As promised, I sat up for hours last night and slogged through the backlog of numbers that I had failed to get to during last week, which now means all of the production charts have been updated for your reading enjoyment. So…like…enjoy.
Before we get to the all-up numbers, though, here’s a look at how things shook out last night against Phoenix:
1. Yes, I’m well aware that the above tables look like shit. I’m working on a formatting solution, but until then game-by-game numbers are going to look smushed and scrunched. Deal with it.
2. The OT winner actually saw the Wings with five guys on the ice, since Dan Cleary was TECHNICALLY out there during the play. That said, he’s the odd man out in this equation since A) He didn’t point on the play and B) He broke his stick in half and was on his way to the bench when the puck went in.
3. Good to see Zetterberg get the winner, especially since he was out there for both of Phoenix’s goals.
OK, enough with the ugly charts. Here’s the updated season charts for the forwards and defensemen. Reminder: You can access these and any other number of charts on the toolbar above.
This didn’t post like it was supposed to… but here it is anyway. Oops
WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN? The Wings and Coyotes play for the third time in — wait, really? Already? We will have played a non-Central Division “rival” three times before November 9th? In quasi-related news, Detroit hasn’t played St. Louis or Columbus yet. Gotta love the calendar-makers.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? Our boys return to the Joe after a three-game Western Canada road trip that was, in essence, extremely successful. The last game was no picnic, but the first two were glorious and there are plenty of positive things to take from the games — as Chris pointed out in the rest of the blog’s absence. Speaking of which, I’m still in New Orleans for a few more days, but I’m ready to go home. Not really diggin’ The Big Easy. Then again, work trips are almost always tough to get through. Thankfully, I’ve been able to catch the games online from my hotel room and hope I’m able to do the same tonight.
NOW WHERE WERE WE? Prior to the Canucks game on Saturday, the Wings had won three in a row and six of seven. That one in seven? The Coyotes on October 28th. Chris Osgood played a shitty game (before redeeming himself two nights later), allowing some softies on the way to a 4-2 loss.
THEIR LAST GAMES :: Detroit lost 6-4 in Vancouver on Saturday.
:: Phoenix lost in a shootout, 4-3, to Pittsburgh — also on Saturday.
EXPECTED LINEUP As of this writing (12:32am WHODAT time), there was no word who the odd man out would be. It was Eaves last game, Miller before that, and Scuttles for a pair. The lineup’s looked the best without Hudler in the lineup, so we’ll just go with that and hope it’s right… Zetterberg — Datsyuk — Homer
Bertuzzi — Flapjack — Mulo
Abdelkader — Modano — Cleary
Eaves — Danger — Miller
Lidstrom — Ericsson
Potter — Stuart
Amazon — Cirque du Salei
Joey & Cheese
Scratches Jiri “Just Fear Me, Love Me, Do As I Say, And I’ll Be Your Slave” Hudler
Injuries Kris “You Remind Me of the Babe” Draper [groin]
Brian “The Babe with the Power” Rafalski [knee]
Chris “The Power of Voodoo” Osgood [groin]
Honorable Mentions Todd “You Have No Power Over Me” Bertuzzi
Todd “Prince of the Land of Stench” Bertuzzi
Jonathan “Nothing? Nothing? NOTHING?! Nothing, Tra La La?!” Ericsson
Ville “I Move the Stars For No One” Leino
THE FIVE HOLE 1. With just a single day off in between battles, I hope that the Wings look back on the last few games while recalling the first eight periods of the trip, and not the last one. They’re an amazingly talented team that has improved something fierce from a year ago.
2. Jimmy Howard played like a man possessed until that last period. The first two games, and much of the third, of the road trip were held together by a rock-solid Tiberius and he’ll be expected to keep that effort up. It’s what starters do, so hopefully he’s patted himself on the back about his new Detroit Red Wings record of consecutive games played without a regulation loss and is aiming for breaking it.
3. Jonathan Ericsson has played well in the last few games since his return from injury. Which is great because we ragged the shit out of him on TP:60 (note: by “we,” I mean “I”). I’d like him to succeed and if I remember correctly, I said something along the lines of “making the simple plays and doing what you have to do stay in the lineup and it’ll work out,” and he’s doing that. Then, a shot from the blue line goes in. Who knew shots could potentially turn into goals?
