Wings go for two in a row

Paging Neal Broten. You’re needed in the Link Gaetz Ward.

The Red Wings and Dallas met two weeks ago, on November 18th. You may remember that game as the “one where the Wings were hosed by Dennis LaRue,” although that only SORT OF narrows it down. The Red Wings lost 3-1, and the only goal scorer (of one that counted, anyway) was Henrik Zetterberg. Brad May’s bogus no-goal would have made it 2-2, and who knows what could have been.

The worst fears were realized, as the Wings began a spiral immediately following the Stars game. Over the next six games, the Wings were 1-4-1, and outscored 15-5. But, on Saturday night, the Wings defeated the Blues in what we hope turns the tides for the better. For the record, it has been 8 games since the Red Wings won in regulation (November 14 vs. Anaheim).

No change from last time, where we learned Doug Janik is the only former Star in the Red Wings system; and Garrett Stafford is the only former “Red Wing” in the Stars system. Neither will be a factor in this tilt.

Mark Fistric. It’s undeniably close to Mark Fidrych, who is literally one of the coolest personalities in Detroit sports history. The bird, bird, bird. The bird is the word.

The last five Detroit Red Wings wins have come with Jimmy Howard in net? The last game that Osgood won was November 5th, against the Sharks. Both goaltenders have six wins on the season.

–Detroit beat the Blues 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday night. It was one of five overtime games on Saturday night that ended 4-3.
–Dallas beat Tampa Bay 4-3 in overtime on Saturday night. It was also one of those five.

–Detroit Red Wings :: 12-9-4 (3rd in Central, 10th in West) :: 7-4-2 at home.
–The Artists Formerly Known as the Minnesota North Stars :: 12-7-7 (3rd in Pacific, 6th in West) :: 6-4-3 on the road.

The last time these two teams met, Meech and Maltby were healthy scratches (Maltby was “healthy” following the flu, however), and Chris Osgood was still out with an illness. Khan says that Howard is starting again (whoa…), and that unless an unnamed player can’t go (speculation that it’s Eaves), the lineup will stay the same as the Blues game.

Only-Partially-Redeemed-Tuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Cleary — Zetterberg — Leino
Draper — Helm — Eaves
Miller — Abdelkader — May

Lidstrom — Rafalski
Stuart — Ericsson
Lebda — Meech

Howard (starts)

Kirk “Van Houten” Maltby
Andreas “One-Time Potential Olympian” Lilja
Johan “One-Time Potential Olympian” Franzen
Valtteri “One-Time Potential Olympian” Filppula

Niklas “One-Time Potential Olympian” Kronwall

Jason “One-Time Potential Olympic Spectator” Williams

1. Fabian Brunnstrom was recalled from his rehabilitation stint prior to this game. I have to imagine its because the Stars want to pit him face-to-face with Ville Leino. Both are struggling on the scoresheet, with Fabian (18 games, 1 goal, 6 assists) narrowly edging our very own Villain (24 games, 3 goals, 2 assists).
2. I wonder if Alex Auld will play again, since Marty Turco is absolutely brutal in games played at the Joe. It’s only kind of related, but watch this anyway:

3. The third and fourth lines were the best on the ice for either team on Saturday. Here’s hoping Darren Helm buries one, because – even though it’s not his primary objective – he looks rather frustrated that he isn’t converting on the breakaway chances and that chance in the Blues game where he flubbed on an empty net. He’s the hardest worker on the team and he’ll get one sooner or later.
4. Quietly, Jonathan Ericsson has righted the ship, and he’s playing very solid hockey. This Stars game will be a good test for him, and we all hope he’s on the up-and-up.
5. Jimmy Howard is playing back to back games for the first time all season (aside from the time Chris Osgood was ill). I wonder if something’s up with Osgood, or if its time for his annual “mental break” already.

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Blues
Overtime/Shootouts are not the bane of the Red Wings existence after all.

I already picked Morrow, so in an attempt to try to guess JJ from Kansas’ SECOND choice, I’ll go with Jere Lehtinen circa 1998.

Break open the champagne: Red Wings win


It’s a beautiful day in Zamunda! The Red Wings needed a shootout, but they finally got off their schneid, defeating the Blues in St. Louis by a final score of 4-3. They had lost three in a row and 5 of 6.

