Catching Up: Day #3 – We’re Getting There

Well, I told you I’d check back in with you all after the Dallas game, and here I am. Sure, it’s only a few days late and sure, it’s on the eve of 2011, but I’m here to tell you that we are ACTUALLY back (again) and ready to cruise through the last 60 minutes of 2010 hockey and into the New Year with gusto.

Sadly, that’s not the case for ALL of the Red Wings, which brings us to our first point in what we’ll call “Round 2” of “The Holiday Catch-up”…

EAVESED

On Wednesday, he was calling for your hats and feeding your bellies. Tonight, he’s in the Ville Leino memorial press box with an upper body injury. Suffice to say, it’s been a weird week for Patrick Eaves.

2:1 says he just needs a haircut and he’ll be back on the ice.

Wings Do Dallas…For the Most Part

Speaking of hat tricks against Dallas, what a bizarre game on Wednesday. The Wings come out roaring, take a lead, and then promptly shit the bed worse than I can ever remember in all of my years of Red Wings fandom. I can rattle off more than one occasion where I’ve seen the Wheelers pot 3 in under two minutes against a helpless and over-matched foe, but to have it happen to them? Unthinkable, especially with the veteran presence of Nicklas Lidstrom on the ice. But there it was, and boy was it ugly. It’s way too late to assign blame, but there was alot of feet standing still from the red and white during that 90 second stretch, and Dallas made it count. Fortunately, the Wings rallied back and took control of the game, but it was still disturbing to watch pucks get by Howard so quickly. In the end, three points and curly fries made those three Dallas goals mostly forgettable, but there’s still that lingering bitterness on the back of my tongue as we head into the NYE matchup with NYI tonight.

Speaking of tonight’s game…

Wait, wait…before we do that, we must  properly pay homage one more time…

Guys Who Scored (AGAIN!) Who You Thought Might Never Score Again!

There we go. Now then…

Tonight’s Combatants!

As mentioned, Eaves is out with a bum back, so the Wings have called Tomas Tatar for his first ever NHL action. Tough break for the Grand Rapids Griffins, as they are now without both Tatar and Jan Mursak, who looked pretty darn strong in his debut against the Stars on Wednesday night. As for the particulars, here’s how it shakes out:

Franzen-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Hudler-Filppula-Bertuzzi
Draper-Helm-Tatar
Miller-Abdelkader-Mursak

Lidstrom-Stuart
Ericsson-Rafalski
Kronwall-Salei

Howard
Osgood

Jakub Kindl is back in the presser with his Barnes & Noble Nook as Rafalski’s broken back is magically all healed up.

One More Thing…

It’s time to bust out that Christmas cash from Grandma and get yourself the new “Wing Nut” shirt from the TPL Store. That’s right, we’ve cranked out a new shirt for you to wear around town, this time invoking the spirit of bad puns and foam hats everywhere. Head on over and scoop one up today.

We’ll be out knocking back the champagne once this one ends, so enjoy the last bit of 2010 and we’ll talk to you all in 2011. Unless you text me before 3:00 AM on the East Coast, that is. In fact, somebody send me a tweet or something from 2011 while I’m still stuck in 2010. It’s gotta be like a weird “Back to the Future” or “Donnie Darko” kinda feeling, I would assume.

Enough of This, Let’s Get Back To Business

We’re back. Don’t act like you aren’t excited. Well, I’m back at least, so you’ll just have to deal with it until the rest of the group returns from their holiday food comas. I don’t care if I’m still hanging out in Virginia and still “technically” on vacation; I’ve missed all of you and it’s time to get back down to the business of Detroit Red Wings hockey. And by “business,” I totally mean a disjointed post where nothing really aligns with anything else.

Deal with it.

Before we start looking ahead to the final days of 2010 and the start of 2011, let’s turn back the clock on the TPL time machine and look at what has transpired over the past week or so while we’ve been on hiatus:

Fun With Injuries!

To each and every one of you who dared to play the “we’re so much better this year than last year because we are healthy” card, please take a long walk off of a short dock. Seriously. First, Mr. Dependable Pavel Datsyuk breaks his wrist. Then, the leading scorer on the team breaks an ankle. Rafalski checks in with his usual back ailments, which I still believe to be a result of the backbreaking plays he made against Dallas in the last meeting of these two teams. And, of course, there’s the news that Zetterberg may be dealing with a tight back as well, and might have to sit out the contest against the Stars tonight.

