The Impossible is Possible: WIIM Defeats TPL

There’s no surprise in me telling you that the regular weekend parties at TPL world headquarters are not to be missed. Mysterious women. Extravagant food. Alcohol by the Mack truckload. Many a man and woman have emerged from TPLand on a Sunday morning (or afternoon), squinted their eyes and wondered aloud “What the hell just happened?” Those words are what drive us forward. Those feelings of euphoria and imminent vomiting are what make us special. Time and again, folks have asked us how we are capable of pulling of such feats of excellence on a regular basis, and our answer is always one word: Swagger.

Naturally, this weekend’s competition brought out the highest levels of confidence and arrogance that live in the hallowed halls of TPL. We pride ourselves on the belief that we are the elite in everything we do, whether it be uneducated blog posting, panty dropping or picking All Star fantasy lineups that all but guarantee us yet another trophy on the many, many mantles that adorn the walls here. A curse? Perhaps.

But it’s only on days like today where our pride is put slightly in check; when someone else rises to the occasion and challenges the beliefs that TPL is built upon. The gentlemen over at Winging It In Motown have become the latest in an incredibly short and abbreviated list to accomplish this staggering feat of luck, defeating us in the All Star fantasy challenge today by a score of 57.6-53.4. This blow hurts, don’t get me wrong. The three of us here felt like this contest was in the bag from the moment Michael Petrella uttered the words “Steven Stamkos,” and the blog posts in the days following the draft made no doubt about who we felt would emerge victorious in our noble battle. Alas, the fates aligned against us (despite our best efforts to pump Matt Duchene full of vodka all weekend) and Team WIIM walks away with the pride and the hardware.

So, in instances like these, there’s only one course of action befitting gentlemen of our stature. We stand up (without pants on, of course), button the cuffs of our expensive dress shirts, tighten the fine silk tie around our collar and stride confidently to the podium in the press room of TPL headquarters and announce the following:

“Congratulations WIIM. Job well done.”

On second thought, I guess there is one more course of action that is fitting for times like these…

Loss Candy.

Yes WIIM, you’re number one. Either that or he’s JJ’s number one fan.

According to Plan

Ed note: In the style of Rob Discher because yes, I’ve been drinking.

The first salvo of the WIIM/TPL All Star Game Extravaganza has been fired, but don’t let the scoreboard fool you. Sure, you may see “WIIM:1, TPL:0” after the conclusion of tonight’s first ever NHL All Star Game Draft, but looks can be deceiving.

While WIIM sits on their faux high horse and gloats over their one point advantage, TPL headquarters is breaking out the booze – the good shit, no skimping tonight – and preparing to soak in the beautiful strains of our victorious symphony on Sunday night. If you were here, you’d see Disch sipping on a highball of scotch that’s older than Jeff Skinner while watching a leggy blonde with plenty of…”personality”… give him a lapper. Petrella’s in on the action too, tossing a stack of hundreds at some black haired beauty named Charity who, fittingly enough, bears a striking resemblance to Princess Jasmine  stepping away from his pages of spreadsheets to get his lovely wife a drink from the statue that is pissing champagne. Stevie’s off in the corner painting a masterpiece while a perfectly bronzed and barely clothed stud of a man feeds her grapes and poses like the Roman god he’s probably named after would. And me? I’ve got an Opus X perched between my teeth, dressed to the nines in my finest evening wear, gently sipping a fine Stag’s Leap vintage. Somewhere, the strains of Louis Armstrong are being methodically forced into the air, and the night still has plenty in store for everyone.

</end Discher>

So why are we so cavalier and relaxed in the face of a deficit? How can we be so cocksure when you, our loyal readers, have to listen to those fellas over at WIIM tout their “insurmountable” lead?

Because it’s all according to plan.

Go ahead and ask the WIIM boys who suggested the idea of awarding points during the draft? Too slow: Michael Petrella. That’s right, it was a TPL man who offered up the chance at some extra cheese on the board. Why? Because we’re damn confident, that’s why. We knew that we’d dominate the draft. We knew that the shining trophy of Molson Canadian and pushups on the stairs of Joe Louis Arena would be ours. But why should our knowledge and savvy limit the fun for everyone else?

So take solace TPL nation. We saw this coming and we are damn well prepared for it. So well prepared, in fact, that we have a drink waiting right here with your name on it. So come on in. Take a load off. Relax with some Dom P and finger foods that you can’t even pronounce.

The party’s just getting started.

Ward photo courtesy of Dave Sanford/Getty Images

Kessel photo courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

TP:60 – Episode #14

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.