Goals from Homer, Draper, and Z were enough to propel the Wings into overtime. The shootout featured goals by Pavel Datsyuk and — wait for it — Todd Bertuzzi. No shit, Todd Bertuzzi. I’ll give you a minute to regain your composure before proceeding.

It was a better effort all around. The Wings played a bit sluggish at times, but certainly with more gusto for much of the second half of the game. Justin Abdelkader was all over the place, and Darren Helm skated like he was on fire (so, the norm). Brad May didn’t get much ice, but he and the rest of the fourth line were very strong all night.

1. For a more “complete” write-up, read my recap at Winging it in Motown. My name was drawn out of a hat just before faceoff and I had the distinct pleasure of typing that baby up.
2. Good showing by Jimmy Howard. He stopped a breakaway early that I PROMISE would have made the game 1-0 Blues if Chris Osgood was in net. Howard did what TPL asks the goaltender to do: keep the team in the game. He didn’t win the game for the Wings, but he didn’t have to. He made 32 saves, which – since we’re on the subject – is 18 saves more than Ozzie made in the Calgary game. Just sayin’…
3. How about that pass from Zetterberg to Homer for the first Wings goal? Jeez, what a thing of beauty, as was Holmstrom’s redirection. Those bounces have not been going Detroit’s way this last week, but it almost FELT like a turning of the tides as soon as 96’s stick made contact with that pass.
4. I don’t remember seeing Brett Lebda or Derek Meech on the ice ONCE. tells me Lebda played 11:28, and Meech played 8:16. I think they’re dirty, filthy liars.
5. Nick Lidstrom played a hell of a game. He had a moment where he stripped a Blue as he was coming from behind Howard. Totally understated and absolutely perfect. That’s the Nicklas Lidstrom we all know and love.
6. The energy line of Kris Draper, Darren Helm, and Patrick Eaves were buzzing once again. Their hustle finally paid off in a goal, as Helm fed Draper for the marker that made it 2-2. Darren Helm had another near-breakaway, as the Blues seemed a little caught off guard by how fast he is. In related news, holy Jeebus, Darren Helm is fast.
7. There were zero – I repeat, zero – goals called back from the Red Wings. Also, there were only three penalties called all night. The Wings were perfect on the power play, scoring 28 seconds into their only opportunity. The Blues, however, were 0-for-2, which is a definite departure from the Red Wings recent PK woes. Great news all around.
8. I thought for sure Dan Cleary was going to end the game in the shootout. At least I was hoping and praying he would, because I couldn’t figure out who the fourth shooter would be. No Williams, no Filppula, no Franzen, no Hudler. I actually said — out loud — “maybe Brett Lebda?” I literally would have thought Brad McCrimmon would have shot before Todd Bertuzzi.
9. This was the first time all season I was forced to listen to the opposition’s television crew. A new feature with Center Ice this season (at least for me) is dual feeds – offering you both the home and road crews for many games. Tonight, with the 13 scheduled games, we were only offered the Blues guys. I kind of missed Mickey. I was relatively indifferent to missing Ken. And, by all Twitter accounts, Larry Murphy as retarded as usual.
10. And finally, we’ve been nominated by the NHL Arena in the Wings Blog-Off. I’m not very familiar with the site, but we’re honored to be mentioned in the same breath as many of the other Wings blogs out there. If you’re a visitor to the NHL Arena, you may vote for your favorite Wings blogs.

What’s next?
Stars come to town on Monday. Which means Brad May will score a goal for real this time.

Photo Credit: Bill Boyce, AP

Recap/Pre-Game Hybrid

Last night, the Red Wings were shutout. For the second game in a row. At home. For the first time since 1977. You already know all that, so I’ll move on…

TPL’S TAKE vs. Flames:
1. The Red Wings don’t need help NOT scoring goals. For the second time in nine nights an obvious goal was scored, yet was not counted. This time, Dan Cleary’s heel was in the crease. Please recall that the “foot in the crease” rule was repealed after the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, thanks to Brett Hull and the Dallas Stars Cup-winner. The explanation — no shit — was “the goalie couldn’t do his job.” Kiprusoff seemed to see the puck, because he reacted to the shot, missed it, and seemed upset only with himself that he had allowed a goal. I didn’t see any contact, even incidental contact, but maybe I’m missing something. The second apparent Red Wings goal was also disallowed, as the referees lost sight of the puck during a scrum. Kiprusoff seemed to put his glove over the puck for a tad, but it popped loose. Maybe it’s because the first one was retarded, but the second no-goal was a little easier to swallow. The fact is, two goals pulled back last night — and 7+ periods of hockey without a goal (that counted). I’m wondering if the Red Wings will ever score again.
2. Same old story: Red Wings outshot the hell out of the Flames, various failed power plays, ten million shots that were blocked, etc etc etc…
3. Darren Helm once again generated a breakaway out of nothing. One of these days he’ll convert, and he’ll be the most popular Red Wing, beloved by all.
4. Make sure you read Rob’s post from last night. If you ask me, I think he nailed it.

