Friday, April 30, 2010

What the...

If I could change anything in that game, minus that one section of the first, I would have called San Jose for that high stick on Franzen.

What? It was Filppula's stick?

Oh no, wait. That was Filppula's stick in Lidstrom's face in Game One of the Phoenix series.

Seriously, refs, I thought you were going to stop sucking at the end of the first round. But my ideals for you guys were optimistically high. In the words of The Beatles, I should have known better... Anyway, onto the game.

Besides that minute and a half in the first period where our team decided to not play hockey as well as the bad officiating, it was a pretty damn good game. I'm really not upset about this loss [except for the blown call]. We didn't let a three goal deficit get us down and battled it out through all of the adversity of fake calls and blown calls. While Jimmy Howard looked like a rookie goaltender for a little over a minute in the first, he made some big saves to keep us in the game after that, so don't start blaming the goalie like Detroiters usually do.

San Jose didn't do anything that we haven't seen before and like we did with Phoenix, we have to test the waters with a team first. Plus, cut us some slack; we were playing a game 48 hours ago and the Sharks had at least twelve days off. Maybe it wasn't actually that long, but it sure seems like it with how much pep they had in their step.

Remember when I said that Phoenix pissed off the rhino, the rhino being Nick Lidstrom? Yeah, well, San Jose just pissed off the Mule. I still stand firm in my belief that this is the Mule's series. He's on a point-per-game streak and Game Two, he's going to be chomping at the bit, back in the stable, ready to treat us all to some curly fries. ...Or at least get a game-winning goal or Kronwall the crap out of a Sharks player.

Two days of rest for us will be huge. We'll all be ready to prove that we're Cup contenders.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Into the Shark Tank

Is it bad that I'm only moderately concerned for this series? We were 3-0-1 against the Sharks in the regular season, the OT loss coming in a shootout. San Jose hasn't made it past the first round in three-hundred years, and the Wings are coming out from a hard series more determined than ever.

Is there a chance that Sunday's Red Wings will show up at the Shark Tank tonight? No doubt about it. Will they? I really hope not. None of us Wingnuts want to see that travesty again. I don't think it will happen. If we come out playing like we did in Game Seven, these Sharks are doomed, more doomed than a T-Rex in San Diego [okay, maybe I was watching The Lost World over the weekend...].

So here are my vague Keys to Victory, since we haven't seen San Jose in a while, and even more people haven't seen them this late into the year...

1. Jimmy Howard. He doesn't have as much playoff experience as Evgeni Nabokov, but when Jimmy plays solid hockey, he plays solid hockey, and so does the team in front of him. When he plays shaky, the team in front of him plays shaky: It's not just Jimmy. And hey, if we want to score on the Sharks, just have Dan Boyle try to send the puck around the back of the net!

2. Solid defense. We know how to shut top players down - look at how well Zetterberg covers Crosby when we play them. Look at how amazing Datsyuk was in Game Seven against Phoenix, showing that he deserves to win the Selke another year. This can also be said for

3. Good offense. Our big players have to be our big players, much like Babs said after the last victory. San Jose's biggest players didn't do very much in the first round. We all know that Joe Thornton turns into a ghost in April and beyond, let's keep him like that.

4. I think this is going to be Mule's series. I know everyone around me is saying, "Oh, he's been terrible so far!" He's had a point per game! That's pretty damn good! No, he hasn't had any freaking awesome goals or been absolutely fantastic, but he's been there to help out. Despite this negativity, the second round of 2008 was when Franzen sparkled and had more goals that Colorado combined for the whole series. Maybe COL rubbed off enough on San Jose so that San Jose is more like Colorado and it'll happen again.

5. Get physical! Crunch those Sharks into the boards. Kronwall, I'm looking for you to Kronwall someone, okay? I guaranteed so many people last round that you would Kronwall Shane Doan and you didn't do it. Don't make me look completely stupid, okay? I want to see someone get Kronwalled.

Don't get me wrong - I don't mind the Sharks at all. But picking on them comes naturally to me, like picking on the Maple Leafs comes naturally to, well, everyone.

This will be an interesting series, one that I'm looking forward to. Keep up the solid play, Red Wings. It's what will send you to the Cup Finals for the third year in a row. Or at least the Conference Finals for the fourth year in a row.

PS - Top-Rated Shuffle: #459/1496: Reasons for Waiting - Jethro Tull

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Roll on Down the Highway

Should I really do a blog post so close after a Wings victory and this late at night...

Probably not, but here it goes anyway. Forgive me if it's all over the place and incoherent.

That, my dear friends, is true Red Wings hockey. From the drop of the puck until the last buzzer [minus that one faceoff], we played solid hockey patented after our namesake. We didn't let up once. We played with heart and soul and kept the pressure on, even when we were up by five goals. This was probably the best game we've played all year.

At the start of the game, my brother solemnly said, "Watch Lidstrom as often as you can, because this could be his last game." I had thought of this beforehand, but didn't think anything of it until he said it out loud. So I watched him intently and I watched him with a bit of remorse and sadness at the thought of never seeing him on the ice again.

But the Red Wings dominated. Faceoffs were in our favor in the first period and by the middle of the second period, we already had forty shots on goal and were playing out of our minds. As Dave Tippett said after the game, "It was more like a hurricane than a storm." The Wings capitalized on every chance they had. Look at how well our third and fourth lines played. Draper and Helm had the puck so tied up that Draper just left for a change while he was down below the hash marks.

And now I don't have to worry about Lidstrom possibly playing his last game until at least Game Five of the next series.

Do I want to be mean to the Coyotes and their fans? Not really. I'll leave the hating to other bloggers. The drama comes with the playoffs and at this point in my hockey-watching career, if I can put aside differences and hold a conversation with someone who loves a different team, I'm not going to hate them, unless they're spouting stupid things at me or things that are complete BS. I haven't had a Yotes fan do that to me, but I suppose I haven't talked to a lot of them.

