Fonzie would be proud

It’s shark jumping time

Obviously, going seven games – more than any other Western Conference series – is means for starting Round 2 two days earlier than anyone else. We shouldn’t have expected any less from the “oh, we’ll just play back to back Finals games fifteen minutes after your third round ended” NHL.

While the Wings needed to go the entire distance to shove the Coyotes onto the golf course, the Sharks have been resting since Saturday, after a six game series with the Avalanche. It’s not unreasonable to hope the Wings can catch St. Joe’s and former assistant coach Todd McLellan off-balance and steal Game 1. Win one in California, and the Wings will usurp home-ice advantage in the series.

The Fins are “led” by Joe “Post Season Disaster” Thornton, Dany “Juuuuuust Shy of Seventy Goals” Heatley, Dan “Steve Smith Impressionist” Boyle, Patrick “No C” Marleau, Manny “Kneecap” Malhotra, Rob “Seriously?” Blake, Ryane “Withe an E” Clowe, Joe “Not Datsyuk” Pavelski, Devin “Tomagochi” Setoguchi, and Evgeni “High-Pressure Situation Rockstar” Nabokov.

After jousting all season with Chicago for top spot in the Conference, the Sharks’ 113 points narrowly edged out the Hawks’ 112. Their 51 wins was third most in the league, their 21.0% power play percentage is like Gaylord Focker’s stock portfolio: “Strong. To very strong,” and the kill was effective to the point of fifth best in the league.

But our Red Wings are rolling. They’re on a nice little swell at the moment, and if they continue playing like they did on Tuesday – neither the Sharks nor anyone else left in the playoffs should present a problem. That said, we all know that the Wings don’t play like that for whole weeks at a time, so consistency is going to be more of a factor as the post-season rolls on. James Howard might be able to turn the series victory into a confidence or swagger to continue backstopping in Calder fashion, and that would be swell. As far as the rest of the team goes, I’m sure you’ve already read 600 “this guy needs to step up, that guy is good, where did Franzen disappear to” posts, so I won’t bore you with that. But considering we may have found some line combos that click – I can’t imagine you’ll see much change in the lineup until it is proven to not work out West.

Zetterberg, Filppula, and Bertuzzi is your defacto top line. I know the Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Franzen combination is theoretically the top line, but ZFlip’tuzzi is killing it, nearly every shift. Flip seems re-energized. Bertuzzi still sucks but at least he’s forechecking and digging along the boards. Zetterberg is Smythey magic.

Datsyuk seems to be waking up, which is swell, and I think Mulo is due for an outbreak. Homer’s been juggled around, so maybe he does something that forces Babcock’s hand to keep him on the top six.

Dan Cleary doesn’t belong on a fourth line, but you can’t break up the third when it provides so much possession and effective shutting down. Add Justin Abdelkader’s fresh blood to the mix and the forward lines are pretty damn scary. Are they scarier than a Team Canada line the Sharks can roll out? I don’t know, but perhaps the depth of the Wings will be a saving grace. Stop me if you’ve heard that before.

40 Year Old Urgin’, Nick Lidstrom had a mini-renaissance in Game 7, though I shutter to think he was actually falling off at all. A pair of goals might be what the doctor ordered to re-align the robot. Making the same goes for Brad “Better Hands on Breakaways than Darren Helm” Stuart will feel the same. I agree with Hollis that Stuart isn’t around to score goals and we shouldn’t measure the effectiveness of his game by the scoresheet, but for a guy that’s been prone to boneheaded plays, maybe he carries his positive thoughts into the next round and does his job and does it well.

I don’t know about you, but I’m liking how the Wings stack up against the Sharks. I won’t make a prediction, because it gives me agita, but I do feel better about the matchup than I did about Phoenix. I hope that’s worth something.

The Eastern Conference is Mother Effing Useless

Perhaps you read my anti-East manifesto at WIM a few weeks ago, and if you did you’re familiar with where I stand on the issue. But something so delicious happened tonight that it absolutely cannot go unnoticed.

I want to preface all of this by saying one of my best friends – a guy I’ve asked to stand up in my wedding – is a big Washington Capitals fan. He grew up in DC, he loved the Caps when they were shitty, and if the Red Wings can’t win, I’d like the Caps to win for him. I want him to see some success as a fan in his lifetime. So I don’t take any personal joy in the fact that his team just got booted out of the tournament by an 8 seed with a goalie just about no one outside of our tight-knit hockey community has even heard of.

