Gradient of Failure” November 22nd

Click to enlarge. Last week’s gradient is here.

Notes:

  • Again, only Petrella and my votes are in at the moment, check back later to see if either of the other guys input their votes. Updated with Hollis’s scores at 2:30 pm EST.
  • Thursday’s game against the Sharks doesn’t have much weight on the votes, since as it was a very sour, horrible game for me and I’m pretending it never happened.
  • Datsyuk and Zetterberg have improved dramatically. Funny what some goals and assists will do for you on here.
  • Filppula’s fat head is blocking Cleary at the 2.5 spot. In fact, we have a distinct clusters around 2 to 3.5. They all played solidly in the past two games. The surprise there is Brad Stuart, who zoomed back from a failure level of 6 (and before that 7.3), to 3.5. Hollis mentioned on the last TP:60 that he seems to play well on the west coast, probably because of the proximity to his family.
  • Bertuzzi has also made a huge jump away from failure. Since he’s been back from his short-term sinus illness, he’s played with a lot of grit and energy.
  • If you notice the table below (fancy!), you can see Petrella voted Ericsson as an 11, which means he’s technically a 10.5. I don’t go over the axes, so he’s hugging the 10 pretty tightly.
  • Brendan Smith is playing pretty well for learning on the job, but the key words there is learning. He’s definitely improving the longer he plays, and has flashes where he looks like a solid NHL defenseman, but he’s also making a lot of flubs and the second Ducks goal was partially because he blew coverage. That’s why he got a 5.

Follow behind the cut to see the voting table.

Continue reading “Gradient of Failure” November 22nd”

How many Ducks does it take to change a light bulb?

"Hey, who turned off the lights?" -- Louis Tully

Final Score (Hi Dad!)
Wings 4, Ducks 2, California Power Grid -1

The Skinny
Detroit ended their first extended road trip of the season on a positive note, dropping the Ducks 4-2. The Wings will head home to Detroit, splitting the four games evenly and lifting their overall record to 11-7-1. Solid effort for the second game in a row, although they did allow the Ducks to climb back into this one.

Bullets of Importance

  • Henrik Zetterberg broke the schneid right away, stealing a puck in the O-zone, and burying a backhand exactly one shift after Coach Babcock told him, via the press, it was his turn to score some goals. The goal came 1:26 into the game, and seemed to remove the weight from Z’s shoulders, who played like he was on fire all night.
  • The big story is going to be the power outage, as the teams were sent back to the locker rooms after the Honda Center was unable to turn the lights back on for 27 minutes. At that point in the game, it was all Detroit, who were positively buzzing, throwing all kindsa meat at the net, and were (at that moment) on their first power play of the evening. Apparently, the Ducks lost power against the Kings on Thursday as well but this circumstance was “unrelated.” I don’t think that makes it better, actually… if you can’t keep the lights on, you don’t belong in the NHL. Mickey Mouse bullshit for a (former) Mickey Mouse franchise.
  • What to do with Brendan Smith: he has been playing very well, particularly in the last two games. But what I think the most impressive thing about his debut is how much he’s growing from game to game. The first game was a bit testy, the second game was a marked improvement, and he looked downright good tonight. There are still a lot of things he has yet to learn, and I can’t help but think he’d be better served in Grand Rapids (not quite NHL-ready yet). However, it’s clear that he’s more trusted than Mike Commodore — Smith has gotten into as many games, has played significantly more minutes, and has been entrusted with special teams time and better pairings. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Commodore waived (when Ian White is ready to return to the lineup), but that’s ONLY if the Wings intend to play Smith every night. If that’s the case, who sits? Smith is better than Ericsson right now, but there are 3,250,000 reasons why Shitbox won’t get sent to the Lounge. Kindl? He looks fantastic, too. Tough decisions coming up for Ken Holland. What would you do?