So dear Coyotes fans, Thanks for the drama. No playoff series would be complete without it. You and your team were worthy adversaries, even if some of us Wings fans don't want to admit it. But be warned for the future: a beer bottle thrown on the ice =/= an octopus. A beer bottle = NASCAR, not hockey. And I respected your White Outs because it was the Winnipeg Jets' White Outs. You know, in case you were wondering that.

Keep the love for your team alive. Everyone undersold you at the start of the year - including me, who pegged you guys at twelve wins. If you guys really love your hockey team, show that support. Or else they'll be shipping off somewhere else in the next few years.

Four consecutive years of making it to the semi-finals for the Red Wings. Making it there to face a team that is a perpetual choker in the playoffs. To face Joe Thornton, who is both a lousy ventriloquist and turns into a ghost in April [and sometimes May]. To face a team that they are 3-1 against this season, the one loss coming in a shootout. Does San Jose scare me as much as Phoenix? No. Should I be scared? Probably. But for now, I'm still riding that high of making it to the next round.

If they wanted to announce the schedule, that would be awesome. And the fact that we made it to the next round means that I can keep wearing Wings shirts to work and there will still be Red Wings hockey for my birthday next week. For now, enjoy your victory, Hockeytown. You can start the worrying and the planning after a well-rested night of sleep.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Keys to Victory!

Mike Babcock brings up a good point: "The whole key here is, just play the game. Don’t make it bigger than it is -- just play... It’s about will. It’s about to sticking to your plan for longer. It’s about that power-play goal that goes off somebody and in the net versus wide of the net.”

If the Red Wings don't have any of this tonight, our season is done, people. Will it be the end of the world? Until late September, yes. Will I be sad? Yes, but two months ago, I was just praying for us to make it to the playoffs and said I didn't care if we lost in the first round. If we go out now, I'll be disappointed, but that won't last as long as our last Game Seven disappointment lasted.

Phoenix reminds me a lot of Anaheim. And what did we do to Anaheim in the playoffs the last time we saw them? We beat them in Game Seven, with a heroic late-game goal by Dan Cleary. Hey Cleary - if you do that tonight, I promise I will give in and start calling you "Danny," okay? Okay.

I did manage to sleep in this morning, but the nervousness was there immediately. But let's look on the positives for tonight and my Keys to Victory! Those are important, right?

1. Jimmy Howard. Remember him? He's the guy who's either being hugged and congratulated by everyone, or getting fiery internet pitchforks thrown at him. He'll be ready to prove himself. Let's quote Babs again:

"I think if you're Jimmy Howard, you've got to be pretty ecstatic. It's your first year in the NHL, you've won a starting job, you've been nominated for the Calder Trophy and now you get to play in a Game 7. I think it's fantastic. And the other thing about it is that you've got the team here. So for him, it's got to be a great feeling."

I couldn't have said it any better myself. When has Howard played two bad games in a row? The last time he played a bad game in this series, he let in one goal in 120 minutes. That's pretty damn good. Will he bounce back tonight? According to his performance throughout this entire season, yes. I don't think this will be any different.

2. Have we played two bad games in a row this series? More importantly, have we lost two games in a row? The answer is a resounding no. But Phoenix has. Will we do that tonight, with so many of our players pumped for a Game Seven? I sure hope not.

3. Shane Doan. If he's back tonight, you've got to be on him. EDIT: I just got wind that he isn't starting. So be ready for physical play from everyone else on the Coyotes. Let's get Kronwall to finally Kronwall someone! Datsyuk needs to throw his weight around even more and the same goes for Mule. Abdelkader needs to be a BAMF again and throw some punches!

4. Strong penalty killing. Remember what happened after Phoenix got three PP goals in a game? They didn't get another PPG until Game Six when they had three again. Likewise, on the flip side of this point, is a strong power play. Our power play looked good in Game Six, but did we capitalize on anything? No. Which leads me to...

5. GET TOMAS HOLMSTROM INTO HIS OFFICE. Hell, get Johan Franzen into Homer's office. Get Dan Cleary into Homer's office. Just get people in front of Bryz to deflect pucks or screen him. Remember that one game this series where Datsyuk broke his stick during the power play and didn't bother going back to the bench, so he just stood in front of Bryz? Yeah, do that. But, you know, when we're up by a couple goals, not just for the hell of it.

6. IF YOU'RE SKATING DOWN THE WING, DEKE TO THE MIDDLE AND TAKE A QUICK SHOT. BRYZGALOV IS WEAK THERE. Same goes for the post when he's up against it. TAKE SHANAHAN SHOTS. Bryz was really good in the game on Sunday, similar [but not the same] as Halak versus the Capitals last night. The question is, can he carry that over for another game?

7. Lilja's blog is adorable. Why is this a Key to Victory? Because he says that Game Seven "feels inspiring." And if Lils, the Swedish Sensation [or maybe that's Sammy. I don't remember], is feeling inspired, it's likely that the rest of the team is feeling the same way. I know Howard is and I'm sure Babcock gave the Wings a stern talking-to, saying things like, "Don't let this be like the last Game Seven we were in. Have it be like the one before it against Anaheim." And, "Do you really want Game Six to be the last game you ever played at The Joe? Wouldn't you rather it be the Stanley Cup-winning game?" That'll inspire them.

8. Pierre LeBrun will be there. He was at Game Four and Game Five. Is he our good luck charm? At this point, I have a hard time saying no, but I have a hard time saying yes just because I might jinx us.

If we lose tonight, does that mean our legacy is over? Hell no! Nineteen years of making it to the postseason - that's one more year than everyone was giving us three months ago when we were sitting prettily in tenth. We've made it to the SCFs two years in a row, capitalized on one, lost in the other, and made it to the Conference Finals the year before. Everyone just chill out. We're allowed to lose in the first round once every five years, okay?

It hasn't been an eternity since we've won the Cup, even though it feels like it. I will be disappointed if we lose tonight after giving it our heart and soul. I will be angry if we lose tonight after not showing up to the game. I will be ecstatic if we win and will add a bracelet to my "playoff beard," aka my left wrist, which is feeling bare with only three bracelets on it, one for every win.

Let's make it four bracelets, Wings. Let's make it another long run in the playoffs. Let's give the Yotes hell and have the Sharks shaking in their tank waiting for us.

