Lilja Unlikely To Take Two-Way Offer, NHL Still In the Mix

DETROIT - FEBRUARY 12:  Andreas Lilja #3 and Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings look on during a break in their NHL game against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena on February 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings defeated the Wild 4-2. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

I have to admit that it’s pretty disheartening to see all of the pictures coming out of the local papers showing former Red Wings defenseman Andreas Lilja still working out in his Wings gear with his former teammates. Lilja, a likable player who just caught some bad luck in terms of timing and the free agent market, is still without a team – NHL or abroad – as training camps prepares to open later this week across the league. That, combined with the two-way offer that Kirk Maltby took earlier this month, got me to thinking about whether or not Lilja might be willing to take a similar deal just to stay with the organization. Wishful thinking? Nostalgia? Bleeding heart? Maybe. But hey, if Kirk could do it, maybe Lilja could too.

Doubtful.

I touched base with Lilja’s agent, Todd Diamond, earlier this afternoon and asked him about the possibility of Lilja taking one of those “Maltby/McCarty Special” two-way deals and serving some time in Grand Rapids in case of a call-up. “At this point, I don’t see us accepting any two-way offers,” said Diamond. “We are in discussions with a few NHL teams and we will see where it takes us.”

While it is disappointing to hear that Lilja is unlikely to stick around with the Wings organization in a reduced capacity in Grand Rapids (not that it was ever LIKELY, mind you), it is good to hear that there’s still some NHL doors that haven’t been closed yet for the gritty Swede, and he may yet find a way to stick around the league this season. If not, Europe is still an “option” said Diamond, although “we haven’t had any discussions with any clubs yet.”

While it’s an almost certainty that Lilja won’t be on an NHL club when training camps open, there’s the always real and certainly viable option of him getting inked if a club suffers a major injury or rash of minor injuries during the camp/preseason run. You may recall that estranged Wings defenseman Derek Meech is in a similar boat, except that he already signed a deal to stay with the organization and would have to be traded out of town. It’ll be interesting to see which one of these two finds gainful NHL employment first, with Lilja generally believed to be the all-around better defenseman while Meech brings the Red Wings “pedigree” at a much lower price tag.

At any rate, we’ll keep you updated on the future of both these guys as training camp progresses.

Meech-you At the Door

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 12: Derek Meech #14 of the Detroit Red Wings awaits the faceoff during the game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on January 12, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Is there a future somewhere?

Hot on the heels of the news that Kirk Maltby decided to go against my advice and sign a one year, two-way deal with the Wings, Ken Holland finally pulled the trigger on the inevitable, sending Derek Meech to the waiver wire in hopes that someone will give the kid a chance to crack a top six somewhere in the league. Meech and his $500,000 salary are now up for grabs on the open market, hoping that someone will operate under the assumption that a Wings cast-off carries more weight than any other schmuck on the wire and providing a good home for the favorite son of JLA’s press box.

The problem for Meech is that an incredibly stagnant offseason market for player movement has led to a situation that could potentially (maybe likely) see #14 clear waivers and wind up as part of the Grand Rapids Griffins. According to Ken Holland, Meech has already been shopped around as trade bait in an attempt to get a return on his time spent with the Wings, yet there were no takers. Were teams simply waiting for Meech to hit the waiver wire? It’s absolutely a possibility, but it could also very well be the residue of a slow a offseason clinging to a player who would normally be snapped up pretty quickly for a draft pick or two.

At any rate, we’ll know by Noon tomorrow what Meech’s fate will be. If this is it for his time in the Winged Wheel, then let me be one of the first to say “peace out.” I have a hard time hating on the guy, as he genuinely seems like a good person who just wants a real chance to succeed on an NHL team. Here’s hoping that Meech lands on his feet somewhere…even if it is Grand Rapids.

An Open Letter to Kirk Maltby (Now with Postscript!)

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 12: Kirk Maltby #18 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on during the game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on January 12, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hey Kirk.

Good to see you again. Hope the summer has been restful and relaxing for you, although it sounds like you’ve got alot on your mind. I don’t envy you Kirk. It’s just a major life changing decision in front of you, right?