Yay.

Look, this kind of shit happens during the course of an 82 game season, which is a reality that some of us chose to forget after the injury apocalypse last season. Whether you believed that the Wings were due a healthy season or were just hoping that the Wings could keep dodging the injury bug, the wake up call is here and it’s loud and clear. Yes, the injuries suck. Yes, it’s unfortunate timing. But if you want some silver lining, let me do my best to give it to you. In alot of ways, these injuries are a blessing in disguise in that it gives the secondary players and younger guys an even bigger chance to contribute and acclimate to the NHL game. Perhaps Jiri Hudler will stop fucking around and start scoring. Jan Mursak gets some valuable time in the lineup at an NHL level. Eaves, Miller and Abdelkader all get more opportunities to contribute in more ways than just their penalty kill. These are the moments that the Wings need to be taking advantage of, and if wins come along with them, even better.

All that said…Fuck you Jobu. We demand a healthy Wings roster ASAP.

Oz Hits 400

Despite Petrella’s belief that it would never happen, Chris Osgood finally crested the top of Camp 400 Wins and is now firmly entrenched among the NHL’s elite goaltenders…at least statistically. And while I’m tipping my hat to Osgood’s accomplishment, there’s still a part of me that sees why so many folks don’t see Osgood as one of the true greats to play the game, despite being only the 10th goalie to 400 wins. As Rob Otto put it, “he doesn’t pass the eye test.” Here’s the thing though: the eye test doesn’t mean shit to the group that is currently in place to put these players into the hall, which not only benefits Osgood, but almost certainly cements is position in the HHOF when he becomes eligible.

Whether you like him or not, it’s OK to feel good about the fact that Ozzie has found his way into the elite ranks of NHL goaltenders when it comes to the “W” column. There’s no denying he’s worked hard to get where he is right now, and if he’s benefited from playing behind a series of great defenses, then that’s not his fault. It’s like complaining about watching baseball when guys are hitting singles and laying down bunts and you’ve come to expect home runs and shots off the scoreboard. Oz did it with being flashy and he did it in conjunction with the guys in front of him. That’s why hockey is a team game and exactly why Chris Osgood should get all of the accolades that are due to him when he hangs them up for good.

So congrats to you, Mr. Osgood. Job well done.

Now close that five hole.

Fun With Injuries!

Oh wait…we already did this…um…

Guys Who Scored Who You Thought Might Never Score Again!

Road Trippin’

Another road trip comes to an end tonight in Dallas, and the Wings find themselves in position to sweep yet another trip.

Of course, this means that they will lose, especially since it’s in Dallas and against the Stars.

Your lineups:

Franzen-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Hudler-Filppula-Bertuzzi
Draper-Helm-Eaves
Miller-Abdelkader-Mursak

Lidstrom-Stuart
Ericsson-Rafalski
Kronwall-Salei

Howard

Shit gets really interesting if Zetterberg and Rafalski can’t go tonight. The Wings are looking at skating 17 players, which has commonly become known as the New Jersey Shuffle. In this case, the Wings would still be allowed to use the Shuffle, despite it being because of injuries and not because of cap space needs. Even if Rafalski makes it onto the ice, Jakub Kindl may keep his spot in the lineup if Zetterberg doesn’t play.

As you can see, not alot of comfort and joy in Dallas tonight.

We asked for optimism for Christmas. Santa gave us coal.

We’re back bitches. Talk to you after the game.

Merry Christmas from TPL!


Yes, I know Disch said we would be hit or miss over the next few days due to travel schedules and what not (which is still true, FTR), but we did want to take a second to pull away from our gift unwrapping and XBOX 360 playing to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. Here’s hoping that you are spending it along side family, friends and some tasty-delish food. Here’s also hoping that Santa was good to all of you on this Christmas morning, and I’m really hoping that he brought Dats a bionic wrist and Ozzie a smaller five-hole.

OK, I’m done with the jabs. Today is a day about love, family and not complaining, so I’ll wrap this post up with another MERRY CHRISTMAS and a genuine wish of good will and glad tidings to all of you.

Wait a second? Santa, where the hell is the Stanley Cup in that sack of toys? WTF old man?

