OH. WOW. GEE WHIZ. LOOKY HERE.
Hawks at Wings. 7:30 PM Eastern. Joe Louis Arena. The Wings are chasing the two seed and need to hunt down San Jose like Samuel Gerard tracking Dr. Richard Kimball.
IT’S NOT OVER
It’s the fifth of six matchups between these Central foes, with the regular season finale for both coming on Sunday. The last time these two tangled was on March 28th, where Marian Hossa lifted the Hawks to a 4-3 win in the extra session. Chicago has also won three of the previous four against the Wings.
SAM, THERE’S A GUY ON THE PHONE CLAIMING TO BE RICHARD KIMBALL
Niklas Hjalmarsson. It looks like someone just slammed a bunch of keys on the keyboard and that last name popped out.
WHAT HAPPENED? WHERE’D HE GO?
:: Detroit got blanked in Carolina on Wednesday, 3-0.
:: Chicago took a controversial decision over St. Louis on Wednesday, 4-3 in OT .
WHAT IS THIS, A TRENCHCOAT CONVENTION? (Ed. note: No lines released at time of posting. Best guesses ensue…) By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes.
Cleary — Datsyuk — Hudler
Franzen — Filppula — Bertuzzi
Holmstrom — Modano — Abdelkader
Miller — Helm — Eaves
Lidstrom — Ericsson
Salei — Stuart
Kindl — Rafalski
HOW’D YOU LOSE THAT ARM?
Chris Osgood [bergina]
Niklas Kronwall [shoulder]
Henrik Zetterberg [knee]
WE’RE EATING ORANGES AND WE’RE MAKING ID’S
The TPL Name Game ”Three Stars”
Petrella: Chris “Think Me Up A Cup of Coffee” Osgood
Hollis: Jonathan “My, My, My, My, My, What A Mess” Ericsson *Now it’s up to you! Think up your best names and throw them in the comments — the best one will be shared for all to enjoy on the TPL Facebook Page. The best of the best will be pitted against one another at season’s end, and the winner takes home a TPL Shirt of their choice.*
WELL, I AM TRYING TO SOLVE A PUZZLE
:: All kinds of playoff ramifications in this one tonight, for both Detroit and Chicago. The Wings can leapfrog SJ for the two seed with a win, while the Hawks are looking to stave off the Dallas Stars. A win or charity point for the Hawks coupled with a Dallas loss means Chicago is in. A Chicago loss and a Dallas win means shit gets crazy this weekend. Let’s hope for the latter.
:: It’s been four wins in a row for the Hawks at Joe Louis Arena. Sure would be nice to put a stop to that, no?
:: Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg have both been ruled out for the rest of the regular season, with Zetterberg questionable for the start of the playoffs as well. It will be interesting to see how the Wings approach these last two games. Do you go for broke to try and snag the two seed or lay back and try and keep folks healthy? Tough call, especially when the two seed may “reward” the Wings with a matchup against red hot Anaheim.
:: The Chris Osgood saga continues to drag on, with Ken Holland giving the apparent “vote of confidence” to Joey MacDonald today for the #2 goaltender spot come playoff time. Osgood sounds hopeful that he’ll be around for the playoffs, but do we really want to see an untested Ozzie between the pipes with everything on the line? I vote no.
:: PREDICTION: Wings 4, Hawks 3 (OT). Detroit gets the win despite surrendering the charity point. Dallas also gets at least a point tonight, meaning Sunday’s season finale in Chicago is potentially make or break for the Hawks.
WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE HURRICANES
Failed to win. Failed to stay healthy. Failed.
In a cruel twist of fate, it was just learned the EJ McGuire, vice president of Central Scouting and probably the most knowledgeable human being on the planet about NHL Drafts and prospects, passed away at the age of 58 this morning. Thoughts are with the McGuire family — and the extended hockey family that will mourn the loss of a great man.
