Oct. 8 :: Para Bailar La Bamba

Every bit as good looking as Lou Diamond Phillips. And 100% less wife-beaty.

COME ON, LET’S GO
So there I was, minding my business on the beach — Pacifico in hand — keeping up with the daily happenings of the Red Wingosphere, even tweeting the waivings and recalls and injuries — because I care so deeply about you. All the while, nearly having my character defamed by my closest friend in Texas? Whoo baby, it’s been a heck of a trip. For me personally, and for the Red Wings.

A six game ass-kicking skid followed on the heels of a five game season-opening winning streak. Finally, on Saturday, the dam burst and the Wings broke off a piece of Pecking Duck. All I did over the last ten days was offer my neon white body to the sun gods, zipline through a canyon, attend some Dia de los Muertos festivals, and four-bang around a desert mountain. No biggie.

Tonight, the Red Wings host the Avalanche at 7:30pm. It will be the second of four regular season meetings with the once-fierce rival. If the playoffs were to start today, neither team would be in the post-season. But fuck that analogy, pretend like I didn’t say anything.

LET’S GO, LET’S GO ONCE MORE
:: Detroit defeated Anaheim 5-0 on Saturday.
:: Colorado lost to Calgary 2-1 on Sunday.
:: The Wings and Avs’ met earlier this season, on October 8th. Ty Conklin (somehow) managed a shutout and Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen were your goal scorers.

LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
Three years ago today, the Red Wings beat the Devils 3-1. Listen to this super quick recap: Chris Osgood had the win — his sixth of the season. Marian Hossa had a pair of goals — Kirk Maltby had the other. Brett Lebda was a healthy scratch. Chris Chelios was on LTIR. Turnover!

WE BELONG TOGETHER
Tommy Holmbanger :: Pavel Datsyuk :: Buckets Cleary
Valtteri Filppula :: Henrik Zetterberg :: Johan Franzen
Justin Abdelkader :: Danger Helm :: Jiri Hudler
Salt N Pepper Miller :: Cory Emmerton :: Fabian Brunnstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Ian White
Brad Stuart :: Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl :: Johnny Shitbox

Tiberius Howard
Ty Conkblock

ALL BY MYSELF TO WANDER AND ROAM
Jan Mursak [left ankle]
Todd Bertuzzi [ill]
Patrick Eaves [back]
Mike Commodore

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 “Let’s Go and Do It Again and Again and Again and Again. And Again and Again and Again” Hudler
DISCH: Fabian “Listen to You, Coming In Here Like You Own the Whole Goddamn Country” Brunnstrom (2009 Edition)
HOLLIS: Nicklas “Tell Me That You’re Never Leaving” Lidstrom
STEVIE: Nicklas “Yo No Soy Marinero, So Capitan” Lidstrom

OHHH DONNA
:: Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg answered the bell on Saturday — netting three of the Wings’ five goals. While Pavel Datsyuk is only one point away from tying the team leader in points (Lidstrom and Johan Franzen each have ten), it’s been eight games since he put one into the twine. For the record, Zetterberg is sixth on the team in scoring. Behind Ian White.
:: Jimmy Howard got his second shutout of the season, so here’s hoping he keeps the hot hand. For what it’s worth, he followed up his first shutout of the season with a 3-2 overtime win in Minnesota.
:: Here’s something you’ll likely never see again: Pavel Datsyuk is a team-worst -5 on the season. He’s tied with new super millionaire Niklas Kronwall. Brad Stuart (who is also the only regular without a point) is just above them at -4. Val Filppula leads the team with +6.
:: We mentioned Brett Lebda up above, and here’s some good news: the former Red Wing has signed a professional tryout with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL, the main affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

MUSICAL INSPIRATION

The Top Shelf: Hockey As An Art Form

One man's art...Another man's mess...