Dec. 22 :: Breaking out the big guns for a Slump Buster

When TPL needs a win, we look to you, Whitney (see what I did there?). How many points are we gettin' tonight, Whit?

NOTE!
As of this morning, all three of us are traveling for the holidays. Posts may be slim over the next ten week or so, but we’ll do our best to keep you jailsexed and entertained through the new year. In case we don’t get a chance to say it later, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year!

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
Wings and Canucks. Wednesday night, 7:30pm Eastern. Joe Louis Arena. THIS IS OUR HOUSE.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
The Wings have lost two in a row… and six of their last ten. The nice cushion they’d built for themselves is slowing slipping: the Predators are only four points back. On the other hand, we have the Canucks – the hottest team in the league, owners of a four-game win streak and the NHL’s best record in the last ten (8-1-1).

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
On November 6th, these two clubs met north of the border. The Canucks were 6-4 winners. It was Jimmy Howard’s first regulation loss of the season. Hitting twine for the good guys were Cleary, Ericsson, and a pair from Kronwall.

OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?! / BEST NAME NOMINEE
It’s the second time around for this matchup — we get to see Mikael Samuelsson aim for the glass tonight. Tanner Glass is the fake-sounding best name nominee.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit lost to the Stars, 4-3, in overtime on Sunday.
:: Vancouver were 3-1 winners in St. Louis on Monday.

EXPECTED LINEUP
By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes
Mulo — Datsyuk — Homer
Bucket — Zetterberg — Thunderchief
Abdelkader — Filppula — Hudler
Miller — Helm — Eaves

Lidstrom — Stuart
Scapegoat — Ericsson
Kronwall — “One Horse Open” Salei (h/t @vtucherov)

Tiberius
Fivehole

Scratches
Jakub “I’d Rather Be Alone Than Unhappy” Kindl [in Grand Rapids]
Kris “Teach Them Well and Let Them Lead the Way” Draper

Injuries
Mike “Love Is Strong, Why Do I Feel Weak?” EModano [wrist]
Mike “I Get So Emotional” EModano [wrist]

Honorable Mentions
Todd “Spinning Through the Town” Bertuzzi
Todd “Say a Prayer With Every Heartbeat” Bertuzzi
Todd “I Remember the Way We Touched, I Wish I Didn’t Like it So Much” Bertuzzi
Jiri “Given Enough Time to Figure Out How to Chase My Blues Away” Hudler
Darren “Always on the Run” Helm
Darren “Didn’t We Almost Have it All” Helm
Pavel “A Few Stolen Moments” Datsyuk
Valtteri “Show Them All the Beauty They Possess Inside” Filppula
Jimmy “I Decided Long Ago Never to Walk in Anyone’s Shadow” Howard
Chris “If I Fail, If I Succeed, At Least I Live as I Believe” Osgood
Nicklas “You Gotta Magic, Boy, That I Just Can’t Explain” Lidstrom
Ville “If I Should Stay, I Would Only Be In Your Way” Leino
Mattias “Bittersweet Memories” Ritola
Aaron “OHHHHH I Wanna Dance With Somebody” Downey
Brett “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” Lebda
*If there are any that you think I missed, throw them in the comments — the best one will be shared for all to enjoy on the TPL Facebook Page*

THE FIVE HOLE
1. It’s time for a goaltender to take over and WIN this one.
2. It’s time for fewer defensive lapses and a return to form for the best top blueline in the business.
3. It’s time for the top offensive talents to act like it and score goals at will.
4. It’s time for the grinders to grind THROUGH the opponents.
5. It’s time for a return to Detroit Red Wing hockey. Enough of this shit. Whitney demands it.

WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE STARS
Brian Rafalski is evil. Especially on the third of the four goals he allowed.

CANUCK WE COVET (JJ Special)
Hard not to like Ryan Kesler in this slot. He’s a local kid, he’s a great back-checker, he owns a pair of hands.

WUT?


TP:60 – Episode #10

Don’t forget, you can keep up-to-date on all of the latest TP:60 happenings – including previews for upcoming shows – at the TP:60 Home Page. Miss an episode? Just want more TP:60 awesomeness? The TP:60 Archive has you covered.