Now that the season is winding down and the only thing left to battle for is playoff seeding, it’s time to begin looking toward one of the best times of the years: THE OFF-SEASON! As a general rule, I don’t start analyzing next season’s roster or salary cap until the Red Wings’ season is over (it’s mostly a superstition thing), but it’s never too early to start looking at the prospects for the upcoming NHL Draft.
As many of you know, I’m a giant Draft nerd. I won’t claim to know as much about each of the prospects as Kyle from Babcock’s Death Stare does, but I have a fairly impressive track record with mock drafts and evaluating talent (based on video) and whatnot. If you’ll recall, I covered the Draft for Winging it in Motown last year, and took part in SB Nation’s Mock Draft. Of all thirty first round mock picks, only three ended up being correct: #1 Taylor Hall, #2 Tyler Seguin, and #21 Riley Sheahan.
Obviously, it’s nearly impossible to get the mock draft correct from top to bottom, but usually you can tell which players — or the bulk of them — are going to be in the Top 30. Last year, I had 24/30 pegged and my best is 29/30, a year that I correctly picked 1-12.
I’d like to present Part I of what will be a multiple-part feature over the next couple of months. The Red Wings will be picking in the mid-to-late 20’s (hopefully 30th) again this season, so the following players are young men that you can bet WON’T be putting on the winged wheel at the podium this year in Minnesota. However, as we get closer to the big day in June, we should be able to identify the mid-to-late first round prospects that are in the Red Wings range, and Parts II and III will introduce you to a handful of guys that could have a future in Motown. Last year, we knew a few things about both Riley Sheahan and Teemu Pulkinnen. The year before, Landon Ferraro and Tomas Tatar.
Reading as many reputable lists and pundits as possible (ISS, Central Scouting, Bob McKenzie, NHL.com Mock Drafts, The Hockey Writers, THN, etc.), gauging their past efficiency, merging notes, and keeping tabs all season long, we start to see a trend and the cream rises to the top, so to speak. In years past, they’ve tried to pull a “WHO’S IT GOING TO BE” on us, when it was always clear (to me, anyway, thanks to researching and the hard work put in by folks in the know) that it was going to be Taylor, not Tyler; Tavares, not Hedman; Stamkos, not Doughty.
This year, however, there are legitimately a handful of guys that could go #1 overall, and I sincerely don’t have any idea which it’ll be. If you asked me during the holidays, I would have been CONVINCED it was Sean Couturier, but now he seems to be the consensus 4th pick, and the other fellas have climbed over him.
I’m confident that the first 8 guys will be top 10 picks. But I was also confident that Cam Fowler would go 3rd or 4th last year… so you never know what could happen. Without further ado, the first part — which we have to get through before we can explore potential Red Wing picks (stay tuned in May and June…)
1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer Rebels (WHL), 6-0, 170
Earlier in the season, Bob McKenzie sent a tweet that — and I’m paraphrasing here — there are four guys that legitimately could be the top pick, but he knew which one “it wouldn’t be.” I was sure he meant Nugent-Hopkins at that moment. Since then, Nugent-Hopkins has secured at least a share of the top prospect slot — if he doesn’t own it outright. The Oilers are likely to pick first again, and here’s a young man that has said publicly that he’d like to play in Edmonton. Seems like a no-brainer, but with Taylor Hall already in the fold, you’d think they’d like a stud defenseman. Like, say…
2. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (SEL), 6-2, 200
If I were picking first, this is my winner. He’s been compared to Nicklas Lidstrom, already has a man’s body, and always has the word “steady” in front of other adjectives to describe his prowess. The lowest he’s ranked on any list is #2, and — like Hedman — if he’s not taken #1, it’s a fair bet to assume he’s going to Colorado at two (pending the outcome of the NHL Draft Lottery, which takes place next Tuesday).
3. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener Rangers (OHL), 6-0, 207
A future Best Name Nominee for whoever selects the Swede playing Canadian Junior, Landeskog is another large kid, and is expected to grow a bit more — like all 18-year-olds. I watched some video on him (and the others), and he’s pretty impressive. He’s a talented skater and clearly a leader: he’s the first European-born captain of the Rangers, and was named an alternate captain for Team Sweden at the World Juniors (but only played one game before spraining an ankle). He moved — by himself, no less – to Canada when he was 16 to pursue a Junior career, instead of staying in the Swedish leagues like Larsson. Suck on that, Hat Trick Dick.
4. Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL), 6-4, 195
Every year at the World Juniors, there’s a clear thermometer of your status as an NHL Draft prospect: the one or two draft-eligible kids that make Team Canada? Yeah, they’re good. This year, only Sean Couturier made Team Canada, and while he may not have blown the doors off in the way that Taylor Hall did, his inclusion on the roster is usually reason enough to be a Top 5 pick.
5. Ryan Strome, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL), 6-1, 183
He’s quick and he’s worked his way up the rankings this year. That’s usually a good sign for June. I like a lot about Ryan Strome, but perhaps nothing more than how he reacted to being traded to Niagara in a deal featuring current St. Louis Blue Alex Pietrangelo. Former Red Wing scout Ed Burkholder has this to say about Strome: “Ryan is a dynamic, offensive hockey player with a strong commitment to the defensive side of the game. He has tremendous vision which enables him to excel at moving the puck and continue to be a dangerous player around the net.” Two-way. Book it.
6. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener Rangers (OHL), 5-10, 160
“Exceptional talent,” “quarterback,” and “best player on the ice” have been used to describe him lately. I’m always wary of the second-best prospect from a single Junior team, as Murphy is for Kitchener (let’s call it the Fowler Effect). You’re left to wonder if he’s benefitting from being a good team with great teammates. But Murphy’s been one of those kids that — if you follow hockey prospects — we’ve been hearing about since he was a child prodigy heading into the OHL Draft.
7. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL), 6-1, 170
Like Strome, all Huberdeau has done is increase his Draft stock. Some folks that watch the Q much more closely than I do think Huberdeau is better than Couturier — the one-time de-facto #1 pick. Huberdeau might also have the nastiest YouTube clip of this draft class.
8. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara IceDogs (OHL), 6-4, 193
For the second time, we have a team with two players in the top ten. Strome’s teammate, Dougie “Teach Me How to” Hamilton is the younger brother of a 2010 San Jose Shark Draft Pick and will almost certainly be picked higher than big bro. He grew another inch and put on some more pounds this season, to go with his solid D and offensive ability. Also, he goes by Dougie. And that’s awesome.
9. Brandon Saad, LW, Saginaw Spirit (OHL), 6-2, 200
The first American kid on the list is from the suburbs of Pittsburgh. He’s a “classic power forward” whose skill set should translate into competent scoring at the NHL level.
10. Tyler Biggs, RW, US National Team Development Program, 6-2, 202
Homey has no problem dropping the gloves and/or rocking dudes out of their skates. He’s been asked to scale the fighting back, because losing a player of his calibre for five minutes isn’t how you win hockey games, but he’s kept the edge in his game. Expect Red Wings fans to lament not having Tyler Biggs on the roster in ten years.
Before we go any further here, let me offer the sincerest of apologies for not getting a pre-game post up today. While we thoroughly enjoy entertaining all of you before and after every Wings game, there’s always some times when real life has to intervene, and that unfortunately was what happened today. Since I was slated to handle the pre-game, I’ll take the heat and blame.
That said, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time on this game. While the intensity was there, so were the careless mistakes that the Wings must get rid of before the playoffs start. Otherwise, it’ll be a very short postseason.
At any rate, the big news in obviously the Zetterberg injury, so allow me to just cut to the chase and provide you all with something to help take your mind off of his ankle while we wait for more news…
Yes, the theme today is “milk.” We all know it does a body good and the Wings need any infusion of good they can get right now, especially when it comes to having a healthy team.