Vladinating the Canvas:: It seems like once or twice a year we get an update about our old friend Vladimir Konstantinov and his long journey to recover from the Day That Shall Not Be Mentioned. For me, it’s still tough to see a guy like Vladdy in the shape that he is in, and I always wonder how difficult it must be to walk in his shoes and live a life when so much was taken away. There’s no denying the guy has guts, though, and he’s off on a new endeavor now: painting. And the works of #16 are going to be on display on November 17th:

The show, called Animals and Inspirations, will be at Gallery U & Boutique in Royal Oak on November 17, 2011 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm.  (To find out more about Gallery U & Boutique and the incredible work they do, please read Gallery U: Art and Inspiration).  Vlady and his family will be in attendance.  Vlady has personally signed and hand framed his pieces and anyone who makes a purchase will be able to have their picture taken with Vlady and the art.  “We are very excited for Vlady the artist” said Barb Hill, Vocational Director for Therapeutic Rehab Centers, “We are hoping that this show will go very well and that he will continue to do shows in the future.”

There’s a couple examples of his works at the link before the quote, and – as a person who can’t draw a stick figure well – they are pretty darn good. Personally, I like the penguin, although I think Vladdy should have painted himself in there crushing it into the glass. I would have dropped fat stacks for that one.

The Art of Negotiating:: Apparently Columbus doesn’t have it, since the people’s choice to replace Scott Arniel behind the bench – Ken Hitchcock – up and left to take the reigns in St. Louis. As much as it’s fun to ridicule Hitch, he’s a guy who has always had the respect of Uncle Mike and therefore is someone you don’t necessarily want to see six times a year in divisional play. For the Blues, it’s a bit of a radical change in that they’ve gone from a disciplinarian like Andy Murray to the “player’s coach” in Davis Payne to a guy that demands respect and order in Hitchcock. It will be interesting to see how the Blues players respond to the new bench boss, but if they do take well to Hitch, there’s a good chance they will put up some points and make some noise in the division. As for the Blue Jackets, well, PD hits it on the head:

As for the Blue Jackets … well, the assumption was that Hitchcock would slide in behind the bench with one more year on his contract with the team. Scott Arniel remains the coach, and doesn’t have any meetings with Jackets brass scheduled. As he told Puck-Rakers: “I’ll keep showing up until somebody tells me I’m not supposed to.”

Other than his contract, there never seemed to be a compelling reason for Hitchcock to take over the disaster that are the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets. So he didn’t.

If Arniel makes it out of November, he’s got the brass by the balls with some incriminating photos or something.

Starving Artists:: As in “starving” here at TPL. We are still on the hunt for some ideas for new shirts for the TPL store, but the inbox isn’t exactly filling up with ideas. Maybe it’s because you have as much artistic talent as I do and can’t even color in the lines, but we’re sure there are ideas out there and we want to hear from you. So much so, that we’ve actually enlisted the help of our very own Stevie (who’s just now finding out about this…) to help you sketch out ideas to put on a shirt. Seriously. If you have something funny or catchy that you think would make a good shirt, just send us a mail and we’ll put Stevie on a plane out to draw for you. Wait, no. We’ll have Stevie e-mail you and work to make your Picasso come to life. If your shirt makes it on to the site store, we’ll even give you one for free. Make it happen peeps.

And Finally… :: Bert and Huds are sick (no more making out) and won’t play tonight against Colorado. Meanwhile, Commie dreams of (and apparently practices) playing right wing with Twitter buddy Cory Emmerton. How are they going to Twitpic each other? Despite the six games of suck from his teammates, Jimmah remains hot. Babcock has opted for reverse psychology. Jiri Hudler is still confused. Water is wet.

Deep Sixed

Final (Hey Mr. P…)
Flames 4, The Team Formerly Known As the Red Wings 1

The Skinny

I think this about sums it up…

I’m not going to waste words here. This team is in a rut. The offense isn’t working. Babcock has tried everything but randomly drawing fans out of the seats to come play, and the Wings still can’t find their offense. They look disorganized and tentative and completely lost out there. It’s time to get back to basics and just start putting pucks on nets and putting passes on sticks. The only thing we can do as fans is ride this out and hope the Wings bust free sooner rather than later. Well, that and criticize, but there’s enough of that going around already so I will just end this here.

The Disch Approved “Horsecop” of the Game
Jiri Hudler maybe? I suppose Dan Cleary could make a case since he drew the short straw and scored the Wings only goal tonight.

