Red Wings say goodbye to 2009 with a win

That’s how it’s done. A full sixty minute effort, and a win for the good guys. The calendar will switch over to 2010, and the Red Wings have 20 wins on the season, thanks to a 4-2 victory over the once-hated Colorado Avalanche.


We all know the league is ass backwards, but I think the biggest problem I have is the inconsistency of penalty calls, and I don’t just mean for or against the Red Wings. I learned early in my playing days that it is a fact that, as it’s always been, there’s a offense worthy of a penalty on every single play if you look hard enough for it. Early in the games, refs choose to call those (as they did in the game against the Avs), and later in the game, they let them go (except on that redonkulous Filppula tripping call). It’d be great if a penalty was a penalty and a suspension was a suspension. But we don’t live in that world. Sadly.

Filppula is back. His shift in the final couple minutes of the first period was beautiful. A little bit of dangle, a little bit of footwork, a little bit of drive to the net. He’s just a good hockey player. There’s not a whole lot more to say about Flip, really. He’s just good. I’m pretty sure he’ll never be a Datsyuk/Zetterberg calibre of player (meaning, All-Planet), but he doesn’t need to be and he isn’t terribly far off, anyway.

Ken Daniels dropped this nugget on us during the second period: since November 27th, the Red Wings have the best PK in the league – over 95%. That’s a sick-nasty number, and as an outspoken “It’s all your fault, Brad McCrimmon” guy, it’s only fair that I offer him a beer. Next time I see Brad McCrimmon, I’ll totally buy him a beer.* They did allow two PP goals to the Avs, but they also scored two short-handed goals (more on that in a minute). I’ll take that trade every single night.

What a shot from Pavel – coming across the blueline, he snapped one off real quick and it ended up top shelf cookie jar. Craig Anderson did his best Chris Osgood “What the–!?” impression as it sailed by him and back out.

OH THE HELMANITY! I love Darren Helm. I always have. I knew that eventually he’ll find some hands, and GOOD LORD was that shot perfect. Not quite sure where Anderson was headed with his side along the ice, but Helm ROOFED that puck. Shorthanded, no less. By my count, that’s the third shorty of the season. Later, he iced the game with his second short-handed goal of the night, an empty netter, DOUBLING the amount of SH goals the Red Wings have scored in all of 2008-09. And with that, the final Red Wings goal of the 00’s was scored by Darren Helm. He’s a restricted free agent in July, but he’s eligible for re-signing after January 1st, and I – for one – would love to see him wrapped up in a nice ten year deal. Keep him in Detroit forever.

Jimmy Howard misplayed the puck badly on the first Avalanche goal. Should have gotten out to play the puck a bit quicker (and more efficiently) – it ended up behind him with bodies everywhere: five players total. One of them swats the puck into the empty net. Next season, I’m going to keep track of Budd Lynch “Last Minute of Play in This Period” goals allowed by Red Wings goaltenders. It has to be a ton. Howard made up for that weak goal against with an unbelievable save halfway through the third. The one-timer was destined for the back of the net, but Jimmy got over quickly and threw a leg at it.

Needing a goal more than anyone else on the planet, a helmetless Ville Leino, lookin’ like Mickey Redmond out there, tipped that puck (after it had already been tipped once) past Craig Anderson. Derek Meech let it go, Justin Abdelkader got a piece, and Ville Leino got another piece. Craig Anderson looked like he was high on peyote, and couldn’t find his own feet. Leino wasn’t as visible as Mattias Ritola was all night (which doesn’t bode well for the Finn), but he did do something Ritola didn’t: get on the scoresheet. Perhaps it’ll increase Uncle Mike’s confidence in him and he’ll be a regular in the lineup again. I have a gut feeling Ritola will be sent back down before the next Wings game…

*Offer only valid if he prints a copy of this TPL article and presents it to me to sign. 