Bullets of Less Importance

  • Franzen continues his scoring ways, netting his tenth on the season just 14 seconds into the second period after Datsyuk completes a perfectly drawn up trap. Brad Stuart would make it 3-0 and 4-0, scoring the 17th and 18th goals from the Wings’ blueline this season, easily the most in the NHL
  • The Ducks thought they scored in the second period, and the play was reviewed in-house and in Toronto. As it turns out, Jimmy Howard made a monster glove save, swatting the puck right around the goal line and out of trouble. In fact, Howard played really well tonight, despite allowing a few middle-frame goals in short succession. It was his twelfth start in a row, including three sets of back-to-backs, and from where I sit, it looks as though the team has lost all faith in Ty Conklin’s ability to even play the second half of back-to-backs against last place teams. Howard has been excellent against Anaheim the last few seasons, but if tonight wasn’t a night that Conklin was going to be in the net for, I don’t see many options coming up, either. The Wings have three days off before Calgary, and another two days before Cup Champion Boston (matinee on NBC). Next Saturday, the Wings play Nashville about 28 hours after the Boston game will end. Maybe that’s a target.

The Disch Approved “Horsecop” of the Game
Henrik Zetterberg, if for no other reason than demanding he be taken off the hot seat on his first shift. Aside from that first goal, he had two near-assists, another would-be goal, and three shots. Statement game.

The Riggy “Shitbox” of the Game
It’s Jonathan Ericsson. I say it all the time, and might not have a chance to say it again until after the Thanksgiving holiday, but he’s absolutely horrendous. I have no idea what he’s still doing in the lineup. And he’s not going anywhere, so get ready for more entries in the section named for him. Dropping coverage, losing his man, and then taking a penalty with 2:34 remaining in a one-goal game? Automatic selection for this.

Point Pace :: The Wings are on pace for 99 points (+2 from yesterday). Last season, 97 was the playoff cutoff. 99 was good for 4th, 5th, and 6th in the West.

What’s Next?
The Wings have the Flames at home, the day before Thanksgiving. Disch has the keys all week. Prepare for ‘teh funneh.’

Nov. 20 :: Feelin’ Down ‘n Dirty

I bet Toni Lydman hated watching SNL last season...

IT’S TIME I HAD A GOOD TIME, AIN’T GOT TIME TO WASTE
The Wings close out their first Western road trip by playing old friends, the Ducks. Puck drops at 8pm Eastern. If the Wings can play like they did yesterday, they should be able to handle the Ducks, who are struggling in the early going as well.

IT’S ALWAYS NEW TO ME
:: Detroit beat Los Angeles, 4-1, last night.
:: Anaheim played Los Angeles on Thursday, dropping it 5-3.
:: This is the second game of the season between these two clubs. The last, on November 5th, ended the Wings’ six-game slide and introduced a four-game win streak. Jimmy Howard earned his second shutout of the season, and your five goals were scored by Lidstrom (two), Franzen, Zetterberg, and Kronwall. I was spared from being slandered.

SEEIN’ DOUBLE DOUBLE
If you don’t think Devante Smith-Pelley has the best name on this squad, you’re a Commie. And not the shitty hockey player the Red Wings signed this summer for some reason.

I WANNA STICK AROUND TIL I CAN’T SEE STRAIGHT
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was behind Anaheim’s bench between 2002 and 2004 before saying “enough of this shit” and headed to greener pastures. Both Todd Bertuzzi and Drew Miller spent time as members of the Ducks.

NO DISGUISE
There are currently no former Wings in Anaheim.

LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
It’s been two years since Niklas Kronwall’s knee exploded in Montreal. And three years since Andreas Lilja’s appendix nearly exploded.

TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT I’M GONNA PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT
By post time, there was no announcement with regards to the lineup, so I’m just playing the odds here.
Todd Bertuzzi :: Pavel Datsyuk :: Johan Franzen
Valtteri Filppula :: Henrik Zetterberg :: Dan Cleary
Justin Abdelkader :: Darren Helm :: Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller :: Cory Emmerton :: Patrick Eaves

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Johnny Shitbox
Brendan Smith :: Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl :: Brad Stuart

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

SCRATCHES
Jan Mursak [left ankle]
Ian White [face!]
Mike Commodore
Tomas Holmstrom
Fabian Brunnstrom

The TPL Name Game “Three Stars”
Just like last season, submit your nickname suggestions (follow the theme!), and we’ll use our Facebook page to allow people to vote for the best… the winner gets a free TPL t-shirt!
PETRELLA: Darren “I Live All of My Years in a Single Minute” Helm
HOLLIS: Johan “I’ve Been From One to Another Extreme” Franzen
DISCH: Todd “Feelin’ Kinda Mean” Bertuzzi
STEVIE: Darren “My Mind Is Racing But My Body’s In the Lead” Helm