The Riggy “Shitbox” of the Game
GRAB BAG! SPIN THE WHEEL AND SEE WHO IT LANDS ON! BONUS POINTS IF IT’S TODD BERTUZZI!

What’s Next?
A healthy dose of shots. A self-inflicted swirly. And two days of anguish before Anaheim on Saturday night. Odds are on Disch going “Gonzo” on you for the pregame.

Loss Candy

Since Petrella is living it up in Mexico, here’s some chick named Jillian on a beach. Hope you’re enjoying vacation dude. Look what you’ve done.

And here’s a guy in water. Yay.

Nov. 3 :: We’ve Got A Blind Date With Destiny, And It Looks Like She’s Ordered the Lobster

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN
Game two of a six game homestand. Calgary comes to town for the first time this season. 7:30 pm. Joe Louis Arena.

NOW, WHERE WERE WE
Well, the Wings have lost five in a row, and what should be a lineup full of superheroes has become ineffective and stale. Thus, Mystery Men. We know these guys can be awesome and amazing…they just have to find their way. Which immediately begs the question “Who is the Sphinx for the Wings?”

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. We’ve nominated his first name and his last name in separate categories.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: The Wings DERPED their way to a 2-1 overtime loss against Minnesota on Tuesday, although Dave Jackson’s attention span did the Wings no favors either.
:: The Flames got curbstomped in their own building on Tuesday by the Canucks. 5-1 was the final damage.
:: The last time these two teams met was January 7th, where the Wings escaped Calgary with a 5-4 shootout win and a series sweep of the Flames. Wings goals were scored by Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, two by Brian Rafalski and Todd Bertuzzi clinching it in the skills competition. Jakub Kindl and Valtteri Filppula were your healthy scratches, while Mike Modano (wrist), Dan Cleary (ankle) and Pavel Datsyuk (hand) were on the sidelines. You’ll also remember this as the game where Brad Stuart got his jaw broken on the flying elbow drop.

MEMBA ME?
No former Wings on the Flames, but David Moss hails from Livonia and Brendan Morrison was a standout at the University of Michigan.

OH, HI AGAIN
Brad Stuart, Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Commodore have all played for Calgary. Ed.: And Ian White too! (Thanks @JeffHancock41)

LASHING OUT WITH EVERY LIMB (Like the octopus who plays the drums.)
Jiri Scuttles :: Pavel Datsyuk :: Buckets Cleary
Johan Franzen :: Hank Z :: Todd Thunderchief
Valtteri Filppula :: Danger Helm :: Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Holmstrom :: Corey Emmerton :: Salt N Pepper Miller

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Ian White
Brad Stuart :: Niklas “Got” Kaboomed
@Commie22 :: RigBox

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conkblock

I CAN’T FEEL MY ASS
Jan Mursak [left ankle]
Patrick Eaves [back]
Jakub Kindl

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: Gustav “Word on the Street is You’re Lookin For Superheroes” Nyquist
DISCH: Mike “You Must Be Like Wolf Pack, Not Six-Pack.” Commodore
HOLLIS: Jonathan “I Don’t Need A Compass To Tell Me Which Way the Wind Shines” Ericsson
STEVIE:  Darren “Someone Must Have Ripped the “Q” Section Out of My Dictionary, ‘Cause I Don’t Know the Meaning Of the Word “Quit”‘ Helm

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
:: It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Mike Commodore makes his regular season debut for the Wings tonight. He’ll be paired up with the RigBox, which (hypothetically) could be a solid physical pairing. Of course, there’s always the other option: they suck. At any rate, #22 will be on the ice and we’ll be watching him closely.
:: With the aforementioned Commodore cracking the lineup, Jakub Kindl heads up to the Lounge for a night off. Joining him will be Patrick Eaves, who apparently tweaked his back against Minnesota. Sounds like Eaves is in quite a bit of pain, which may keep him out of the lineup for a bit. Something to keep an eye on, for sure.
:: Up front, the Wings are returning to “normalcy” by splitting up the twins and reverting to lines that are very similar to what they opened the season with. The lines look good on paper, with Cleary and Scuttles surrounding Datsyuk, while Hank centers Mule and Bert – two guys who could use a jump start.
:: Five goals in the last five games for the Wings. Anything under three tonight is unacceptable.
:: One last thing to keep an eye on: This is the first time Brad Stuart and Tom Kostopoulos will share the ice since the latter tried to destroy Stuart’s face last January. With Kronwall sharing the line with Stuart tonight – and looking to reclaim his pride after getting jacked by Koivu – I’m expecting a Kronwalling all up in TK’s face tonight.

