASS. Darren McCarty can have a tattoo of a pink bunny on his arm and it's a PASS. Go ahead and tell him otherwise...

BOTH. OK, I like Star Wars as much as the next guy, but Yoda and Hockey don't really mix. "5-hole, will I shoot. Mine, Stanley's Cup will be." Sorry, I don't buy it.

FFFFFFAIL. Most epic fail of them all. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but someday, Crosby won't be "Sid the Kid" even if he still acts like one down the road. That's right, someday Sid's peach fuzz will turn gray. And what happens if he gets traded? We all know how well Pittsburgh fans handle losing players. A million people acting like a woman scorn.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Red Wings 2009 Draft

The 2009 Draft is over and, yet again, the best drafting team in the world has been over-looked. The focus was on the top three picks, with no mention of Detroit, who didn't even make their first choice until the second round. Since I don't know a lot about each player right now, I'll just give the basics and try to include a video of them doing their thing.

32nd overall: LANDON FERRARO. A Center from Red Deer of the WHL, the word on this kid is that he's probably awesome. Probably. He puts up pretty good numbers but plays for a bad team and doesn't have the best line mates. The thinking is, if he gets put on a good team with good players around him, he'll be good. Kind of reminds me of the thinking behind Yzerman when he was drafted. Not that the kid will be a Stevie Y, but I look forward to watching him try. Based on this video, I just might like the guy.

Number 13

60th overall: TOMAS TATAR. Another Center who currently plays in Slovakia. Tatar has a weird name, but has a lot of potential.

75th overall: ANDREJ NESTRASIL. Center/Right Wing. Only video of him was over ten minutes long, had some guy speaking a language I don't know and wasn't very interesting. Hockey's Future, a web page dedicated to rookie prospects, had this to say: "Nestrasil's ability to make plays at high speed allows him to surprise his opponents and catch opposing defensemen flat-footed. At 6'2 and 194 pounds, Nestrasil has decent size, but he still has some work to do in adapting to the physical style in North America and playing a more complete game."

90th overall: GLEASON FOURNIER. First D-man the Red Wings chose this year. A French-Canadian who scored 28 points in 66 games with Sebastien Piche's Rimouski Oceanic. Once again, I turn to Hockey's Future to tell the tale: "Talented offensively, the problem for Gleason Fournier is that he is a defenseman first and foremost, but sometimes he doesn't play like one. Able to make quick decisions with the puck and move it well, he sometimes struggles in his own end, especially when under pressure. A valuable tool on the power play, at 6'0 and 174 pounds, he would benefit tremendously if he can get larger and stronger on his skates in the coming years." Kind of sounds like Mathieu Dandenault.

150th overall: NICK JENSEN. He's a Defenseman from Minnasota, currently playing in the USHL in Green Bay. No usefull videos found, but the St. Cloud Times had this interesting story about his draft day experience: "In the fifth round, the Detroit Red Wings picked defenseman Nick Jensen, who is expected to play a second season at Green Bay of the USHL before coming to SCSU next fall.
Jensen, who returned from a trip to Texas for a cousin's wedding late Friday, slept through the draft proceedings until a phone call woke him up with the news.
'I was in the car for about 15 hours, so I pretty much came home and passed out,' said Jensen, who is from St. Paul. '(The Wings) called last night, asking me questions. They wanted to get to know me a little better and they were wondering who else was following me. I'm as excited as anyone. Detroit is one of the best programs in the NHL, winning the Cup and going to the finals a lot. And most of my mom's family is from Michigan, so they were really pleased.'" I have to say, though, if I knew I could possibly be Drafted into the NHL at any moment, I would not be sleeping. I look forward to seeing what he's got.

180th overall: MITCHELL CALLAHAN. Nice hockey name. Strange hockey hometown. He's a Right Wing from Whittier, CA. That's 'California' not 'Canada' in case you were wondering. He's a small guy with a mean streak. I don't see him scoring more than 10 goals a year on a good year, but I do see him being a fan-favorite if he makes it to the NHL.

210th overall: ADAM ALMQVIST. He's a Defenseman from the HV-71 jr team. He scored 36 points in 41 games as a defenseman, which is quite good. He does need to bulk up a bit though. I don't think we'll see or hear much about him in the next few years, but I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up being yet another late-round gem for the Wings.