Happy Holidays to you and yours from your friends at TP:60! In honor of the festive holiday season, Hollis, Petrella and Disch have gone out of their way to bring you some of the best presents possible on this supersized episode of TP:60. First, the guys unwrap a discussion with Justin Bourne from Puck Daddy, talking hockey, the league and motivation, before jumping into the holiday five pack of ridiculous questions. Then, Greg from The Winged Wheel serenades everyone with “The Jiri Hudler Motivational Song,” which is all but guaranteed to turn your late-shopping frown upside down. After that, Sean Gentille from The Sporting News pops in to answer all the questions that he’s submitted to the panels during this season, while of course chatting a bit of hockey as well. Finally, Jen MacRostie of H2H2 stops by with glad tidings and threats about paying for March’s extravaganza in Detroit.

Even St. Nick knows it’s goin down on TP:60.

As always, send your questions, comments and feedback to contact@theproductionline.us. Looking to subscribe to the show? iTunes has you covered.

Loss Candy: Chris Osgood earns 399.93rd career win

FINAL SCORE (Hi Dad!)
4-3, Stars in Overtime. Of course it was.

OBSERVATIONS OF A FORMER HOCKEY PLAYER
The only reason I was excited to see that Chris Osgood was starting today was so that we could — FINALLY — move on with our lives as he gets his two years-overdue 400th win. And in true Chris Osgood fashion, there the man was to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory.

Yeah, I know two of those goals were deflected, and the winner came on a three-on-two rush, but very few things deflate a team like dropping a two-goal lead with goals from a combined six and a half miles away. Brian Rafalski, what — with his atrocious game, is going to get blamed 100% more than Chris Osgood will. You know… status quo. No one’s allowed to be frustrated with Osgood’s stellar record “improving” to 10-11-6 the last two seasons. With four minutes left in the game and 20,000 fans chanting his name, we watched as he gave up a tying goal and the rest of the team shat the bed in overtime.

I’m going to get lit up and be called names for not supporting this particularly Red Wing, but I’m just sick and tired of knowing the outcome before the puck is dropped. He’s played relatively well all season. He didn’t play POORLY tonight, but he allowed the Stars to creep back into the game at inopportune times — times at which an actual Hall of Fame goalie would take over and find a way to make saves — even the kind you don’t expect them to make. I’m prepared for your barbs — in fact, I probably deserve them — but I’m absolutely done with talking about this milestone that will apparently NEVER come.

There’s going to be a lot of “the players could have played better — especially after sticking their neck out for Osgood” chatter, and it’s 100% correct. I agree with it, because the team didn’t win for Ozzie tonight. But on the other side of that coin is “Osgood could have willed this win after his teammates stuck their neck out for him.” And he didn’t. He made some big saves. But he didn’t make the ones he needed for a W. The end.

Chances are good I’m overreacting because I’m angry. I had a handful of other game notes, but I’m in no mood. On to the candy.

LOSS CANDY: TRON EDITION (as suggested by @crperreau)

Olivia Wilde

Garrett Hedlund

Dec. 19 :: Remember when you were in the Beatles? That was awesome

Saturday was the 13th anniversary of Chris Farley's death. Despite a middle name of "Crosby," we all hope he continues to rest in peace.

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
Wings and Stars. Sunday matinee. 5pm Eastern, at the Joe.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
Chris Osgood will get the chance to earn his 400th career victory on home ice. Here’s hoping the Wings win big, he gets it, and we can (finally) move on from this storyline.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
This is the second matchup of the season for these two teams. The first was October 14th. It wasn’t pretty. The Loss Candy comments were fun, though. The 4-1 loss was the first regulation loss of the season.

OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?! / BEST NAME NOMINEE
Being that this is the second game of the season between these two teams, we’ve done this dance before. Mike Modano, who won’t be playing, is a former Star. Karlis Strastins is a runaway in the BNN.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit didn’t bother showing up in Chicago for Chris Chelios Night, losing 4-1 to the Hawks on Friday.
:: Dallas defeated Columbus, 2-1, last night.