And now, an abbreviated Pre-Game:

NOW WHERE WE vs. Blues:
The Wings and Blues met to “open” the season in Sweden. Detroit lost both of those games. It was the most obvious foreshadowing of all time.

Detroit improved a bit, but is slumping hard these days. Conversely, St. Louis struggled mightily once they returned to North America, but they’ve won two straight.

The savior of the 2008-09 Detroit Red Wings, Ty Conklin, plays for the Blues. No word on whether or not he starts tonight or if it’ll be Chris Mason.

The lone former Blue on the Detroit Red Wings is Chris Osgood. The Islanders traded Ozzie (and a third round pick, Konstantin Barulin) to St. Louis for Justin Papineau and a second round pick (Jeremy Colliton)

Roman Polak. He is, by himself, an oxymoron.

–Detroit lost 3-0 last night to the Calgary Flames.
–St. Louis defeated “the hottest team in the league right now” by a score of 3-1 in Nashville.

–Detroit Red Wings :: 11-9-4 (4th in Central, 11th in West) :: 4-5-2 on road.
–St. Louis Blues :: 10-9-4 (5th in Central, 12th in West) :: 5-8-1 at home.

The second of back-to-back nights, so we’ll definitely see Howard in net.

TOWNDNBS — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Cleary — Zetterberg — Leino
Draper — Helm — Eaves
May — Abdelkader — Miller

Lidstrom — Rafalski
Stuart — Ericsson
Lebda — Meech

Howard (starts)

Kirk “17GP” Maltby
Andreas “0GP” Lilja
Johan “3GP” Franzen
Valtteri “11GP” Filppula
Jason “15GP” Williams
Niklas “21GP” Kronwall

TJ Oshie. Why not?

Red Wings and Flames, the Day After Thanksgiving

Yup. They wore these.

The Wings and Flames have already played this season. The Red Wings won 3-1 in Calgary on Halloween, starting a streak of three in a row (and 6 of 7). If they can start another string of games like that, it’d be swell. For the record, Ville Leino was the healthy scratch that night. Just sayin’…

The Red Wings have gone 6-4-1 since the beginning of October. The Flames are 7-2-2 in the same span. Nik Kronwall severly sprained his left MCL against Montreal, and Rene Bourque sustained an “upper body” injury on November 19th.

There are no former Red Wings on the Calgary Flames. Forward Dave Moss is from Livonia. He has the distinct pleasure of graduating high school with me.

The Flames were one of the 18 teams that Brad Stuart has played for in his short career. The One Whose Name Dare Not Be Spoken played 66 games for the Flames last year – the longest he’s lasted on any new team since the lockout.

Nigel Dawes. You feel like he should be British. But he’s a black guy from Winnipeg. Awesome.

Jarome Iginla has twice as many goals (16) as the next highest scorer – Daymond Langkow.

–Detroit was shutout by Atlanta 2-0 on Wednesday.
–Calgary defeated Sir Gary’s Desert Dogs 2-1 on Wednesday.

–Detroit Red Wings :: 11-8-4 (4th in Central, 10th in West) :: 7-3-2 at home.
–Calgary Firehorses :: 14-6-3 (2nd in Northwest, 5th in West) :: 7-1-3 on road.

I have to assume that its Chris Osgood’s start, as its his turn in the faux-rotation they’ve got going on at the moment. I haven’t heard or read which player will be the healthy scratch, but I assume it’s Brad May’s turn in that rotation, as well.