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. I said the Wings needed to finish on a high note – and that they did. A regulation victory felt really good, and I’m sure the boys in red couldn’t be happier with the way their calendar year ended. Hopefully the dark days are behind them and it’s all uphill from here.
2. Here’s my official scouting report on Mattias Ritola: this was the first time I got to really watch him — during his few game call-up two seasons ago, I was in Mexico on business and watched the games using Rob’s GameCenter Live subscription to dial in. In the first period, he looked exactly like an AHL player playing as a call-up in the NHL. No offense to him, because that’s exactly what he is – but he definitely looked a step slower than everyone else, didn’t make decisions quick enough for this level of hockey, and had no business whatsoever on the power play (though, the Wings are trying anyone that is warm and has a beating heart on the second power play unit). But, as the game went on, he got more comfortable, and looked 100% better. He was a hit machine in the second period, and he was one of the players that really stood out to me in the third: great puck control, great poise, smart play-making. I think he’s going to be a really good hockey player in the NHL, but maybe has some jitters as a call-up. It takes a special Filppula-like player not to display those kinds of nerves, so I’m not worried about him at all. I look forward to seeing him more regularly (and not in a jersey number too closely resembling Helm’s 43).
3. Jimmy Howard straight up beat Craig Anderson in a battle of Olympic bubble goalies. It’ll be interesting to see who the USA picks as their third netminder, especially now.
4. I thought that this was one of the last chances Pavel would get to take over and be savior. He scored a beautiful goal, and his line (with Bertuzzi and Holmstrom) was the most noticeable on the ice all night (thanks, in part, to 476 penalty minutes from Homer). He didn’t exactly own the game, but he didn’t have an invisible game, either. Good on Pavel to break the Bertuzzi-only schneid, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.
5. The game was chippy, but there were no Brad May fights (or any other fights, for that matter). He did, however, try to pull an old school Mayday play, attempting to dipsy doodle around some Av defenders, before losing the handle completely, skating back to the bench, and snickering about it.

Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP

12/31 :: Avs Lang Syne (CLEVER!)

No shit, they have a damn yeti for a mascot. What is this, college football?
WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
The Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche meet for the third time this year. This time, on New Years Eve, it’s Disco Night at the Joe. Every year growing up, I looked forward to the New Years Eve game because it meant eating pizza, sitting on the floor, and staying up late. I plan on doing the same this year.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. Coming off of a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss to the Blue Jackets, how will the Red Wings respond for their final (thank God) game of the calendar year?
2. Jimmy Howard starts the final game of the ’00s, making it four in a row for the first time since Chris Osgood had the flu.
3. Mattias Ritola remains with the team, and he ain’t up to fill space. He has to take advantage of his time and prove he’s better than Ville Leino.
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Avs last played on October 24th. The Avalanche won 3-1 that night, with Jimmy Howard in net, and the Wings fell to 3-4-2. So far this season, the Avs are 2-0 against the Red Wings.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
Everyone’s been hurt. Todd Bertuzzi has made me look like a dumbass. Many of the Olympic teams have been named. Todd Bertuzzi and I became penpals. Santa came.
OH, HI AGAIN 
Kyle Quincey finds himself in Denver, and he’s a pretty good player in between fits of tears about not getting a Cup ring he didn’t earn.

MEMBA ME?! 
There are no former Avalanche players on the Red Wings. In theory, the hate runs too deep for everyone besides Kyle Quincey.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit lost to Columbus, 1-0 in overtime, on Monday
–Colorado beat Ottawa, 4-3, on Wednesday

RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 19-14-6 (3rd in Central, 10th in West) :: 12-7-2 at home.
–Colorado Avalanche :: 23-12-6 (1st in Northwest, 3rd in West) :: 12-7-4 on the road.
AVALANCHE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Matt Duchesne :: Milan Hejduk :: Paul Stastny :: Marek Svatos :: Wojtek Wolski :: Karakoram :: Adam Foote :: John-Michael Liles :: Craig Anderson

EXPECTED LINEUP
Patrick Eaves cannot, in fact, go tonight, as he’s suffering from the flu. Ville Leino comes in, and will play on the fourth line, bumping Maltby up to the threes. Ritola is on the second line.

Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom

Ritola — Filppula — Miller
Draper — Helm — Maltby
May — Abdelkader — Leino
Lidstrom — Rafalski
Lebda — Stuart
Meech — Janik
Howard (starts)
Osgood
Injuries
Andreas “The Swedish Headache” Lilja
Johan “The Swedish Leg” Franzen
Jason “The Canadian Also-Ran” Williams
Niklas “The Swedish Olympian” Kronwall
Dan “The Canadian Near Miss” Cleary
Jonathan “The Swedish Boomstick” Ericsson
Henrik “The Swedish Meat Market” Zetterberg
Patrick “The Canadian Flu Symptom” Eaves
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Finish this damn year on a high note, please.
2. I didn’t get to watch the last game, so I’m looking forward to seeing Ritola, particularly in a second-line-type role. Should showcase him pretty extensively.
3. Jimmy Howard needs to build off of that just-as-good-as-a-shutout performance and keep it up. He’s why things aren’t horrible at the moment. I assume that Team USA has been SELECTED, but not informed, so I don’t think another shutout would sway Brian Burke, but it would certainly earn some points with the fans who are already turning him into a folk hero.
4. Cleary, Ericsson, and Zetterberg are right around the corner. Only a few games of “patch the leak” games left, so winning some of them would be huge bonuses in my eyes. It also means, however, that there is a limited time for Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, and Valtteri Filppula to step up to take over the bulk of the scoring, like they should be. Flip gets a pass since he’s just back himself, and Homer keeps doing what Homer does. I guess the moral of the story is “Score, Pavel Datsyuk, Score.”
5. Anyone want to take bets on a Brad May vs. Anyone fight? It won’t be like the mid- to late-90s in terms of sheer hatred, but a nice scrap might remind us of the good ol’ days when we kicked the ever-loving shit out of the Avalanche every chance we got.

WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Blue Jackets
Great goaltending outings don’t equal wins when you can’t score goals
AV WE COVET (JJ Special)
Raise your hand if you’re happy with Derek Meech instead of Kyle Quincey right now. You’re a damn liar. I’m also a big fan of TJ Galiardi and that Polish fellow who wears number 8.

Miroslav Blatak a Surprise Olympian — and Other Red Wing-Related International News

TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC
Jiri Hudler may not have been chosen to represent the Czech Republic at the Olympics, but Miroslav Blatak was. Blatak was a fourth round pick of the Red Wings back in 2001, and though he’s a “defected player,” it’s my understanding that he remains property of the Wings (though, it’s unlikely he makes his way to North America or the NHL at this stage of his career). Blatak was one of only six non-NHL players to make Team Czech Republic (Jaromir Jagr was one of the others), and chances are good he won’t dress on a defense corps that already includes Jan Hejda, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, and Marek Zidlicky. Former Red Wing Dominik Hasek was also left off the roster.

TEAM CANDA
Team Canada was announced this morning, and the only Red Wing invited to camp — Dan Cleary — was not on the roster. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he shouldn’t have been viewed as anything but an extremely long shot, but a bit disappointing nonetheless. One would think that Brad Stuart garnered an extra look or two with his strong play this season, but cracking this insanely deep group would have taken a miracle. Also, in a clear affront to TPL readers everywhere, the greatest player on the planet, OMFG TODD BERTUZZIBARGHL! was omitted, meaning the Canadian braintrust obviously wasn’t watching in the four — count em, four — games Bertuzzi showed up to.

TEAM SWEDEN
A quartet of Red Wings will play for Sweden in Vancouver: Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas “The Butt” Holmstrom, the currently-injured Niklas Kronwall, and Nicklas Lidstrom — who was named Captain of the squad. Jonathan Ericsson was in contention, but ultimately didn’t make the squad, joining Team Pout Captain Mikael Samuelsson on a list of Swedes that will have a few weeks off in February.

TEAM FINLAND
The love our life, Valtteri Filppula, was named to the Finnish roster. Ville Leino, who as of two years ago was a shoe-in for this squad, was rightfully left off. No word yet on whether he had a Mikael Samuelsson-like breakdown and threw things (which, clearly, missed whatever target he was aiming for).

TEAM SLOVAKIA
Two former Red Wings made Slovakia’s roster: Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky. Kopecky said he’d only play if Hossa made the team, too. Classy guy, that Kopecky.

