Friday, April 30, 2010

Sharks 4 - Red Wings 3 - Uh, ok?

Well, that was not the start we wanted exactly, but I am not as upset this time as I was after Game 1 against Phoenix. Sure, it was another game where a Red Wing was cut by a high stick that was not called. But as mad as I was last night about that call and subsequent goal, I'm not dwelling on it today.

There are reasons for optimism in this series. Basically, the Wings lost this game with about 90 seconds of running around and poor play. Take away that 90 seconds, and the Red Wings were just as good if not better than the Sharks. After it was 3-0, the Wings took over, and they got the next goal. After that, I felt like it was a matter of time before the Wings tied it up, but unfortunately they just couldn't get that third goal. They pushed for the equalizer at the end, but came up a little short. No worries.

Dan Cleary and Johan Franzen were much better last night. I was really concerned about Cleary after getting hit by Blake, but breathed a sigh of relief when he came back. Franzen looked like Playoff Mule again. He was making things happen with the puck, getting quality looks, and he was engaged physically. That's a good sign.

Once again, the special teams let us down. 2 PP goals against and an 0-fer on the PP was ultimately what cost us. Again, I'm not worried. The first goal was essentially a 4-on-3, and the 2nd one was a 5-on-3. On the 5-on-4 PKs the Wings had to kill, they were just fine. The PP got some good looks, but just couldn't get the puck past Nabokov.

Joe Thornton is a little bitch. Once again, he didn't do much in the game beyond the assist. And that was after an icing by the Wings' 4th line and 3rd D-man pair. I'll give him credit for that. But he didn't do anything else for the rest of the game. And did anyone else see him snow Jimmy, then after he got popped in the mouth (which he should have), complain to the refs? Hey, Jumbo Joe, you've been around long enough to know that if you snow the goalie like that, you're going to answer for it. Don't do that shit again.

The Sharks tried to be physical, but I didn't think they were any more physical than Phoenix was. The Red Wings didn't look intimidated, and unlike each loss to the Coyotes, the Wings actually got better as the game went on.

As Drew from NOHS said, forget about this game. The Wings were coming off the high of winning Game 7 and had to play 2 days later. They looked tired in the first `10 minutes, but got their legs under them as the game kept going. Even after it was 3-0, I never had the feeling that the Red Wings were in any serious trouble. I'm still confident that the Wings will get this done in 6.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!!! Game 1 - Red Wings vs Sharks

Well, now that Round 1 is over and its on to Round 2, time to look ahead to our next victim, uh, I mean, opponent, the San Jose Sharks. I am not going to do a full series preview because Casey over at Winging It In Motown will probably put anything I do to shame. So why bother? I mean, I am at work and supposed to be getting stuff done. I just can't get the game tonight out of my head.

I look at this series and think: this means way more to the Sharks than it does to us. This is their Waterloo, their Battle of Gettysburg, their Vimy Ridge (there's a little Canadian history for you). For us, this is simply one more team to get past on the way to the Promised Land. If we lose this series, it will be tough to take, but not the end of the world. For them, this is their chance to show their fans and the rest of the NHL that they are for real. No pressure. So, instead of the entire series, let's break down Game 1:

What's At Stake: This one is pretty easy. It's Game 1, so it's a chance to make an early statement in this series. For the Wings, being the road team, again it's just about getting a split. But, unlike last series, it's more important for the Wings to get the first one here. If the Sharks win this one, it will give them some momentum heading into Game 2. Winning Game 1 will cause all the doubts about the Sharks to enter their minds, and with 2 days between Game 1 and 2, those thoughts will fester.

Player who scares the bejeebus out of me: Patrick Marleau. This guy can run hot and cold, but when he's hot, he's scary. He's scored 30 goals in 4 of the last 5 seasons, so you know he can put the puck in the net. If he gets going, the Wings will be in some trouble, because their second line is playing lights-out right now.

Who's our Bitch? Evgeni Nabokov. This guy, like most of the players on the Sharks, does not exactly have a stellar playoff reputation. He looked decent against the Avs, but come on - it was the Avs. They were the worst team out of all 8 teams in the West, and they didn't beat them by much. We just faced a Vezina finalist and made him look silly; there's no reason to believe that they can't put a lot of pressure on Nabby and score some softies. He only faced 149 shots in the last series - I expect the Wings to get that many by the end of Game 4. He better get used to Holmstrom's ass in his face the whole series.