TOWNDNBS — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Zetterberg — Cleary
Draper — Helm — Eaves
Miller — Abdelkader — Maltby

Lidstrom — Rafalski
Ericsson — Stuart
Meech — Lebda


Brad “Ineffective” May
Andreas “Bocellis” Lilja
Johan “Sebastien Bach” Franzen
Valtteri “No One Else Famous is Named Valtteri” Filppula
Jason “Voorhees is the First Jason That Comes Up on Google” Williams
Niklas “and Friends” Kronwall

1. The Flames rock on the road. They have one of the best records in the league away from their own barn, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
2. I have to imagine — or at least I hope that — Detroit plays a tad better than they did on Wednesday.
3. There are a few guys who really, REALLY, desperately need to score soon. If they all do, we can expect the final score to be 16-1.
4. Having the Alberta flag on your shoulder is retarded.
5. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope the Red Wings have all the tryptophan out of their systems.

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Thrashers
The Red Wings had not, in fact, hit rock bottom on Monday.

Mike Cammalleri. Oh wait. I picked him when we played the Canadiens. It’s a cop-out to pick Jarome Iginla, even though he’s one of the most complete players in the game, and Miikka Kiprusoff is the obvious choice for a team with questionable goaltending. I’m going to go completely off the board and pick Fredrik Sjostrom, who was the fastest skater in his draft class. I really like Dave Moss’s game, too. He’s a hell of a hockey player and would love to see him in a hometown uniform one day.

Uninspired Wings Don’t Care. Why Should You?

Show of hands, who wants dark meat?

Tyler says it all: not even worth talking about.

The Red Wings were shutout for the first time since the season finale last season against Chicago. They were shutout at home for the first time since March 27th against the Islanders.

They played like they were completely indifferent to the outcome. I’ve got very little to say, because much of it would be negative. So all I’ll say is this: Ken Daniels let it slip that we’re hoping to hear news regarding a new two-year deal with Nick Lidstrom. That’s positive. He can play until he’s 600 years old, as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s hoping the captain sits everyone down and whoops some ass. Someone needs to light a fire.

What’s Next?
Calgary on Friday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP

The Preview Where I Make a Concerted Effort Not to Mention a Certain Someone **UPDATE**

Guardian Legend II: Hockey Hotbed

12:24pm :: Update :: Patrick Eaves is out of the lineup. See updated lineup below.

The last game played between these two clubs was March 20 of last season. Chris Osgood was in net for the 6-3 ass-kicking, a game won on the strength of goals from Marian Hossa (36), Johan Franzen (30), Pavel Datsyuk (29), Jiri Hudler (21), Dan Cleary (14), and Brian Rafalski (10). The Wings improved to 48-15-9.

Atlanta finished 13th in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs by 17 points. They’ve actually had quite a bit of turnover and most of the notables were positive improvements:
Out – Garnet Exelby, Colin Stuart
In – Maxim Afinogenov, Nik Antropov, Pavel Kubina, Steve McCarthy, Christoph Schubert

One of the Thrashers’ alternate captains is Vyacheslav “You May Know Him Better as Slava” Kozlov. Kozlov was traded, in 2001, to the Buffalo Sabres when the Red Wings acquired Dominik Hasek. After only 38 games as a Sabre, he was flipped to Atlanta for draft picks.


Jason Williams is the lone former Thrasher on the Red Wings, but he obviously won’t be playing into his leg is back in one piece. Assistant Coach/Reason for the Special Teams Woes Brad McCrimmon was an assistant in Atlanta before taking the bench job in Detroit.

Evander Kane.

The Red Wings beat the Thrashers in the new franchise’s second game ever? The score was 7-1, but Kris Draper didn’t get one: Atlanta is one of only two teams he has yet to score against (Florida is the other).

–Detroit lost to Nashville 3-1 on Monday.
–Atlanta lost in overtime to Tampa Bay 4-3 on Sunday.

–Detroit Red Wings :: 11-7-4 (xxx in Central, xx in West) :: 7-2-2 at home.
–Atlanta Bird/Rat Combos :: 10-7-3 (xxx in Southeast, xx in East) :: 6-2-1 on the road.

Before your head explodes seeing the third defense pairing, here’s an explanation from Uncle Mike, via Khan: the top two pairs from the Predators game will remain the same (Lidstrom with Ericsson; Rafalski with Stuart), Those pairings will play against the Thrashers top two lines. Then, the remaining defensemen (Lebda; Meech) will be paired with one of the top four and rotate. It looks like Howard will start, and Maltby is the scratch for the second game in a row.