TEAM NORWAY
There aren’t any Red Wings on this squad, but you should head over to Fight Night at the Joe, where my favorite Norwegian (besides, of course, the guys that make up a-ha), Andy, breaks down every player and talks about the squad that will face both Canada and the United States in the preliminary round.

TEAM USA
The American team (which will definitely include Brian Rafalski) will be named during the Winter Classic in Boston, but there has been some talk that Jimmy Howard might find a way onto the squad. Wouldn’t that be something? I have to think it’s a longshot, but even if he makes the team, he probably won’t see the ice, as he’d be behind Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller on the depth chart. Other goaltending options are early season Vezina favorite Craig Anderson, LA King Jonathan Quick, Ty Conklin, and oft-injured Rick DiPietro, so maybe it’s not so crazy Howard’s name has been included in conversations.

WORLD JUNIORS 
In what shouldn’t be a surprise anymore, Tomas Tatar is having a second fantastic WJC. He had two goals and as assist in one game for Team Slovakia just after Christmas. Red Wings draft pick Max Nicastro was a final cut for Team USA, but undrafted free agent signee Brian Lashoff made the squad, arguably as the final defenseman based on playing time. A great accomplishment, anyway, and I urge you to head over to Babcock’s Death Stare for a much more in-depth report on the World Juniors rosters.  

Ritola up, Blue Jackets again, Bertuzzi’s our biggest fan

Your first star. Snowballs abundant in hell.


WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
Monday, December 28th, 2009. The Red Wings play the second half of the second half of back-to-back rematches (say that five times fast). This time, Detroit heads to Columbus. I’m in Pennsylvania, stopping by my fiancee’s family’s home, so I’m not entirely sure I’ll have a chance to check it out since…ya know… no one has Versus.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. Todd Bertuzzi: Scoring Machine. More positive than the last kind of machine he was. Oh you didn’t hear? We’re pen pals now.
2. Ville Leino, sit down. Some kid from Grand Rapids is taking your place. Anyone think he’ll be in Motown next season?
3. Jimmy Howard sure does play a lot for a guy that isn’t the starter…
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Jackets just played on Saturday in front of a pretty good crowd that included yours truly. My personal favorite Red Wing, Sir Toddeus Bertuzzi, singlehandedly beat Columbus. The final score was Columbus Blue Jackets 1, Detroit Todd Bertuzzis 2. TODD BERTUZZI!
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
Mattias Ritola was called up from Grand Rapids, and Uncle Mike had the following to say about Ville Leino being the “working in” guy in practice:

Anytime someone comes in and moves into the spot you were in and now you don’t have a line, I’d say that’s a message. But it’s not about sending a message anymore. We got to be better. You get so much opportunity and if you don’t take advantage of your opportunity, somebody else gets the opportunity.

That sound you heard was whatever was left of Ville Leino’s manhood being sucked COMPLETELY inside his body.
OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?! / BEST NAME NOMINEE
These are the same as the other night, no former Red Wings in Columbus – and Jason Williams and Andy Delmore are former Blue Jackets in Detroit-ish. The Best Name Nominee was Raffi Torres.