NEVER KNEW MORE THAN I REALLY NEED
:: All Eyez on Z: Pavel answered the bell yesterday, scoring a pair and generally looking like he’s tired of not knowing what the team’s identity is going to be. Hank, on the other hand, has left a lot to be desired. The focus will be squarely on the other alternate captain (the other two scored against LA), and coach even put him on notice.
:: It’s the second half of back-to-back to games. Traditionally, Coach Babcock likes to rotate his goalies in this situation, but both halves of the last two back-to-backs have been started by Jimmy Howard. No word yet who will start against Anaheim, but if it’s Howard, it’ll be the third time he’s played both halves of a back-to-back since Ty Conklin’s last start (October 25th).
:: Todd Bertuzzi had a strong game yesterday, despite not getting onto the scoreboard. He’ll need to bring the same kind of energy, and hopefully the rest of the team will follow his example (yeah, I just wrote that).
:: Brendan Smith stays in the lineup after a much stronger second game than the first. He’s learning quick and he’s taking advantage of his amazing on-the-job training opportunity. Here’s hoping he continues to show why he’s been the blue chipper in the system for a few years.
:: If I were a betting man, I’d say that Eaves is back in and Holmstrom comes out, since it was essentially decided that Homer won’t play both games in back-to-back situations.

MUSICAL INSPIRATION

Net Flicks Down the Quickster (PUNS!)

I also reserved the right to use the headline "Quick Start Negates Quick's Start" but the Wings needed the second period to get rolling.

Final Score (Hi Dad!)
Wings 4, Kings 1

The Skinny
A very strong second period proved to be the difference-maker as the Red Wings ended their two-game slide, earning their first points of the road trip. They’ll have to hope their legs don’t seize up in the next twenty-four hours, since they’ll have to do it again in Anaheim, and this was — for the most part — the kind of complete effort they’ll need to remember over the next 64 games. They scored two power-play goals (but allowed a shorthanded goal), and killed all of their penalties (including a late-game 5-on-3) — a marked improvement over the last few weeks for a team that ranks in the bottom half of both of those statistics.

Bullets of Importance

  • “Special” Teams :: For the second game in a row, the Wings gave up a whiskey dick shorthanded goal on what is supposed to be a man advantage. It was also Exhibit #740 in the case against using a forward on the point of the power play, just in case “shit” happens. Jiri Hudler had no idea how to regroup with the break going the other way, and the puck ended up in the Wings’ net. The five guys that were on the ice (Zetterberg, Cleary, Hudler, Kronwall, and Filppula) were yanked even though their shift was only 8 seconds long, and they were probably unloaded on once they got back to the bench.
  • Special-er Teams :: The following shift saw the second PP unit playing with a little more desperation. Pavel Datsyuk tied the game up, and the team didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of going -1 for 1 on the power play. It was Datsyuk’s third of the season (and first in twelve games) that seemed to have eyes as the puck found its way around Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. Later in the game, Niklas Kronwall would add another PP goal (his sixth goal of the season and fifth in seven games). Justin Abdelkader made it 3-1 when he and a streaking Brendan Smith (who was fresh out of the box serving a hooking penalty) converted a 2-on-1. Pavel Datsyuk would double his season’s goal total, as he netted a second goal (his fourth of the season) in the third period.
  • Welcome Back, Tuzzi :: Todd Bertuzzi missed six games and looked damn good in his return. He had a dumbass pass in the first period directly onto the tape of a King, and took a (SURPRISE!) tripping penalty, but he was hustling all over the ice and digging pucks out of the corner. To have #44 be one of the catalysts of that kind of energy was odd to witness, but certainly a welcome addition to a team that has shown very little drive
  • Penalty Not :: In the second period, the Kings were awarded a penalty shot after Niklas Kronwall’s stick got tangled up in Anze Kopitar’s legs on a breakaway. Kopitar got a shot off during the play, which — by the way — is one of the stipulations that would prevent him from being awarded a penalty shot. Bogus call, and Jimmy Howard was having none of it, and made a nasty glove save on the ensuing shot.