Unknown — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Zetterberg — Cleary
Draper — Helm — Miller
May — Abdelkader — Maltby

Lidstrom — Rafalski
Ericsson — Stuart
Lebda — Meech

Howard (starting)

Patrick “Leads the Forwards in Plus/Minus” Eaves
Andreas “Swedish for Andrew” Lilja
Johan “Swedish for John” Franzen
Valtteri “Finnish for Walter” Filppula
Jason “Canadian for Mediocre” Williams
Niklas “Five Games Seems Fair” Kronwall

1. I can’t wait to see if Drew Miller can build off of his performance from the Nashville game. I’d love to see him get rewarded and bumped up to a scoring line again, because not only does it boost his confidence, it puts everyone who isn’t named Datsyuk or Zetterberg on notice.
2. Jimmy Howard gets the start following a fantastic showing by Chris Osgood. It looks like the starts are being rotated, which is a good idea considering how the games are stacked on top of one another.
3. I wonder how Brett “Brad” Lebda and Derek “Darren” Meech feel about being one of the “other defensemen.” It can’t do much for their confidence to know that they simply aren’t as trusted as the other guys, but if they thought they were, they have some sort of mental illness. That’s what we called a double-edged sword.
4. I love Darren Helm. I could literally watch him skate all game. TPL partner-in-crime Rob put it best during last year’s playoffs: it’d be worth paying $5 for a personal camera on him for a full game.
5. If I’m Ville Leino, I’m coming out of the locker room itching to score. He was dropped down to the fourth line in the last game, and I’m sure he’s feeling the heat…

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Predators
Now, I’m not going to mention any names, but the team AS A WHOLE took far too many offensive zone penalties. During two of the ensuing power plays, the Preds scored. Moral of the story is: stupid penalties give birth to losses, via goals against. As it were.

Ilya Kovalchuk. Yeah, I know he wouldn’t fit in on Detroit’s roster, but homeboy is one of the ten most talented players on the planet.

Wings lose their third in four games

“Oh sorry, I was counting radishes. One…two…three. Three radishes. Three great big radishes.”

For the fourth time in a row, the Red Wings ran into a hot goaltender. First it was Auld, then it was Clemmensen, followed by Price, and now Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. Chris Osgood did what he could – playing admirably for the second time since returning from illness, but – for the second time since Friday – came away with a loss, this time in regulation.

Detroit’s lone goal scorer, Drew Miller, had his best game as a Red Wing, seemingly rewarding Coach Babcock for leaving him in the lineup, as Kirk Maltby was scratched instead. Considering the Kronwall injury, the Wings carried the best lineup possible into Nashville, but they came up a tad short. It was 2-1 Predators with three minutes left in regulation, and Detroit put the burners on. They seemed destined to tie it up and head to overtime for the third game in a row, but Martin Erat sealed it with his second of the night.

1. Jonathan Ericsson had an end-to-end rush that was a thing of beauty in the first period. The Versus commentators said he looked like a “young Bobby Orr,” and while I’m not ready to make that comparison, I will take back some of the bad things I’ve been saying about him. Not all of them, just a couple.
2. Speaking of the Versus commentators, every time they referred to Francis Bouillon, I could have sworn they said Francis BOOYAH! Also, there is no Brad Lebda on the Red Wings.
3. The Wings took an inordinate amount of dumbass penalties in this one, and paid the price twice. Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom each received four minutes worth of penalties in this one: Bertuzzi was called twice deep in the offensive zone, and Homer – obviously tired of only being called for goaltender interference – got the first “closing his hand on the puck” penalty of the year.
4. 109-year-old Jason Arnott scored during the first Bertuzzi penalty, and Martin Erat scored on the first Holmstrom penalty.
5. Some jackass threw a hat on the ice after Martin Erat’s second goal (the Predator’s third). That’s not how it works, son, but I guess they’ve still got their training wheels on south of the Mason/Dixon. Let’s not get too crazy, they’ve only had 11 years to learn basic hockey terms.
6. Derek Meech didn’t look too bad at all. I noticed him a handful of times, including pinching on offense. I forgot he liked to do that.
7. Ville Leino was bumped off of the second line, in favor of Drew Miller, who I mentioned had his best game as a Red Wing. For much of the third period, it was Bertuzzi/Datsyuk/Homer and Miller/Z/Cleary. Leino actually generated quite a few chances playing with Justin Abdelkader and Brad May – but that line was playing quite well all night. I’m surprised at how effective they are, not only as agitators, but scoring chance creators.
8. I promised myself I’d stop tearing Todd Bertuzzi apart every single day – even though he flat-out deserves it tonight. Instead, I’ll refer you to The Triple Deke, who does a more-than-admirable job telling you all you need to know about #44. Read it RIGHT NOW, and THEN come back to read the final two points.
9. Chris Osgood made more circus saves than usual. In fact, he made more than I can remember him EVER making in an entire season. Like I said above, he played well, making more than enough saves to keep his team in the game (and, if you’re familiar with TPL, that’s all I’ll ever ask of goaltenders), but it was the guys in front of him that let the fans down tonight.
10. Finally, Darren McCarty did quite well in his television debut. He was gesturing with his hands a lot, repeating himself and tried to keep it simple, but rambled on occasion. I work in television, with talent, so that’s just first-time jitters, and he’ll be over them soon. He had great things to add, and fit in just fine. If he continues to keep that post, and we all hope he does, he’ll be the best one on the panel in about a week.