THEIR LAST GAMES
Detroit defeated Columbus 2-1 on Saturday.
RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 19-14-5 (3rd in Central, 10th in West) :: 12-7-2 at home.
–Columbus Blue Jackets :: 14-18-7 (5th in Central, 14th in West) :: 6-12-3 on the road.
JACKETS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Fredrik Modin :: Rick Nash :: RJ Umberger :: Antoine Vermette :: Mike Commodore :: Rusty Klesla :: Thriller :: Steve Mason :: Jan Hejda
EXPECTED LINEUP
Not only is Valtteri Filppula back, but Dan Cleary participated in full practice, meaning he’s getting close. Ritola is penciled into that second line, though Mike Babcock made no commitment to actually playing him there (or at all). Like I mentioned above, Howard is starting again, making it twelve of the last fifteen games. Can we call him the starter yet or what?
Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Ritola — Filppula — Miller
Draper — Helm — Eaves
May — Abdelkader — Maltby
Lidstrom — Rafalski
Lebda — Stuart
Meech — Janik
Howard (starting)
Osgood
Injuries
Andreas Lilja
Johan Franzen
Jason Williams
Niklas Kronwall
Dan Cleary
Jonathan Ericsson
Henrik Zetterberg
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. During the last game, I thought Nicklas Lidstrom was forcing some shots, and seemingly to let the lack of offense get to him. I’m really hoping he can break the goal-scoring curse soon, but it’s not like he’s not contributing. I expect a big time game from the best in the business. After all, he was just named to Team Sweden for the Olympics so perhaps he’s got a bit of an extra confidence boost.
2. Speaking of which, former Red Wing scapegoat Mikael Samuelsson was “snubbed” by the team (no word yet on who will fill the “firing pucks into the corner” role for that squad). He had the following to say about it, per Bob McKenzie: “Probably going to get in trouble for this, but they can go fuck themselves.” Classy.
3. Ritola playing over Leino is probably a bigger deal than the team will let on. Leino hasn’t exactly been quiet about the fact that he’d head back to Finland if he didn’t get an NHL spot, but it’s clear he doesn’t really belong.
4. I am now eight Bertuzzi goals away from changing the simple banner to one depicting my “true” feelings of the man. Could reeeeallly use a couple quiet games from him.
5. Darren Helm finishes. You heard it here first, folks.
WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Beejers
Yup, Todd Bertuzzi reads The Production Line. And he loves what he sees.
JACKET WE COVET (JJ Special)
Once again, I asked J.J. from Kansas to chime in, since I’m getting tired of saying Rick Nash over and over again. Last time, J.J. delivered Spear of Testiclese. And here’s what we get for tonight’s game:

It’s hard to pick a BJ other than Nash because this team has jack for talent. I’d go with Jakub Voracek. He reminds me of a labrador puppy. His feet are a bit too big for his age and he hasn’t figured out how to use his size the right way, but he’s got plenty of energy. Worst case, he ends up the next Kopecky and we ship hiim off later to get overpaid for unrealized potential. Best case, he rounds out to Franzen 2.0.

There you have it. Voracek it is.

The Obstructed View, Part III

The third installment of our fancy little upstart is available at The Obstructed View.com, or by clicking right here to go directly to the audio.

This episode featured more of my favorites: Tyler from The Triple Deke, Kyle from Babcock’s Death Stare, and Kris from Snipe Snipe Dangle Dangle making her second appearance (BIG TIME!). With them, as always, was Chris Hollis from Motown Wings and Superstar Producer Brian Kiernicki.

I appreciate the shout out in the opening minutes, thanks to YET ANOTHER two goal performance from Todd Bertuzzi. Our good friend Tyler (who is FIRMLY entrenched with me in the Contuzzi Brigade) stood firm on the anti-Bertuzzi stance, but gave him his due (which he deserves). Tyler made sure everyone knew Garon played that first goal like a half-retarded Squirt goaltender, diving for someone “in the eighth row,” which Hollis was quick to point out was probably me. I was in the eighth row… just sayin’.

Give it a listen, damn good episode.

It’s Official: Todd reads TPL

Here I am, thoroughly convinced this smartass photo wouldn’t come back to totally bite me on the ass two hours later. 

What are you, kidding me?

I’m on the road, heading back east Sunday morning, but the Twitterverse would never let me hear the end of it if I didn’t mention Todd Bertuzzi’s two-goal performance, obviously trying to impress me. I was behind Howard for the first and third, so that first Red Wings goal, I got the feeling that Todd was actually looking for me in the crowd. He did a little “FUCK YOU PETRELLA!” dance directly AT the crowd, though he missed by a few sections.

No less than 39 tweets were directed my way after the first Bertuzzi goal, and through the second one.