Skinner goal photo courtesy of Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer
The Detroit Red Wings organization, its players, and its fans are the furthest thing from strangers to a good cause. In the two years we’ve been involved with H2H, I’m proud to say that we’ve raised just under $20,000 for Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Red Wings just announced that they’ve teamed with The Canadian Club to give $10,000 to the USO.
Something that hits close to home is animal rescue and safety. I grew up with dogs (and cats), worked on a television series about rescuing abused and neglected dogs, my wife and I are moving out of New York soon — and among the reasons at the very top of the list is so that we can have a large yard and rescue a dog (or 19).
When I heard about the Humane Society teaming up with Patrick Eaves, I contacted them immediately — as in, before I closed the browser window. I wanted to partner with them all season, in hopes to bring TPL’s fundraising ways to a cause that sincerely means the world to me. Sadly, we weren’t able to come together and make that happen, but I’d still like to urge everyone to spare a few dollars and help Patrick Eaves get out of the doghouse!
As of this writing, Patrick and his (outrageously massive) Newfie Rueben are about $3,000 away from their season-long goal. Anyone that loves their pet as much as Eaves does, and treats them (correctly) as a member of their family, has my vote.
If you have a few bucks to spare this month, consider giving to the Humane Society or your local shelter. Go now before I start relaying the awful, AWFUL stories I heard every day working at Animal Planet.
Among all the other things that happened at H2H2 (which, yes, there are some doodles that came out of that that I’ll eventually get on the internet), I was asked by the fellows at Winging It In Motown to assist them artistically with a few projects. At first I was hesitant, due our the deadly rivalry. But then when they told me it involved Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I knew that I had to do it, just so I could draw Pavel as a snarky French guard.
Click here to read their brilliant write-up and see my accompanying illustrations.
Oh, and just so we’re clear, TPL FOR LIFE, BITCHES.
:: With two points, the Red Wings clinched the Central Division for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. Detroit will secure either the 2nd or 3rd seed in the Western Conference playoffs, depending how the rest of the season — and that of San Jose — goes. It’s still nearly impossible to tell who the Wings will play in the first round, as it could literally be any of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Nashville, Anaheim, or Chicago.The Predators or Ducks seem the most likely, but who knows what the hell is going to happen in the next week.
:: The game started much as the last one ended: with the muckers and grinders playing hero. Darren Helm took a loose puck in the slot and ripped an absolute beauty of Jose Theodore’s shoulder. Less than three minutes in, the Red Wings have a 1-0 lead and look to be playing with the confidence they were lacking for a few weeks.
:: With 19 seconds left in the first, the Wings would make it 2-0, though there is some debate as to whose stick it went in off of. Nick Lidstrom had a blast from the blue line that may have gone straight through the traffic, or it may have been tipped by Pavel Datsyuk who returned after missing seven games. Regardless of who scored this one, Pavel Datsyuk proves how important he is to this club, as he was a difference-maker all over the ice for all sixty minutes. What a stud.
:: The Wild would get on the board in the second, and it was a strange one. The puck seemed to have been trapped under Jimmy Howard and the players in white were able to continue jabbing at him. But, the referee was right on top of the net and must not have lost sight of it, since a whistle never blew, and the puck eventually crossed the line. I couldn’t see the puck in several slow-motion replays, but I didn’t have the vantage point of the stripes, so… who am I?
:: Homer plays a little dangle dangle, as he stickhandles (!) his way into a third Red Wings goal, making a pretty move around a sliding Brent Burns and firing a wrister past Theodore. He’s probably still smiling. Johan Franzen finally broke through, adding his 28th goal of the season in the third period. It was another strange goal that seriously may not have crossed the line, but we’ll take it. Because…
:: Another game, another goal called back. Justin Abdelkader was checked into Theodore, but Gator was up and out of the crease long enough for Theodore to see the play set up, get squared to the shot, and just be beaten on his own. For some reason, no goal.
:: The Wild would add another one — Carson McMillan scored his first NHL goal with about 3 minutes to play. Congratulations on the feat, future Best Name Nominee.