The All Star Break is finally upon us, and TP:60 has put together an All Star lineup to break it all down. Our good friend Sean Gentille from The Sporting News joins us, alongside Puck Daddy’s Justin Bourne and friend of Red Wings fans everywhere, Ryan Lambert. The guys break down who has impressed the most in both conferences and offer up predictions on who will contend for the Cup this summer, before tackling the topic on everyone’s mind this weekend: the All Star Game. From the selection process to NHL’s Guardian project, every angle of the game is addressed, which opens the door for a highly entertaining debate about which player would you build a team around for a single year. Of course, Lambert runs through the hat trick of Discher questions before the end of the show, capping one of the most entertaining  TP:60 episodes to date.

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

U-G-L-Y, You Ain’t Got No Alibi

The TPL/WIM NHL All-Star Fantasy Throwdown is well underway. The guys have done all the hard work of drafting our picks and setting up the roster, and I don’t have to do any of the push ups or drink-fetching in the highly unlikely event that we lose. (Right? I wasn’t consulted on this. And frankly, the idea of me doing push-ups is laughable. I can do, like, eight. Maybe.) They’re also on top of the shit-talking, which is good because all I’ve got in that repertoire is “SUCK IT” which I think is hilarious but isn’t very substantial.

So what’s the main way I can help? Cheerleading.

Actually, I’m a lot better at drawing. And I’m really good at drawing Shetuzzi.

So this happened.

K-I-L-L Kill it with fire, kill it with fire! Clap clap.
Shetuzzi makes everything better! Or ruins it. Whichever.

Well. At least we’ll strike fear into the hearts of our enemies.

Devils lose again, check on spelling of “Couturier”

The other team from Jersey that's awful and -- probably -- smells like pee.

This is the 666th post in TPL history. Pretty fitting, given that the Wings just sent the Devils back to Hell, also know as “New Jersey.” The final score was 3-1 Good Guys.

:: Darren Helm fired a missile over the glove hand of Martin Brodeur just “a hundred and three seconds into the contest” (more on that ridiculous counting of seconds in a minute). That dude is on FIRE lately, amassing twelve points in his last fourteen games. It’s nice to see him taking advantage of the opportunity created by the absence of a few regulars.

:: Speaking of which… what was with all the Red Wings hitting the ice tonight? Rafalski took a shot off the thigh (which hurts), Darren Helm blocked a shot with a foot (which hurts a little less), and Patrick Eaves caught a stick to the face (which never happened to me since you’re forced to wear a full shield in college).

:: There was a scrum in front of Jimmy Howard that definitely would have been blown dead if Tomas Holmstrom was involved in any way. Nevertheless, the Devils tied it up, and the score would remain 1-1 until the third period.

:: The Wings finally got a power play, courtesy of Eaves’ scratched up face. No one on the Devils post-game, Jacques Lemaire included, could understand how in the world hitting an opposing player in the face with your stick could possibly be a penalty. Surely, since it was an accident, the Wings and refs would say “aw shucks, Brian Rolston, that’s alright… ‘slong as you didn’t meana.” I’ll admit, it was odd that no call was made on the play, allowing the Devils a very good scoring opportunity. But that call’s automatic, and if you’re allowed to check for blood after an already-two-minute high sticking penalty, why not after a play in which there was clearly an infraction you missed?

:: The Wings would get a full two minute five-on-three and in true 2010-11 Red Wings form, dickfingered it away.

:: Valtteri Filppula made it 2-1 about five minutes into the third, and Johan Franzen sealed it with a tree stump of a goal in the final minute.

A few weeks back, I admitted that I enjoyed listening to the Penguins broadcast. Their play-by-play and color team were excellent that night, and I was very impressed with their work. For the second time in recent weeks, I was forced to watch an opponent’s feed — this time, thanks to my living in the greater New York area. MSG’s team is Doc Emrick, and Chico Resch (who sounds like a grown up Kermit the Frog who can’t pronounce anyone’s names correctly).

For some reason, Doc Emrick is held in high esteem in the hockey world. It seems like every few weeks, he’s being honored by someone or other, for something or other. In 2008, he was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame for his contribution to broadcasting. He has a “New York Emmy,” whatever the hell that is (what I do know is he has six fewer actual Emmys than I do). We’re expected to fall all over ourselves, fawning over his hockey knowledge and his ability to call a game accurately and smoothly, despite everyone on Earth making fun of how often he lets out a DRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE.

Unlike the Penguins team, this was painful. Doc Emrick is nothing short of useless in that booth, and I’m forced to ask — like another dinosaurific New York institution, Stan Fischer — what the fuck is the attraction? Is it impressive that Emrick can change the inflection of his voice to be conversational when he quickly adds 15 seconds to a minute and tells us there’s “75 seconds left” in a period?

Maybe it’s his knowledge of the history of the game? At one point tonight, Chico asked him “when was it that the Jets left Winnipeg?” and he lets out a brilliant “I don’t recall. It was the nineties.” Yup, that must be it.