There Goes My Hero: Johan Franzen. Yes, I know he had points in every game in Round 1. But was he really that effective? Most people would say no. He stayed on the edges too much, not daring to go to the net or use his big body. We want Playoff Mule. We need Playoff Mule. As the Phoenix series went on, I thought he got better. But he is nowhere near where he needs to be. Time to step it up, and I predict big things from him. Maybe not "8-goals-in-4-games" big, but pretty special.

Favourite Quote from the Enemy: From Fear the Fin

After having to deal with obnoxious Wings fans down here for the past two weeks I didn’t think my hatred for a team I’ve grown up hating in San Jose. We don’t need a reminder as to why we hate Detroit fans, but they remind you anyways. Exponentially. They invade. They taunt. They tell you that they are more righteous hockey fans. They disrespect the National Anthem. They pick on solo targets, while clumped together in packs of 3 or 4 drunkards. They play the martyr when you stick up for yourself.

If being a Sharks fan is wrong, I do not want to be right. I had to be the nice guy, as an ambassador to FFH. Here, I do not. And here, my passion is only outmatched by the fury that is coarsing through my veins, fueling my desire for not only victory, but pain. I want Detroit to be embarassed. I want them to go home with their tails tucked between their legs, knowing that San Jose will not stand for their narcssitic

That being said, San Jose will win this series if they keep their feet moving in the defensive zone, and physically thrashing an already tiring Detroit team. The biggest mistake Phoenix made against Detroit was sitting back, and giving Detroit time to control the puck. Bodies must be sacrificed, emotionless and often. Playing in Detroit also presents challenges, as the crowd screams “OOOOOH” any time one of their beloved players gets so much as touched, as if the ref will call a penalty for sneezing. Detroit can run people after whistles, punch people in the face, and all but get away with murder. San Jose will not be allowed this luxury. And guess what? They don’t
need it. They have rest, and they have energy. Detroit can be outhustled. Detroit can be outmuscled. And Detroit can be beaten.

I love it. I love that other fans get worked up over us. Hey, fans of the rest of the NHL: you want to know why we are like this? Our team is fucking awesome. We have won more of everything in the last 15 years than any other franchise in hockey. We can punch people in the face after the whistle? We can run people after the whistle? I swore that Phoenix had more PPs in Game 7 than the Wings did. Maybe I watched the wrong game. If anything, the refs are out to GET US, not help us. This is evidenced by this series starting on Thursday, while the Canucks and Little Brother get to wait until Saturday. But, since none of our players bend over for Bettman (I'm looking in your direction, 20 Cent), we don't get that luxury. Detroit can be beaten? I don't dispute that. But after Game 7, I refuse to believe they can be outhustled, and every team since 1995 has tried to outmuscle them, and look how that worked. All the Sharks are going to do is make themselves tired running after the Wings, and then the Wings skill players will take over.

Prediction for tonight: The Wings are hot (pun intended) and will ride the momentum from Game 7. The Sharks have a history of starting series off slow, and tonight will be no different. By the time the Sharks get their legs under them, the Wings will have built a nice 2-3 goal lead, and they will end up winning 4-2.

"I'm not talkin' 'bout pleasure boatin' or day sailin'. I'm talkin' 'bout workin' for a livin'. I'm talkin' 'bout sharkin'!" - Jaws, 1975 - Let's go sharkin', boys.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

That's a Wrap!

Now that's more like it. The Red Wings team that we have been waiting for finally showed up. Amazing, isn't it? When this team really wants it, they are unstoppable.

There was nothing they did wrong last night. They skated with purpose and determination; they hit when they needed to, but were not too aggressive; they won puck battles and races; they were smart and disciplined, both in terms of handling the puck and penalties; and their special teams were un-fucking-believeable.

I won't lie; after the first period, flashes of goalie names like "Giguere", "Roloson", "Irbe" and "Potvin" flashed through my mind. I thought that Bryzgalov was going to steal this game, and I was convinced that the Wings were going to come out flat in the 2nd period, as they have done in many other games. But, they kept at it. The desperation was evident from the puck drop.