Bullets of Less Importance

  • The Kings forecheck is filthy. They really have a system down and they look damn good operating it. The Red Wings had a strong puck possession game and — after the first few shifts — adjusted their method in the D Zone to keep the Kings’ very strong forecheck at bay.
  • Congratulations to Brendan Smith, who registered his first NHL point — an assist — in his second game with Detroit. In the third period, he surpassed Mike Commodore’s total time-on-ice for the season (just like he surpassed Commodore’s point total in the second).

The Disch Approved “Horsecop” of the Game
I was tempted to take Darren Helm, who was an absolute madman on the kill as well as at even strength, but Pavel Datsyuk made a statement today and that statement was “I’m tired of this losing bullshit, and Hollis made me realize it’s my responsibility to do something about it.” He refused anything less than an equalizer following that shorthanded goal against, and added an insurance goal in the third.

The Riggy “Shitbox” of the Game
Until he proves otherwise, this slot may default to Henrik Zetterberg. The other supposed leaders of the team played angry today (Datsyuk and Kronwall each had goals, Franzen had an assist and was buzzing around the net, Lidstrom was strong defensively and added an assist), but Z went goose egg again and you may not have known he was on the ice aside from playing center during the shorthanded goal against. The boxscore tells me he had 7 shots on goal, but I don’t remember a single one of them.

Point Pace :: The Wings are on pace for 95 points. Last season, 97 was the playoff cutoff.

What’s Next?
Quick turnaround, as the Wings play the Ducks in twenty-four short hours. I’ve got your pre-game again.

Photo Credit: Christine Cotter, AP Photos

Nov. 19 :: A Whole Lot of Precious Time

Anze Kopitar makes a little-known cameo in George Harrison's video for Got My Mind Set On You. Get it? Because he's ugly as fuck.

BLOW AWAY
The Red Wings stumble 340 miles south after being embarrassed by the Sharks in “The Tank” to face another California-based foe. This time, it’s the Kings at 4pm Eastern, and the game will be featured on NHL Network, so get ready to bitch that it’s blacked out on your Game Center Live.

WAKE UP, MY LOVE
:: Detroit crapped the bed on Thursday, dropping a 5-2 decision to the San Jose Sharks. But we met Hope Dworaczyk, so it wasn’t all bad (yes it was).
:: Los Angeles also played on Saturday, but they found a way to beat Anaheim 5-3.
:: This is the first meeting between Detroit and LA this season. The last time they met was the game before H2H2 on March 9th. The Wings lost that one 2-1, with Howard in net — Darren Helm was your lone goal scorer.

DING DONG DING DONG
Andrei Loktionov is the ’11 winner of the Best Name Nominee. Sounds like an Eastern European sex act.

DRILLING A HOME
Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart was acquired from the Kings via trade in 2008. Going the other way were two draft picks — a second rounder in ’08 (which was later traded to Colorado, who selected Peter Delmas) and a fourth rounder in ’09 (which was later traded to Atlanta, who selected Ben Chiarot). Fair to say we won that one.

I’D HAVE YOU ANYTIME
There are no former Wings playing in Los Angeles, which is rare considering how much the Wings and Kings like to deal.

LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
Yesterday was two years since the Red Wings were shafted by Dennis Larue on a pretty obvious goal scored by Brad “Wut?” May. We’re all old, because that feels like a few weeks ago. No one holds a grudge like Wings fans. Except Maple Leafs fans. And Rangers fans. And Islanders fans. And Flyers fans. And Blackhawks fans. And Avalanche fans. And Blues fans. And Oilers fans. And Devils fans. And Canucks fans. And Capitals fans.

But no one else, for sure.