I mean, let’s look at it objectively. On one hand, you’re the odd man out on the team that you have played with for 14 seasons. You’ve won four Stanley Cups in Hockeytown, and number five is more than a fleeting thought as training camp gets ready to crank up in a few weeks. Despite that, you’ve already been told that you probably won’t make the big club out of camp – given that there are a number of younger guys that can pretty much do everything you can – but have been offered the opportunity to take a two-way deal in case the Wings need you down the stretch. It’s obviously not an ideal situation, but you’re a loyal guy and want to give the franchise that has taken care of you the benefit of the doubt before looking elsewhere. That’s admirable for both sides, but it’s a harsh reality that sees you taking the AHL maximum $105,000, a far cry from the $750,000 you made last year and the $950,000 you made each of the two years prior.

Then there’s the other side of the coin. Despite the relegated role you would have in Detroit, you know you still have some good hockey left and you really want it to be in the NHL. A couple of teams have expressed interest in your services, including the Tampa Bay Lightning and their GM – and your good buddy – Steve Yzerman. Sadly, it’s not the Red Wings, but it IS NHL hockey (with an NHL payday) and there’s a familiar face or two around the St. Pete Times Forum for you to connect with. Let’s not forget that it’s warm pretty much all year round, and there’s some great beaches that you can check out on those off days.  It sounds great, sure, but I feel you: it’s just not the same as playing in Detroit.

What to do?

Allow me to give you some advice Kirk: Go South.

Now, before you and the rest of the Wing-O-Sphere get out the pitchforks and torches, allow me to explain the logic here Kirk. First, I understand that you want to be loyal to this organization and to the fans who pack Joe Louis Arena every night. It’s an intoxicating feeling playing in front of the rabid Hockeytown fanbase, I’m sure, and one that will NOT be replicated in Tampa Bay. But the stark reality of your situation is that you won’t get that feeling on a regular basis here in Detroit, and if you do, you’ll most likely be taking it in from the comfort of a luxury suite high above Joe Louis Arena instead of on the ice with the teammates that you share the bonds of friendship with. Regular season, playoffs, it doesn’t matter. Time is of the essence in your situation and I can’t imagine the idea of appearing in (at best) 10 games this year is really worth it. The Lightning can offer you exactly what the Red Wings can’t right now, and that’s a legitimate shot at playing in the NHL this season on a regular basis. At the end of the day, isn’t that what this is really about? The fact that you can still play hockey and still can offer something to the team? Under that criteria, TB makes sense and you know it.

Sure, it’s a difficult situation with the family and you’ll be moving to a new place, but it’s only a temporary thing, right? Give it a year in Tampa Bay and if you’re ready to hang it up, the house in Grosse Pointe and the job with the Wings will still be right there. Hey, you may even decide you REALLY like it down in Tampa and I’m sure Stevie would be more than willing to hook you up with some work when the playing days are done. If not, hop on that jet back to Southeastern Michigan and pop on that training jacket and get to work scouting the young kids. Both the immediate family and the extended Wings family will be waiting for you with open arms when you return, and that’s a guarantee.

Look Kirk, I know it’s a tough decision and one that you want to take your time with. But take my advice to heart buddy. Nobody will question your loyalty when you head down south. The Wings have respected your work with the organization with the best offer they can muster and you’ve respected the organization by taking the time to carefully consider it. You’ve done your due diligence and you’ve thought long and hard about this one, I know it. You’ve earned it though. You’ve earned the right to have this decision put in front of you and you’ve earned the right to be a Red Wing for life. If that’s what you choose, I’ll give you a big virtual hug and say “Welcome back!” But you’ve also earned the right to play hockey at the highest level possible while making the best living possible for not only you, but your family as well, and sometimes that means making the difficult decision.

So sit back, wipe the cloudiness of the nostalgia from your eyes, and take a good long look at where the best fit for you is next season Kirk. It’s time to see the forest through the trees my friend.

A forest full of palm trees.

See you in a year,

Chris

P.S. (2:42 PM): Kirk, one more thought I meant to add in my original note and completely forgot to…

You might hear some people tell you that you should stay in Detroit based on the fact that good friend and former Grind Liner Darren McCarty did something similar on the way to the 2008 Stanley Cup. Remember that nostalgia I was talking about? Yea, that reference is nothing more than that. Any so called precedent that McCarty set is complete and utter bullshit.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love D-Mac as much as everyone else, but his stint in GR was a shrewd move by Ken Holland to give a guy who was struggling both professionally and personally a chance to finish out his career in a place that he knew as home, while bolstering the roster with some physical, veteran depth for the playoffs. The only similarity that the two of you share is the fact that you would (POTENTIALLY) provide that same playoff depth should the Wings need it. That’s where the similarities end. McCarty had ZERO options other than the contract in GR. You have NHL offers waiting for you. This is most definitely not the same situation and you know it. Do what’s best for you.