:: The Grand Rapids Griffins were eliminated from playoff contention last night, losing to Abbotsford, so it looks like we’ll be seeing quite a few of the guys up as Black Aces as soon as the regular season ends. I would expect Brendan Smith, Derek Meech, Doug Janik, Jan Mursak, Tomas Tatar, Ilari Filppula, Cory Emmerton, Gustav Nyquist, and Jordan Pearce to be up with the big club on April 11th.
:: It’s not Red Wings-related, but the sport of hockey lost a hero this morning as former Yale University player Mandi Schwartz lost her long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. The cancer returned in December after all signs pointed to her being on the road to recovery, and she opted to stop painful treatment. She is survived by her parents, her fiance, and two hockey-playing brothers at Colorado College. The 23-year-old will be playing on a line with Boom Boom and The Rocket tonight. Rest in peace, Mandi.
Wings and Wild. Another matinee — this one’s 5pm Eastern on Sunday. Back home at the Joe.
TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS
Detroit is 2-0-1 against Minnesota this season. The most recent was a 2-1 shootout win on February 20th. Nicklas Lidstrom was the only goal scorer in regulation and Todd Bertuzzi, pugilist, won it in the shootout.
JOHNNY B. GOODE
Cal Clutterbuck. Part-time hockey player. Full-time porn ‘stache grower.
I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU
:: Detroit won in overtime, 4-3, yesterday in Nashville.
:: Minnesota lost to Tampa, 3-1, on Saturday.
SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN (and Jonathan Ericsson) By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes.
Cleary — Zetterberg — Datsyuk
Franzen — Filppula — Bertuzzi
Holmstrom — Modano — Abdelkader
Hudler — Helm — Eaves
Lidstrom — Ericsson
Kronwall — Stuart
Kindl — Rafalski
IT GOES TO SHOW YOU NEVER CAN TELL
Chris Osgood [bergina]
Niklas Kronwall [shoulder]
ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC
:: Back-to-back games are tricky, but this is the last time the Red Wings will have to endure it this season.
:: A win in regulation clinches the division for the Red Wings.
:: Badly-missed Pavel Datsyuk was supposed to return for this game, but the Wings were singing a different tune following the Predators game. He’ll be a game-time decision, but his return would be a welcomed addition, particularly after an emotional come-from-behind win that took everything Detroit had.
:: Haven’t heard about goaltenders but I’m going to assume that MacDonald is playing — potentially for the last time this season.
:: In case you missed it earlier this week, I did an interview with Christina (also known as @franzenmuth) for NHL Hot Stove. Check it out, much fun was had.
WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE PREDATORS
The Red Wings aren’t a team you want to play when they’re pissed off.
TIDBITS :: With the win, the Red Wings have clinched a playoff berth for the twentieth straight season. Pretty awesome.
:: Niklas Kronwall was a late scratch this afternoon, suffering from a sore shoulder. As a result, both Jakub Kindl and Ruslan Salei were in the lineup so they were both able to prove — again — that each of them is vastly superior to Jonathan Ericsson in every single way.
:: Somebody pissed in Todd Bertuzzi’s Wheaties this morning, as he dropped the gloves twice — both times with Shane “That’s a Girl’s Name” O’Brien. He hadn’t fought since kicking the shit out of Brooks Orpik in the pre-season, and these were his first regular season fights since March 26, 2009 against Rusty Klesla.
:: I’ve never seen a team enter scrums with their sticks up above their shoulders as often as the Predators do. It’s like a team full of Tim McCrackens.
:: The Red Wings would score first, but since Tomas Holmstrom was within twenty feet of Pekka Rinne, it was called off. In related news, the sun rose over the Atlantic this morning, the sky was blue, a dog chased a mailman, water felt wet, the New York subway smelled like garbage, and hot water burn baby. On the ensuing power play, the Predators strapped a saddle on Jimmy Howard and went for a ride. There would be no penalty for that, just so we’re clear.