The Leastern Conference has been — all season — Totally. Fucking. Worthless. All season long. From October until NOW. I have friends that are Sabres fans, and friends that are Devils fans, and all season I had to listen to noise about the Red Wings being over the hill, finally crashing down to Earth, and having absolutely no chance to appear in the Finals for the third straight year.

Here’s what I know to be a fact: my boys are still playing. And yours are exactly where useless minor league teams should be: on the golf course.

You’re serious right now? The 6, 7, and 8 seeds won their series? Really? Way to make it tough for the Penguins. They’re now the top seed in the second round. A four seed. Re-goddamn-diculous.

What I do take joy in is being so completely and totally right about the East from the very beginning. There’s nothing to fear out there. The Penguins are a good hockey club, don’t get me wrong. But teams like Washington who spend the whole season beating up on the special education class teams, so I have to believe that even the Penguins stats and success is inflated because of the competition they’re facing more often than not.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: whoever comes out of the West sweeps whatever collection of Darryls comes out of the East. If there was a way to win the Cup in three games that’s exactly what the West would do.

And that’s how that’s done.

Earlier today, Hollis asked me how my gut was leaning. I told him I thought it’d be a close loss – or a blow-out win. My gut got it (mostly) right. What started out as a great Game 7, played really tight and very exciting, turned into a straight-up jailsexing at the big, burly hands of our winged wheelers. Playing the role of prison bitch: the NHL’s owned property. I assume they’re in the big house for something totally lame like tax evasion or some other fiduciary transgression.

For a minute, I’d like to put aside the complete jackassery of that fanbase (which is sure to continue all goddamn summer with the “if only Shane Doan had played, then you’d be sorry” bullshit), I would like to send some kudos to the Coyotes organization. That’s a tough situation those men are playing in — unsure of their ownership situation, not even sure if they’d be playing home games in Arizona this season — and they turned in one whole hell of a season. A season that no one expected much from turned into a Cinderella story, and they earned home ice advantage in a tournament that the entire world was convinced they’d miss out on again. I’d been tooting the “Wayne Gretzky’s totally fucking useless behind the bench” horn for years, and it turns out some fresh blood behind the bench was certainly helpful. Dave Tippett will be your runaway Jack Adams Trophy winner, and I don’t think anyone would argue that selection. Congratulations to the Phoenix Coyotes, and their actual fans.

How about that offensive explosion by the Wings? They looked downright dangerous for nearly the entire game. The power play was as terrifying as I’ve seen it look since the mid-to-late-90’s when it was practically automatic. Whole minors would go by with the puck in the Coyotes zone, crisp passes from tape-to-tape. That looked like a team that could win the whole damn thing. Question is – will that same version show up against San Jose? It’s been a long time since the Wings played more than a handful of games in a row like that, so it might be a lot to ask, but I’m asking anyway. If the guys can continue to play how they did tonight, they’ll have no issue with San Jose… or Chicago… or Vancouver… or whoever else you got.

Anywho — as soon as that second Datsyuk goal hit the twine, I knew it was Chicken Dinner. It had that deflating “aw son of a bitch” feel about it, and Bryzgalov – as good as he is – wears his emotion on his sleeve and my shoulders slumped I could so easily feel his brain. 

That said, Ilya Bryzgalov scares the hell out of me. I’m very pleased he’s been dispatched. Earlier in the game, I was e-mailing with Disch and said that for as good as the Red Wings looked, Bryzgalov looked even better. He had that “you aren’t going to beat me” feel about him early in the game, and I was sure that Johan Franzen flub on the open net was going to come back to haunt us. Thankfully, it didn’t, but while we’re on the subject of Johan Franzen, what the hell happened? Wasn’t he like uber-playoff guy? As far as I’m concerned, all that means is that he’s due for a massive round of post-season hockey. Watch out, Evgeni.