PS - Top-Rated Shuffle: #401/1496: Girl - The Beatles

Good Luck Charm

Do the Red Wings really want Game Six to be the last game they play at Joe Louis Arena? No. So I hope to the heavens above that this thought is on their minds.

My nerves are already killing me. And I have an exam this afternoon that I am so not going to be concentrating on. I hope the Wings' nerves aren't this bad or else we're doomed. But they're professional players and more than a handful of them have been in Game Sevens.

Can we win tonight? Absolutely. Will we? Hell if I know. That's why I'm pulling out all of my good luck charms. They are as following:

1. Wearing my Franzen jersey. I bought it and it came in the day before Franzen came back from his injury in February. I wore it to the games against Ottawa, Buffalo, Minnesota, and Edmonton. Therefore, it is undefeated. While the Mule hasn't done much in this series and I'd rather wear my Filppula jersey, Filppula lost against the LA Kings when we had a 2-0 lead going into the third.

2. Flying the Wings car flag on my car. I've been doing this, but I got a little carried away after the last victory and kept it on. I can only fly it on game days and the day after.

3. Andy Capp's Hot Fries. These were the good-luck chips of our 2008 Cup run. Hell, I made a run out to 7-11 during the second intermission of Game Seven last June because I was hoping they were still lucky. So that tainted them, but I went out and bought them for the first time this season for Game Five and that worked out well. So, go out and get a bag of Andy Capp's Hot Fries. And make sure you have something to drink next to you. Don't stop eating them, no matter how on fire your mouth is.

So maybe that isn't the biggest list of good luck charms, but it's what has worked for me in the past. Pull our your own charms, Wingnuts. You really don't want the season to be over tonight, do you? I know I don't.

PS - Top-Rated Shuffle: #342/1496 - Future Games - Fleetwood Mac

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pierre LeBrun is Awesome.

Everyone can calm down about the game tomorrow. Our good-luck charm will be there.

Yes, that's right. Pierre LeBrun is the Red Wings' good luck charm. He was in Detroit for Game Four [and responded to my tweet at him, which made my day]. He was in Phoenix for Game Five. And he just tweeted that he made it to practice and Doan skated, so I asked if he would be there and he said yes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I must admit that this tidbit of knowledge makes me feel a little bit better about tomorrow. I know things in the world around the hockey players really don't affect them, like whether we sit in the same spot on the couch or eat the same snacks, but does that stop me from doing the same thing every gameday? Absolutely not.

Will LeBrun's presence do anything to the Red Wings play? I doubt it, but we've sparkled when he's been there. So hopefully this superstition will ring true. Will the Wings have to show up to the game? Of course. And there's very little doubt in my mind that they will play like they did yesterday. T-minus 30 hours and counting.

PS - Top-rated shuffle #316/1496 - Tell Me - Stevie Ray Vaughan

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Can someone tell me how to feel about this loss? Because I am honestly confused as to how I should feel right now. There's disappointment mixed with anger mingling with both the "I knew this would happen" and the "Wait what?" feelings.

I will admit that I didn't watch this game as closely as I should have. I was helping entertain family members, who have no interest in watching hockey and liked to yell, "OH. PHOENIX SCORED A GOAL. THE WINGS ARE DONE. CHANGE THE CHANNEL." So it was more than difficult to pay serious attention.

We looked good. We had pressure on the power plays and controlled the puck for the majority of the first and the second. But we didn't make anything out of any of our power plays [and that lengthy 5-on-3]. We couldn't solve Bryzgalov, who was playing out of his mind. As Nick Lidstrom said, it came down to special teams being the difference and I knew it was only a matter of time before they got multiple power play goals in a game. Plus, when you give up a short-handed goal, that sucks some of the life out of you.

Our downfalls:

-Power Play. This was stated above.

-Penalty Kill. Also stated above.

-Brad Stuart decided to fall asleep for a minute there as he was skating out of the zone with the puck. Then he woke up and scored a goal, but it wasn't enough.

-We stopped playing after we got down by too many goals.

-Datsyuk wasn't Datsyukian enough. And to add to that, the Mule just wasn't hungry. Someone please go starve him so he'll be hungry for Tuesday night's game. Maybe that'll be his breakout game. I don't want him to turn out like Hossa last year and do nothing for us.

-I made my game-day blog post the night before and not the day of. Damn superstitions will be the death of me. I also didn't wash my "I <3 Datsyuk" shirt like I did between Games Four and Five. Guess this one's dead, too. All I've got left is Hossa [screw that], Mule, 08 Cup Champs, and "Who Said Only Angels Have Wings?" with a picture of a halo over the Winged Wheel. Oh, and my jerseys. I might break out Franzen for Tuesday. That's been undefeated since I bought it in March.

Phoenix is going to come out with a fiery passion on Tuesday night. They have a lot to prove and a lot to lose. But reverse the situation: The Red Wings are in the same position. They need to prove to us fans that they can play in a pivotal game with heart and soul since the last Game Seven we witnessed was "The Event That Shall Not Be Named," as many bloggers refer to it. And if we lose, our efforts to make it into the playoffs, to make another long playoff run, to make it to the Cup Finals for the third straight year, will be shot.

Jimmy Howard is not at fault for this game. Yes, he should have had the shortie, but that's the only major downfall I can recall right now. And when he has a bad game, how does he play in the next one? Oh, that's right. One goal over the span of 120 minutes. He knows Game Seven is important, much like he knew Game Five was important.

This should be Mike Babcock's speech to the Red Wings, "Hey. If you don't go out and win Game Seven and play the full sixty minutes, I will personally come and murder each and every one of you in your sleep. Because I want to win the Cup, and so do you. So wake up and play hockey, boys. Or I'll kill you."

We don't play well when we're televised on NBC. Four games on NBC this season:

1. Loss to Chicago in a SO [with that sick Datsyuk SO goal].
2. Loss to Pittsburgh in a SO
3. Loss to Philly
4. Win in OT against Chicago to play Phoenix in the Playoffs

We're not done yet, people. Don't give up hope. Or do, because then the Wings will have to prove you wrong. And that might be a good thing.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Do I think the Red Wings have the ability to wrap up this series tomorrow? Absolutely. Will they? That part of the bargain is up to them.