What’s next?
The Red Wings head back home to play the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey, AP

Motown heads to Music City.

One in a series of retarded alternate logos used in Tennessee.

The last time these two teams met was the third to last game oft the 2008-09 season. Detroit lost that game in a shootout, 4-3, with Osgood in net. Franzen (34), Lidstrom (16), and Kronwall (6) were the goal-scorers in regulation, and Scuttles scored the lone shootout goal for the Red Wings. Marian Hossa left the game in the second period with a “sore groin,” but returned to action for the playoffs. Not that you would have noticed him. 

The Predators were the lone Central Division team to NOT make the playoffs, finishing four points out of eighth place. They lost Vernon Fiddler, Greg Zanon, Scott Nichol, Jed Ortmeyer, Radek Bonk, and Ville Koistenen — and replaced them with, well, Francis Bouillon and some two-way guys.  

The closest thing the Predators have to a former Red Wing is David Legwand, who’s a native Detroiter.

The only former Predator in the Red Wings system is Andy Delmore.

…that the following players were selected by the Predators in their expansion draft: Mike Richter (who was an impending free agent), Al Iafrate (who retired, rather than head to BBQ Land), Uwe Krupp (who signed with the Red Wings instead), and Doug Brown (who Detroit lost in the draft, but traded to get back the next day)? 

–Detroit won in a shootout — Huzzah! — against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. 
–Nashville also won in a shootout on Saturday, against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Detroit Red Wings :: 11-6-4 (3rd in Central, 8th in West) :: 4-4-2 on the road.
Nashville Sabrecat Things :: 12-8-1 (4th in Central, 10th in West) :: 7-3-0 at home.

I haven’t heard anything about starting goaltender for this one, but I have to assume Babcock is going to go back to Chris Osgood to try to get him back into a groove after missing four games while ill – and losing his one start since. And check out the new defense pairings…

Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Cleary — Zetterberg — Leino
Draper — Helm — Eaves
May — Abdelkader — Miller

Lidstrom — Ericsson
Lebda — Rafalski
Stuart — Meech


Kirk “Four-Time Healthy Scratch” Maltby
Andreas “Year-to-Year” Lilja
Johan “Mouthguard Connoisseur” Franzen
Valtteri “Santa Hat” Filppula
Jason “The Ginger Dandy” Williams
Niklas “Son of a BITCH!” Kronwall

1. The Nik Kronwall injury hurts – big time. He was our leading scorer on the blueline and his presence on the power play will obviously be missed. A lot of folks are dreading a Lebda/Meech pairing, and who can blame them? Hopefully, Derek Meech has been learning by watching (he’s been a healthy scratch for the last 8 games, and 16 of this season’s 21 games). In a related story, if you haven’t read this article at the Scrappy Octopus, you should turn in your Red Wings fan card right away.
2. One has to wonder if Mike Babcock is going to do what he can to keep Brad May in the lineup as a result of another injury. Not that I’m ready to concede that May’s presence is an effective preventative, but Babcock seems to think so. Would Laraque have stuck his knee out if May was in the lineup to do something about it? Yeah, probably, but he’s an ass. But the fact is – that’s why May’s on the team and he isn’t effective in that respect from the press box. 
3. Darren McCarty is making his talking-head debut tonight on Versus. I’ve never been more sure of anything than I am he’ll do a fantastic job.
4. Mike Babcock is putting Derek Meech on the power play instead of Jonathan Ericsson. Allow me to repeat: Detroit Red Wings head coach Michael Babcock has selected reserve defenseman Derek Meech to play the point on the second power play unit instead of 100-miles-per-hour shooter Jonathan Ericsson.
5. The Olympic year schedule is rearing its ugly head once again, with four games between now and Saturday. We’ll probably see a bit of Jimmy Howard, as after tonight the Red Wings have the Thrashers Wednesday, the Flames Friday, and Blues Saturday. 