4. Like I mentioned above, I don’t know who the healthy scratch will be — but here’s what I know for sure: Justin Abdelkader has lit the third line on fire. That’s a trio you can’t break up right now. Justin Abdelkader, Mike Modano, and Dan Cleary are as safe as can be right now. Sadly, the fourth line is being rotated so that Jiri Hudler can be worked in, and I sincerely hope that doesn’t mean it’s Darren Helm’s turn to sit. He’s dynamic and brings something that no one can replace. Scuttles is too good to be in the press box, and he won’t get into a rhythm from up there, but I don’t want any of the fourth liners sitting either. Quite a pickle we’ve got.
5. What’s up with Johan Franzen? Anyone think he’s hurting a bit more than they’re letting on? Homey can’t stay NOT hurt, and he just doesn’t look right. I tell ya what — he got called for a lazy penalty on Saturday, and it’s the kind of penalty you take when you don’t know what else to do. Johan Franzen isn’t the kind of player that “doesn’t know what else to do,” leading me to believe that he might be tweaked. If he DOES need a breather, it’ll solve that problem mentioned in #4 for a game or two…
WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE CANUCKS.
Three games in four nights is when the Wings get tired. They must be old as balls.
As you know, it’s been a pretty slow weekend in terms of updating here at TPL. Petrella’s been hanging out in the Big Easy for work, Disch is lost somewhere in Texas and we haven’t heard from him in days, and I just got back from another trip to California to party with celebrities all in the name of work. Yes, sometimes it’s tough being a TPL’er, but that’s just the way things are.
That said, we have a blog to uphold here and we know you are clamoring for our philosophical musings on everything that is the Detroit Red Wings and their first Western road trip of the season.
First, let’s get the loss candy out of the way so that we can all move on together.
Gents (in honor of all of the Swede-on-Swede action yesterday):
And for the ladies, here’s a Swedish man:
Everyone feeling better? Good.
Because honestly, there is nothing to be upset about after this weekend. Yes, it woulda been hella cool to sweep an entire Western road trip, but c’mon now folks, that’s just getting greedy, especially when the tail end of the trip is against the red hot Vancouver Canucks. Could the Wings have beat them? Sure. Minimizing turnovers and more surehanded play in their own zone could have easily flipped this loss into the win column, but when the legs are tired and the mind is exhausted, those are the first things to go and go they did for the Wings last night. Yet despite ending the trip on a bit of a sour note, their are still plenty of positives to take from this trip, including:
Justin Abdelkader: Look, I admit that Justin and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye when it comes to his viability as an NHL player, but man if he keeps this shit up, I’m happy to play the part of the fool. Abdelkader was red hot, scoring a pair of goals (including a game winner), pestering the living crap out of folks, dropping the gloves and looking damn good rocking the HNIC towel during the second intermission of the Vancouver tilt. If Abdelkader can keep the pace up, he’ll cement his spot in this lineup for a long time to come, especially because he was the catalyst who jump-started…
The Third Line: Not to toot my own horn here, but I do recall saying something about the third line just needing more time to get some chemistry together before everyone completely wrote them off. Yes, the removal of Jiri Hudler for Abdelkader may have been the spark that got this line going, but if you focus on Abby-Doo, then you are missing the bigger picture. Both Dan Cleary and Mike Modano had excellent games during the Western swing, which is only a by-product of having Abdelkader out there with them. They bought into it, they started making plays and the team started reaping the rewards. Tip your hat to Abdelkader, sure, but don’t forget that Cleary and Modano bought into this and elevated their games as well.
Jimmah: Yes, giving up six isn’t usually grounds for praise, but Howard deserves his due after backstopping the Wings to a pair of wins in Alberta before the car finally sputtered to a halt in the third period in BC. Lest we forget, Howard was just returning to the lineup after a week of back spasms, so to see the kid bounce back and deliver 4 points on the first big road trip is something to smile at.
Riggy Shitbox scored a goal. He also didn’t look all that bad in terms of defensive play, so I guess we can chalk that up as a win(?).
Other plusses? Let’s see: Kronwall netted some goals, which is always a nice thing. The Wings stayed relatively healthy throughout the trip, which is a definite win. And Nick Lidstrom rocked a sweet hoodie on HNIC after the game, while also giving a pretty lengthy interview about himself and the Red Wings even after a loss. Something about watching Nick talk about….well, whatever…just makes you feel good inside, even when the Wings just came out on the wrong side of a decision.
So yea, I’m cool with how things turned out this weekend. The guys look like they banded together well, even in the face of adversity in three tough arenas and they worked hard to earn their four points. Like I said before, I firmly believe it could have been five or six points, but sometimes the tank just hits “E” and there’s nothing you can do about it except coast into the pits and get ready for the next race. Here’s hoping the Wings fuel up quick before the Coyotes hit town tomorrow.