Sorry about the music in the videos. Congrats to all seven new Red Wings and good luck.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2009 NHL Draft

First off, I must say that as a guy who used to have dreams of playing in the NHL, it's nauseating to see kids born in the 90's getting drafted. Now that that's out of the way, this year's draft was probably one of the best I've seen as far as competition over the top players. In the past few seasons, there has been one player that was clearly the best in the draft and was going #1 for sure. This year, the top pick was in doubt because the Islanders (who got the first choice this year) are terrible in all aspects and could use a star in any position. They picked John Taveres, a Center from the London Knights of the OHL. Victor Hedman then went to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was one of the best fits for a team since Tampa Bay needed a good D-man more than anything else. Third pick went to Colorado and since I hate Colorado, I won't talk about them except to say that the guy they took, Matt Duchene, actually grew up an Avalanche fan. Seeing the picture of him standing in his room full of Avalanche merchandise made me feel like I had just seen Medusa and was turning into stone.

Thoughts and notable events during the first round of the draft:

Someone should have told some of those guys to take the cardboard out of their new team hats. That looked so dumb.

Pronger to the Flyers. I can't even begin to explain how pumped I am over this. Get that goon out of the West and into Sidney Crosby's backyard. Penguin fans think Detroit plays dirty... just wait. As much as I hate Pronger, I like it when a player ends up on a team that he fits. One of two wonderful things will happen with Pronger in Philly: He plays against Pittsburgh and actually gets called for his cheap antics for once and becomes the bum defenseman everyone knows him to be, or he destroys Crosby and all the Penguin fan's heads explode over all the unreal no-calls. Welcome to our world, Pittsburgh.

Please, no more NHL Drafts in French Canada. Having to hear everything in French and then English was so annoying.

Amazing that Brian Burke (GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs) got booed louder and longer than Gary Bettman.

Speaking of Brian Burke, having him wear a wire as he walked around and talked to other GM's was a nice try by VS to spice things up and make the draft more interesting. If only hearing a bunch of guys in suits talk about conducting business was interesting.

Finally, is it just me or is Pierre "Datsyuk scored because of a gust of wind" McGuire the worst hockey analyst? Not to mention the creepiest?

Skip ahead to around the 1:48 mark. Prepare to be uncomfortable.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hockey Hall of Fame tribute

The Hockey Hall of Fame allows up to 4 new players every year. A player has to be retired for at least 3 years before being considered for the Hall of Fame. Three former Red Wings made the cut this year. Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille. Brian Leetch also made it in. All four candidates were selected in their first year nominated. Steve Yzerman, without a doubt, was the biggest name on the list this year. Only 5 players in history have scored more points than him. He won the Cup 3 times as a player and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for the 1998 playoffs MVP. He also won the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1989, the Frank J. Selke trophy in 2000, the Bill Masterton Memorial trophy in 2003 and the Lester Patrick award in 2006. Brett Hull joins his father Bobby Hull, becoming the first father-son duo in the Hall of Fame. His 741 goals are ranked 3rd all time. He has won the Stanley Cup twice, including once as a Red Wing, and received the Lady Byng, the Hart and the Lester B. Pearson award. He spent most of his career as a member of the St. Louis Blues, but never won a championship there. Luc Robitaille has more points than any other Left Wing in NHL history. His 668 goals rank 10th all time. He is mostly known for being a member if the LA Kings, but played in Detroit for 2 seasons with the hopes of winning the Stanley Cup. He did just that in 2002. After winning the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year in 1987, he went on to play in 8 NHL All-Star games. Brian Leetch is the only defenseman and non-Red Wing to be inducted into the Hall of fame this year. He won the Cup in 1994 with the New York Rangers and was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy that year for the playoffs MVP. He is the only American-born player to win the award. He also won rookie of the year honors in 1989 and the Norris Trophy for the leagues best defenseman in 1992 and 1997. The Hall of Fame ceremonies will be held November 6-9.

Congratulations to these four outstanding players on their careers and inductions into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hockey Tattoo Art. Pass or Fail?

We, as hockey fans, are a crazy bunch. Even the most mild hockey addiction can leave a person glued to the TV as two teams they don't really even care about clash in an epic battle over 2 points. Even a casual fan can be subject to staring at their teams web site in the middle of July, hitting the 'Refresh' button over and over, waiting for news that their favorite player has signed with their favorite team. Then there's the fan that loves his team so much, he needs to pay someone to permanently draw a picture of said team on his body. Now, there's a right way and a wrong way to do that. This post will explore the 'Pass' and 'Fail' world of Hockey Tattoos.