Since I don't have a chance to be on the computer tomorrow, I thought I'd do my game-day post the night before. At least on this game-day, I have way too many things to do that will eat up a lot of time before the puck drops around 2:10pm.

Has the series shifted in our favor? If we keep playing like we have, absolutely. But if we let up, even a little bit, we tilt it back toward Phoenix. I'm sure the Wings don't want to go back to the desert for one last game and I don't want to stay up late and hear that stupid wolf call that makes me think I'm in line for The Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World.

So here are my Keys for Victory for Game Six:

1. Strong PK. If we let Phoenix get any momentum on their PP and we can't crush it immediately, we're in some hot water. Also, as a sub-bullet point, a strong PP for us would be good, too.

2. CLEAR THE PUCK OUT OF THE ZONE. If there was one thing we did too much of in Game Five, it was not clear the zone. Weak passes up the boards or up the middle don't work, especially when they're picked off by Coyotes.

3. Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula need to keep sparkling. Keep the pressure on the forecheck and keep Phoenix back on their heels. This goes for Justin Abdelkader, too. And hell, the whole team, too.

4. Mule needs to get hungry. He's starving, you say? GET HUNGRIER. I want him to be so hungry that he treats everyone to curly fries for lunch on Monday.

5. Everyone on the Detroit Red Wings needs to shoot high on Bryzgalov, take Shanny shots from behind the goal line and try to bank them in off Bryz, and when you're streaking up the wing, deke into the middle and shoot. Datsyuk was doing that a lot in Game Five and he got some pretty good chances.

6. Jimmy Howard needs to keep being solid. In 120 minutes of play, he's let in one goal. His SV% is .9833. Pretty damn solid and if he wanted to keep that up, I would be all right with that.

Godspeed, Red Wings.

In the words of the infamous homeless guy with the Hulk hand that stands around down by COBO, "Here we go, Red Wings, here we go! Where we gonna go?! All the way to the Stanley CUP!" Eat 'em up, Red Wings. We'll be cheering you on along the way.

One Particular Place To Go

The Red Wings proved last night that while they make mistakes, they can still come out on top. I mean, come on: How many more times are we going to fail to clear the puck out of our zone? If any of those turnovers had gone in, it would have been an entirely different game.

But they didn't. And we won. I would add "barely," but we definitely had Phoenix on their heels in the third. I have yet to read any of the articles at my usual hockey sites since I worked this morning [and managed to function on very little sleep], so I don't know what any of the players are saying about anything.

Some things I noticed during last night's game:

-Abdelkader is fitting right in. He's being a physical force and drawing attention to himself in front of the net and that's helping us get a few goals.

-Jimmy Howard is playing solid hockey and having fun with it, too. He doesn't seem tense at all and it looks as though his nerves are gone. His mentality reminds me a lot of Osgood and whether you like Ozzie's play as a goalie or not, you have to admit that he has the perfect mentality for a goaltender. Howard made a brilliant save and then another on Hanzel's breakaway early in the third and that was the turning point. Possibly of the series.

-Players finally noticed to go high on Bryzgalov. Mickey Redmond pointed out on one of the Wings goals how much room there was above Bryz's glove.

-Players also noticed that if you skate down the wing and quickly deke to the middle and take a shot, Bryzgalov is usually unprepared to make the save. Datsyuk did this a few times and got some good chances.

-Filppula is playing out of his mind. He might not have a ton of goals to show for it, but he's mimicking Zetterberg's moves and what could be better than two Zetterbergs on the ice at the same time? Maybe if you tossed in Pavel...

Am I going to get cocky for Sunday's game? I did last Sunday and look how well that turned out, so I'm going to say no. Phoenix isn't dead yet and the Red Wings aren't playing perfectly. The Wings are playing with patience, which is what they need to do. Phoenix is a young team that jumps at every opportunity, but the Wings are just sitting back and waiting to pounce on that perfect opportunity. And that's paying off.

Will Shane Doan return if it looks as though his Yotes need him? It's possible if he thinks his team needs him. But then the Wings should just do what the Yotes players are doing: blatantly going after an injured player [just look at all the runs on Rafi yesterday]. It won't be a cakewalk through the rest of the series, but if The Key [aka Howard] stays solid, you never know what might happen.

PS - Top Rated Shuffle: #223/1496: Cheap Shot - John Mellencamp

Friday, April 23, 2010

No Mr. Norris with the Norris nominees?

If you look at the Red Wings since February, what's off from what we normally look like? There are two things: We finished fifth in the conference rather than in the top two and Nick Lidstrom isn't nominated for the trophy that is synonymous with his name.

Yes, that's right. Nick Lidstrom wasn't nominated for the Norris trophy this year. Am I surprised? Kind of. I knew he didn't stand a chance of winning it this year with such a travesty for a Wings season that we had. But I thought he might get nominated. I mean, its Nick Lidstrom. How can you have a Norris awarded without him even in the mix? It boggles the mind.

Look at Lidstrom's plus/minus for the season - plus-22 It's better than our goal differential for the whole season. Remember back around December or January when [and I'm pulling these numbers out of the air] our GF was 223 and our GA was 218 and Lidstrom was still a +18? That's impressive.

If anything, I'm annoyed that he didn't win it last year. Green didn't deserve to win it last year, which is why he didn't. But Chara? I know he's a great defenseman, but sometimes I wonder if the voters were just intimidated by his height. I know I am.

But in all seriousness, I think Lidstrom would rather have a different piece of hardware for this season. And that one he's still up for.

Let It Rock

It's game day and once again, I attempted to sleep in to eat up some of the day, but I'm too nervous and excited to sleep past 9am [and I have a full day of mulching planned]. So I may as well make a blog post.