A couple of shoutouts:

  • Pavel Datsyuk - Pasha, you were amazing tonight. Not just for the goals (although that 2nd one was a thing of beauty). But you made every single Coyotes player within 10 feet of you look like that shit kid you find on every houseleague team.
  • Valtteri Filppula - This was your coming out party, and you showed why you are going to be a force on this team. What you and Zetterberg have is special (not "are-they-or-aren't-they special), but the chemistry is there. Besides Zetterberg you were the most consistent Red Wing forward in this series, and if everyone showed up like you did in Game 6, we wouldn't have needed Game 7.
  • Henrik Zetterberg - *standing ovation* Another phenomenal performance in a postseason series. Do you ever get tired of being awesome? You led all scorers, and once again showed up in a pivotal game. And I loved seeing you out on that 5-on-3. Reminded me of 2008 all over again.
  • Nicklas Lidstrom - You certainly raised a giant middle finger at your critics, eh? 40 is the new 30. I marvel at your greatness. Fuck Ray Bourque. Fuck Scott Stevens. Fuck Larry Robinson. You are the 2nd greatest defenseman to ever play the game (sorry, from what I've been told, no one was better than Bobby Orr). Your leadership was evident as you came out and played your game, not giving a shit what the Coyotes did.
  • Jimmy Howard - Jimmah, a nice bounceback game. Obviously when your team pumps 6 past a Vezina candidate, there's not a lot for you to do. You were great in this series, especially for a rookie. A couple of things: first, do not say that the other team was "lucky" when they win. Second, always be ready for anything. I do not want to see another goal like Fiddler on the Roof's last night.

So, now it's on to the Sharks. I will do a preview of the series tomorrow. For today, I am going to wear all Red Wings garb (including my underwear) and revel in the victory.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WCF QF Game 7 - Pick your favourite cliche

Well, it's Tuesday morning, I'm awake (and at work), and all I can think of is Game 7. As I type this there are still 12 and a half hours before the game starts. I'm pretty sure I will get nothing done today.

Since it is painfully obvious what is at stake today, I won't spend much time going over that. This is do or die time, backs against the wall, win or you're done, time to dig deep, no excuses, just results, give 110%, etc, etc.

I've been over this game again and again in my mind. There are keys to victory, but what? Then, a line from Gladiator came to mind, and it all made sense. So, without further ado, in movie quote form, here are the 3 keys to a Red Wing victory tonight:

"Win the crowd, and you will win your freedom." (Gladiator, 2000) - Now, I'm not talking about some cheesy Rocky IV moment where all the Coyote fans start chanting "Red Wings, Red Wings" at the end of the game. I don't expect Nicklas Lidstrom to give a speech at the end of the game about how we are all hockey fans together despite our differences. What I mean is that the arena is going to be rocking. Those unoriginal bandwagon fans are going to be wearing their stupid white and screaming their lungs out, and the best way to stop that shit is to score the way Chicagoans vote: early and often. They always talk about surviving the first 10 minutes of the game when you're on the road. In this case, the Wings not only need to survive, they need to score first and get the crowd out of it, just like Phoenix did in Game 6. If the Wings can get an early lead, especially a 2 or 3 goal lead, I think they will be in great shape. Speaking of Rocky:

"See that look in their eyes, Rock? You gotta get that look back, Rock. Eye of the tiger, man" (Rocky III, 1982) - In Game 1 the Red Wings were mercilessly hit at every opportunity by the Coyotes. The next 4 games saw the Red Wings be the aggressor, out-hitting the Dogs in every game. But Game 6 looked an awful lot like Game 1; the Coyotes went back to being very aggressive and fast, a combo that the Wings did not like. It's time to get back to Game 4 and 5 Red Wings. Justin Abdelkader has been great since he's been inserted in the lineup, but it's time for guys like Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart to start playing with some intensity. I want to see someone get Kronwalled. I want Franzen to remember that he's 6'3" and play like it. I want to see blood, sweat and tears, all on the Phoenix bench as they realize they are no match for a determined, hungry, and angry Red Wing team.

"Stupid Isotopes. Hurry up and lose so we can get outta here!" (The Simpsons, 1999) - I am a Simpsons freak. I think they are hilarious, and they can teach you a lot of lessons about life. This quote is to the Red Wings. IF (and that's a big if) you are going to lose, please, please, please do not go to OT. I can not take a Game 7 OT in the first round. My family has a history of heart problems, and while I am relatively healthy, I fear that my heart and sanity would be broken by an OT tonight, especially if it's a loss. So, for the love of all things that are holy and good in this world, just kick the living shit of the Yotes 10-0 so that there is no stress and we can start worrying about matching up with the Sharks. Plus, I'm really trying to control my anger issues during the games, and a loss tonight will not help.