Tale of the Tape: Exploiting Ice, Size

One of the things I like to do after a game is take some time to re-watch a number of plays that are listed in one of the many spiral notebooks littered on my desk at work and coffee table at home, and see if I can pick out things that might not have been as evident during the real-time viewing of the game. That was how the idea and methodology of the CSSI was born back over at Motown Wings. I’m not the first person to do this (Ryan does some good work over at NOHS, for sure, as does JJ – the keeper of the CSSI flame – over at WIIM) and I most definitely won’t be the last, but with so much happening in these games, the potential for folks to pick up on different themes, plays and tendencies is off the charts. So I’m going to make a better effort to highlight some plays that stand out from each game, and we’ll see if we can turn this into a regular segment going forward.

With special teams coming under fire early in the season for the Wings, I’ve found myself paying more attention to the sets and positioning on both the power play and PK units. We’re all well aware of the crazy “three-across” set that Jeff Blashill debuted in man advantage situations earlier in the season, but one thing that continues to stand out is how the Wings attack (or the opposite, as you’ll see below) open areas on the ice. The sequence below is from the Wings first power play of the night against the Wild, one that would eventually lead to a goal moments after the expiration of the penalty. We’re not worried about that, though, as the action is question took place early in the man advantage.

This one all begins when Scandella fails to clear the puck from deep in his own zone and Lidstrom is able to set up for a quick, puck moving attack on the out-of-position Wild defenders. After hitting Datsyuk mid-circle with a pass. Pav reverses flow and goes cross-ice to the left handed Henrik Zetterberg, which gives us the following set:

The key here is Johan Franzen. While Scandella looks like he’s turning his attention to Tomas Holmstrom in front of the net, he’s actually coming around to try and find the Mule, which you’ll see here:

Unfortunately, the Mule has taken himself out of the play now, finding himself gliding backwards on a trajectory that leaves him open for a very low percentage one-timer on the goal line extended, with a pass very likely not getting through to him:

Hank opts to let it fly, handcuffing Harding and almost finding a way into the net. Alas, we settle for a faceoff.

But let’s go back to Franzen for a second. As Datsyuk is making his cross-ice pass to Zetterberg, we can clearly see that Franzen is watching him to dictate the flow of the play. When Pav sends the pass, Franzen is looking RIGHT AT HIM:

Here’s where things get a bit unfortunate. As Franzen pivots and opens back up, he opts to drift low behind Scandella instead of immediately changing direction and pushing to the soft and very open area in the slot. The moment Scandella turned his back to Franzen and took a quick glance at Holmstrom is when Mule should have begun his move toward the middle of the ice. With the defender off balance and having his back to you, and the flow of the play shifting away, resistance should be minimal and a quality scoring chance should ensue.

In Franzen’s defense, that’s a tough stop-and-go to get himself to the center of the ice with his momentum carrying him on his ultimate path, but that’s where the little extra pieces of hustle make the difference. If Franzen sells out and gets to the box, his chances of finding the puck on his stick increase drastically, and he’s looking at a high glove, one-time chance. Instead, he coasts and – in turn – bails out the poor positioning of Scandella by going right into the lane he is defending.

Also, If Franzen reads the pass and the defender correctly here from the moment Datsyuk sends the pass, he’s got a much better opportunity in front of him, even if he has to muscle up on Scandella a bit for position. With Scandella facing away from the play, it’s a simple two-stride box out for Franzen, leaving himself with a high quality shot from the slot.