:: The Predators capitalized on their 38th power play of the day, making it 1-0. On the replay, the clowns that do play-by-play for Nashville were tripping all over themselves to praise Patric Hornqvist for waving his stick around Jimmy Howard’s face like Sean Avery. In short order, Martin Erat would make it 2-0 and Sergei Kostitsyn 3-0 before the rest of the Red Wings started to get pissed off.
:: Jakub “I’m Not Jonathan Ericsson, and Here’s Some Proof” Kindl scored on a smart play from way up in the slot to make it 3-1. A few minutes later, Justin Abdelkader tipped a Brad Stuart shot to close the gap to one. He’d do it again, about four minutes into the third, to tie the game at three. Gator was all over the ice for all sixty minutes and — along with Jimmy Howard, courtesy of his circus saves in the third — should be considered the Red Wing of the Game.
:: In overtime, Dan Cleary played hero as he refused to let this battle go to a shootout. Winner winner, chicken BOOYAH.
HOW WILL I KNOW Red Wings and Predators, Saturday matinee — 3pm Eastern. Live from Nashtucky. Chance the Red Wings show up: 75%. Chance several thousand Taylor Swift fans show up: 300%.
DIDN’T WE ALMOST HAVE IT
This is the sixth and final game between the two Central Division clubs. The most recent was March 19th and — why, yes, the Red Wings did lose, just like four of the five other times they’ve played the Predators. Dan Cleary was your lone goal scorer that night.
MY NAME IS NOT SUSAN
Blake “OMG FIVE GENERATIONS WARBRGHL!” Geoffrion is the Best Name Nominee (all bullshit aside, that’s pretty damn cool. I’m just tired of hearing it every time he touches the puck. “Fifth generation” is the new “Livonia-native”).
IT’S NOT RIGHT, BUT IT’S OKAY :: Detroit was curb stomped, 10-3 by the Blues, on Wednesday.
:: Nashville beat Colorado, 3-2, on Thursday.
I’M YOUR BABY TONIGHT
By special request, the TPL Glossary is ready to jailsex your eyes.
Cleary — Zetterberg — Bertuzzi
Franzen — Filppula — Holmstrom
Hudler — Modano — Abdelkader
Draper — Helm — Eaves
Lidstrom — Stuart
Kronwall — Ericsson
Kindl — Rafalski
WHERE DO BROKEN HEARTS GO Pavel Datsyuk [lower body]
Chris Osgood [bergina]
Ruslan Salei [healthy scratch]
Drew Miller [healthy scratch]
I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
:: Jimmy Howard returns after missing a couple of games with a tweaked shoulder, courtesy of Joffrey Lupul’s fat ass. Will Tiberius allow ten fewer goals than his counterparts the other night? Here’s hoping.
:: The Red Wings clinch a playoff berth with anything but a regulation loss. If they do lose, they can still clinch if the Stars lose in Los Angeles later in the afternoon.
:: The team may have scared away the two seed, going 5-3-2 in their last ten as the Sharks went 6-1-3. A win today against the Predators (who are second in the division) will go a long way in clinching the division, and thus homeice in the first round.
:: Ruslan Salei is back in the lineup and Jakub Kindl takes his turn in the lounge. Even Jonathan Ericsson is surprised at this point.
:: It’s been a few days, but we want to send a belated congratulations to friend of The Production Line Cory Emmerton, who signed a three-year extension to remain with the organization until 2014. Next year is two-way, meaning he’ll make a lesser salary if he’s playing in Grand Rapids, but he will still have to clear waivers to be sent down. Click here to listen to Cory’s episode of The Pipeline.
:: Continuing in prospect news, congratulations to Brendan Smith, who was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team. He’s a keeper.
:: Pretty neat feature from the Red Wings as they prepare for their twentieth straight appearance in the post-season: Twenty Straight, with video highlights and stories from each of the last 19 playoff seasons. Hard not to get goosebumps.
WHAT WE LEARNED AGAINST THE BLUES (aka WHY DOES IT HURT SO BAD)
I have nothing. Nothing. NOTHING! If I don’t have you.