Perhaps its his world-class analysis of Detroit’s shot totals. “Fifty is kind of normal around here. Sometimes they get sixty.” What? They’ve gotten sixty maybe once — and it was likely during the Red Machine/Beautiful Game years when the Coyotes were still in Winnipeg. You know…the nineties. In the 49 games the Wings have played this season, they’ve hit 50 once (a 5-0 loss to the Kings, and it was 51). 2%. Kinda normal around here. In fact, they’ve only hit forty SEVEN times, and all but one of those were under 45. It’s certainly possible he was being cute and using some hyperbole… but it was still annoying and blatantly incorrect, something that a young hockey fan wouldn’t see through as being ridiculous and misguided.
EDIT :: Thanks for the catch in the comments… Doc may have been talking about the number of wins Detroit expects. That’s probably absolutely true, in which case — I flubbed this one pretty bad. I certainly misunderstood, probably because he had just finished referring to the shots on goal, and apologize for the error. He still sucks.  =)

While watching MSG, I was treated to other hockey gems, like “players who have played their whole careers with one team” — featuring a superfluous fourth place reference to a player not playing tonight, as well as “C. Draper,” which is incorrect on several levels. Kris “With a K” Draper played with the aforementioned Winnipeg Jets. That’s alright… an easy thing to overlook, it was probably all the way back in the nineties.

Red Wings Ugly Third Jersey Contest

I bet you can't make yours uglier than this.

Like so many others before it, a brilliant idea was born on Twitter last week. Red Wings Nation patriots and good friends of The Production Line, Rob (@etchedincold), Jason (@sigsegfalt), and Sara (@thetinnishflash) were discussing how awesome — and horrifying — an Red Wings Ugly Third Jersey Photoshop Contest could be. Rob asked us to help spread the word, and we happily obliged.

For the next two weeks, we’re happy to collect submissions (along with Etched In Cold) of your Photoshopped (or Microsoft Painted, if that’s more your speed) abominations of sweatertastic ugliness. It’s difficult to make the beauty of the Winged Wheel into something less than awesomesauce, but as we all know (except for 28 other NHL teams, apparently), third jerseys are inherently stupid and almost always uglier than the (already ugly) jerseys many teams sport on a daily basis.

The Wings have made it clear: they won’t be adding a third jersey to their arsenal, hopefully ever. They’ve worn a special jersey for the 75th anniversary of the League, they (reluctantly) agreed to wear something special for the Winter Classic, but there have been very few changes to the sweater for the last, oh, 80 years.

Here’s your chance to experiment, and win some prizes doing it. We won’t spoil the prizes — head over to EIC for details about those. But if you’ve got something in mind, and think it’ll be ugly enough go grace these pages, and the pages at EIC, send them our way. At the end of each week, each site will be displaying a handful of submissions and open the favorites up to a vote. The winner will be announced February 10th, the day before the pledge games begin. You have until February 8th to get a submission into one of our inboxes.

Bring on the ugly!

TP:60 – Episode #13

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.

Slow hockey weeks, be damned! TP:60 is back and in your ear this week, albeit without host Chris Hollis. Rob Discher holds down the captain’s chair yet again (despite another round of technical difficulties that makes him sound like a dance remix) and leads fellow TPL’er Michael Petrella, WIM’s Graham Hathway and the newly returned George Malik in a vibrant and entertaining discussion about the Wings woes, Evgeni Nabokov and the upcoming All Star break. The gang also explains Hollis’ mysterious disappearance this week and gets ready for the last week of hockey before the TPL/WIM All Star Showdown.

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

Nabokov joins the Islanders, earns Children’s Hospital $93.50

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Well, the long international nightmare is over. The noon deadline has just passed and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has a new home. After being signed to a one-year, $570,000 pro-rated contract by the Red Wings, he was subjected to the 24-hour waiver wire.

The third team on that list, the New York Islanders, have claimed him — taking on the contract that the Red Wings signed him to.

As a result, it’s time for the kids to cash in! Listed below are the pledges that will be added to your total. Just like last year, I’ll be totaling dollars and cents and e-mailing you each a number at the end of the pledge period in early March. Speaking of which, if I don’t already have your e-mail, expect a Twitter message from us shortly.