Anyone who comes around here knows that I’ve already admitted I was wrong about J.T. Howard IV. But homeboy lets in some of the weakest goals in recent Red Wings goaltending history. At least act like you’re paying goddamn attention during the faceoff. Admittedly, I didn’t see the goal either because I wasn’t watching the faceoff. But I’m not getting paid 750k to watch the motherfrakking faceoff. I promise, Detroit Red Wings, if you want to pay me a bill to watch the faceoffs, I’ll be able to tell you what color each person on the other team’s laces are. Nevertheless, congratulations on a first series victory. That’s gotta be a good feeling for a guy playing a position that is notoriously picked on by fans, and a situation under which you’re totally expected to deliver this outcome. Those aren’t easy parameters to play under, but Tiberius officially has as many playoff series victories as Bryzgalov…or Tim Thomas. Your (likely) two last Vezina winners.

I’ve said it in this space before, but the Wings are a team that personifies the “killing a five on three and turning it into a goal.” This time, it was Brad Stuart (!) coming out of the box, nearly #Eavesing himself, and burying a quasi-breakaway with five seconds left in the second period. I’ll always believe that the team killing a big penalty will benefit greater than a team scoring on one, and for the second time this post-season, it was a million percent true.

Nice to see Todd Bertuzzi get on the scoreboard. It’d only been — what — six months? Actually, it had been one goal in fifteen games. What I know for sure: he sure as hell didn’t hit twenty this season. Including the post-season. All jokes aside, that “SecONEd L1ne” is fantastic. Simply fantastic. Valtteri Filppula has found his place – and it’s along side Hank Zunderful. And, despite my feelings on Flirtuzzi, he complements what the more skilled players do. Along the same lines, pulling Cleary off of that top line was a wise choice, as Homer being reunited with original top-liners Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk created some magic. Perhaps it wasn’t Homer’s doing, but they did net a pair and that isn’t ain’t not bad, no sir.

So what’s protocol on facial hair that isn’t beards? Like… I’m Italian, so I have a mean unibrow if I don’t pluck that shit. Is that allowed or am I going all Bert-from-Sesame-Street until we’re all done? Further, are haircuts allowed? I’ll be uploading a progress photo on Beard-a-Thon this week, as promised. I’m currently sitting in fifth, and I’m fortunate to work in an industry that honestly doesn’t frown upon any sort of appearance oddities.

Finally, a note about Nicklas Lidstrom. He may not have gotten nominated for the Norris for the forty third consecutive year, but I dare you to tell me there’s a better defenseman on the planet. You can’t do it. Yeah, it’s totally chic to talk about how he’s lost a step or how he’s not what he used to be. But 40% Lidstrom is better than 100% Almost Anyone Else, and he sure as hell ain’t 40%. He’s forty today (happy birthday, Captain), and his two goals in Game 7 were prime examples of what a leader does when there’s a big game to be played. Good on him for shutting everyone up.

And now we’re going going… back to back… to Cali Cali.

When the limelight hits ya, lyrics just split ya head so hard thatcha hat can’t fit ya.

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen, Getty Images

Game 7’s aren’t my friends

5-2 Phoenix

From now on, I’m going to devote as much effort to these things as the Red Wings do. So, for today, I’ll spend a good twenty or so minutes on the first half of the game before letting it fall apart completely.

In the first period, there were two parties that wanted this series to end TODAY: Valtteri Filppula and the Phoenix Coyotes. Flip looked like he was shot out of a cannon from the puck drop, and the Coyotes couldn’t stop taking dumbass penalties. Three quick infractions, including two separate 5 on 3’s (one of which was only a second long), and things looked pretty good for the Wings. A goal was scored and it was 1-0.

Oh wait a second…it was a shorthanded goal. That’s not good at all. It was Phoenix’s first shot on goal, and it was a fairly weak goal for Tiberius to give up. If you’re looking for someone else to blame (and I know you are), go ahead and throw Brad Stuart’s name into the mix, as he’s still playing like it’s Game 7 of the Finals with his incessant turnovers. I’m beginning to think he’s sexually attracted to giving the puck to the opponent.

At the end of twenty, even with the Wings down 1-0, it was clear they were the better team. They may not have had the better goaltender through one period, but they were out-hitting, out-skating, out-passing, out-shooting, and out-smarting the Coyotes.