FAIL. It's great that someone loves their team enough to display their logo on their skin, but this is a typical bandwagon move. It says that they're not a fan of the team so much as they're a fan of that years team because they won. Sometimes a logo/cup/date combination is acceptable, but only if that team has always had a strong fan base and that logo/cup/date tattoo is their reward for years of loyalty. Sorry, Tampa Bay fans, but that's just not you guys.

PASS. A fan of hockey and Snoopy. Can't go wrong with that combination. It's pretty generic, even though Snoopy appears to be wearing the New Jersey Devils colors. Even if this persons favorite team moves, folds or he jumps on a bandwagon, this tattoo still works.

FAIL. This guy did the right thing at first. Just got his team's logo tattooed. Then the Caps pulled a fast one on their fans and switched logos and colors. Probably should have just left it. Everyone got the point with the first tattoo. Any hockey fan would recognize it. Sadly, he fell victim to marketing and bought the new logo. Honestly, if you're not an Original 6 team, don't do the logo thing, period. Original 6 logos won't be changing any time soon, but the other 24 can change at any given time. Allow me to suggest "Let's Go Caps" in front of crossed hockey sticks or a goalie mask. Avoid the colors and the logo is you're not a fan of one of the Original 6!

BOTH. I like the idea of honoring your favorite player and all, so that part gets a PASS. However, having an ugly, bald dude permanently drawn onto your skin is a FAIL no matter who it is.

S. "Forever Habs" gets a PASS because it celebrates a fans dedication to his team and it's tradition of winning. No specific dates. No Cup totals.

PASS. Kept it generic. Like the Canadiens tattoo above, the wearer left out specific dates and cup totals. This tattoo is a celebration of any given Red Wings team, not a specific, successful team.

I'll try to do more tattoo PASS/FAIL articles in the future. It was a lot of fun to research and write about and something tells me this summer will consist of a lot of FAILS coming from the Pennsylvania area.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Chuck Norris Trophy

Quick disclaimer, just in case... I didn't come up with the idea for this award, nor did I do the photoshop to make the trophy. Anyways, now that that's out of the way, here are my finalists and my pick for this years Chuck Norris Trophy, awarded to the player with the best playoff beard (hint, would you believe Crosby didn't even make the final cut!?):

Finalist #1, Johan Franzen. Franzen grows a pretty good playoff beard, no doubt, but that should be expected from someone named Mule.

Finalist #2, Henrik Zetterberg. Hank's playoff beard is slightly better than Franzen's as far as bushiness goes, but lacks the reddish color that makes Franzen look more like a viking.

Finalist #3, Kris Draper. As I showed in a previous blog, Chuck Norris would play Draper in a movie so you would think that Kris would be a lock for the award, but he missed some games with injury. Very not Chuck-like.

Finalist #4, and your winner is Dan Cleary. I mean, cleerly, it's Cleary. (try saying that 5 times fast) Color, bushiness and Dan's durability in the playoffs put him over the top. Congratulations, dan Cleary. You are the 2009 Chuck Norris Trophy winner.

2008-09 NHL Awards

Hart Trophy: Alex Ovechkin won it this year over Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk. Since Ovie is my favorite player that's not on the Red Wings, I can appreciate him winning it. I guess I just wonder what the award is all about? It's the NHL's MVP, but it tends to go to a guy who either leads in goals or assists or both. Thing is, there's already a couple of awards for that. The Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy goes to the player with the most goals and the Lester B Pearson goes to the player with the most points. So... why did Ovie get the Hart when he's kind of one-dimensional? Well, it goes to "the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team." Clearly, the Washington Capitals would be trash without him, so based on that criteria, the NHL chose right. Sadly, Datsyuk is the more complete player between the 3 and probably the best player in all of hockey right now, but since the Red Wings can still win without him, he doesn't see to fit the bill. haha. Anyways, congrats, Ovie. Now ditch the Caps and sign with the Red Wings!

James Norris Trophy: League's best defenseman in 2009 was Zdeno Chara. No complaints here. As a Wings fan, I say it's Nick Lidstrom, of course, but Chara was due. Ultimately, I'm just glad it didn't go to Mike Green from Washington because, #1, he's all offense and no defense and #2, he was TERRIBLE in the playoffs whereas, Lidstrom and Chara stepped it up a notch. So, Congrats, Chara. Enjoy it while you got it, because I don't see Nick having another "off year".