Tonight's game is a pivotal one, and the Red Wings seem to know this, which is always a bonus:

"So, just because [Babcock's] team turned in a solid effort in Tuesday's 3-0 win, players shouldn't think their performance will automatically carry over or that they've gained control of the series. And they don't. "

Those three final words are key right there. I think our problem going into Game Three was that we got too cocky and when we fell behind really early, we didn't really bother trying to catch up. The Red Wings now know that they have to give 110% to win and they can't think they can just coast to victory. They have to keep fighting and fighting, like Ottawa last night, who absolutely deserved to win that game.

My Keys to Victory tonight:

1.Keep up the solid PK and be a little more forceful on the PP. And try not to take a bunch of stupid penalties.

2.Casey over at Morning Skate has the same feeling that I do: Feed the Mule. This is Franzen's time of the year. Hey Mule - remember when you scored more goals than Colorado did in a series? If you wanted to get started on trying to single-handedly outscore Phoenix, I would have no problem with that. But seriously - I have this crazy feeling that tonight's game is going to go into OT and he's going to have a breakaway goal like he did in Game Five against Nashville, which is on the front of my bedroom door.

3. Jimmy Howard is coming off of a shutout and a Calder nomination. Is he going to let either of those things go to his head? No. Jimmy has the mentality of Ozzie and Dom - he doesn't let a good game or a bad game affect his play; he just takes it one game at a time.

4. SHOOT HIGH ON BRYZGALOV. Take a patented Shanahan shot from behind the goal line and bank it in off of Bryz! Filppula's goals have been exactly that [as well as that crazy puck that almost went in]. Bryz has some problems holding up against that post. Take advantage of that weakness. Pepper him with shots from everywhere.

5. Physical play is important. We've been out muscling them in the past few games. Datsyuk needs to throw his weight around a little more and look Datsyukian. He just got nominated for a Selke [and Lady Byng]; play like a Selke winner [which he is].

6. If Shane Doan plays, be on top of him. In the words of Michael Bluth to his son, "Don't be afraid to ride her, hard." If Shane Doan doesn't play, be on top of everyone else. I guess this bullet point goes hand in hand with number 5...

7. Pierre LeBrun from ESPN will be there. You know why that's good? He was at Game Four in Detroit. Is he our good-luck charm? Maybe. He did pick Red Wings in six...

8. Be the Red Wings. For the last half of Game Four, we played Red Wings hockey, albeit not the best version. Look at the five-on-three we killed off. Look at how Jimmy was a BAMF. Look at how we were a team through and through.

Keep up the good work, Wings. My sacrifice of a night's sleep before work was worth it last Friday - can you make it worth it this Friday?

PS - Top Rated Shuffle #104/1496: Bo Diddley - Bob Seger. Yeah, my taste in music is way before my time.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Forward to Game Five

I've never been a huge fan of Andreas Lilja, but missing him for a year made me change my mind. That and he's been playing pretty damn good since his return in late February. Why am I bringing up Lils, you ask? He has his own blog that is now being translated into English on the Wings' website and he wrote something that I've been hoping the Wings realize for Friday's game [and Sunday's]. He wrote:

"...We haven't been playing on our highest level before and we have an understanding now that it takes 100% by everyone and every shift! It's an amazing feeling to see and feel when we play as we did!

It's important to continue to play like this on Friday, beacuse Phoenix is far from being beaten, and they will rise its level for next game, so we better charge our batteries until next game!"

I was shouting this at my television during the postgame, but I'm pretty sure the players couldn't hear me [though Ken and Mickey usually can because they repeat what I say a lot]. The Wings have to keep their game up to that same caliber that it was on Tuesday night. Friday is definitely a must-win for us, even if it's only Game Five. If we can head back to The Joe with a 3-2 lead in the series, I have a good feeling that we can finish the Yotes off at The Joe.

I can't see the Red Wings slacking for Game Five like they did in Game Three. We're coming down to crunch time and as we all found out this season, the Wings play well under pressure. Maybe they should just pretend that they're always about to get knocked out of the playoffs and they'll just play like that all the time.

I'll end this with what Lils wrote, "Hope we continue to dominate like we did Tuesday, it can take us far..." I hope you're right, Lils, because I have to get up at 5am for work on Saturday and I'd like to go in tired and happy, not tired and disgruntled. And not have to explain why you guys lost to all of the regulars; I'd much rather talk about a victory.

As a non-hockey-related PS, I'm doing a top rated shuffle on my iPod. 1496 songs. Currently on #33 - Your Time Is Gonna Come by Led Zeppelin.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Being a BAMF is never easy

"It didn't faze me. You don't think. You just react. I would've stopped it with my face if I had to."

Jimmy Howard had the game of his career last night. After being thrown under a bus by a large amount of hockey lovers in the metro Detroit area after his performance on Sunday, he proved the doubters wrong. Was I one of the doubters? Right after Game Three, yes. But I knew we would rebound, as evident in my post here. We haven't played two terrible games back-to-back in a long time and we know better during the playoffs.

"I'm going to enjoy it here for a couple minutes," said Howard, who gave up four goals to lose Game 3. "Then, just like I did the other night, forget about it and get ready for Friday night."

And that's what needs to be done. You can't dwell on the good and you can't dwell on the bad. Take each new day like it's your first game and try to win it for the fans.

Jimmy Howard: punching Sidney Crosby in the face, taking out Shane Doan, making saves with his mask off. He's a tank, people.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Ken Holland has never steered us wrong. Even when he signed Bertuzzi [again] in the off-season, much to many people's disappointment, Bert has had his shining moments that have helped this team to victory. Kenny knows what he's doing.

With that being said, Fox Sports Detroit has a good interview with him where he brings up some extremely logical points about the Wings in the playoffs and this whole series in general.

"We really think Jimmy Howard's going to play real well (Tuesday) night... When he does have an off-game or he does have a goal that he'd like to have back, he's bounced back strong so we look for him to bounce back strong."

This is true. When has Jimmy Howard had terrible back-to-back games? [Don't count before December because he wasn't in the groove of things] If there's one thing I can see in Jimmy Howard's play so far, it's an essence of Dominik Hasek. And by saying that, I know half of you are cringing, half of you are happy, and the other half are reading this, saying, "What the hell...?" So keep reading and hear me out.