The second period started with a make-up call putting Phoenix on the power play. No big deal, since the Wings have killed 18 straight penalties since Game 1, right? But notable Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inductee (no bullshit…look it up) Mathieu Schneider quarterbacked his team to a 2-0 lead. Later in the period, the Coyotes would capitalize on another power play on the back of a weak make-up call. Phoenix had all three first period penalties. The Wings had all four second period penalties. It’s totally likely that only one team was committing infractions for twenty minutes at a time. Totally likely.

Things only got worse, and the one other goal the Wings did score was reviewed (shocked…SHOCKED I tell you) before officially counting. Justin Abdelkader was a man possessed today, eventually dropping the gloves (and getting his ass kicked) twice (a better effort on the second). Setting the tone, perhaps. The classiness of Phoenix continued as the game ended, as Sami “Valterri Filppula’s Best Friend” Lepisto chopped Darren Helm in the calf, and then the Coyotes celebrated around the injured Wing.

If you take one positive from this experience, let it be this: Mike Serven and I are coordinating a way to get the Shirtuzzi to Phoenix before Tuesday on the off-chance Serven bumps into Todd again. I can’t imagine anything more awesome than the Shirtuzzi signed by that fucker. I’d cherish it forever.

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

My high school gets something right. Finally.

So…immediately following Game 5, I wrote an in-depth post, more or less catching up on everything I’d missed the last three weeks. And then Blogger ate it. I was mighty angry something fierce, so I stepped away from TPL for another two days because – seriously – I damn near chucked this thing out the damn window.

But, I’ve calmed down to a (maybe) six on the hate level (it’s as low as I get), and want to share something with you. I’m a tiny bit late with the announcement, as I’ve been trying how best to frame it. If you’re not familiar with Fox Sports Net’s series REPLAY, here’s the gist: Gatorade re-stages classic American high school sports contests — usually that were forfeited or canceled for some reason. 

The new season, which begins airing in May, will feature two Michigan high school hockey teams – one of which is my alma mater – from a game in 1999 – the year I was a junior.

Detroit Catholic Central and Trenton High School were tied 4-4 in the third period of a February game when an errant skate slashed Trenton player Kurt LaTarte’s jugular. I wasn’t involved in the game, but I remember it vividly – it was my understanding that a doctor was in the stands, saw that he was in trouble, hopped over the glass and stabilized him with his bare hands until proper medical attention could literally save his life on the ice.

Make no mistake: I disliked most everything there was (and probably still is) about CC. Never, in a million years, would I have imagined they’d take part in something like this. Good on them for giving these guys a chance to finish what they started. The majority of the players in royal blue and white are friends of mine. Friends that I may have lost touch with, but friends nonetheless. Below, there’s a link to the trailer – please check it out and watch the series when it airs.

The two squads are going to be coached by some guys you may have heard of. Behind the bench for Trenton will be Brendan Shanahan. Coaching my alma mater, Scotty Bowman. It’s been ten years since I graduated, but this is the thing I’m most proud of featuring my former school.

Click here to go to Gatorade’s site and watch the trailer.

Photo Credit: Ed Zylik

This Just In: Jimmy Howard does NOT blow

I don’t want to step on Disch’s toes, who did an awesome recap (per usual), but I do want to share a few quick notes regarding last night’s Game 4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes most definitely poked the bear last night, and not only did he steal their pic-a-nic basket, he went all Kung Fu Panda on them.

First of all, I don’t ever want to hear anyone dismiss the power of momentum after a strong penalty kill. Ever again. Never. If last night wasn’t picture proof of a once-shorthanded-team-killing-a-five-on-three-and-then-jailsexing-the-once-man-advantaged-team, there never will be. The kill was FANTASTIC last night – a marked improvement from Game 1 when it was god-awful.

There was some line juggling of note — Homer to the fours and Dan Cleary to a scoring line — but what might be most important of all that is this: the second line of Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Burptuzzi, and Valtteri Filppula WORKS. They are phenomenal together (evidenced by Z leading the NHL in goals this post-season), and splitting them up would be lunacy. Likewise, the Eaves-Draper-Helm line works, too. Perhaps Helm needed a little something something to get going, which he did (ask homeboy that got straight gangsta-beat at the goal line).

Early in the first period, Drew Miller and Vernon “Deliverance” Fiddler had some words and continued to exchange pleasantries from the penalty boxes. This is one of those opportunities where the refs should have let them go and gotten it over with. No, it didn’t carry over into anything later in the game, but it COULD have and that might have been devastating to either team — getting retribution on guys that don’t particularly play like that (say…Drew Miller or, I dunno, Steve Moore).