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Once again, the leagues best defensive forward was Pavel Datsyuk. Awarded to a forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. Based on that phrase, it doesn't seem to suggest that the player has to have offensive finish to win it, but most of the winners tend to be able to score. Really, I don't even recall the finalists because I knew it was going to Pavel. Unless another forward steps it up quite a few notches, it'll be a few more years until Datsyuk has more Selke Trophy's than anyone else. (Bob Gainey has 4)

Vezina Trophy: Tim Thomas was the best goalie in the NHL this year. Good for him. Yet another of my favorite non-Red Wings. I mean, the guy hunts bears! Kind of strange since he plays for the Bruins... but whatever, congrats to you, Tim Thomas!

Calder Trophy: This years rookie of the year went to Steve Mason. No one was shocked there. He could have easily won the Vezina, but a Calder trophy is nothing to scoff at. Congrats to you, Steve Mason. Now, I know you'll be playing the Wings a lot this year with you being in the Central and all with the Blue Jackets, but I wish you nothing but the best. Really, I think you're a great goalie! So good, you don't even need to warm up or stretch before games. Try it when you play the Wings next! And don't hold back on those kick saves. I'm sure your groin can handle it...

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Went to Steve Sullivan this season for overcoming a fragmented disc in his back that sidelined him for nearly 2 years. The trophy can only be awarded once. One of the other finalists was Chris Chelios... again. He keeps being nominated because of his age, basically. It is pretty amazing that he's still going, but hard to pass up Sullivan after he missed so much time. Congrats to you, Steve Sullivan.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

NHL 2008-09 The Movie!

Many hockey fans considered the 2008-09 NHL season to be the best in years. Hard to debate that with the winter classic, the Cup Finals going 7 games and Bettman's anointed one getting the trophy. So who would be the cast of NHL 2009 the Penguins Strike Back? I held auditions (not really) for the most important parts and had many takers. In the end, I came up with the most qualified cast ever to appear on the big screen:

Gary Bettman will be represented by Pee Wee Herman. Pee Wee was chosen for his similar looks, complete lack of hockey knowledge and apparent interest in young boys(charges were dropped), making him the perfect Gary Bettman.

I searched high and low to find just the right actor to represent Sid the Kid, but none of the male child actors were willing to participate in the 'punch the guy in the nuts from behind scene' so I went with the next best thing. Sidney Crosby will be played by Hannah Montana.

What about teammate Evgeni Malkin? Well, I found that it wasn't easy finding a Hollywood actor as high up on the 'ugly tree' as Geno, so I'll be taking clips from the 1922 horror movie 'Nosferatu'. Malkin will be represented by Count Orlock.

The part of Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma will be played by Matt Damon.

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will be played by two different actors. Mel Gibson will represent Babcock during wins and Clint Eastwood will play the 'losing babs'.

Hendrik Zetterberg will be played by the guy in this clip, because he has the beard and I didn't have to buy a Zetterberg Jersey since he had one already:

It wasn't easy choosing a Pavel Datsyuk. I narrowed it down to 5. Who do you think it should be?

Kris Draper can lead a horse to water AND make him drink. That's why Chuck Norris gets the part of Drapes.

Of course, not all teams can make it all the way, but all teams made a difference in the 2008-09 NHL season. The biggest difference makers will be represented in the film. Here they are, with their respective actors:

Alexander Ovechkin. Ovie gets to represent the entire Washington Capitals team (since that's pretty much how the second round went) and play himself.

It was easy finding a suitable Matts Sundin. I needed someone who could sit around and do nothing while waiting for money, then continue to do nothing once the money arrives. This cue ball will do perfectly.

Who can forget Sean Avery and his off-color remarks about his former girlfriend? I only took one audition for the part of Sean. The role went to Sean Penn. Given Penn's loud mouth that never says anything useful and his previous experience playing a retard, all he really needed was a haircut to be the perfect Sean Avery.

Martin Brodeur showed some real highs and lows this season. After breaking Roy's record for most wins, he went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs. Who could represent a cocky Frenchman with a tendency to flip out when things don't go his way better than Russel Crowe?

The entire 2008-09 San Jose Sharks will be played by these four people:

And finally, this years Colorado Avalanche. I found their representative right away, but I don't think it's appropriate to put a picture of a dead horse on my page.

So there you have it! The cast and crew are all ready to go. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I enjoyed choosing the cast!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thank You Detroit Red Wings.