(Ed. note: Production charts will be updated tomorrow to reflect the last three games, and will then be updated on a game-by-game basis. Thanks to those of you who flagged for us over the weekend. Yes, we know we are lazy and we do sincerely apologize.)
(Ed. Note: Apologies for the lack of entertainment in this post. The entire TPL staff is/was travelling and I was able to pull this together in the 45 mins. of free time I have this Saturday. Expect a return to regular form on Monday.)
WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
The Wings take on the Canucks for the first time this season. Puck drops at 10:00pm Eastern Time.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
The Wings look to put the finishing touch on their *knock on wood* successful Western road trip, aiming for the clean sweep in the West before heading home.
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The Wings and Canucks haven’t tangled since March 20th of last year, which you may remember from Henrik Zetterberg’s OT winner with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. The Wings also got goals from Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula en route to a 4-3 win.
OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?!
Mikael Samuelsson is now plying his trade of errant shots and blue line fumbles in Vancouver. “Livonia native Ryan Kesler” is a phrase you will hear 8 million times from Ken Daniels tonight.
THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit won their third in a row, beating Edmonton 3-1 in Alberta last night.
:: Vancouver has won five in a row after a shaky start to the season, most recently beating the Dive 3-1 on Thursday.
The third line killed it on Wednesday night. Dan Cleary played like Herm’s house guest during Carnival (I AM ON FIRE! AND STILL I DANCE!), Mike Modano was tired of that monkey peeing on his back, and you know who isn’t going anywhere?
Justin Abdelkader is a madman. Like his first game, he was all over the place making things happen, making the smart plays. Keeping it simple. Take dirty filthy shots, and sometimes you get dirty filthy goals. Like the game winner.
You’d think Jiri Hudler was going to have a hard time getting back into the lineup with all four lines clicking like they have been, but Mike Babcock has said that Scuttles will make his triumphant return to the lineup on Friday. But who sits?
Bear with me for a second, but I think it might be Mike Modano — under the guise of rest for back-to-back nights. His confidence is likely the highest its been since the first night of the season, thanks to his big goal last night — and I’m sure his age is in the back of the coaching staff’s minds. Perhaps he takes a seat on Friday to be fresh for the Canucks on Saturday.
The extra day will give Uncle Mike another opportunity to see which bottom six should sit — a list that’s sure to include Hudler since the team has played some of its best hockey without him in the game. Like Saler said, I think the fourth line is fair game for a benching, too. Not that they deserve it… but neither does Hudler, to be honest. We have 13 valuable forwards but can only play 12 of them. That’s what you call “a good problem.”
I know it was just a one-goal victory, but that was the best, most dominant game that the Wings have played so far this season. That victory was NEVER in doubt — even when behind 1-0. We’ve learned not to be so comfortable with two and three goal leads, but for some reason a win was telegraphed from the opening faceoff. Incredible effort all around.
Jimmy Howard is good. Did you guys know that?
Even Riggy Shitbox, who I’m happy to make fun of, played well. He did the simple things that young, borderline NHL defensemen have to do to keep his brain in the game, like a totally simple poke-check to break up a rush that three weeks ago ABSOLUTELY would have left him flat-footed. I’m not convinced he’s a long-term Red Wing, but he played a nice game and didn’t look any worse for wear after missing a few weeks. Good on him for rebounding and shutting me up.
Can’t say enough positive things about the Red Wings last night, so we’ll have to move on to the refereeing. What in the hell was that about? Most of them were ABSOLUTELY calls that had to be made — including the Johan Franzen boarding call. I know the popular thing to do was cry on Twitter, while screaming bloody murder that Giordano turned away from Franzen….but so what? Mulo is still responsible for his body and trajectory and speed and contact. You’re not set on a train track when you’re skating — you can adapt (and you have to) to changes in the game and make sure you don’t do something completely reckless and dangerous — which is exactly what Franzen didn’t do. That’s an automatic call at any level of hockey, from mites on up. Put the pitchfork down.
But what was weird was that high sticking call that wasn’t, then it was, then it was on someone else. Admirable that the stripes wanted to get it right (and they did, eventually), but they took two hours to do it, and sucked the life out of the building, out of the potential penalty killers, out of the high-octane offense of the Wings. If you’re going to call it, call it. Don’t pussyfoot around, wait until Cleary’s sitting back on the bench bleeding to say “hey, there must have been an infraction there.”
WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN? The Wings take on the Flames for the second time this season, this time in Calgary. Puck drops at 9:30pm Eastern Time.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? Jimmy Howard is back in the net after sitting out a couple with back spasms, and Johnny Ericsson makes his return to the blueline after sitting out the last eight and a half. Let’s see where this takes us, shall we…
NOW WHERE WERE WE? There have only been three games since the last meeting, but it’s been nearly three weeks. On October 21st, the Wings were 4-2 winners on goals from Franzen, Bertuzzi and first-of-the-seasons from Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg.
OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?! No former Wings, but a few Michiganders. Brad Stuart and Todd Bertuzzi are former Flames.
THEIR LAST GAMES :: Detroit got a great effort in goal and defeated Nashville 5-2 on Saturday evening.
:: Calgary has been struggling this season, evidenced by their 7-2 whomping at the hands of the Capitals on Saturday.
Lidstrom — Ericsson
Potter — Stuart
Amazon — Cirque du Salei
Jiri “The Hot Tub’s Hot, the Wine Coolers’ Cool” Hudler
Kris “Let Me Worry About Blank” Draper [groin]
Brian “My One Regret… Is That I Have Boneitis” Rafalski [knee]
Chris “YOUR APARTMENT SMELLS LIKE POLYGRIP AND CAT PEE!” Osgood [groin]
Todd “Necks are for Sheep” Bertuzzi
Kyle “Once Again, the Conservative Sandwich-Heavy Portfolio Pays Off for the Hungry Investor” Wellwood
Ville “More Like Germany — Ambitious and Misunderstood” Leino
Marian “Suddenly I Have an Opinion on the Capital Gains Tax” Hossa
THE FIVE HOLE
1. The return of Jimmy Howard. When Chris Osgood left practice early, we all feared the worst — not having either netminder for a Western road trip would be misery. Thankfully, Jimmy Howard was slated to return tonight no matter what. I’m sure they’d rather he not play back-to-backs (…ever, but particularly after returning from back spasms), so here’s hoping for a relatively easy night between the pipes.
2. Ericsson’s back, which can only be good news if its Jug Danik that he’s replacing. I’m anxious to see how he does paired with Nicklas Lidstrom. If anyone’s built to be a mentor, it’s Lidstrom — but at the same time, I’d hate to “waste” his talents babysitting the Rigbox. We’ll see where this heads.
3. I know it’s been neglected a bit, but Pavel Datsyuk is amazing. That’s not news — we’re all aware of his dangles and that he’s made of magic or something like it. But every single game this year, he’s done something that made my ears perk up and wonder how he did it. Plays off the back of the cage, figure eights through legs, passes to himself — the man is a dynamo. Add the fact that he always knows where to be, is nearly impossible to knock off the puck, and can shoot with the best of them, and you’ve got yourself a Hart candidate. If he keeps playing the way he’s been playing early in the season, he may break that 100-point barrier. He’s on pace for exactly that.
4. Jiri Hudler is going to have a hard time getting back into the lineup, barring an injury. Justin Abdelkader looks like he was shot out of a cannon, and I’m sure he’s excited to get his season started — but if he plays like he did on Saturday, he’s not coming out of the lineup ever.
5. At the same time, patience seems to be running thin on Mike Modano. He isn’t expected to lead the brigade, but he is expected to contribute offensively occasionally and play responsible defense. He has one point (lowest among forwards who have played more than one game) and is a team-low -7. Ouchy.
WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE PREDATORS Justin Abdelkader is out of control. The good kind.
With the Commish seeming to believe the Red Wings needing some extended time off in between games, TP:60 took the opportunity to recharge the batteries as well. Now that things are back in full wing, so is the crew, this time welcoming in old friend Matt Saler from On the Wings. Despite not having Disch around, the guys cover off on the play of Chris Osgood, debate the merits of Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl, and try to figure out if Jiri Hudler and Mike Modano are building chemistry slowly or just not working. Finally, TP:60 musical guru Brandon Langer takes us home with a sample of the new TP:60 rock track, which may sound a little familiar if you listen closely.
Attention friends of TPL living in Canada, Norway, Brazil, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere that isn’t the United States.
It’s been brought to our attention that The Production Line Store is having some issues shipping shirts overseas (and ‘cross the border, as it were). But you’re in luck — we’ve come up with a plan.
If you’re interested in purchasing some TPL garb, shoot us an e-mail. We’ll send you step-by-step instructions on how we can get some new pieces jailsexed into your wardrobe. From now until December 1st, we’re happy to have your orders shipped to one of our homes — and we’ll turn around and ship them to you. Obviously, free shipping won’t apply for international orders, but we’ll work with you to make sure you get it.