EXPECTED LINEUP
By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes
Mulo — Datsyuk — Homer
Bucket — Zetterberg — Thunderchief
Abdelkader — Filppula — Eaves
Miller — Helm — Draper

Lidstrom — Stuart
Rafalski — Ericsson
Kronwall — Ruslan “One Horse Open” Salei (h/t @vtucherov)

Osgood
Howard

Scratches
Jakub “You Can Get a Good Look at a Butcher’s Ass By Sticking Your Head Up There” Kindl [in Grand Rapids]
Jiri “QUIT PLAYIN’ WITH YOUR DINGHY!” Hudler

Injuries
Mike “I Got Dibs on Top Bunk” Modano [wrist]

Honorable Mentions
Todd “In a VAN Down by the RIVER” Bertuzzi
Todd “I’m Not ‘Camera-Friendly,’ I Don’t ‘Wear Clothes that Fit Me,’ I’m Not a ‘Heartbreaker,’ I Haven’t ‘Had Sex with a Woman,’ I Don’t ‘Know How That Works,’ I Don’t ‘Fall in Line,’ I’m Not ‘Hygenic,’ I Don’t ‘Wipe Properly,’ I Lack ‘Style,’ I Don’t Have ‘Self-Esteem,’ I Have No ‘Charisma,’ I Don’t ‘Own a Toothbrush,’ I Don’t ‘Let My Scabs Heal,’ I Can’t ‘Reach All the Parts of my Body,’ When I Sleep I ‘Sweat Profusely.’ But I Guess the Powers that be will Keep Signing by Paycheck Until Jack and Jane K. Viewer Start to go for the Remote So They Can Get Back to Commentators Who Don’t ‘Frighten Children,’ Who Don’t ‘Eat Their Own Dandruff,’ Who Don’t ‘Pop Their Whiteheads With a Compass They Used in High School'” Bertuzzi
Jiri “Get This: A Corn-Fed Harvest Mouse, a Hooker, a Nun, a Flemish Peasant Woman, Whips, Chains, Whistles, Yo-Yo’s, a Circus Midget, My Grandmother Riding by on a Bicycle Giving Me the Finger, and a Duck!” Hudler
Niklas “Young Man, I’m Going Twist Off Your Head and Spike it Onto the Floors of a Nightmare You Can’t Even Imagine” Kronwall
Brett “A Guaranteed Piece of Shit” Lebda
Kyle “Fat Guy Little Coat” Wellwood
*If there are any that you think I missed, throw them in the comments — the best one will be shared for all to enjoy on the TPL Facebook Page*

THE FIVE HOLE
1. Friday was a classic Wings off-night, where they didn’t really show a lot of effort, and lost the game in the opening minutes. The good news is that they rarely play like that two nights in a row, so here’s hoping for more gusto from the jump.
2. Likewise, the team will want to play hard for Chris Osgood, who is on the verge of accomplishing something only nine other goaltenders have ever accomplished. It’s no secret that I’m not a big Osgood fan, but he seems like a hell of a guy, a great teammate, and he’s earned the right to at least be discussed about Hall of Fame numbers. Whichever side of that debate you stand on, tonight should be his night.
3. Something I brought up on Twitter Friday: Patrick Eaves appears to have been removed from the healthy scratch rotation which now includes Kris Draper, Drew Miller, and Jiri Hudler. Of course that could change, but since Eaves’ last scratch (December 4th), the healthy players in the press box have gone as follows: Draper, Miller, Draper, Hudler, Draper, Miller, Draper. If Eaves has, in fact, played himself into a permanent spot in the lineup, he thanked Mike Babcock by scoring the lone goal on Friday.
4. If you notice the lineup above, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have been split in an effort to jumpstart the offense. Will today’s game be one of those “adjustment” games, or will the players respond to the change by showing some effort to right the ship?
5. Also worth noting is that Valtteri Filppula has been dropped to the third line, with Dan Cleary bouncing up a line. The Abdelkader-Flip-Eaves line should be something to watch…

WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE HAWKS
Dumbass fans are rewarded for booing former heroes.

STAR WE COVET (JJ Special)
I’m CERTAIN I’ll get a lot of shit over this, but I love how Brendan Morrow plays. Sure, he’s a dick, but he’s an effective dick.

WUT?

Loss Candy: The Loneliest Man In Chicago

Final Score (Hi Mr. P!)

Hawks 4, Wings 1

Thoughts

I imagine the view that you see above had to be pretty lonely tonight for the guy who usually opens the door to let offending players in. For the sake of this post, let’s call this man Jim. Jim Gardener to be exact.

For Jim Gardener, today started the same as any day. Alarm at 6:00. A bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios over the morning paper and the drone of the local weather report. A short walk to the corner market where Jim’s old buddy Dave is sitting behind the counter with packs of various colored cigarettes lining the wall behind him. They chat. It’s brief. Much the same way it’s been for the last 10 years.