HORSE TO THE WATER
Johan Franzen :: Pavel Datsyuk :: Todd Bertuzzi (gametime decision)
Valtteri Filppula :: Henrik Zetterberg :: Dan Cleary
Justin Abdelkader :: Darren Helm :: Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller :: Cory Emmerton :: Patrick Eaves

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Johnny Shitbox
Brendan Smith :: Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl :: Brad Stuart

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

ISN’T IT A PITY
Jan Mursak [left ankle]
Ian White [face!]
Mike Commodore
Tomas Holmstrom
Fabian Brunnstrom

The TPL Name Game “Three Stars”
Just like last season, submit your nickname suggestions (follow the theme!), and we’ll use our Facebook page to allow people to vote for the best… the winner gets a free TPL t-shirt!
PETRELLA: Jiri “It’s Gonna Take Money… A WHOLE Lotta Spendin’ Money” Hudler
HOLLIS: Henrik “It’s Gonna Take Patience and Time Mmmm To Do It To Do It To Do It” Zetterberg
DISCH: Jonathan “I Got My Mind Set On You” Ericsson (submitted on behalf of TPL Mom)
STEVIE: Johan “If I Put My Mind To It, I Know That I Really Can Do It” Franzen

WHEN WE WAS FAB
:: James Tiberius is in the net for his eleventh start in a row. Ty Conklin got a period of mop-up duty in San Jose. It wasn’t pretty. It’s pretty clear that Howard is going to be “the guy” for the foreseeable future, and I’m beginning to wonder if that cameo in the Sharks game was Coach Babcock taking a peek at Conklin to see if he steps up like he did in ’08-’09 as a member of the Wings. There aren’t a whole lot of options — Griffins starter Joey MacDonald is out with a concussion, and the list of unsigned NHL netminders include (wait for it) Marty Turco and Pascal Leclaire. It’s Howard or Bust in ’12.
:: Rookie Brendan Smith will play for the second game in a row, hoping to build off of his debut from two nights ago. He showed flashes of respectability on the blueline (playing nearly 20 minutes), but there’s a lot to learn there. I can’t help but wonder if this road trip against tough teams like the Sharks and Kings is the appropriate time to let him get his feet wet.
:: Of course, Smith in the lineup banishes Mike Commodore to the Leino Lounge, begging the question… “what the hell is he even doing on this team then?” Commodore has gotten into three games so far this season, playing under 31 minutes. Brendan Smith should surpass that amount in the second period today.
:: Hollis did a fantastic job of directing focus squarely on the captains of this team for the troubles. Guys like defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall (who are contributing on the score sheet… at least) and forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk (who have been largely invisible all season) should be the guys to throw shit in the locker room, if that’s what needs to be done. There’s no fire, and as much as we’d like to think it’s fixable, something has to be the catalyst. If the Wings can’t get out of California with a few wins under their belt, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see a trade. Yeah, I said it.
:: After a one-game honeymoon on the top line, Justin Abdelkader is back down in a grinding role — where he excels. Todd Bertuzzi is a gametime decision to return after missing the last six games with dizziness associated with a swollen inner ear, courtesy of a high stick from Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi. If he’s able to return, he’ll be activated from short-term injured reserve and Ian White will be placed on STIR to clear a roster spot.

MUSICAL INSPIRATION

A Time for Accountability

I went to bed last night like many of you reading this right now did: pissed off, dejected, completely over “it”. The “it” of course being this iteration of the Detroit Red Wings, a team with talent up and down the lineup, but sub-par results to show for it. I didn’t bother to read the postgame comments from the players and coaching staff, because at this point it’s almost laughable how predictable these guys are. “Just need to play better.” “Didn’t play for a full 60 minutes.” “Just need to find a way to work through this.” These and other favorite comments have been a staple of the Red Wings under Mike Babcock, which isn’t to say it’s the wrong way to handle things. It just is what it is and we’ve come to expect that after a loss, the Wings will put on the PR hat and say nothing of any value. Do they owe it to us? Probably not. But it sure would be nice to see after losing YET AGAIN to the rival Sharks. The lack of emotion is the crux of the problem, and it’s a problem that’s been growing for some time now.

So imagine my shock when Babcock actually deviates from the course and decides not to press the button on his arm that delivers his programmed responses. From Teddy Kulfan:

Before the Wings practice Friday, coach Mike Babcock will meet with his team.

“Do we want to be a good team or not?” said Babcock, about what will be the subject matter. “Life doesn’t just go on good for you. You make a decision it’s going to go good for you. You decide for yourself you’re going to be successful. You decide for yourself that you’re going to make a difference and have a good career. No one just gives you stuff.

“The other teams are trying to. We have some decisions to make.”