He's not like Dom in the fact that he ventures out of his crease constantly and plays the puck when he totally shouldn't nor is it the ridiculous positions to save goals nor is it the fact that he gives me heart attacks every time the puck comes into the defensive zone. Nor is it anything like this. Rather, it's the fact that if he lets in two or three goals, more often than not he shuts it down after that. Dom was known for that and it helped keep us in a close game. Jimmy does something similar to this--not all the time, but enough. And enough is what has gotten us to the postseason.

"Everybody remembers now that you won the Stanley Cup and they forget about the emotions...If you can't handle adversity, you're not going for a long playoff run. We're facing some adversity. I believe given the people on our team and the success that we've had, the long playoff runs, that they're going to dig deep and we're going to respond with our best game of the playoffs (Tuesday) night."

Kenny's onto something here. Look back at our past Cup runs to things you may not remember. Like in 2008 when we were up 3-0 in the series to Dallas and everyone was expecting a sweep. Yet they won two games in a row. No one remembers that; they just remember that Dom dropped the ball in games three and four of the first round and Chris Osgood stepped in and won nine in a row. [Or they may ignore that fact completely and pretend it was Howard with how much hate there has been on Ozzie this season.]

The Red Wings have been torn a new one, both by their own team mates and their head coach. And Kenny. And probably Stevie, too, who has been down this playoff road a lot. Nightmare on Helm Street reported this anger. When the Wings get yelled at, they play with a lot more focus. They play Red Wings hockey.

Will we play tonight's game with heart and soul? Absolutely.

Will our team play for the entire sixty (or more) minutes? Yes, or Babcock will murder them in their sleep.

Will it be a complete blowout in favor of the Wings like Game Five against Pittsburgh last year? That I don't know. Phoenix knows the pressure is coming and they're a team that's adept at responding to tough situations. If anything comes out of tonight's game, I just want it to be a Detroit victory. Go back to the desert tied, Red Wings. We'll be cheering you along the whole time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Time of the Season

I'm sick of discussing the Game Three loss. We played like crap, we deserved to lose, let's move on.

Let's look ahead to tonight's game. Just like before Game Two, I have a good feeling about this one. I'll list my reasons:

1. Dropping both at home is the most un-Red Wings thing there is. I told someone at work before Game Three that I couldn't see Phoenix taking a single game from us at home. Obviously, I was wrong, but that was because only Henrik Zetterberg showed up for that game. We won't lose Game Four. The whole team knows that this city, their fans are relying on them and they know they can't let us down.

2. Babcock obviously had to rip the Wings a new one. When they get yelled at, they play a hell of a lot better. Remember back in December when Draper got up in the locker room and said that being a Red Wings meant playing with pride, and they weren't playing with enough pride? It straightened us out for a little while and maybe Babs' yelling will help that, at least for Game Four. And maybe it'll carry over for Game Five.

3. Babcock hasn't used the line of, "I think we played well, but _____." And has instead opted for the, "We played like shit." But, you know, in more of a PR-friendly way.

4. Speaking of Babcock, when I was walking into my brother's house today, my parents were watching Local 4 news and they were showing his postgame press conference. He said something along the lines of, "We're here to win. That's what we do in this city." When he has that mentality, he can get through to anyone. He should just pretend he's trying to win a gold medal...

5. Nicklas Lidstrom is pissed at himself, at the team, at everything that happened to his team on Sunday. This is the six-time Norris trophy winner [six times in the past nine years, plus a couple nominations in there] who was a -3 on Sunday, which like the Free Press said today, is like a -14 for a human. He will not take that lightly and he will vent his frustration on the ice tonight for the better.

My list of things that we need to do to win:

1. Tighter defense. If I say that, the Wings' defense will think it's opposite day. So I'll just think it and send it telepatically to you. Also, keep up the good penalty-killing. That's always helpful.

2. Shoot high on Bryzgalov. I noticed in Game Three that there was literally nothing open from the pads down. Look at where Franzen's goal went in: up above his shoulders. So they should pretend like they're shooting on Roberto Luongo and aim for the glove or pretend like they're shooting on Cristobal Huet and shoot everywhere because there's a good chance that it will go in. Also, pounce on rebounds. Look at how much that helped us in Game Two - we got free curly fries because of it.

3. Be more physical. Dear Kronwall, where is your patented Kronwalling? Dear Bertuzzi, where the fuck has your physical play been all season? Dear Datsyuk, play like you want a form of checking known forevermore as "the Datsyukian check." Dear Mule, throw your weight around a little. Dear Howard, jump out to cover the puck and take out another Phoenix player.

4. Get Homer into his office [yes i drew that]. Hell, have Datsyuk break his stick and instead of going to the bench, just stand in front of the net like the end of Game Three. Get Bryz moving around the giant body in front of him, trying to nudge Homer away while Lidstrom takes a shot from the point and the puck goes right past him into the back of the net.

This series is far from being over. Let's not lose all hope just yet, people.

[PS - A re-drawing of that comic will be coming sometime soon since I have a tablet now and can make it pretty like this one.]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An open letter to the Detroit Red Wings

Dear Red Wings,

How are you? I'm doing okay. It's been an interesting postseason so far, eh? And I don't mean just your series; this whole postseason so far has been strange. I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing. For us Wings fans, it's a bad thing right now, speaking strictly about your series [and maybe Pittsburgh's].

We fans walked into Game One this year not anticipating an easy victory, but not expecting what actually happened; you were out-muscled from the start and you stopped playing after the second period ended and lost because you didn't start playing until the last minute of the third. We know you're not the best physical team, but where was some Kronwalling? Where was Datsyuk throwing his weight around like he always does? Where was The Mule, especially since this is his time of the year? Hell, where was Bertuzzi?

You bounced back somewhat in Game Two and we were thankful, breathing a sigh of relief. You powered through the second period and finally passed Phoenix in goal-scoring and clinched a victory. We happily rejoiced at an early hour in the morning, sacrificing sleep to see you through to a win. We woke up the next morning happy yet tired, anticipating a victory in the next game because you were coming home. You would all be surrounded by your die hard, loving fans that would just empower you, and we all thought to ourselves, "How can they lose?"