By the time 3:00 PM rolls around, Jim Gardener has taken a light job on the treadmill he keeps in the basement and caught up on the crossword puzzle in the Chicago Tribune from Tuesday’s morning edition. He hops into a steaming hot shower, towels off, brushes his hair and splashed on a little aftershave (but not too much.) He locks the front door, making sure to give the handle an extra jiggle to ensure that the old bolt caught and that everything is secure. Once inside his Buick, it’s a quick drive up to the United Center, where he nods at the same security guard he’s nodded at for the past decade. 27 paces later, he’s at his locker, where he removes the black blazer with the silver “NHL” emblem on the breast. It’s over his shoulders with a swing and a shrug, fitting the exact same way it has for the last 418 games. Button the top button (never the bottom), give it a quick tug, and down the hallway Jim goes.

As he emerges into the bright shining lights of the United Center, Jim shuffles expertly across the ice toward his office. It could barely fit a couch, let alone 3 grown hockey players, but Jim knows it in and out. He opens the latch and walks in. With an expertly calculated push, the steel, plastic and plexiglass swings shut, clicking into place. Jim will repeat this process 57 times before the game starts, each time ensuring that the door swings with the same ease as the push before. If there’s a hiccup, Jim delicately applies some WD-40 to the hinges, and it’s as good as new. Open and close. Open and close.

It’s the same job every night. The penalty is called. The offender skates over, and Jim deftly swings open the door, ready to welcome a new person into his office, much like any other employee with an office would do. Person enters and Jim swings the door shut behind him. After taking a seat, Jim pulls out the clipboard and fills in the particulars. The “tripping” section of the clipboard that holds the chart seems to be more worn than the other areas, but Jim refuses a replacement. This board has seen some great players and some great moments, and it sure as hell won’t be replaced by some newer model that has a logo embossed on the back. After a couple of minutes, Jim hops up, looks at the clock, and with the precision of a man who has practiced this move thousands of times, whips open the door as the player slides over the threshold and back onto the ice. By the time his skate blades hit, the door is closed and Jim is on his way back to his chair, ready for the next time he’s called upon.

Except tonight, that moment never came for Jim.

Jim spent the entire evening by himself in that box.

60 minutes of nothing to do but watch and wait.

Watch and suffer.

Suffer and watch.

Suffer and suffer.

__________________________________

Am I off the deep end? Probably. Not that I really care, because watching that game was three hours of my life that I can never get back. Sure, everyone will point out that the Wings didn’t get a power play during the entire game, which –  to be fair –  is certainly interesting. That said, it definitely didn’t cost them the game and the Hawks didn’t really see much time on the power play either (one penalty against Detroit. Shitbox, if you forgot.) No, the Wings reverted to their disinterested approach to playing hockey. The offense was garbage. The D was slow. Jimmy did his best to prove me right and get yanked in favor of Osgood and the miraculous 400th win in a come from behind victory at the UC.

Frankly, the whole thing sucked and I honestly had no idea what to write. I hopped in the shower and hoped inspiration would hit me, but the only thing I could think about was what it must have felt like to be Jim Gardener* tonight. That’s why this post took so long. I stood there and soaped my hair for almost an hour, just thinking the thoughts that JG must have been thinking. I went through the entire story I laid out above, and afterwards, it hit me: it sucked to be Jim Gardener tonight.

Just like it sucked to be a Wings fan.

We are Jim Gardener tonight.

Loss Candy

For the dudes, I think Rosie Jones ought to do the trick…

And for the ladies, since we did ScarJo the other night, here’s her *former* other half…

See you Sunday.

*Jim Gardener is obviously not a real person. Or if he is, he’s PROBABLY not the guy that opens the penalty box door.

Curly=Perfect and Perfect=Curly

There’s plenty to talk about after the win over St. Louis, but I’m going to table all of that for just one second because there’s something that needs to be said first…

Yes we CAN go get some piping hot curly fries because The Perfect Human decreed it so with three pucks in the back of the net.