A cursory glance would lead the non-informed follower of the Wings to find this about as interesting as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But for those that follow Babcock, this is a departure from the norm. This is venturing into an area that we rarely see from a guy who does must of the talking with his scowl and piercing stare. And, frankly, this is a good thing. Of course, there’s some out there that will say this is nothing more than Babcock posturing to make the masses believe that he is still in control of this team, but the real fact is that Babcock is NOT in control of this team by his own choice. He recognizes that he has a group of veterans on the ice that can feel the pulse of the locker room and share the burden of leadership, and he’s let them run with it. That leadership looks a little something like this. From Helene St. James:

“We’ve just got to stay positive. We have to. There will be people that will be negative enough. Players in here, we have to stick together and be positive.

If you continue through the article, the next part is pure drama. Apparently, Babcock walked away and dismissed questions about the production of two of his “leaders”, which the Chief correctly points out could be a not-so-subtle jab at both the contributions and leadership attributes of Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Again, folks will say that this is a sure sign that Babcock is nothing more than a guy in a suit, but the truth is that Babcock is doing exactly what he needs to do: demanding accountability.

Make no mistake, over the past three seasons, there’s been no accountability. There’s been excuses and there’s been injuries and there’s been everything under the sun except for the guys with the extra letter on their sweater stepping up and saying the blame falls on them. Well, except for Kris Draper, whose absence is glaringly obvious from the lack of leadership this team has shown this season. While we may not miss his lack of production, there’s no denying the fact that the man was a leader, and I’ll be one of the first to connect the dots and say that the lack of leadership in the locker room is  contributing to the craptastic effort that is quickly becoming a staple of this Red Wings team. If you think this is a veiled shot at captain Nicklas Lidstrom, then let me set all doubts aside and make it very clear:

Lidstrom’s leadership style is not cutting it.

That’s no knock against a great human being and a fantastic hockey player. The fact is, though, that when the girt and heart that was Steve Yzerman left and retired, Lidstrom had to count on others to bring that same sense of purpose to the locker room in Detroit. Look no further than a guy like Dallas Drake, a guy that all of us hated during most of his career, but quickly embraced when he made it clear he wanted a Stanley Cup and would step on toes in the locker room if that meant getting one. Draper was the same way, but the urgency with him was diminished due to the success he already had throughout his Wings career. Yet through it all was Lidstrom, quietly leading and contributing with his play on the ice while others took care of the administrative “duties” in the locker room. Now there’s no one there, no safety net to get angry and peel the paint in the locker room. Just Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk and newly minted Niklas Kronwall, all preaching patience and cohesiveness and that “things will come in due time.” It’s the same dumb message we’ve heard for the last three years. It’s tired. No, it’s REALLY tired.

I watched Joe Pavelski score that shorthanded goal last night and wondered if the Wings would just pack it in and go through the motions in the second period. Sure enough, the intensity of the first period was gone, replaced by methodical shot after methodical shot from the point, with nobody crashing the net looking for rebounds. There was no panic. The Wings were patient, just like their on-ice leadership core wanted them to be. And while all that patience and precision was “working out the kinks,” the Sharks got down to business and took it to the Wings. They were urgent while Detroit was “patient.” They did the little things while Detroit played “together.” And at the end of the game, the scoreboard showed whose system and methodology was far superior. If you want proof, just watch Joe Thornton steal the puck from Zetterberg while he maneuvered for the “right” shot in the second period, go the other way and essentially kick Detroit’s ass to the curb.

So if Mike Babcock wants to call this team together today and take accountability for trying to get this team back on track, then I applaud him. It’s obvious that Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Kronwall aren’t going to do it, and don’t give me the “it’s not in their nature as quiet leaders” bullshit. It’s painfully obvious that this quiet “lead by example” strategy isn’t getting it done, and Datsyuk and Zetterberg’s stat sheet shows it. I get that these guys can’t be something they aren’t, and that’s fine. But part of their job is finding someone who isn’t afraid to get mad and push the envelope, and they all have failed terrifically in that effort. It’s funny, a guy like Dan Cleary seems like a natural fit to step up and be the angry force in the locker room, but it doesn’t seem like that’s happened yet. Why the hell not? For a guy that’s been marginal in terms of play this year, I would expect him to make up for it in the locker room. Doesn’t seem to be the case.