Once again, we Red Wings fans have been blessed with a great year of hockey. True, it ended sadly, but I'd say it was a good year. A learning experience for our young guys. Losing is the best teacher, right? Look at the Pens this year vs last year. Rather than dwelling on the failure of two games, I'm using this post to look back on the good times of this year. Remember having the banner raised during the home opener? And the Winter Classic? I know I always will. It was great to see the Wings and the Hawks playing outside in the cold. Didn't hurt that the Wings won big despite trailing 3-1 after the first period. Remember Datsyuk and Lidstrom getting suspended for missing the All-Star game because of an injury? That really seemed lame to me, but I guess rules are rules (unless you're Malkin lol). Also, who can forget how Ozzie played in the regular season vs how he played in the playoffs? I really felt that we'd be lucky to get by the first round with the way he had been playing. He went from the worst goalie in the league, statistically, to a playoff MVP candidate. I love being wrong, sometimes.

Thanks for putting on one heck of a show, Red Wings. What a season it was.

Tough loss

Congratulations, Pittsburgh. Once again, the Red Wings and Penguins show the rest of the NHL what a finals should look like. Sadly for me and the majority of my readers, the Wings wound up on the short end this year. Games 6 and 7, Detroit did not bring their A game and Pittsburgh did. Hard to win when you only play one period.

Still, I’m proud of my team. How can I complain when they’ve practically been a contender since the Reagan Administration? Year after year the Red Wings have been a great team and this year is no different. Could be worse, we could be the Sharks or Avs! Of course, at the end of every series, the injury report comes out and we find out just how hurt people were. Usually, you find out that so-and-so who couldn’t score on a soccer net had a pulled groin or whatever. So far though, the Red Wings have not resorted to excuses. When asked about his foot, Pavel Datsyuk said, "It's too late to talk about injuries, foot or no foot, it's fine now. I look forward not backward." Hard to read a quote like that and not respect the guy. Same went for Rafalski, Hossa and Lidstrom.

Speaking of Hossa: The media and fans can pretty much play in traffic as far as I’m concerned. He’s a goat because they made him a goat. I can’t even imagine having to play through what was clearly going through his head every time momentum shifted. Watch replays of him losing the puck and you’ll see how he puts his head down and just tries to do too much. Also, watch when the Wings score when he’s on the ice. It looks like the weight of the world was just lifted off his shoulders. At least for a second. I honestly thought he played just fine in the first 3 rounds, but the better Pittsburgh did and the more the media asked dumb questions, the more he tried to do too much. I hope he stays in Detroit because I think Stanley Cups will continue to be won here and I think he’ll do awesome if he’s allowed to just do his thing, but you never know.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hossa drama and the pressure it's put on him

After the clock wound down to 0:00, I was left with my head flooded with emotions.

That WAS a great game and my team was in it until the end, so I had a little tiny amount of pride welling up inside. We were still only one win away from repeating and that was worth being happy over... then again, Crosby is one win away from getting his meat hooks on the Cup and it would be in OUR building if he does. I felt more bad feelings than good, but I was ticked when I thought about Hossa. I have defended his low point totals and lack of hustle for the last two months. I'd talk about how he was still creating chances, how when the game was close, he would skate hard (usually) and how he's still good in his own end. Well, Detroit didn't give him $7.5 million to create chances and poke-check the puck on the other end of the ice. He's here to score goals. Remember last year? He and Crosby were all Pittsburgh really had for offense. I think the issue is simple. He has finally cracked under the pressure of facing the team he left. It's been like the story line of a crappy teenage love story where the jock rejects the average looking girl for the really hot, yet stuck up, cheerleader, only to later find that when the average girl takes off her glasses and unties her hair, she's the hottest girl in school! Oh no! The jock chose wrong and the average looking girl wins!

Calm down, Marian. You still have one more chance to prove just how ugly that chick really is...

Now, let me take a minute to explain how dumb the media, the penguins and possibly even Hossa actually are if I'm right and it's all been the pressure I described. First of all, let's say Hossa stays in Pittsburgh. Now you have $7 million a year for multiple years going towards Hossa, you're closer to the cap and you still have to sign Malkin and Fleury. No room left for Fedetenko, Guerin or Satan. Odds are, Malkin is gone for peanuts. Peanuts, for the guy who has scored more points in these playoffs than anyone, by far. Maybe Malkin stays, but now Staal has to go. There goes whatever depth Pittsburgh thought they had. Probably can't afford Fleury now so who's your goalie going to be? Point is, if Hossa stays, Pittsburgh probably does not make the playoffs. Certainly does not go far if they do. His signing made both teams better. Even if Detroit loses game 7, Hossa chose right. I just hope he remembers that on Friday.