Kronwall’s Knee: The Saga Continues (And Ends?)

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 21:  Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings is helped off of the ice after being tripped by Georges Laraque #17 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game on November 21, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Coming off of a season where injuries were the major story line, it’s no surprise that Wings fans everywhere were holding their breath when defenseman Niklas Kronwall reported that he was having pain in his knee. We all remember Georges Laraque’s kneejob on Kronwall last season up in Montreal, which put Laraque on the suspended list for five games and Kronwall on the shelf for 30 games with a sprained MCL. With the Wings counting on a healthy roster this year, state,emts like these from Ken Holland are not what Wings fans need to hear, especially before the season starts.

Khan (!):

“They suggested we do a minor scope to explore, to look and see what’s going on,” Holland said.

Goodie. At any rate, Kronwall went under the knife today so the doctors could take a peek, and lo-and-behold, the cause of the achy knee was found and remedied:

(More) Khan(!):

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall had athroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning. Doctors discovered a lateral meniscus tear. Kronwall is expected to be idled for two weeks but should be ready to skate at the start of training camp Sept. 18 in Traverse City.

Thank Jeebus.

That said, I’m still hedging my bets on how much contact Kronwall sees at camp this year, especially given the fact that his recovery from the original MCL sprain dragged on well past the initial timeframe that doctors placed on it. If we’ve learned one thing from watching Kronwall over the past year or so, it’s that his knees are one of the most important parts of his entire game, and the slightest tweak can become the ultimate disruptor in his overall mojo. I’d rather have Kronwall log a little extra time in preseason game situations, than get into training camp with the knee not feeling 100% and have Justin Abdelkader blow him and the blue line up with a meaningless check in the corner.

At the end of the day, Kronwall is still a young-ish guy who showed great resilience in coming back last season and fighting through the pain to play. But at the same time, his game was severely hampered because he rushed himself back, and it was evident to everyone around the league, not just the Red Wings. For a guy who took some scoff this week about “not doing the right thing” in terms of resting the knee and letting it heal properly, I hope Kronwall and the Wings take their time with this one. Otherwise, we’ll be busting out the Kindl before you know it.
CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY - JULY 10:  Amazon's new Kindle DX 9.7' Wireless Reading Device is ready for shipment at the warehouse on June 10, 2009 in Campbellsville, Kentucky.  The reader can hold thousands of books and has text-to-speech capability among other features. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)

Uh, let’s try that again…
DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 26:   Jakub Kindl #46 of the Detroit Red Wings skates in a pre-season game against the Boston Bruins on September 26, 2008 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Bruins defeated the Red Wings 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Better. Just gotta drop that “6”.

At any rate, it’s still pretty discouraging that the NHL hasn’t taken a stronger stance on the kind of plays that originally forced Kronwall to the injured reserve last season. Yes, I know I’m beating on the dead horse here – especially since today’s meniscus repair wasn’t a result of the Laraque hit – but it’s still disenfranchising to watch GM’s battle so hard to get head shots addressed, while these kinds of plays are still up for some debate in some circles about being “dirty.” I remember watching the game when the injury happened, and my buddy sitting next to me remarking about how “it’s a penalty, but that’s a clean play.” If that’s a clean play, then Tonya Harding and Co’s whack job on Nancy Kerrigan should have only fetched them two minutes in the sin bin for tripping (although Kerrigan could have easily served two as well for diving, IMO.) Nonetheless, it still shocks me that Laraque only sat for five games while Kronwall goes out for 30. If you’re scoring at home, that’s just over 16% of Kronwall’s injury time that Laraque missed.

Am I one of those proponents for “eye-for-and-eye/game-for-a-game” punishment? Absolutely not. Injuries happen and they take time to heal, but more often than not they are accidental and undeserving of punishment. Additionally, guys could milk the hell out of an injury for any number of personal reasons, so it makes no real sense to penalize the guy who hit a rut in the ice, tripped and blew up someone’s knee (obviously that’s not the case here.) In fact, I don’t have a ready-made solution for these types of plays. Unfortunately for all of us, it doesn’t seem like the league does either, settling instead on the rudimentary and completely temperamental “Wheel of Justice” that hangs on Colin Campbell’s wall.