The Constant Gardener

When I moved into my current residence last year, our landlord was busy showing us all of the great features of the house when I happened upon a large, raised planting bed on the front patio. Prior to that point, there’s nothing in my history to indicate that I would be a prime candidate for a “green thumb,” so when he asked if we would like it removed for more space, my answer of “No” surprised even me. I don’t know what came over me, but the bed remained and off I went to start growing all kinds of different plants – peas, corn, sunflowers, pumpkins. For a person with limited gardening experience, I learned one thing rather quickly: results take time. I’d come home from work every night and look to see if there was a sprout; for the first week I was very disappointed. But then, something happened. The plants started growing and they started growing quickly. It was amazing to watch and realize that all it took was some dirt and a seed to create life. Every day I’d check on the growth and every day I’d be amazed at the progress. Naturally, ego took over and I began to see myself as a regular gardener, capable of growing an amazing assortment of vegetables and plants despite my limited investment in the art prior to this endeavor. I was…cocky.

Of course, my gardening dreams came crashing down to Earth about four weeks into the project when I could no longer discern whether the plants were actually growing. Naturally, I began to panic. Was I doing something wrong? Was I over watering? Were the plants not getting enough sun? Were the soil levels off? I was flummoxed and I didn’t really know what to do. So I began overcompensating and trying everything in my power to get my plants back to their earlier state. Of course, this only made things worse, and as the thing was slowly slipping through my fingers, I realized I had no idea how to get back on course. So, reluctantly, I called up a friend who had experience in these matters and relayed my problems to him. After patiently listening to my conundrum and probably laughing at me a bit on the inside, he simply looked at me and gave me the best piece of advice anyone could give to a novice: “Sometimes, you just have to trust the system and stay the course. If you’ve prepared properly, the results will come.”

_____________________________

Mike Babcock is the gardener of the Red Wings. He waters the plants. He prunes the leaves. He pulls the weeds. He’s the man charged with growing the seeds he’s been given, and right now, he looks about as confused as I did when my plants stopped growing. Over the last four games, we’ve seen his lines go into a blender and come out as a pureed mess of low scoring and losses on the scoreboard, and it’s frustrating to watch. And while the lack of the Wings success over the last five games can’t be blamed completely on Babcock, it’s tough to watch him grasp at straws at a time where consistency should be a priority. Yes, we all want the Wings to get wins, but I’d be OK trading losses for consistency and chemistry across the lineup. Of course, a hot start sets expectations at unmanageable levels, but when the losses start piling up and the coaching staff looks just as confused, it’s up to the head man to keep it under control. That’s not happening.

Let’s be honest: This turbulence early in the season should have been expected. Between roster turnover and bringing two new assistants on board, there was bound to be a learning curve for this group of Red Wings. Everyone needs a rhythm, and contrary to the start of this season, a team of new faces and new leaders doesn’t usually hit the ground running and keep on cruising without issue. But instead of sticking with the plan and tweaking the system around the players and lines in place, Babcock and his leadership group made the age-old blender blunder and tried to force the issue. When that didn’t work, they even went as far to bring a first year pro up to the big club to try and use that as a jump start for a sluggish offensive motor. And – with all due respect to Gustav Nyquist – bringing him up was not the answer to the Red Wings problems. Nyquist looked like the rookie he is, spending time on his back after a hit and generally following Todd Bertuzzi around the ice and making life easier on defenders. Yes, it was his first NHL game and I’m sure he was nervous as hell, but he was no better than Jiri Hudler would have been, and was most likely worse than Scuttles out there. Again, folks will put the blinders on and say it was just a rookie trying to fit in and that all the penalties did him no favors, and there’s definitely some truth to that. But don’t kid yourselves either: Nyquist looked undersized and needs more time to develop into a full time player. He has all the skill in the world and he’s got a bright future in Detroit. I just don’t think it’s right now. He’ll get better with more playing time, but only if the Wings keep him up with the club and regularly dress him. Do we REALLY think that is going to happen? I digress.