Operation: Curly Fries has come full circle and I can’t think of a better way for it to happen than Nicklas Lidstrom notching his first career hat trick. That said, it’s incredibly hard to believe he hadn’t gotten “tricky” before this, but I’m not one to question the cosmos. It’s fitting that Captain Nick is the first one to send you scrambling to your printers for a box score and to your nearest Arby’s for some curly fries. He’s truly a man of the people, and when the people speak, St. Nick listens. Christmas come early, if you will. Personally, I hope Nick drops down my chimney with a hot piping order of seasoned potato goodness and a bottle of my favorite whiskey, but we’ll save that discussion for another time.

Before we move along, be sure to snap some pictures of you picking up your curly fries tomorrow while wearing your TPL shirt of choice (I <3 Curly Fries is, of course, the preferred choice.) Don’t have one? Pick one up at The Production Line Store. Once you’ve grabbed your fries and taken your picture, send it to us at contact@theproductionline.us and we’ll post it up over on our Facebook page.

On with the recap…

FINAL SCORE (Hi Mr. P!!!)

Wings 5, Blues 2

Random Musings

The Wings got it done tonight, although not in the prettiest fashion. It was a rough and tumble game to be sure, and the Blues came out early looking like the had snuck into Mike Babcock’s personal study and stolen the magic defensive recipe out of one of the leather bound books that he keeps on the shelves, limiting the Wings to a paltry five shots in the opening stanza. The Wings looked confused, and Murph even said they were acting “frustrated” on the bench, making myself (and I’m guessing quite a few of you out there) wonder if the wheels were going to fall off yet again at home.

Which is just the thing this team needed.

I loved this game because it forced these guys out of their comfort zone a bit. After throwing 51 shots at Jonathan Quick the other night, it was refreshing to see the Wings have to come out there and pick their moments and capitalize on the chances that St. Louis left on the ice. None was bigger than Dan Cleary’s power play goal after David Backes found his way in a very ill-advised manner to the penalty box, and that’s what’s been missing from this team now for a few games. The Wings have this tendency to lay back and act like they’re going to overwhelm opponents with high shot counts and pure athletic excellence, which, quite frankly, has gotten them into sticky situations this year. I don’t know if St. Louis just frustrated them to the point that they got pissed off or what, but I’m certainly not complaining and I’m damn near thrilled to see them fight hard and gut one out, while making sure that the opportunities they were given were buried in the back of the net.

Now, we all know Lidstrom gets the spotlight tonight, but you have to tip your…cap (if you still have one on, I guess) to both Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary, who also had monster nights. Hank picked up 4 assists along the way, and Cleary nets the game winning goal, while picking up a pair of assists to boot. Zetterberg continues to play excellent hockey at both ends of the ice, and Cleary continues to show everyone what he can do when he’s fully healthy, rubbing my face in it at the same time… and I’m OK with that. If you would have told me that Buckets would be leading the team in scoring after 30 games, I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. I’m thrilled to see his hard work and effort translate into gritty goals and pretty darn good all around play, and if some crow needs to be eaten along the way, I’m fine with it.

One last thing before we go tuck ourselves into bed with visions of curly fries dancing in our head. I know I’ve been all kinds of supportive of Jonny Ericsson over the past month or so, but there is no way he will ever shed the moniker of Riggy Shitbox after he put an icing touch-up in his own net. NO. WAY. As I said on Twitter, it was the quintessential Riggy Shitbox play. I literally facepalmed.

Enough hating. Nick wants YOU to go get some curly fries and enjoy a big win.

Curly Fries Bitches.

Curly Fries image courtesy of @sigsegfalt

Nicklas Lidstrom image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Dec. 15 :: Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
The Wings and Blues meet for the second of six meetings this season. Wednesday night, 7:30pm, Joe Louis Arena.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
The question everyone will be asking is “how will the Red Wings respond to getting their teeth kicked in by the Kings?” and rightfully so. It was the first time this season that they were shut out, and — though I thought they were the better team for two periods — thoroughly gave up in the third. That’s not indicative of the Red Wings, and I’m sure today is a new day in all of their minds. But, if they give up a goal in the first few minutes… it’ll be hard to keep their head on straight.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
It’s been a few weeks since we played the Blues, but a week before Thanksgiving, the Wings had their way with The Most Irrelevant Team in National Hockey League History. The final score was 7-3, Jimmy Howard earned his tenth victory of the season, Dan Cleary scored a pair, and Homer, Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Stuart, and Miller filled in the gaps.