Whatever. Laraque has found a new arena for his talents and I, for one, am glad he won’t be out on the ice blowing up people’s knees anymore. Although, if you’re not a member of the Green Party in Canada, I’d watch yourself when you see the “gentle green giant” coming toward you.

The Brand, The Brand, The Brand

With college football only days away, I thought it would be fitting to evoke the mantra of the late, great Bo Schembechler (albeit altered ever so slightly.) Yes, your friends over here at TPL also enjoy the college football from time to time, unless of course said team smokes wears Green and snorts White and whose players beat up defenseless women and hockey players and go to jail, only to be welcomed back to the football team with open arms  hails from East Lansing (Go Blue!) I digress…

Despite the new site being extra spiffy and awesome, there’s still some empty walls that need filling and some final touches to be incorporated before we can finally call this thing “home”. And who better to make this thing a home than you, the readers. Allow me to present a couple of ways that you can leave your imprint on the new TPL:

  • Banners: As you can see, our new banner is ridiculously awesome (Thanks Sara!) and there is another one that we are holding on to that is just as cool. That said, we know we have alot of talented and artistic friends and readers out there, so we want to open it up to all of you as well. Have a cool design for a banner for the site? Send it to us and we’ll toss it up on the site throughout the season, while also giving you props and a link in one of the posts. Seriously, send us whatever you come up with and it may wind up on top of the site.
  • TP:60 Logo: This one’s a double dip for you guys, but don’t feel like you have to do both. As we prepare to launch the TP:60 podcast this season, we want you guys to submit logo drafts and then ultimately decide which logo will end up representing the show. That’s right, YOU will decide the winning logo for the show. We’ll be collecting submissions all the way up until September 24th, at which point we’ll head into a tournament style competition for the winning design to be chosen. The winning logo will be debuted in time for the regular season opener in October. Again, get those submissions in.
  • TP:60 Music: In addition, for our musically inclined friends, we are looking for some new theme music for the show and would love to hear what you can do. Feel free to send us a track that is at least a minute long, and you may find yourself being broadcast to all of our listeners on a weekly basis. We’ll also give you a shout out on the show and will link to your band info/record info on the TP:60 site.

Pretty cool stuff, no? BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As Petrella and I have been sorting through the mailbox over the first weekend of TPLUS existence, we’ve received a ton of e-mails asking us if we are going to do shirts or other kinds or TPL apparel. Honestly, we had no intention of doing anything of the sort, but it looks like some of the other Wings blogs are offering up some gear which in turn has our inbox flooded with “OMGSHIRTUZZIPLZKTHXBAI” mails. So Petrella, Rob and myself gathered ’round the campfire to discuss and decided that, while we won’t be doing a full store or anything, we’d be willing to design up a “replica” Shirtuzzi for you guys to order. It probably won’t look anything like the original Shirtuzzi that debuted at H2H, but it’ll be complete with the Shetuzzi and other pieces of TPL awesomeness that’ll be worthy of the Shirtuzzi moniker. We don’t have a timeframe in place just yet, but stay tuned to the main page and we’ll let you know when it’s ready to go.

So there you go. Get the creative juices flowing and get those submissions in, while simultaneously preparing to clothe yourself in pure TPL awesomeness.

The TPLUS User’s Manual

If you’re anything like me, getting something new to play with is still one of the best feelings in the world. Despite Power Wheels being replaced by TV’s, there’s still nothing better than busting open a box of pure consumer goodness, then marveling at the majesty of your new piece of property.

It’s at that point that one of the most famous questions ever to cross man’s lips finds it’s way up your vocal cords and off your tongue…

“How does it work?”

At age 10, you didn’t care. You just turned it on and went after it. Nowadays I find myself paying a bit more attention to those user’s manuals that come with the things I buy though. Why? Well, because I probably spent good money on it and don’t want the thing to self destruct if I put Piece A into Slot B, instead of sliding Slot B over Piece A. You know what I’m talking about. (IKEA is the clear exception to this rule, right Chief?) At any rate, I just like my stuff to work properly the first time around, so it just makes sense to reference the manual and get it over with faster.