So here we are, with Mike Babcock now playing the bad cop and stepping to the plate to try and take control of this thing again. If it doesn’t work out, the blame doesn’t all fall on him. He’s got four guys who call themselves leaders in that locker room, and it’s about time they stepped up and pulled this team together. Because right now, this team and their philosophy are so damn tired. We deserve better, and it’s time for the leadership of this team to step up and be accountable for their roles in this mess.

Half-Assed Recap to go with Half-Assed Game

Final Score (Hi Dad!)
Sharks 5, Red Wings 2.

The Skinny
I’m not going to bother putting more effort into this than the Red Wings did with the game. Onto the bullets.

Bullets of Importance

  • Brendan Smith: not NHL ready. He will be, but he’s not yet. The loss was by no means his fault, and he’s actually better than Jonathan Ericsson RIGHT NOW, but he’s still got some seasoning before he can hack it in the league. -2 on the night is a tough debut, but he’ll get better at knowing his position and not completely flubbing a keep-in at the blueline in the third period. Hopefully.
  • That short-handed goal is an atrocity of nature. There’s no reason whatsoever any of that play should happen. Horrible.
  • The Thornton goal is 100% on the head of Henrik Zetterberg. He looked like one of the kids I coach — not thrilled about shooting the puck and trying for the perfect shot instead of just getting rid of it and unloading toward the net. The Sharks are too damn good to let a 3-on-1 go the other way because you’re trying to look pretty.
  • Vlasic’s goal is 100% on Jonathan Ericsson — he went into the corner for an unnecessary follow-up check to Darren Helm’s relatively effective check, then skated his ass around the slot for some reason. Both he and Smith were on the same side of the ice when Vlasic came around the net — and only one of them was in the right place (hint: it was Smith).
  • Ty Conklin. Dude. Coming in as relief in the third is not the easiest way to get playing time, but he did very little to instill any confidence — the goal against is one thing, but did you see the one that went over his shoulder somehow that almost trickled in? What is that about? That has no business popping off of your person and finding its way over your shoulder. Unfortunate bounces aren’t coincidence when they happen CONSTANTLY

The Disch Approved “Horsecop” of the Game
Whatever.

The Riggy “Shitbox” of the Game
Ericsson sucks. Fact. But tonight’s goat is Zetterberg. It was one of those games where you needed your top guns to do ANYTHING besides contribute to the Shark’s offense.

What’s Next?
LA on Saturday, and you’ve got me again.

Loss Candy
“Celebrity” Apprentice “Star” Hope Dworczyk

Celebrity Apprentice Star Mark McGrath

Nov. 17 :: Fits Like a Snug Glove

CAN I KICK IT?
The Wings start their first West Coast roadie in San Jose tonight at 10:30pm Eastern. There’s very little to like about the Sharks — it’s a team full of assholes and divers, but they’ve had our number for several years now. Hate Week continues in California.

BONITA APPLEBAUM, YOU GOT IT GOIN’ ON
Hollis took Torrey Mitchell last time, but I’m going to give you another option here. As much as I despise the idea of complimenting any of these idiots, it’s hard to ignore how awesome the name “Frazer McLaren” is. I’m fairly certain he was a racecar-driving boxer in a movie about WW2 I saw once.

1NCE AGAIN
:: Detroit dropped a stinker to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday by the score of 2-1.
:: St. Joe’s hasn’t played since last Saturday, a game they lost to the Coyotes 3-0. Wut?
:: This is the second matchup of the season for the Wings and Sharks. They played on October 28th, a 4-2 loss for the Red Wings. Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom scored for the good guys, and Jimmy Howard lost for the first time this season.

PEOPLE’S INSTINCTIVE TRAVELS AND THE PATHS OF RHYTHM
Nobody on the Sharks bench played in Detroit — but the guy behind the bench used to be behind the Wings’ bench. Head Coach/Competitive Eater Todd McLellan was once an assistant in Detroit… back when the Wings’ special teams weren’t horrible. Both Ian White and Brad Stuart used to be Sharks — the former as early as this past Spring, the latter as a teenager.

LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
Two years ago today, Brendan Shanahan hung up his skates.