But something happened. After a solid first period, there was a change. Fans around the Metro Detroit area cringed as your playing reminded us too much of that final loss back last June, one we all hope to forget. And you never bounced back from it. You found your momentum too late in the third to do much and you couldn't do anything about it. We sat at home and in the arena, unable to look at our team in the eyes.

We've pulled out all of our playoff rituals, all of our playoff superstitions, but it's not doing anything. No matter whether we wear the same shirt through every victory and toss it in the laundry when you lose and switch to another one, or fly a car flag on game days and after victories, or stop shaving to start growing a playoff beard, or make sure we sit in the same spot on the couch for every game, or eat the same snacks during the game, nothing seems to work.

We know these silly little things don't actually have an effect, but we've done them so many times that we can't bring ourselves to stop; we've convinced ourselves that we have an effect on your play, but they don't. We just hope that the message reaches through our television screens, reaches out towards you, either at The Joe or our west at arena or wherever you're playing, and lets you know that we're there with you even when we're not physically present.

It's been a rough season, we know. One of the worsts in recent history. And we understand the sufferings you've gone through, because we've been through them with you whether you realize it or not. The fact that you pulled it together after the Olympic break and rallied from ninth place to sitting neatly in fifth made us ecstatic. We were more excited for the playoffs than we have been in years. Normally, April arrives and all of us have the same bland thought of, "Oh. It's playoffs. Let's not get excited until we make it to the conference finals." Nineteen years of making the postseason will do that. But this year, we were losing sleep the night before Game One, thoroughly happy and too excited that our season hadn't ended three days before.

Us hardcore Wings fans have been through thick and thin with you this season and we will always be here. If you lose fans because you aren't winning, it's the ones that don't care enough about you or the sport. It's not the amount of fans, but the amount of love the fans give you.

We know you can pull through this. After all, it was just one loss in Game Three. Had it been Game Five and we were down 3-2, then we would be a little more concerned. You guys can pull through this. You've done it before and you can do it again. Just know that we're with you.

Our state has gone through some rough times in the past year and we've all had personal struggles that have taken their toll on our well-beings. But to see you, The Red Wings, win a game, even if it isn't important, it makes us feel a little better. It makes us feel as though you won it for us, to make us happier for a little while. Remember the Stanley Cup parade in 2008 and how happy everyone was? Times were bleak then, too, and they aren't much better now. Just think how much it would lift the city, the area, the state, if you could bring the Cup home again.

We love you, Red Wings. We always have and we always will. After all, this is Hockeytown - do you expect any less from us?

All of our love,

Your fans

Here we go again...

So the Wings played the last 2/3 of the game like they were playing for an ice cream cone. They played without passion after the first. Howard let in a soft fourth goal he should have had. Hell, Shane Doan wasn't even there for half the game trying to wreck all of our players and we still couldn't do anything!

Is the answer Chris Osgood? I don't know. Ozzie will always be my #1 goaltender, but I'm not blinded by my love; I can see that starting him when he's only had one start in two months might not be a good idea. Yes, he has that switch he flips to make him play like a brick wall has been built in the crease, but is he fresh enough to do that right away? He's reliable in the playoffs when we need him, but do we really need him just yet? He plays when he needs to, but I don't think he needs to play yet.

Ilya Bryzgalov did not play fantastic, contrary to what the media is saying. Everything down low was covered, and I mean everything. Up top? Did you see how easily Franzen flipped that puck past him? Bryz hasn't been outstanding this entire series. The Wings need to treat him like Luongo: shoot at his glove and in that general area.

I hate to say it, but I was actually more nervous when Lidstrom was out playing defense for this game. I guess my nerves were right since he was a -3 rating. And when you're cringing when you see Mr. Norris out there, you know you're not in for a good game. I literally almost left for the last ten minutes of the third, but it would have been too weird not watching a Wings game when I know it's on.

Could I take the paranoid schizophrenic Wings fan side and say the refs were out to get us, blowing down two goals? That Gary Bettman was against us and obviously wanted his team to win on their first nationally televised game? Of course I could say all of that, but I'm just pointing the blame at the abstract things that had no effect. The Wings played lackluster. You would think they would have learned their lesson from Game Seven and the majority of this season.

The Red Wings' entire season has been exactly this: They play fantastic for a game or two and crush their opponents and in the following game, they play like crap. They're a bipolar team, but I thought after the Olympics we had found our path yet again. Apparently not quite yet...

With all of that said, there's no way we'll lose both at home. We lost two games in round one in 1997. We were down 2-1 in the first round to Phoenix in 1998. We were down 2-0 to Vancouver in the first round in 2002. We lost two games in round one against Nashville in 2008 and won nine in a row after dropping those two. Can we come back from this? Absolutely. But we need heart and soul.

A Kronwalling We Will Go

I'm still standing by my guarantee:

Within five minutes of today's game, Shane Doan is going to find himself Kronwalled.

Do I need to say anything else? No. A thorough Kronwalling is all we need to kick this series into overdrive and in our favor. Let's go Red Wings.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another reason to hate Shane Doan

Not that we need more reason to hate Doan, but I came upon a humorous yet angering discovery.

Deadliest Catch, for those of you who don't watch The Discovery Channel, is the show that follows around the crab fisherman up in Alaska's Bering Sea. It's one of my favorite shows of all time. Two seasons ago, the crab boat The Wizard took on a couple new greenhorns for their crew. One was Jason "Moi" Moilanen, who I absolutely despised. I won't go into any more detail, but he was fired from the boat after the crab season was over.

Shane Doan looks exactly like Moi and it is ridiculously angering. Case in point:

When you see Doan, think of Moi. It will only increase your hate.

Zetterlicious Fries

And that's how the Red Wings should play playoff hockey. Yes, there were a few fluke goals and yes Bertuzzi decided to turn over the puck ten seconds into the game and take a penalty a minute later to put us shorthanded, but the important thing is that we didn't let any of that get us down.

Phoenix isn't an offensive team. While they continued to counter our goals in the second period in less than four minutes, it was only a matter of time before we took off ahead of them, leaving them in our dust. And this led to a Zetterberg hat trick, which as all of us Detroiters know means free curly fries at Arby's the next day. I will admit that when his empty net goal went in, my brother and I jumped up and screamed, "CURLY FRIES!!!"