@mpetrella pledges $2 if he’s claimed.
@wkfink pleges $5 if he’s claimed.
@crperreau pledges $2 if he’s claimed.
@marlonbrando_ pledges $10 if he’s claimed.
@bradonweb pledges $2 if he’s claimed.
@SPintheD pledges $2 if he’s claimed.
@JennHo pledges $5 if he’s claimed.
@bvschmidt pledges $5 if he’s claimed.
@Detroit4lyfeRob pledges $10 if he’s claimed.
@TheN0rm41 pledges $10 if he’s claimed.
@asshatduck pledges $5 if he’s claimed.
@Whoabot pledges $5 if he’s claimed.
@ang_19 pledges $2 if he’s claimed.
@Amerinadian19 pledges $5 if he’s claimed.
@saraneuie pledges $5 if he’s claimed.
@FightNightatJoe pledges $4 if he’s claimed.
@OhMySwed3 pledges $10 if he’s claimed.
@keithdotson pledges $5 if he’s claimed.
@OhMySwed3 pledges an additional $5 if he’s claimed by the Islanders.
@keithdotson pledges an additional $2.50 if he’s claimed by Devils, Islanders, Wild, or Leafs.

We have 24 hours starting….NOW

Son of a bitch, Google Image Search...

With goaltender Evgeni Nabokov officially signed to a one-year, $570,000 (pro-rated) contract offer (with No Movement Clause) from the Red Wings, he begins his journey along the waiver wire: a 24-hour period where none of us will know his fate, and can only speculate as to which NHL team he’ll become property of on Saturday at noon.

The waiver order is determined by teams’ records at the time at which the waiver offer is placed (meaning, today at noon). The percentage of points earned to games played is used, since not every team has played the same number of games. Below you’ll find the waiver priority list as of today — the team at the top has first dibs, the second has second dibs, and so on.

At the end of the 24-hour period, the League will collect all of the teams that have made a claim (if any), and the team nearest the top of the list gets the player.

Also listed are each teams’ goaltending situations and cap space — just so we can argue who fits where and why. Let the baseless speculation continue! And don’t forget to place your Nabokov-related pledges!

1. New Jersey (Brodeur – NTC, Hedberg – NTC; no cap space; $1.17M LTIR space)
2. Edmonton (Khabibulin, Dubnyk; $12.6M cap space)
3. Islanders (DiPietro, Poulin, Lawson; $18.5M)
4. Ottawa (Leclaire – inj, Elliot, Mike Brodeur; $435k)
5. Toronto (Giguere – NTC, Gustavsson; $3.5M)
6. Calgary (Kiprusoff – NMC, Karlsson; no cap space; $450k LTIR space)
7. Buffalo (Miller – NTC, Lalime; $4.3M)
8. Florida (Vokoun – NMC, Clemmensen; $8.8M)
9. Los Angeles (Quick, Bernier; $4.1M)
10. Columbus (Mason, Garon; $5.3M)
11. Atlanta (Mason – inj, Pavelec; $18M)
12. San Jose (Niemi, Niittymaki – inj; no cap space; $580k LTIR space)
13. Carolina (Ward – NTC, Peters; $9.6M)
14. St. Louis (Halak, Conklin; $12.6M)
15. Anaheim (Hiller, McElhinney; $3.6M)
16. Minnesota (Backstrom, Harding – inj, Theodore; $1M)
17. Chicago (Turco – NMC, Crawford; $327k)
18. Colorado (Anderson, Budaj; $17M)
19. Rangers (Lunqvist, Biron; $1.8M)
20. Phoenix (Bryzgalov, Labarbera; $8.6M)
21. Montreal (Price, Auld; $1M LTIR space)
22. Nashville (Rinne, Lindback; $8.9M)
23. Washington (Varlamov – inj, Neuvirth – inj, Holtby; $982k)
24. Boston (Thomas – NMC, Rask; $377k)
25. Tampa Bay (Smith, Roloson, Ellis; $10M)
26. Pittsburgh (Fleury – NMC, Johnson; $103k LTIR space)
27. Dallas (Lehtonen, Raycroft; $7M)
28. Vancouver (Luongo – NTC, Schneider; $197k LTIR space)
29. Philadelphia (Bobrovsky, Boucher; $394k; $832k LTIR space)

Just for giggles, the Red Wings would be between Dallas and Vancouver if another team were waiving a player.

It’s fair to cross off many of those teams, either because their goaltending situation is solidified or because they don’t have the cap room to make a claim. Below is who I’m thinking has a legit chance of claiming Nabokov. What do you think?

2. Edmonton
3. Islanders
9. Los Angeles
10. Columbus
11. Atlanta
12. San Jose (God, that’d be awesome)
15. Anaheim
23. Washington

For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow

The best present
You don't want to know what I had to do to get those.

I always forget that Darren Helm is six months younger than I am. Welcome to age 24, love, you’re off to a great start.

I have to say, when he got smacked earlier in the game, I was frozen with horror. I think I made a few whimpering noises and tweeted some incomprehensible. We certainly don’t need anymore injuries, and especially not one of our most effective forwards. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the number 43 back on the ice. And when he scored the game winner in OT… well, I don’t think that I should be telling the internet about that reaction.

Now that he’s found those hands, I hope to see them used more frequently. I can’t wait.