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Canadiens
We learned that we can, in fact, get the second point after the 60th minute. We shouldn’t lose all hope in Jimmy Howard. The power play could have used Nik Kronwall in that first period – methinks the score wouldn’t have been 2-0 after one. 

I love Joel Ward. I was secretly hoping we’d pursue him this summer before he re-signed in Nashville.

Three Things That Cannot Be Ignored

First, and clearly most important: Niklas Kronwall. The latest is that he’ll miss 4-8 weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, which is the knee (but not the same ligament that was damaged) that he had surgically repaired in 2005. It’s a huge loss – he’s the leading scorer among Red Wings defensemen, riding a hot hand where everything seemed to be going in for him the last few weeks. More will be asked of Jonathan Ericsson, who has been falling onto some WTF lists lately.

Kris from Snipe Snipe Dangle Dangle puts it better than anyone else has so far: best case scenario is we have FOURTEEN GAMES of Lebda/Meech on the third pairing. Let that soak in for a minute. Ken Holland has said – like he has all season – he’s going with what he’s got. There are no intentions to sign a free agent or trade for an established defenseman. Will that change if Meech, Lebda, et al, shit the bed? Probably.

The top options seem to be:
A) Bring up Doug Janik to be a seventh defenseman. He played well in his one appearance with the Red Wings this season, and there is a bevy of salary cap space given the trauma ward we’ve acquired.
B) Bring up Jakub Kindl. Next season, he’s on a one-way contract, so the intention is that he’s a Red Wing in October. Seems wise to get him into a few games – think Kyle Quiincey and Jonathan Ericsson before they made the jump.
C) Sign Chris Chelios. The idea has been bandied about, and while I doubt it’ll happen, he’s probably the guy who best knows the system and players within it.

How is this the first I’m hearing of this?! I’m somewhat let-down, but perhaps I just blocked it out in a haze of depression all summer. I would fully expect Chief to use something like this as fodder in his famous war with Pensburgh.

In a Toronto Sun article, Eric Francis spoke to Miran Armutlu, championship ring designer. In it, managers of championship teams talk about his beautiful designs, but this little tidbit stood out:

Armutlu figures Sid and his Kids’ Stanley Cup rings represent the next step in changing the industry, given he used 23 different dies. The typical Cup ring involves five or six dies. The Penguins’ rings include two mottos inscribed inside: “The Pen is in our hand” and “Ya hungry.”

Really? Before you get all indignant, the philosophy of such a quote isn’t lost on me. It’s actually quite a nice thought that history is what you make of it, but I can’t help but think that the pen-is in their hands was actually attached to Little Gary Gumdrops.

There’s been a lot of talk this week regarding Brendan Shanahan’s #14 and whether or not it’s rafter-worthy at the Joe. Let me take this opportunity to once again express my undying love for Shanny, and would have given anything for him to continue his career as a Red Wing.

That said, I don’t think his jersey will be retired in Detroit. Red Wings Hardware has been doing a nifty feature regarding the jersey retirement debate for a handful of Wings – and breaks down some interesting numbers for the candidates.

Brendan Shanahan played less than half of his NHL games in a Detroit Red Wings uniform. Yes, his three championships came with the winged wheel on his chest. No, I don’t think the Red Wings begin their dynasty without him. However, the guys whose numbers are hanging from Joe Louis Arena’s rafters are, for the most part, epic, life-and-death Red Wings.

  • Terry Sawchuk played 237 games with the Bruins, Leafs, Kings, and Rangers. That’s the most games played away from the Red Wings, but much of it came later in his career. 
  • Ted Lindsay played 206 of his final 275 games with the Blackhawks.
  • Gordie Howe played 80 games with the Whalers. 
  • Sid Abel played 42 games with the Blackhawks. 
  • Steve Yzerman didn’t dream of playing anywhere but Motown.
  • Neither did Alex Delvecchio.

Shanny, in his infinite awesomeness, played 808 of his 1524 games somewhere else. It just isn’t really the same kind of career dedication to the Red Wings. It’s not Shanahan’s fault he was drafted by the Devils and played some of his biggest seasons in St. Louis – I’m sure if he could have chosen, he would have been a Red Wing through-and-through. He spent quite a bit of his career in other uniforms, but for those nine years, there were very few better marriages than Brendan Shanahan and the Detroit Red Wings.