Andy from Fight Night at the Joe and I have a little wager going. I was willing to bet anyone who would have it that Todd Bertuzzi wouldn’t score 20 goals this season. He agreed to record an acoustic version of The Todd Bertuzzi song if he didn’t hit 20, and I hadn’t come up with any good terms if he didn’t, although the picture above might be a good banner for the rest of the season… as suggested by @jennyquarx. If Andy agrees to the terms, perhaps that’s my wager. He offered to lift the goals to 25, but I’ll stick by my original statement. I’m still taking bets, by the way, if anyone has anything — though it might not be for the twenty goals that originally seemed so out of reach, it may as well have been in Antarctica.

Some of my favorite tweets, received in Section 102 / Row 8:
@mserven :: Did Todd just skate into the corner and wave at @mpetrella after burying that goal?
@inhyung :: Ohhh nice goal by Bert. @mpetrella
@SnipeDangle :: That was for you, @mpetrella. Love, Todd. PS. Call me.
@FightNightatJoe :: @mpetrella Dude hahahahhahaa
@jennyquarx :: I was seriously just going to tweet this. RT @SnipeDangle That was for you, @mpetrella. Love, Todd. PS. Call me.
@BingoBangodrw :: todd scored that 4 u he knew u were in attendance
@jennbikegirl :: @mpetrella Hey look, #44 took a penalty (Don’t just want you getting harassed all night.)
@mserven :: Bertuzzi is going for the @mpetrella Hatrick. A goal, a penalty & a wink.
@GordieHoweHT :: Someone buy @mpetrella season tickets ASAP, Bertuzzi will pull a Heatley and score 70.
@mserven :: If Bert scores a 3rd, I think @mpetrella and Todd should go to Arby’s together through the drive-thru in a rickshaw.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Well, they didn’t kick ass, but they got the win, so that’s what counts.
2. I thought Flip looked awesome. Correct me if I’m wrong, because sometimes seeing things from a different angle helps, but he didn’t seem rusty at all.
3. Nick Lidstrom looked to be forcing shots and trying extra hard to put pucks on net. He still didn’t get one, but he’s getting close.
4. Todd Bertuzzi didn’t score nine times, but he definitely did whatever he could to make me look like an asshole. Color me assholed.
5. The Wings didn’t score until the second period, so much for my prediction of an opening minutes goal.

What’s next?
Re-match with the BJs, this time in beautiful, sunny Ohio. On Monday.

12/26 :: Happy Boxing Day!

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
Saturday, December 26th, 2009. 7pm. The Red Wings and Blue Jackets meet for the second time this season, but for the first time in Detroit. Oh, and I’ll be there, so…ya know…Todd Bertuzzi is going to be looking for me in the stands.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. Merry Christmas — Val Flip is back.
2. Wings are on a three-game losing streak, matching their season long. Joy to the World.
3. The last time the Wings and Jax played, it was U-G-L-Y. Wings walked away 9-1 winners. Suck it, Ohio.
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Jackets played on November 11th. Jimmy Howard was in net and it was his first win of the season. Detroit got goals from Kronwall (two, in fact), Abdelkader (also with two), Bertuzzi (fluke), Cleary, Datsyuk, Draper, and Leino. You may recall this was the game that seven different goal scorers each scored their third goal of the season. Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino haven’t scored since.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
The following players have been injured since the last time these two teams met: Niklas Kronwall, Patrick Eaves, Brian Rafalski, Dan Cleary, Darren Helm, Jonathan Ericsson, and Henrik Zetterberg. Vomit.
OH, HI AGAIN 
There are no former Red Wings on the current incarnation of the Blue Jackets. Which is odd because Columbus has long been Red Wings Lite.

MEMBA ME?! 
Former Blue Jackets Jason Williams and Andy Delmore find themselves on the Wings (or in the system), but neither is available for this game.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Raffi Torres.
THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit lost to Chicago, 3-0 for the second game in a row, on Wednesday.
–Columbus lost to Dallas, 3-1, also on Wednesday.
RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 18-14-5 (3rd in Central, 10th in West) :: 11-7-2 at home.
–Columbus Blue Jackets :: 14-17-7 (5th in Central, 14th in West) :: 6-11-3 on the road.
JACKETS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Fredrik Modin :: Rick Nash :: RJ Umberger :: Antoine Vermette :: Mike Commodore :: Rusty Klesla :: Thriller :: Steve Mason :: Jan Hejda
EXPECTED LINEUP
As of this writing, I haven’t heard if Brian Rafalski had recovered from his most recent bout with the flu, but if he can’t go, expect Jakub Kindl to be in his place. Likewise, I haven’t seen starting goaltenders listed anywhere.
Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Filppula — Miller
Draper — Helm — Eaves
May — Abdelkader — Maltby
Lidstrom — Rafalski/Kindl
Lebda — Stuart
Meech — Janik
Howard
Osgood
Injuries
Andreas “Lump of Coal” Lilja