So that's it. There's not a lot to be said. Tonight is going to be insane. Game 7s are awesome, but only if your team is not involved (I'm really looking forward to Capitals-Canadiens tomorrow night). I will be on my spot on the couch with my lucky shirt on rooting like crazy. Let's hope that we have 2 more weeks of late nights and stress ahead of us. Otherwise it's going to be a long summer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Phoenix 5 Detroit 2 - The "Debacle"

Debacle. That is what my mother called yesterday's game, and she's not even a Red Wing fan. I'm not sure what to call it. I was texting with The Disabled List during the game, and words that we used words like "disgusting", "pathetic", and "fuck" (a lot). So, it's off to Game 7, where they no longer have home ice and momentum.

I won't dwell on the game too much. A couple of things stood out to me thought.

  • The defense looked bad. Again. I'm really concerned that this group is just not good enough to take the Wings anywhere. The Coyotes have an aggressive forecheck, and everyone on the Wings' defense (Lidstrom included) seems to be having problems. Plus, there were 3 or 4 times yesterday where a puck was headed into Detroit's zone, and the 2 d-men looked at each other expecting the other one to play it.
  • The sense of urgency and intensity is lacking. I get that the Red Wings are "business-like" in their approach. But once again, they did not match the desperation of the Coyotes. The talent is there, but if they don't outwork the Yotes, they will not win. My wife (again, not a Wings fan) said that the difference in intensity between the Wings/Coyotes game and the Kings/Canucks game was much different - the Kings/Canucks were playing balls to the walls. I believe that had the Wings been playing pretty much anyone else in the West, they'd be out by now.
  • That game was not lost by the 3 goals in the 2nd period. It was lost in the first after they gave up the shortie and then did not score on the 5-on-3. I told my wife at the time that they were in deep trouble. I hate being right.
  • I will not blame this loss on Jimmy Howard. He should have had the first goal (although I still believe Zetterberg altered the trajectory of the shot). But of the next 4 goals, 3 were tipped in (2 on flukes) and 1 was off a beautiful cross-ice pass that no goalie in hockey would have stopped. Maybe if his team in front of him played some defense, he would have been better.

Not a whole lot else to say about that. It's over and time to move on. However, I want to request 1 thing from the NHL: please stop scheduling these fucking afternoon games for the Wings. Please. I will do anything (and I mean anything). I have no idea why they are so bad during the day, but they are. If this series were played at night, it would have been a Wings sweep. Plus, I never want to hear Pierre McGuire again. This man is an idiot. I wish I had been writing down all his thoughts yesterday, because that's a post in itself. But I loved this gem at the beginning of the third period:

"I'm getting a real sense of positive energy from the Coyotes bench. It's like they sense they are in a good position, and that's generating the positive energy." (not sure if that is an exact quote, but it's close).

Really, Pierre? Let me get this straight: a team that is on the road, facing the defending Conference champions, is facing elimination, and is winning 4-1 at the start of the third, and you deduct that they have some positive energy on the bench? What kind of fucking analysis is that? A retarded monkey could have told me that. Pierre, please go back to your day job of blowing Mike Richards and calling anyone who hits a "monster".

One last thing, and this may alienate some people. I watched the entire game yesterday, even after it was painfully obvious it was not the Red Wings' day. As the game was winding down, I saw people leaving the Joe. A lot of people. Now, I understand that they were probably upset at the outcome, but this may have been the last chance these fans had to see the Wings play at home this year. After all the shit they have gone through, with the bad start to the injuries to the frantic finish at the end, this team deserved a standing ovation after the game from the fans. It would have been nice for the players to know that we as fans were 100% behind them despite yesterday's game. How many teams have lost that last game but the fans stay behind, cheering and going crazy as a thank you for the year the team had? I can guarantee that if the Wings win tomorrow, the Coyotes fans that are there will give the Yotes a final send-off as a thank you. If you left early yesterday, shame on you. We as Red Wing fans are labeled as "bandwagon" and "fairweather" fans, and after the display yesterday, it's hard to argue with that. This team is trying as hard as they can, and while they made a lot of mistakes yesterday, and have throughout this series, it's not because they don't care. Let's show this team that, win or lose, we are still behind them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Game 5 - You Can Come Up With Statistics to Prove Anything - 14% of all People Know That

Well, now that the blog cherry has been popped, let's look ahead to Game 5, shall we?