Can you even fathom a player like Derek Meech wearing #19 two seasons after Steve Yzerman hung up his skates? It’s sacrilegious to even picture that. It’s just my two cents, but I don’t see Shanahan’s #14 in the rafters, but I do wish they would have waited until he retired to re-enter it into circulation. But as soon as I saw the training camp roster and Meech was no longer #36 – he was #14 – I knew that Shanahan’s number wouldn’t be retired by the team.

Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP

“Quarter pole” is a stupid term and I refuse to use it

Here we are, 21 games in and a quarter of the season behind us. Seems like as good a time as any to do a mini-retrospective.

But I won’t do a player-by-player grade, because Animal Drew beat me to it, and did a more complete job than I could do. Plus, I’m the furthest thing from objective, because if Darren Helm went 82 games with zero goals, zero assists and 903 penalty minutes, he’d get an A+. Likewise, Todd Bertuzzi could score 55 goals and not head to the penalty box once, and he’d have an F.

So, instead, I’ve decided that it might be fun to share a little film school exercise with you: Three Word Critiques. Anyone can write a full-length criticism of Unforgiven, but it takes a true artist to sum up a movie – or hockey player, for that matter – in just three words. I’m going to do my best to pretend like it’s 2000 and I’m back in CMN 101. Some things – like sarcasm – are a little tricky to get across in just three words, but something tells me that if you read this site often enough, you’ll know where I’m kidding.

I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments. I’m sure some of you can come up with some hilarious examples, and I can’t wait to read them. Without further ado…

Chris Osgood :: Longest hangover EVER.
Jimmy Howard :: Jekyll and Hyde.
Daniel Larsson :: Cool mustache, bro.

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Still the best.
Brian Rafalski :: Worth everrrrryyyyy penny.
Niklas Kronwall :: Big shot injured.
Brad Stuart :: Stuart! Smash! Destroy!
Jonathan Ericsson :: Honeymoon is over.
Brett Lebda :: Daily trade scenario.
Derek Meech :: How’s the view?
Andreas Lilja :: Pain Train derailed.
Doug Janik :: Kept it simple.

Pavel Datsyuk :: Trust thine eyes.
Henrik Zetterberg :: Mmmm…free Arby’s.
Tomas Holmstrom :: Only scores goals.
Johan Franzen :: Offense sorely missed.
Valtteri Filppula :: Criminally under-appreciated.
Todd Bertuzzi :: Useless turnover machine.
Dan Cleary :: True grit, personified.
Ville Leino :: Not as advertised.
Darren Helm :: Christ, he’s fast.
Jason Williams :: Negates man advantage.
Kris Draper :: Big time wheels.
Kirk Maltby :: Still scoring, cynics!
Brad May :: Punch, miss, fall.
Patrick Eaves :: Found his niche.
Justin Abdelkader :: Next generation’s grinder.
Drew Miller :: Awesome waiver find.

Mike Babcock :: Brain thinking Olympics?
Paul MacLean :: Epic facial hair.
Brad McCrimmon :: Special teams suck.

Ken Holland :: PULL THE TRIGGER!
Jim Nill :: Griffins keep winning.
Jim Devellano :: Keep quiet, grandpa.
Steve Yzerman :: Hall of Famer.
Jiri Fischer :: Anniversary must-read.
Ken Daniels :: Cackling more often.
Mickey Redmond :: Holy Mackerel, whooooo!
Larry Murphy :: Are you drunk?

Chris Chelios :: Show em, Cheli!
Brendan Shanahan :: Joining Yzerman soon.
Marian Hossa :: Hasn’t played yet.
Tomas Kopecky :: Is not missed.
Ty Conklin :: Coulda used him…
Jiri Hudler :: Frozen midget testicles.
Mikael Samuelsson :: Nine goals? Really?
Darren McCarty :: Versus debut tomorrow.
Aaron Downey :: Potato farming again.

Johan Ryno :: Get to steppin’.
Jordan Pearce :: Enjoying Toledo, doctor?
Brendan Smith :: Stop getting arrested.
Dick Axelsson :: Don’t flake, too.
Tomas Tatar :: Skipping juniors rules.
Dennis LaRue :: Vehemently anti-Wings.