Johan “Aunt’s Fruitcake” Franzen
Jason “Homemade Socks” Williams
Niklas “Ugly Santa Sweater” Kronwall
Dan “Yellow Tie” Cleary
Jonathan “Knock-Off Cologne” Ericsson
Henrik “I Got a Rock” Zetterberg
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. The Wings are on a vicious skid. After playing two horrible games against the conference-leading Blackhawks, perhaps they’re ready for a repeat of their last Columbus game, kicking a little ass.
2. Valtteri Filppula is back, baby! Maybe he’ll need some time to shake off the rust, but I expect him to be hungry for some real hockey.
3. It has now been 34 games since Nicklas Lidstrom scored. I’ve got a feeling (much like the feeling I had a half dozen times before) that this is the game he gets off that schneid.
4. I’ll be at the game, so Todd Bertuzzi will score nine times to make me look like an asshole.
5. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Wings goal in the opening minutes, because no one is more frustrated about the lack of offence than the Red Wings themselves.
WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Hawks
Oh, son of a bitch.
JACKET WE COVET (JJ Special)
Last time, I picked Rick Nash. As we all know, the resident Italian is the second choice, but there aren’t any (Dan LaCosta is a frequent call-up, but not an active member). The final tie-breaker is a name that’s fun to say, so I’ll go with Fedor Tyutin, even though I think he’s one of the worst players ever to play in the NHL.

12/23 :: REMATCH!

Chicago: Where you can trade on-ice success for one-legged cheerleaders.



WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?

Wednesday, December 23rd. 7:30pm Eastern. Blackhawks visit the Joe for some rematch action. Chief from A2Y has asked, via podcast, that no one boo Marian Hossa, in an effort to put some (more) distance between Red Wings fans and Penguins fans in the class department. I can get on board that train. So long as I’m still allowed to hope Brad Stuart puts him into the fourth row.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. Well, the last one didn’t go so well. That was Sunday.
2. Chicago leads the division that was once Detroit’s bitch.
3. Chicago played last night, but Detroit hasn’t played since Sunday. Maybe it’s an advantage. Silver lining, people.
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Hawks met last on Sunday. The Hawks shutout the Red Wings, 3-0. It was a goddamn nightmare.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN
Kris Newbury’s reign as The Most Fascinating Man on the Planet came to an end, as he was sent back to Grand Rapids. Mattias Ritola was called up to take Newbury’s place. Flip practiced and should be good to go on Saturday.
OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?! / BEST NAME NOMINEE
None of this has changed from the last time: Hossa and Kopecky are former Wings. Cleary and Williams are former Hawks (but hurt). Dustin Byfuglien and Niklas Hjalmarsson duke it out for the best name.
THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit lost to Chicago, 3-0, on Sunday.
–Chicago lost to San Jose at home. Let’s hope they’re EXHAUSTED.
RECORDS
–Detroit Red Wings :: 18-13-5 (3rd in Central) :: 11-6-2 at home.
–Chicago Blackhawks :: 23-9-3 (1st in Central) :: 7-5-2 on the road.
BLACKHAWKS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Dave Bolland (injured) :: Marian Hossa :: Patrick Kane :: Sauk Makataimeshekiakiak :: John Madden :: Patrick Sharp :: Jonathan Toews :: Kris Versteeg :: Cam Barker :: Brian Campbell :: Duncan Keith :: Brent Seabrook
EXPECTED LINEUP
Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Abdelkader — Miller
Ritola — Helm — Eaves
May — Draper — Maltby
Lidstrom — Rafalski
Lebda — Stuart
Meech — Janik
Howard (starts)
Osgood
Injuries
Johan “Eight Mules a-Milking” Franzen