Game 6 recap and what's next for game 7

I can't even express how badly I wanted to be writing about a Stanley Cup victory right now. All the anti-Bettman, anti-Penguins photo shop ideas I have, all the below-the-belt one-liners I had been hoping to use... stuffed back into the box from which they came to be shipped back to Detroit for a game 7. (See what I did there? lol) No point in dwelling on it though.

Let's look at what I said the Wings needed to do to win and see what they actually did:

Stay out of the box. Yup, can't complain there. Only short handed twice and both were killed off with no problem. The Wings did a good job clearing pucks and Ozzie was there when we needed him.

Score on the power play. Nope, 0-2 ourselves with some real close calls. In the end, I'm encouraged because the PK looked good and the PP did also, despite the goose egg. I would be unhappy if neither looked good.

Score a garbage goal or two. Not really. Draper's goal looked pretty good to me. Off a rebound but Fleury really had no chance on it. I was hoping for something along the lines of Fleury knocking the puck in himself like he's been prone to do from time to time. He was good though. No garbage goals.

Match the Pen's energy, performance in net and let your depth take over. NOPE, yes and kind of. Being out shot infinity to 3 in the first period of a cup clinching game is just so sad. Yes, Ozzie was great and gave us a chance to win. And our depth got us on the board, but theirs gave them the win.

OK, Mr. Smarty Pants, what do you suggest they do now? Honestly, same keys to victory apply here. Now behold as I copy and paste like I've done this before:

1. Stay out of the box. The easiest penalty to kill off is the one you don't commit. Then when you do get short handed, kill it off like it's overtime!

2. Score on the power play.

3. Score a garbage goal or two to try and rattle Fleury.

4. Match Pittsburgh's energy. Match their performance in net. Let your depth take over.

If Detroit does these things, they can survive the onslaught of chances Pittsburgh is sure to have.

Good luck, Wings.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Game 5 recap and a look ahead to game 6

After game 4, the media and so called 'experts' were fitting the Penguins for Stanley Cup Championship rings as well as verifying the spelling of their names for engraving on the Cup, because the Red Wings were too old, too tired and the Penguins were just too energized to lose another game. Marian Hossa was supposed to be searching for a small desert island to exile himself to after the inevitable loss to his former team. The Red Wings could be heard bickering in their locker room for hours about who's walker belonged to whom. Then when word came that Red Wings superstar and league MVP finalist Pavel Datsyuk would be playing in game 5, it was said that he would not be a factor. Too much rust! He's less than 100%! He'll be a liability out there!

Ever-dedicated, injured Pavel Datsyuk searches for ways to skate without using his feet...

Well, it turns out that a rusty, below 100% Datsyuk is better than 99% of the league. Early on, Pittsburgh looked pretty good. Osgood held them off the board for the first 10-12 minutes before Detroit took over. After receiving a pass from Brian Rafalski, Datsyuk carried the puck over center ice and into the Pittsburgh zone where he sent the puck towards Dan Cleary. Cleary used Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik as a screen as he beat Fleury to put Detroit up 1-0 at 13:32 of the first period. After that goal, Detroit never looked back. After an early second period goal by Filppula, Pittsburgh began to show signs of frustration as they took penalty after penalty for elbowing, slashing and roughing. Probably the most controversial call came when Max Talbot of the Penguins tripped Pavel Datsyuk. After missing 7 games with a broken foot, the slash on Datsyuk's skate seemed to have malicious intent. Talbot said after the game, "I went for the puck..." Riiiiiight. Since the puck was absolutely nowhere near Datyuk's skate, Maybe Talbot should take a tip from Pavel himself:

The Wings needed to do 4 things to win game 5. Get Pavel Datsyuk back, work hard and win battles, commit as few penalties as possible, kill the ones you do and score when they have the man advantage and stop turning the puck over. They did all 4 to the extreme and that's why they won 5-0.

So what about game 6 in Pittsburgh? It's going to be loud and the Penguins should be full of energy. Fleury will be better in net, almost for certain. I also don't see Pittsburgh gooning it up like they did in game 5 even if they get down early. So what's the plan?

1. Stay out of the box. The easiest penalty to kill off is the one you don't commit. Then when you do get short handed, kill it off like it's overtime!

2. Score on the power play.

3. Score a garbage goal or two to try and rattle Fleury.

4. Match Pittsburgh's energy. Match their performance in net. Let your depth take over.

If Detroit does these things, they can survive the onslaught of chances Pittsburgh is sure to have.