What’s with all the goddamn video reviews? Grow a sack and make a call (the right one…which might be too much to ask of this collection of Gumps). Furthermore, and we’ve brought it up a half dozen times here before, but something’s gotta be done about the way officiating goes. There needs to be a clear hierarchy (containing personnel not at all affiliated with any individual team, Mike Murphy) that decides how things unfold if there’s a dispute. Instead, you’re stuck with the “overruled by a linesman, and then overruled by Toronto, who was then overruled by the far referee” bullhonky we currently have.

Finally, anyone who’s questioned J.T. Howard at any point – but particularly since the playoffs began – should be ashamed of themselves. You seriously weren’t impressed with his play all season? Do you mean the season where he’ll – at least – be nominated for the Calder and has gotten some Hart consideration? Is that the season you mean? Well, whatever you were smoking on 4/20 got the attention of Tiberius who laid the equivalent of a steamy dook on your front lawn.

Arizona curly fries NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

My beard is kicking this guy’s beard’s ASS. 

Final Score (Hi Dad!)
SEVEN to 4, Wings. Series tied 1-1. 
Disch missed all eleven goals on account of he was taking part in the rehearsal dinner of our number one fan – and as of this writing, there’s a new member to the Discher clan (like, legally. I’m sure she’s been a part of the family for quite some time). 
So what’d Disch miss? Oh not much… five goals scored in under four minutes, a back-and-forth battle all night, curly fries for Z’berg, Gator kicking Willi Vanilli in the sack, and Shane Doan flat out jazzin’ in his huggies. 
Jimmy Howard left a little to be desired. He’s currently sporting a GAA of about 3.50. But guess what… Ilya “Vezina” Bryzgalov is carrying a 4.50. 
And the ratio of octopi to snakes is like 4:1 right now. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure there were more hats on the ice for Zetterberg’s hat trick than there have been plastic reptiles. 
Justin Abdelkader ran over everything that wore an ugly brownish maroon color, and had his efforts rewarded with a goal. The sigh you might have heard came from Jason Williams, who knew – at that moment – his career as a Red Wing had come to an end. Say hi to Brad May for me, Willi!
You know who rocks? Valtteri Filppula. That’s who.
You know who else rocks? Dena, Krononymous, and Jennbikegirl who have combined to pledge $100 to my facial hair at Beard-a-Thon. I can’t promise Wookie noises (I’ve never been a good impressionist), but I promise to upload photos showing progress when there’s something to show. I’m $22 behind Hollis, which – in addition to the great view – isn’t a bad spot to sit. The fact that two of us are in the Top Ten money-raisers already is something we can all be proud of. Way to go (again), Hockeytown!

Wings and Coyotes. Game 3. Sunday. 3pm.  
With home-ice advantage now in hand, the Wings return to the Joe for Game 3. Both TPL Mom and TPL Dad will be there. No word yet on which is going to be more obnoxious to Coyotes fans. Oh, who are we kidding… there aren’t any of those aside from the eleven who just learned they have a team down there. 
Henrik Zetterberg fed me Arby’s today. That counts.
Jason Williams. Fair or not, the Wings were 0-1 WITH HIM and are 1-0 without. Ignore the fact that all three goals against in Game 1 were on the kill and he doesn’t play a man down. Shhhhh… ignorance. 
Shane Doan, despite his covetiness, is an annoying little son of a bitch.
Franzen — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Zetterberg — Filppula
Eaves — Helm — Loins
Miller — Draper — Abdelkader
Lidstrom — Rafalski
Kronwall — Stuart
Ericsson — Lilja
Howard (starting)