OH, HI AGAIN / MEMBA ME?! / BEST NAME NOMINEE
It’s a repeat of November 17th’s Back to the Future Pre-Game. Former Wings goaltender Ty Conklin is in St. Louis. Current Wings goaltender Chris Osgood used to be in St. Louis. And, of the players left on the roster, Nikita Nikitin is their Best Name Nominee.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit didn’t have a good night on Monday, losing 5-0 to the Kings.
:: St. Louis is also coming off of a loss, a 2-1 overtime affair against the Hurricanes.

EXPECTED LINEUP
By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes
Zetterberg — Datsyuk — Homer
Thunderchief — Flip — Mulo
Buckets — Gator — Scuttles
Miller — Helm — Draper

Lidstrom — Stuart
Rafalski — Ericsson
Kronwall — Ruslan “One Horse Open” Salei (h/t @vtucherov)

Tiberius
Osgood

Scratches [Thanks to Krononymous for the excellent theme idea]
Jakub “Hey Ash, Where Are We?” Kindl [in Grand Rapids]
Patrick “Well We Just Crossed the Tennessee Border” Eaves

Injuries
Mike “Well Hello Mr. Fancypants” Modano [wrist]

Honorable Mentions
Todd “We Just Cut Up Our Girlfriend With a Chainsaw” Bertuzzi
Todd “I’ll Swallow Your Soul” Bertuzzi
Jonathan “You Did It Kid” Ericsson
Jiri “You Bastard! Why Are You Torturing Me Like This?!” Hudler
Jiri “Gimme Some Sugar Baby” Hudler
Jiri “You’re Pissing Me Off, You Ugly Son of a Bitch” Hudler
Pavel “Clatto Verata Nicto” Datsyuk
Niklas “See This? This Is My BOOMSTICK” Kronwall
Justin “This Sweet Baby Was Made in Grand Rapids, Michigan” Abdelkader
Nicklas “Hail to the King, Baby” Lidstrom
Brett “Buckle Up Bonehead, You’re Going for a Ride” Lebda
Ville “Honey, You Got Reeeeeeeeeal Ugly” Leino
Andreas “Whoa Whoa Whoa Right There, Spinach Chin” Lilja
Marian “I’ll Spoil Those Good Looks, Back Stabber”
*If there are any that you think I missed, throw them in the comments — the best one will be shared for all to enjoy on the TPL Facebook Page*

THE FIVE HOLE
1. Yesterday, about 18 hours after the loss, Mike Babcock declared Jimmy Howard the starter for tonight’s game against the Blues. It seems like a no-brainer, being that he’s the starter and these aren’t back-to-back games, but it’s worth noting that had Howard not gotten the reigns (as he may not have been scheduled to), it’d be a long sixty minutes for him sitting on the bench, wondering if he was out  because of the shallacking he took or because it just wasn’t his turn. Playing Howard is the smart move — the only move, really — and I’ll think he’ll bounce back like the pro we’ve all been in awe that he’s becoming.
2. When asked if he had considered started Osgood in front of the home crowd for the opportunity to get win #400, Mike Babcock essentially told a reporter to shut the fuck up. And that’s why we love him. Because that’s a cupcake question, and Mike Babcock’s a curly fry man.
3. Kris Draper comes back into the lineup and Patrick Eaves (allegedly) goes upstairs to the Leino Lounge. Jiri Hudler had one of his better games of the season on Monday, but he still isn’t registering points (obviously…given the shutout). Perhaps its a sign of things to come. Keep an eye on him tonight, as he’s probably getting tired of this rotation thing, too.
4. After dropping a game in which your ass was handed to you on a silver platter, you look to your leadership to set the example and set it early. We all know Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are more than capable of taking a game over early and never letting go (see: Devils, New Jersey). If I were a betting man, I’d advise you to lay all of your chips on those two gentlemen and Nicklas Lidstrom to come screaming out of the gate because they aren’t at all pleased with Monday.
5. What do you think the odds are that we could get Bruce Campbell to come on TP:60? He’s from Royal Oak… those guys make no secret about how much they love the state of Michigan and Detroit sports. I bet he’s a hell of a Wings fan. Hm…

WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE KINGS
You know who’s good? Jonathan Quick.

BLUE WE COVET (JJ Special)
I’ve always admired Andy MacDonald’s speed and ability to finish.

WUT?