As a Red Wings fan, I want to see Hossa win the Stanley Cup. I don't care if he wins it in Pittsburgh or Detroit, but I would prefer Pittsburgh because I can't handle another game 7, lol.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What went wrong with the Wings in game 4 and how to stop the bleeding.

So what's the deal here, Red Wings fans? Series is tied 2-2 and the Wings have looked bad for 4 games. If not for some lucky bounces in games 1 and 2, the Pens would have skated the cup last night. I wince at the thought. As a hockey fan, I have had Crosby's image forced in my face for 4 years now. Even when the Pens lose, there's his smiling face reminding me why "a free hand" is suddenly "Holding" after years of players having to actually work to get points. (Don't get me wrong, the kid is awesome and he does work hard. But pre-lockout rules and I don't see him getting 70 points in a season.) After the Red Wings won the cup last year AGAINST Pittsburgh and Crosby, I added the commemorative DVD to my collection and what am I greeted by? An NHL ad telling me about an upcoming feature of Crosby where cameras would follow him around and show us what it's like to be the face of the NHL. And for some reason, I can't skip past it! For some reason, it's the one part of the DVD that you can't fast forward or skip past. All i can do is hit mute and close my eyes! Look, I can handle the Wings losing in the cup finals. It happened in 95 and I survived. For every cup victory, there's been two that they really should have or at least could have won. The problem with losing to Pittsburgh is that with the NHL and Bettman forcing Crosby on us after he has won nothing, imagine what we'll see when he wins. Just imagine seeing him hoist the cup during every possible highlight for the next 20 years. Do any non-Pittsburgh fans want this? Very few if any. Then again, do Red Wings haters want to see 5 cups in the last 12 years? Lesser of the two evils in my opinion!

Ok, how do we prevent the NHL poster boy from actually accomplishing something? Here are my thoughts:

1. Pavel must play in game 5. Zetterberg has been great against Crosby despite his 2 points Thursday night, but Malkin has had way to much room out there. He needs Pavel in his face, keeping him off the score sheet. Even if Pavel doesn't actually score, he will be a huge lift for the team in their own zone.

2. No more turnovers! It's never ok to turn the puck over to a fast group like Pittsburgh, but in our own end? That's begging for disaster.

3. Hustle. Helm should be wearing an A on his sweater at this point. He's not the only Red Wing that's trying, but he is definetly setting the standard. Watch the goal by Staal and notice at the blue line that Rafalski has perfect positioning. Then watch as Staal starts skating hard and Rafalski does not. A lot of people are saying "Ozzie should have had that one." Maybe, but Ozzie should not have had to face it in the first place.

4. Special Teams. Really? Our PK is 50%? How can you have a PK that bad with the names we have out there? I'll tell you: Not clearing the puck! The half that we actually killed off, The Wings cleared pucks and denied entrance to their zone. The half that we let in, we didn't clear the puck. Sure, a few offsides here and that that went uncalled didn't hurt either, but give me a break...

5. Officiating. Keep it the way it is!

That's really all I have at this point. I think if the Wings will solve 4 of those 5 points, we'll take the series in 6. If not, then we'll be stuck with the image of Crosby lifting the cup over his soft, protected head for the next 20 years... OMG... GO RED WINGS!

Getting over Hossa

Let me take you back to the trade deadline of the 2007-08 NHL season. The Pittsburgh Penguins were well on their way to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they knew they needed a winger for Sidney Crosby to pass to. A winger who could put the puck in the net. So, they turned to the struggling Atlanta Thrashers who were looking to unload Marian Hossa in the final year of his contract. Pittsburgh traded a few of their younger role players for the Slovakian superstar and it was a match made in Heaven. Pittsburgh steamrolled their way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they ran into the brick wall that was the Red Wings. Now, with the season over, it was time for free agents like Hossa to make decisions. He was given long term offers to play in Pittsburgh and Edmonton. Pittsburgh offered him around $7 million every year for around 7 years and Edmonton offered him $9 million a year for even longer. I honestly never imagined he'd sign with Detroit because I didn't hear any talks about him being offered anything from the Wings. All the talk was, "Will he take the money in Edmonton, or will he take a pay cut to stay in Pittsburgh..." Then came the free agency signings. The first day, nothing significant happened. Still a lot of rumors about who will go where and for how much, but nothing was certain. The next morning I logged onto the net to see if the Wings had resigned their few free agents that were in question still when my jaw hit the floor. "Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings Sign Marian Hossa." I remember pounding my fists on my desk and laughing out loud about our good fortune. It didn't take long to get the impression that the Pens fans took it very hard. Quotes like, "I feel like I just caught my GF cheating with my worst enemy..." were abound. So, a player who played about 20 games for your team is on the same level as your girlfriend? Get a life, maybe? Penguins blogs were littered with anti-Hossa articles that really sounded like a scorn lover aka "psycho chick with an umbrella trying to break his car windows"

"It wasn't so much that he left, it was HOW he left..." are you kidding me?