Brett “Fastlove” Lebda
Derek “FREEDOM!” Meech
Jason “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” Williams
Kirk “Heal the Pain” Maltby
Honorable Mentions
Nicklas “Father Figure” Lidstrom
Henrik “I Want Your Sex” Zetterberg 
Henrik “It’s Cold Out There, But It’s Warm in Bed” Zetterberg
James “Faith” Howard
Chris “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” Osgood
Valtteri “Everything She Wants” Filppula
Mike “Jesus to a Child” Babcock
Niklas “You Put the Boom Boom Into My Heart” Kronwall
Darren “You Sent My Soul So High” Helm
Dan “When Your Lovin’ Starts” Cleary
Tomas “A Jitterbug Into My Brain” Holmstrom
Pavel “It Goes a Bang Bang Bang” Datsyuk
Justin “Til My Feet Do The Same” Abdelkader
Todd’s Corner
Todd “I’m Never Gonna Dance Again” Bertuzzi
Todd “Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm” Bertuzzi
Todd “Though It’s Easy to Pretend” Bertuzzi
Todd “I Know You’re Not a Fool” Bertuzzi
Todd “Should Have Known Better Than To Cheat a Friend” Bertuzzi
Todd “And Waste This Chance That I’ve Been Given” Bertuzzi
1. If Henrik Zetterberg goes curly again, I’ll make love to the television.
2. Okay, that’s gross, and I’m sorry. Wham! does that to me. If I’m caught once, I won’t do it again, though. I’m looking at you, George.
3. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of James T. Howard in this series yet.
4. At the same time, we may have seen the best of the Yotes. 
5. Have you ever seen the Wake Me Up video? It’s quite possibly the gayest thing that’s ever been put on celluloid. And I’ve seen In & Out.  
6. Man, you’re learning an awful lot about me today, aren’t you? He humps TVs, he knows a shit-ton about George Michael, he saw In & Out… I’m an open book, people. Learn to love it.
7. If I continued in this vein throughout the playoffs, would you post deep, dark secrets of yours in the comments? That might be worth it. 
If the Wings score five or more, they SHOULD be okay. 


Between Disch and I, which one is Riggs?

Wings and Coyotes. Game 2. Friday, 10pm in the real time zone. Other times elsewhere. 
Detroit tries to rastle home ice away — heading to Detroit with the series tied 1-1 would make it a best of five, with three of those games taking place at the Joe. As fans of a five seed, we should be happy to have that opportunity. But as Red Wings fans, we might set Glendale on fire anyway.
So far, Nicklas Lidstrom’s been the man: scoring a goal that would make professional croquet player blush. Are there professional croquet players? I smell a sitcom if there are two – one is white and suicidal and the other is a black family man. 
The penalty kill.
Shane Doan is Enemy Number One. So sayeth Casey.
Franzen — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Zetterberg — Filppula
Eaves — Helm — Loins
Miller — Draper — Abdelkader
Lidstrom — Rafalski
Kronwall — Stuart
Ericsson — Lilja
Howard (starting)

Brett “I Can’t Afford That, Not on My Salary” Lebda
Derek “Last Night I Cried in Bed” Meech
Kirk “Out. Of. Commission.” Maltby
Honorable Mentions
Niklas “Albino Jackrabbit Son of a Bitch” Kronwall
Nicklas “I Was Driving Before You Were an Itch in Your Daddy’s Pants” Lidstrom
Brad “Boom! Still Alive” Stuart
Pavel “The Three Stooges Are on in Twenty Minutes” Datsyuk
Henrik “All Dressed Up And No One to Blow” Zetterberg
Darren “Anyone Who Drives Around This Town Is Suicidal” Helm
Chris “I’m Getting Too Old For This Shit” Chelios
Chris “Get That Shit Off My Lawn” Chelios
Sergei “Mind if I Test Drive Your Audi” Fedorov
Todd’s Corner
Todd “God Hates Me. That’s What It Is” Bertuzzi
Todd “I Never Forget An Asshole” Bertuzzi
Todd “When He Smiles, I Can See Through His Head” Bertuzzi
Todd “Well I Haven’t Killed You Yet” Bertuzzi
Todd “You’re Not Trying to Draw Psycho Pension, You Are Crazy” Bertuzzi
1. Score on power plays. Defend on penalty kills. Step one.
2. Get to the net.
3. Get them away from yours.
4. Win the battles along the boards.
5. They always fuck you at the drive-thru. 
Special teams won’t do it for ya.

Snakes STILL weren’t tossed

So, this is where you can usual rely on seeing some hot lady-type (or, occasionally, man-type) action after a Wings loss, but since Andy flat out stole that idea — and used the same gal, no less — we’re left with that jumbled mess above.