So with that in mind, I present to you the user’s manual to the new Production Line. I hinted at it yesterday, but we’ve incorporated a number of different features and widgets into the new site, so it probably makes sense for me to explain how each of them works and what their purpose is on the site.

Let’s get down to business.

Disqus

Maybe the most underrated part of any blog is the comments section. Some of the best dialog and discussion happens after the fact, and many blogs are still stuck with a system where you leave a comment, wait for somebody else to comment and then comment back again before taking that discussion over to Twitter and Facebook to vent about the comment that someone just made about your comment. It gets confusing, especially when nobody even has a clue what site you are talking about after you post your 140 character rant that has no links to the offending material.

That’s where Disqus comes in. You’ll notice that you can just type your comment, then click the “post as” button, at which point you enter an e-mail address and go on your merry way. But you’re missing the fun. If  you hover over the Disqus logo above the comment box, you’ll see that it offers you a number of different login options. You can use your Disqus account (if you have one), or use Twitter, Facebook (still wonky. we’re working on it), OpenID or even Yahoo. Personally, I rock the Twitter login. At this point you can comment away, and then right before you click “post”, go ahead and click the “share on twitter” icon. Then post.

BOOM.

You’ve now commented on the actual post, while at the same time utilizing the power of the interwebz to post that same comment on Twitter, while also including a link to the post your comment is referencing. It’s like a mini-blog for you, the reader. You’re welcome.

Tweet/Share/Like Buttons

Pretty self-explanatory. “Tweet” tweets. “Share” shares. “Like” likes. Be sure to click all three after each post.

Links Menu

There’s plenty of other good blogs out there and we’re committed to making sure they get their props here on the site. But if you look closely, there’s 19 blogs on the links menu, and that is very much by design and very much how it will be kept moving forward. 19 slots for 19 blogs. That said, if you don’t see yourself on there, it’s most definitely not a knock against you. Petrella, Disch and I just agreed beforehand that we wanted to keep the sidebars tidy and clean, and one of the easiest ways to do that was to limit the number of blog links we posted.

HOWEVA, that doesn’t mean we won’t be updating the links on a regular basis. Got a new Wings blog? Let us know. Putting out sweet content? Shoot us a mail. We know for sure that we’ll have a pair of links opening up now that BDS is on hiatus and Snapshots is soon to be Malik-less, and we bet your blog would look good on our list. So if we should be reading you, let us know.

The Donate Button

Petrella touched on it, but we’ve thrown a donation button on the site. For the record, YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO USE THIS.

That said, we are putting some money towards the podcasts and hosting and all that stuff, so if you feel like we deserve a couple of bucks and you want to support our blogging habit, feel free to do so.

The bigger point of the donation button is for the work we have planned around charities and other charitable efforts this season. We wanted to ensure that there was an easy way for you guys to contribute to the numerous causes we will be supporting, and the ol’ PayPal button seemed to fit the bill. Our only ask is that when you do make a donation, please be sure to specify what exactly it is for. We like to make sure your money goes to where you intend it to go, and that’s a super simple step to help us out.

Twitter Feeds

You’ve got one feed that updates tweets from myself, Petrella, Disch and TPLhockey (as well as mentions) and another that is Mike Serven’s RedWingsFeed. Both of them are the best at keeping you update don what we are doing and what the Wings are doing. They refresh automatically every 60 seconds.

Polls

We ask a question. You answer. Got something you want as a poll question. Hit up the e-mailz.

The Tabs (Navigation Bar)

Home: Well, it takes you to the home screen. /roll credits

Pages: You can learn all about us, ways to spend money with us, or you can click on the most underrated page in the TPL domain: NTC/NMC. The resulting click explains it all.

TP:60: Links to the archives and main page, which will include info about the most recent shows, as well as upcoming episodes.

So there it is. Your guide to the TPL universe. I expect that things will continue to change as the site continues to evolve, so we’ll be sure to let you know when we add things for you to play with. In the meantime, click around and enjoy the site. As always, shoot us an e-mail if you have any questions.

And don’t forget: You break it, you buy it.

You Deserve the Truth

Before we go any farther, let me give credit where credit is due.

Chief: You called it. Well played sir.