LINEUP
Justin “For Real?” Abdelkader :: Pavel Datsyuk :: Johan Franzen
Valtteri Filppula :: Henrik Zetterberg :: Dan Cleary
Fabian Brunnstrom :: Darren Helm :: Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller :: Cory Emmerton :: Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Johnny Shitbox
Brendan Smith :: Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl :: Brad Stuart

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

I LEFT MY WALLET IN EL SEGUNDO
Jan Mursak [left ankle]
Todd Bertuzzi [inner ear]
Mike Commodore
Patrick Eaves

The TPL Name Game “Three Stars”
Just like last season, submit your nickname suggestions (follow the theme!), and we’ll use our Facebook page to allow people to vote for the best… the winner gets a free TPL t-shirt!
PETRELLA: Jiri “Come and Spread Your Arms if You Really Need a Hug” Hudler
HOLLIS: Jonathan “Description of a Fool” Ericsson
DISCH: still rural Illinoising it up
STEVIE: Todd “Get a Good Lawyer So Problems Won’t Pile” Bertuzzi

CHECK THE RHIME
:: Having served the final of his five-game suspension for a pre-season hit on Ben Smith, rookie defenseman Brendan Smith is allegedly going to make his regular season debut tonight. Yesterday, Coach Babcock wouldn’t confirm the report, but Smith himself spoke as if he was told he’d be in. We were supposed to have Smith on today’s episode of TP:60, but obviously he was a bit busy at the moment — we had to postpone, and that’s why there’s no Pipeline segment on the show.
:: St. Louis Blue Chris Stewart was suspended three games for his dangerous hit from behind on Niklas Kronwall in Tuesday’s game. Kronwall was removed from the game until he could be cleared to return, which he did and didn’t appear much worse for wear. Dodged a bullet there, it was a scary sight.
:: Jimmy Howard starts for the tenth straight game. The last time he played ten or more regular season games in a row was last November into December, a span of 14 games. Does it say more about Howard’s excellent All-Star-worthy play, or Ty Conklin’s messy bed?
:: Something brought up by Chief on the podcast: where’s Dan Cleary? While that can certainly be asked specifically about #11, it’s also a symptom of a bigger problem — where are the gritty, dirty goals that guys like Dan Cleary have made a living scoring? It’s been far too long since the Wings crashed the creased and earned a big one — whether it’s at the hand of Cleary himself, or Eaves, Miller, Holmstrom, Franzen, you name ’em…
:: The Red Wings are on pace for 97 points — which would be the fewest they earned since 1998-99, but by no means a “horrible” season. They’d likely qualify for the playoffs and then all bets are off. But another win or loss streak of five-plus games could swing the whole season. It sounds ridiculous, because it’s November, but it’s rare that a team can come from way back in the pack around the holidays to make the post-season.

MUSICAL INSPIRATION

TP:60 – November 17

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.

This week on TP:60:

  • LESS CLICKING!: In fact, NO CLICKING! SO IT ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE A REAL SHOW!
  • 30 Good Minutes: The Chief from Abel to Yzerman stops by. Buckle up tight.
  • Defending the Gradient: The Gradient of Failure – our newest addition to TPL – has garnered plenty of attention and feedback. Now it’s our turn to defend ourselves and set the record straight.
  • Jersey Hatred: Stevie goes off on the new abominations the Islanders rolled out, and it’s not because they are fugly as all get out.

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

Gradient of Failure: November 16th

Click to enlarge. Here’s last week’s gradient.

Notes:

  • Petrella and I are the only votes here, and his votes did not reflect last night’s game. Hollis got his scores in this morning,  so I’ve updated the gradient at 6:45 ET to reflect that.
  • Zetterberg and Datsyuk have crept farther up the Failure axis. They are not playing at a level expected of them,  especially Datsyuk. I’ve watched him try and carry the puck through two or three players, and lose it. We’re not totally sure what’s going on with them, but they aren’t playing well.
  • Franzen also moved up. He might have had a scoring streak, including a hat trick, but he played like ass last night. He was responsible for the egregious turnover that led to the Blues scoring their second goal.
  • Fuck you Jonathan Ericsson.
  • Commodore played a meager 6 minutes, and took a terrible penalty. Failure it is.