On to things that matter…

The Wings blew two leads on the way to a 3-2 loss in Game 1 against the Coyotes. All three Phoenix goals came on the power play, which was a juxtaposition from the post-Olympic Wings special teams, which have been phenomenal. I blame Brad McCrimmon. Because that’s what we do around here.

Jimmy Howard played fairly well, and composed, in his post-season debut, but he was out-goaltended (is that a term?) by Ilya Bryzgalov. We all knew that the Yotes tender was the player to beat this series, and he showed us why – despite what Tyler described as the one of the weakest goals of all time off of the stick of Tomas Holmstrom. For the record, Disch called this goal – almost verbatim. Dude played out of his mind – which is becoming a theme in Wings playoff series.

Darren Helm played the first half of the game like it was the ’08 or ’09 playoffs: as if he was shot out of a damn cannon and was told his mother would be killed if he didn’t make contact with all five Coyotes in a shift. I have to wonder how long it is until Justin Abdelkader enters the lineup. There were a handful of useless players — particularly on the kill — that he could easily replace in this lineup. The only way the PK could have been worse is if they allowed a goal EIGHT seconds into a power play, as opposed to the nine last night. As soon as Nik Kronwall was called for hooking at the beginning of the third period, Hollis says to me via G-Chat “here goes the game.” And he was right.

There was a grand total of ONE shitty snake. The ratio of out-of-state-fans-strapping-dead-slimy-sea-creatures-to-themselves to locals-ponying-up-nine-cents was 1:1. Way to go, Arizona.

I’m convinced that Henrik Zetterberg is (still) injured. He just doesn’t have that fire in his ass. There was a moment in the third period that he probably could have gotten to a loose puck before Phoenix, but he stayed stiff, like he was spasming. We all know he has back issues, and I bet you anything that he’s ginger from the grind of the season and/or an injury we don’t know about.

Finally, the blown high-sticking call on Nicklas Lidstrom. Yes, the refs missed one. We all know that. But shut up about it. The athlete in me is forced to say that you shouldn’t put yourself in a position to be beaten by a blown call, a non-call, or anything that anyone can do that’s out of your own control – which includes the referees. There would be no vast conspiracy if the Red Wings cared enough to play three whole periods of hockey or successfully kill a penalty. It’s shitty — but that’s sports. If you only play enough to stay sort of in the game until the final two minutes, you didn’t play hard enough.

Excuse the relative absence. Hoping things calm down a bit over here.

Whoa, he’s alive?

Yup. Yup I am.

I’ve just been busy shaving. I’m no Malik or Hollis, but I had a nice little shrubbery thing going on — but, as is customary in the Petrella household (for me… my fiancee is naturally facially hairless, worry not), I shaved through that chin mane the night before the post-season begins. As a result, I look no less that 12 years younger. I got carded in the elevator on the way to the office today when security realized it wasn’t Take Your Son to Work Day.

Speaking of which, I’ve joined the Beard-A-Thon again. Long story short, you can pledge my beard-to-be, 50 cents a day or something…I haven’t uploaded a picture yet, but I’ll try my best to keep the photos current so you can track it. Last year I went all 58 days from the start of the playoffs to Game 7. The result… not so pretty:

Pictured at Game 7: TPL Mom and Chewbacca

While we’re on the subject of gearing up for the playoffs, I received an email from Nicole Yelland at the Wings, asking us to spread the word for the official viewing party for Game 2:

The “Official” Red Wings Away Game Viewing Party
Game 2 vs. Phoenix, Friday, April 16th, 10:00pm
The Post Bar in Ferndale
22828 Woodward Avenue
Ferndale, MI 48220

In addition to gettin’ your watch/cheer on, there will be free Red Wings promotional items (I’m told replica Todd Bertuzzi teeth) for all fans in attendance, a Wing alumnus will be on hand to sign autographs, and there are Hockeytown-themed games and trivia. Should be an awesome time and I wish I could be there.

One more quick note: I missed the latest release of the Obstructed View podcast. Episode 15 features host/studmuffin Chris Hollis, Winging it’s Casey, RWG’s Joe Burkel, and Snipe Dangle’s Kris. Also, head over to TOV’s home to check out all of our playoff picks, where you’ll learn that Rob and I both picked Nashville to beat Chicago. SUCK IT HAWKS.