We all know how important this game is. The winner has a chance to end the series, momentum is gained or lost, blah blah blah. I'm sure there's some ridiculous statistic out there explaining how many teams have won their series after winning Game 5. There will be talk about how many home teams have won Game 5 vs road teams, whether the team that won Game 5 also had to win Game 4, and all kinds of other bullshit stats. I'm too lazy to find any of those.

You know what? None of that matters. What does matter is that the Red Wings have been here before and the Coyotes haven't. The Red Wings have been in this exact position 3 times in the last 2 years - tied 2-2 headed to this crucial game. And guess what? They are 3-0 in those games. And only once did they not win the series (excuse me while I go vomit a little). The Wings know what it takes to get the job done, and they will. What's the most important game the Coyotes have played this season? I believe their high point was the comeback against the Wings in January. Remember that clusterfuck? I know they had a chance to get close to the Sharks towards the end of the season, but could not get it done.

I have no doubts that the Wings are going to win tonight. Everything the Coyotes have done in this series, the Red Wings have countered. The Yotes scored 3 PP goals in Game 1 - the Red Wings haven't allowed one since. The Yotes played physical (dirty) with Shane Doan hitting everyone in sight - the Red Wings outhit the Yotes in the last game and have been just as physical since Game 1. In Game 3 the Yotes scored an ugly goal on Jimmy - he responded by shutting their asses out. What do the Yotes have left? They might get Shane Doan back - whoop-de-fucking-do.

There is only one thing that scares me about tonight: Ilya Bryzgalov. He has not been great in this series. In fact, he's been mediocre. But, he's a Vezina-candidate, and didn't get to be one by accident. The one thing all Red Wing fans fear is the hot goalie - I still remember the Wings getting "Giguere'd" in 2003. Breezy hasn't stolen a game yet, and in the back of my mind the fear lingers that he could. The Wings need to keep up the pressure, and I still want to see more second and third chances.

Long story short - if Game 3 Detroit shows up, we're fucked. If Game 4 Detroit shows up, we're good. Let's get the lead in this series for once and put the Dogs behind the 8-ball. Let's see what they do when their backs are against the wall. Twice in this series the Red Wings have responded when they needed a win - tonight is even more important. I am predicting a final score of 3-1 Wings, with a chance to end the series on Sunday.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

A blog? Why?

Good question. I'm still wondering why I would bother to start a blog. I recently discovered the Red Wing blogosphere and saw some exceptional writing by other fans. I've also read my sister's boyfriend's blog
The Disabled List
often, except he's got too much basketball in there and not enough hockey (psst, Mike - you are a Red Wing fan - more Red Wing posts, please). Maybe it was because I'd rather do anything except work while actually at work. Maybe it's because for most of the season, my wife does not care what Nicklas Lidstrom's +/- is or how many takeaways Pavel Datsyuk had in the last game against the Lightning. Mostly, it's because I bleed red and white (literally and figuratively) and want to share that passion with other fans.

So, after reading all of these other blogs, I thought to myself "Why not bring my complete lack of writing ability and unoriginal thoughts and share them with people who have the exact same ideas?" I read these other blogs and see some really intelligent people with some great thoughts on the Wings. Every blog seems to have its "niche"; some are more insightful, some are more news-like, and some are just hilarious. My goal is to steal the best parts of each of these blogs, subtly tweak them so no one knows they are stolen, and come up with something that doesn't put people to sleep. I will call it the "Chicago Blackhawks" method.

What can you expect from this? Hard to say, really. I imagine I will develop a style that works for me as I go. I have Center Ice, so I do get to see every game the Wings play (when my wife lets me, that is). So I will probably do previews and recaps of the games, give my thoughts on what's going on with the Wings, and occasionally put out something that is of interest to me but not necessarily Wings-related. Oh, and there will be swearing (sorry, Mom). I have 2 kids, and one of them repeats everything we say. Like when I was watching the Wings-Flames in March, and the Flames scored to take the lead. Naturally, I was not happy with that turn of events, and uttered my signature "Damn it". This was immediately met with a "Damn it, Daddy" from my 2 year old. Now don't get me wrong - I want her to be upset when the Wings are scored on, and she used the phrase correctly and in context. But I'd like to see her not swear until she is about 5. So, I need to get my swearing out somewhere, and what better way than on the internet.

That's it for now. Hope you enjoy my stuff. If you have any thoughts on how I can improve this, or if you like my stuff, shoot me an email or find me on Twitter (that's right, I'm on Twitter). If you don't like my stuff, keep coming back because I hope to get better at this. Or, you can go fuck yourself and get lost. Your choice.