"It's ok, we signed Satan. He's just as good..." (Sha-tan, not... you know...) Rebound relationship maybe? Satan is no where near as good as Hossa. Even in Satan's "prime" he was no Hossa, but it sure was fun to read all the denial. Hossa wore #18 in Pittsburgh but 18 was taken already in Detroit so he took 81. Satan took 81 in Pittsburgh and it really added to the whole "Hossa replacement".

The Penguins season was all but over until they fired their coach and hired Dan Bylsma (Grand Haven, MI native!). Once they finally got some direction behind the bench, they took off. Fast forward now and it's Detroit and Pittsburgh in the Finals again and the media is all over Hossa. I don't blame the media but what I still can't believe is the Pens bandwag... (sorry) loyal fans still all over how they hate Hossa.

Any idea how much this jersey, that this guy will probably never actually wear, costs? $185 before shipping. Obsess much?

How much of a hater do you think this loser was when Hossa was playing for them?

And this came from the Pittsburgh Hossa fan page. HUGE fans of Hossa, eh?

Easy for me to say, right? He came to my team. But let's not forget the times the Wings have had someone move on to "greener" pastures. Here's my top 5 Wings moving on moments and how the fans handled it:

5. Bob Probert dropping the puck for game 4 against the Blackhawks in Chicago. He played for both teams but his better years were with Detroit. It was in Chicago, but the media made a big deal of it as if he had chosen his favorite team and turned his back on the Wings. I didn't see it that way and most of my fellow Wings fans brushed it off. Odds are, he was paid to do it. We won that game anyways.

4. Shanahan to the Rangers. After losing the first round to the Oilers and having Yzerman retire, I was not in the mood to read, "Shanahan signs with Rangers." Later finding out that he was offered the same amount of money and years to stay in Detroit, I was kinda pissed. A few days later, he said that he left because he was at the end of his career and wanted to make room in the Wings roster for younger players, and he likes New York. So in the end, I was happy to know he did it for himself and the team. No one in Detroit boos him.

3. Lapointe to Boston. Pretty much wanted to get paid since he had won 2 cups with Detroit and Boston had the money he wanted. Again, never heard anything bad said about him after he left.

2. McCarty to the Flames. That wasn't his fault at all. He wanted to stay but Calgary picked him up. I put it at #2 because of the reaction of the Wings fans the first time he came back for a game against the Wings, the crowd cheered everything he did as if he was still a Red Wing. Now that's class.

1. Fedorov to Anaheim. At the time, Anaheim sucked and Sergei wanted to be the star of a team. As in, the ONLY star since he had to share billboard space with Yzerman, Shanahan and the rest... I still like him for the effort he put forth in the cups he won with the team, but he does get booed sometimes in Detroit. Other than that, I can't think of a Red Wing who left that has been booed. ESP one that only played 20 games for us. lol

So how does Pittsburgh get over their broken hearts? I suggest they take a page from one of their very own. I have had the pleasure to meet some great hockey fans on both sides of the coin on various threads. One of the best statements I have read about the issue was made by m_mckinley:
"The whole make Hossa feel dumb about leaving this is ridiculous...the Pens would not have been in the spot they are if they signed him...we'd have had 3 players and probably would've dealt Staal. Hossa knew that we'd be very limited in our ability to add other pieces by signing him. He made the best decision for himself and owed us nothing. In the end his decision made both teams better...their should be no ill-will toward him. Period"

If that doesn't work, I suggest trying to be like Red Wings fans: When things are bad, don't let yourself get too low. When things are good, don't get yourself to high up there cuz the fall hurts worse. Remember the good times you had with Hossa. Try to forget that you paid $150 for a rental players jersey. (soooo dumb) Realize that "who wouldn't want to play with Crosby?" isn't a reason for a player to sign with your team. Mostly, try cheering for your team's players rather than booing someone else's... unless it's Pronger. Hope this helps and Go Red Wings!