Quite simply, Mike Babcock needs to take a step back and get back to strategy. Stop worrying  about jump starting the offense by mixing up the lines and trust your assistants to find ways to get players in the right place to create opportunity. Gameplan for the opponent and give the players the opportunity to play in a regular system with regular linemates. As Malik said last night, this thing IS fixable based on what we saw early in the season, but implementing those fixes begins and ends with Mike Babcock. If there’s a hole on the ship, fix it. Don’t just shuffle the chairs around on the deck and call it good. The Wings have all the potential in the world, but let’s not forget that they too are human and value things like trust and camaraderie, from the locker room to their linemates.

Of course, Babcock and company could just chalk this up to “experimentation” and “trying things out” during the early part of the season, which does make sense. But ten games in, the Wings are still searching for answers on the scoreboard and maybe it’s time to go back to the script and start providing some stability. Sometimes, you just have to trust the system and stay the course. If you’ve prepared properly, the results will come.

The Wings have prepared properly. It’s time to put the ship back on the original heading and trust the course they’ve charted. The waters will get smoother, but only if the team continues to push through and only if the captain of the ship trusts his gut and the gut of his officers.

The Combination Is “1,2,3,4,5”

Final (Hi Mr. P!)
Wild 2, Red Wings 1 (OT)

The Skinny
This play has three acts: The Hot Start, The Slow to a Crawl and the Inevitable Collapse. Only the first part was any good, and even then, it faded toward the first intermission. The second act was an uninspired performance designed to set the stage for the third and do nothing more, which it successfully did. The third act reawakened our imaginations and showed us the ending we craved, only to have fate cruelly twist it away at the last minute. This is the Detroit Red Wings. This is the flawed main character. This is what we are stuck dealing with and these are the results that are bound to happen when an offense can’t get it clicking. Will this play be a Broadway hit or a goddam Greek tragedy? Only time will tell.

(Fully aware I’m not making any sense. It’s late, I’m tired and I just spent a couple of hours banging out a real post for tomorrow. Deal with it.)

Bullets of Importance

  • Wings lose again.
  • This sucks.
  • Gustav Nyquist looked like a rookie (SURPRISE!)

Bullets of Less Importance

  • Just because they had matching black eyes, doesn’t mean Bertuzzi and Holmstrom had to match each other’s penalties.

The Disch Approved “Horsecop” of the Game
Jimmah. Balled out all night long only to yet again be hung out to dry by a lack of offense.

The Riggy “Shitbox” of the Game
Todd Bertuzzi. Dumb penalties and uninspiring play. Petrella is channeling me from Mexico.

What’s Next?
Thursday against Calgary. I’ll be leading the way.

Loss Candy (Because this is all you really care about)

Peyton List makes Roger Sterling very happy on Mad Men. She wants to make you happy too.

Five losses? How about five dudes for the ladies.

Check back in the morning. I have a rather “inspiring” piece for your reading pleasure.

Nov. 1 :: We’ve Got Pie!

Before we get into the pregame, there’s some leftover business from the weekend that needs to be taken care of…

Great. Now that your Halloween themed loss candy is out of the way, let’s get down to business…

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN
It’s another go ’round with the guys from Minnesota. 7:30 pm Eastern. Joe Louis Arena.

NOW, WHERE WERE WE
Not sure we really need to re-hash how well the last few games have gone for the Wings, so we’ll just say this: they have a 5-4-0 record and 10 points. Minnesota sits with a record of 4-3-3 and 11 points. Yes, more points than Detroit.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Cal Clusterfuck, er, Clutterbuck and Clayton Stoner in a scoreless tie.

THEIR LAST GAMES
:: Detroit – Next… (Wings lose 1-0 to Wild. Fourth loss in a row in case you forgot.)
:: Minnesota – Read above.
:: Last time these two teams met…Seriously Petrella? Your format for this pregame is doing nothing but driving me spiraling into a dark, dark hole of bolivian. How many ways can we fucking say that WE LOST TO MINNESOTA BY A SCORE OF 1-0 ON SATURDAY?!?!?! THERE??? ARE YOU HAPPY???

MEMBA ME?
No former Wings on the Wild.

OH, HI AGAIN
No former Wild on the Wings.