They were consumed at lunch. As the other brother said, "These are Zetterlicious." Enjoy your free fries, Hockeytown. Let's hope there's more to come.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hooked on a Feeling

When Wednesday finally arrived, I was absolutely ecstatic for the start of playoff hockey. 7pm couldn't come fast enough and 10pm seemed like it was days away. I still feel that way today. This is me:

The reason being? I have a good feeling about us splitting the series tonight with Phoenix. Let me list my thoughts:

1. Nick Lidstrom is pissed. And yes, those four words can be used together in a sentence. Mr. Norris is never angry, but the blown high-stick call by the referees on Wednesday night was enough to get him riled up. Having Lidstrom be even somewhat emotional doesn't bode well for Phoenix.

2. Justin Abdelkader. This guy knows how to throw his weight around and score timely goals. Just look at the SCFs last year - he had more goals than Sidney Crosby and was a pretty good enforcer for us. Look at how he filled in the gaps in our roster for a decent chunk of this season. Taking out Jason Williams is really only losing us a hard shot from the point on a power play and maybe a good chance here and there.

3. Our upset loss wasn't the only one. Have you seen the results from all of the games so far? We, legitimate Cup contenders, lost. Washington, the other Cup contenders, lost in OT to a team I thought they would easily sweep. San Jose lost [okay, I suppose that isn't surprising for all of their playoff choking abilities, but still]. Brodeur lost to Philly. The only non-upsets were Buffalo, which many people have that series being upset and going to Boston, and Vancouver [though they had to go to overtime to clinch Game One]. Can Chicago beat Nashville tonight? We'll see how that Hossa curse works out for them.

4. We've gauged Phoenix's play. We haven't faced them since early January and we didn't have a healthy roster then. From all of the interviews I've read from the players and Babcock, they seem to know what they need to do. Which brings me to a mini list within this list.
a. Players need to play with some fire under them. Phoenix was crushing us with their bodies last game and it definitely took a toll on us. Can the Yotes keep it up for the whole series? Probably not, but we need to counteract it while we can.
b. Datsyuk needs to throw his weight around. We know this guy can be dangerous. We know that when he's dishing out the body checks, he's a force to be reckoned with.
c. Homer needs to be in his office. To me, he seemed a little tentative to do so on Wednesday. It was either that or the dozens of cross-checks he took to the shoulders that kept him further out than he wanted to be. I know the NHL is cracking down on this, but when haven't they in the playoffs? Cause a raucous, Homer. Do your job and piss off Bryzgalov.
d. Kronwall. I know in my last post I said we wouldn't have Kronwalling until our boys are back in Hockeytown, but if he wanted to prelude and give Doan a taste of it tonight, that would be totally acceptable.

5. Phoenix won't get three power play goals tonight. If there's one thing I don't understand from Game one, it's how our PK was so bad when it's been so solid and how Phoenix's PP was so amazing when it was 28th in the league. If they think they're going to get three PP goals every game or even half that many good chances, they better think again.
a. And come on. A blown interference call on the play when Phoenix got their GWG and a missed call on Lidstrom? If either of those had been called, it's an entirely different game.

6. Jimmy Howard has shaken his nerves. I know in interviews beforehand, he said he wasn't nervous, but please: You're a rookie goaltender playing your first NHL postseason game away from home ice, you're bound to be a little nervous. He wasn't playing on his head on Wednesday, but he wasn't terrible. Our goaltending wasn't our downfall nor do I expect it to be. Jimmy's head has always been clear this season.

I'm not worried. Unless we play tonight's game like we did for the majority of Game Seven, which I'd rather not recall, my fear of an upset is at a minimum. Godspeed, Red Wings. Make us proud.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

There Will Be Kronwalling

I know everyone's waiting for Kronwall to kill Shane Doan tomorrow night. But here's what I'm thinking: he's not going to lay on a massive, leveling hit until he's on home ice.

Think about it. Phoenix was physically outplaying almost all of our players last night and the crowd was going crazy after every single one. Stuart laid on one hard, clean hit, and they were booing him like there was no tomorrow. I'm sure Kronner would rather have his coma-inducing hit followed by excited cheers and screams at the Joe rather than the angry [though somewhat confused] boos of the Phoenix crowd.

I guarantee you this: if there is no Kronwalling tomorrow night on Shane Doan, within the first five minutes of game three, Doan will be sprawled out on the ice, staring up at the banner-filled rafters with dazed eyes, and Kronwall will be skating away, surrounded by the jovial applause from Wings fans all around the Metro Detroit area.

Besides, don't we all want to see it done on home turf?

Abbie for Jason

Over the weekend, I was discussing how to get Abdelkader into the lineup. For some reason, I could only think of taking out Draper, which is just stupid; Drapes has good speed and is great at faceoffs. I never thought to pull Williams. Shane Doan may not get Kronwalled until he's on our turf [something I've guaranteed a lot of people today], but he might find himself Abdelkadered.

And let's not forget that Abbie had more goals than Sidney Crosby in the SCFs last year. This may work out.

Make 'em pay

I had a great history teacher for world history in my freshman year of high school. He gave us a lot of advice on how to stay out of trouble and do as little work as possible. One quote that always stuck with me was, "Don't tick off the rhino."

In this case, the rhino is Nicklas Lidstrom. Close to the end of the third period last night, Lidstrom was hit with a high stick by a Phoenix player at center ice. It took five stitches to sew the wound shut after the game and there wasn't even a penalty called on the play. He said, "[The referees] said it was Fil's stick. Fil wasn't even close. They would have been better off telling me they missed it."

Yes, they would have. Because Nick Lidstrom, the machine, is rarely angry. I've been watching him play for years, and I've never seen him lose his cool. Lidstrom is the rhino; you don't want to tick him off or you'll regret it. He's looking for some revenge. Not physical payback, but more along the lines of scoring the game-winning goal tomorrow night against Phoenix.

Get ready, Phoenix. We're just getting started.