Andreas “Seven Lils a-Swimming” Lilja

Valtteri “Six Flips a-Laying” Filppula
Jason “Five Golden Wills” Williams
Niklas “Four Kronwalling Birds” Kronwall
Dan “Three Newfound-Hens” Cleary
Jonathan “Two Turtle Rigs” Ericsson
Henrik “And a Partridge in a Pear Z” Zetterberg
QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Sunday’s effort won’t cut it. Chicago is clearly a superior team, at least right now. If Detroit plays as flat as they did Sunday, they’re screwed.
2. Can Jimmy Howard do better than Ozzie? And by that, I mean, not allowing goals on shots taken from Indiana.
3. Can Mattias Ritola light a fire? He looked decent in his two-game stint a few seasons back, but this call-up is a little different. He’s needed, at least on some level.
4. Marian Hossa was virtually invisible on Sunday. Does he wake up for the booing he’s potentially going to receive at the Joe? And will someone lay him out to appease the hometown folk?
5. The last defenseman to score a goal for the Red Wings was DEREK MEECH on December 17th.  But before that, it was Brad Stuart on November 21st. Brutal. This would be a super swell game for Nick to get off the schneid.
WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Hawks
Yawn. Is it February yet?
HAWK WE COVET (JJ Special)
I thought I’d try something different this time around. I asked one of our dedicated readers, not to mention the guy that this section is named for, J.J. from Kansas to write this game’s selection. And here’s the gold:

Since I can’t have Toews and that realization is slowly dawning on me like when I learned I can’t fight fires, fly jet fighters AND be a secret agent, it’s a tossup between Dustin “Fugly” Byfuglien and Patrick “Destroyer of Nards” Sharp. On one hand, Fugly is that big annoying gritty guy that the Wings seem to  be missing, but he doesn’t have nearly the scoring power of the Spear of Testiclese. I’d be happy with either, but I’ll take Sharp. Something about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer appeals here.

Boom. Spear of Testiclese. Make it stick, Red Wings Nation.

Podcast :: Episode II (better than Attack of the Clones)

I’m traveling for the holidays today, so imagine my dismay when I receive an email that a new episode of the podcast was available. The first thing I did when getting to somewhere solid was head over to The Obstructed View website, and gave it a listen.

You can click right here to go directly to the episode audio.

Great stuff, boys and girls! Make sure you give it a listen. This week’s guests were Chief from Abel to Yzerman, Jessie from Bingo Bango, and George Malik of MLive Snapshots — joining host Chris Hollis from Motown Wings and producer-extraordinaire Brian Kiernicki.

I had an unbelievable time taping last week, and it sounded like everyone enjoyed it this time, too.

Herm to Hockeytown

Graphic stolen from A2Y

I’m a little late to the party, but this couldn’t go without mentioning, and is truly in the holiday spirit. Longtime A2Y contributor and Red Wings Brasil author, Guilherme, made mention that he has never been to a Red Wings game — or met another Red Wings fan.

Well, clearly, that won’t fly. Hats off to Chief, who organized the campaign to raise funds and get his ass to Motown for a game. It only took thirty hours to raise the initial $1,000. As of this writing, it’s been asked that donations be put on hold until everyone can figure out what it will cost to get Herm to the Joe for a game. It may re-open if it’s discovered that it’ll cost more than a grand — in which case, I encourage you to join me and send a few bucks their way.

What an unbelievably cool thing, and Red Wings fans should be proud of themselves for this gesture.

If you haven’t made your way over to Abel to Yzerman to check out the details yet, go now. Also, what the hell are you doing here NOT reading A2Y?

Happy Holidays, Herm! We all hope you enjoy the game, and look forward to hearing more about the journey! Take lots of pictures.

***UPDATE***

It’s been brought to my attention (thanks, Below the Crossbar, for the head’s up) that A2Y is again accepting donations. Any extra dough is being donated to Children’s Hospital. So, either way, a worthy cause. Get donatin’.