HITTING THE GRIDIRON
Henrik Zetterberg :: Pavel Datsyuk :: Tomas Holmstrom
Goose Nyquist :: Johan Franzen :: Todd Thunderchief
Patrick Eaves :: Valtteri Filppula :: Buckets Cleary
Darren Helm :: Justin Abdelkader :: Salt N Pepper Miller

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Ian White
Brad Stuart :: Johnny Shitbox
Jakub Kindl :: Niklas “Dollar Billz” Kaboom

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conkblock

RIDING PINE
Jan Mursak [left ankle]
Mike and The Commodores [knee]
Jiri Hudler
Cory Emmerton

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: VACATION, YO
DISCH: Jonathan “Dauber” Ericsson
HOLLIS: Jonathan “You Think I Didn’t Respect You, But the Truth Is I Didn’t Even Think Of You” Ericsson
STEVIE:  Niklas “I Just Saw Ten Guys That Got Bigger Feet Than You” Kronwall

QUICKLY…
:: The big news (obviously) is that rookie Gustav Nyquist will be making his first NHL start tonight, and Mike Babcock is throwing the kid right into the fire. He’ll play on the SECOND LINE with The Mule and Big Bert, as well as get time on the second power play unit. You think the Red Wings aren’t desperate for some goals? Holy hell.
:: With Nyquist making the start, the honeymoon with Jiri Hudler is officially over. He hasn’t registered a shot on goal in FOUR games and his status on the Gradient of Failure is assured to take a tumble. At this rate, we’ll be firing up the trade discussion by tomorrow night.
:: I’m not sure whether Mike Babcock is trying to channel the ghosts of yesteryear, but he’s moved Tomas Holmstrom back up to the top line with Hank and Pavel. Holmstrom has played well early in the season, but still not sure I’m on board with this move. I’d prefer he split up the twins, but hey, what the hell do I know anyways? The safe bet is that Holmstrom nets two tonight as the Wings try and blow out the light bulbs on the scoreboard.
:: The chop shop continues all the way to the defense, where Stuart and the RigBox will join forces tonight and look to avoid officially being the worst defensive pairing on this team. Neither have been overly impressive on their own this season, so here’s hoping two wrongs makes a big right when they get together. Moneybagz Kronwall gets paired with Jakub Kindl in what should be a pretty entertaining pairing.
:: It’s the start of a six game homestand tonight, and a look at the schedule shows this as a critical period for the Wings to get this thing back on the rails. All of their upcoming games look winnable, and while you should never put too much stock in early season standings, 10 points and 12th in the West is never fun to look at.

The Gradient of Failure

During the vicious rout at the hands of the Washington Capitals, Matt Saler from On The Wings coined the term “gradients of failure,” specifically in reference to performance on the power play. The term was too good to languish in Twitter archives. After some discussion and development, and a lot of time with Photoshop, we’re now prepared to reveal the official Gradient of Failure.

Gradient as of October 31st, 2011
Created October 31st, 2011. Discher abstaining.

CLICK to enlarge.

The gradient plots salary of the player against player failure. Failure ranges from 0 (perfect humanesque) to 10 (shitboxian). We all assign a failure score to each player, and then those scores are averaged to come up with the final level of failure.  That way when I constantly rate Helm at 1 and Petrella constantly rates Ericsson at 10, the subjectivity is balanced. We decided to plot against salary, because its a nice way to see what kind of bang we’re getting for the Wings’ buck. As players are brought up and sent down to the Griffins, I’ll add or remove them (Nyquist will join after playing tomorrow, Brunnstrom has been removed.)

Notes:

  • Despite our general dissatisfaction with the team’s play, most everyone is below 5 (6 out of 23 players are above 5.) I don’t know whether this is because we’re being too nice, we blame everything on Ericsson and Conklin, or if we just don’t really know where the problem is.
  • Conklin’s at Shitboxian Levels, two terrible games wiping out his previous shutout.
  • IR is a tricky thing on the Gradient. We have Mursak at 5, since his preseason was impressive, but we have yet to see him play. He’ll sit on 5 until he returns.
  • A 9 might be harsh for Commodore, seeing how he’s been injured, but he hasn’t impressed us much yet. His consistent refusals to answer our questions about appearing on TP:60 might have affected his score as well.

Look for this to update as the season continues.