Call me a bitch. Call me “Favre.” Call me whatever you want. The fact is that I am indeed back and am feeling incredibly solid about joining forces with two guys that have come to be just like brothers over the past 8 months or so. I will admit that I enjoyed my month long break from the writing scene though. It was an interesting experience watching things like the Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei signings happen and not have to immediately jump on my computer and start banging out thoughts about it. You know what I did when the Modano news broke? No seriously, do you know? Because I sure as hell don’t. That’s some serious relaxation right there folks. I’d like to think I was out on a bike ride with the lady or busy knocking back a shot or two of Jameson, but I don’t think we’ll ever know. The point is, folks, that I was living it up and not worrying about a thing. It was nice.

Why was relaxation so easy you ask? Because I knew this was coming for a long, long time. That’s right kids, this whole plan has been in the works for months. That picture in Petrella’s post? Yea, that’s from H2H. We took it knowing full well exactly when we wanted to use it and what it was going to be for and we did it right under your noses. Just like we dangled out the teaser tweets from TPLhockey, basically handing all of you the name of the site months before it even went live. And yes, some of those tweets came from me as well.

“But what about leaving Motown Wings?”

Great question. There’s a reason we chose today’s date for the announcement and it’s not just because “Abdelkader.Hudler.Delvecchio” sounds awesome. For those that didn’t know, I was under contract with MW up until yesterday, 8/25. Being a man of my word, I was prepared to finish it out, until the folks over at Fanball said “Hey, we’ll pay you early and we have someone prepared to take over for you.” Boom. Sold. Fare-thee-well friends. You’ll notice, upon further review, that I never actually said I was “retiring” or “never writing again,” just that I was taking a bit of a break from things to focus on other aspects of my life. Which is absolutely true. I’ll still be focusing my efforts on real-life work, family, friends, etc. but that becomes much easier to do when I have two other guys on my team that I know will be churning out superb content on a regular basis. This was simply the best situation for me and that’s why I took it.

So i’m sorry for pulling the wool over your eyes a bit, but what had to be done was done. Now that everything’s out in the open, we can get down to enjoying the shenanigans, analysis and overall good times that you’ve come to expect from TPL, all on this brand spanking new site. Speaking of the site, I’ll be dropping a larger post on all of the new features and toys sometime tomorrow, so stop back by to check it out. The three of us have put a ton of time and effort into making this thing awesome, and we did it for all of you to enjoy. We’ve also got a ton of fun things planned for all of you, and the three of us will be rolling those out in the coming days, weeks and months. For the record, both Disch and I wanted to host a huge launch party in Detroit today, complete with booze, music and autograph/assault sessions with Todd Bertuzzi. Unfortunately, Petrella decided to get crazy and blow all of our savings on some fancy ritual that involves him getting a ring soldered onto his finger for the rest of his life. I’m just sayin…

At any rate, It’s good to be back and it’s great to finally let all of you in on what we’ve been working so hard to accomplish. I have to offer up huge amounts of gratitude and thanks to both Petrella and Disch for extending me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I hope that my presence here doesn’t wreck the site forever.

I’ve missed all of you, but that’s enough emotion for one day. So consider this our “hug it out” moment before we crank this thing up. This should be one heck of a ride folks, so let’s  get it going.

LGRW.

If Thats Your Best, I’d Hate to See Your Worst

Before you read another word, let me first caution you that this post will likely not be funny and will probably bore you to tears. Proceed at your own risk.

With Petrella glued to his television for another riveting episode of Lost and Discher locked out on his porch with his TV and $50 worth of Home Depot chairs, the dubious honor of recapping tonight’s contest has been bestowed upon me. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity and promise to do my best to uphold the high standards of TPL. I may even attempt to slam Bert somewhere in this thing. Hey, when in Rome…

That said, let’s kick off this thing on a high note, since it’s all downhill from here. Since I just watched Chuck last night, the smokin‘ hot Yvonne Strahovski is still running through my mind. Let her take a lap through yours.


TPL’s Take

Before we go any further, I have to address “The ‘Stache.” I have no idea what Mule is thinking with that thing, but it lands somewhere between “hideously awesome” and “awesomely hideous.” Add some short shorts, high white tube socks and a pastel polo and Mule is just another neighbor out mowing the lawn on a summer afternoon. Either that or Ned Flanders. You decide.

Anyways, the Blues came into this game after a tough one in Denver last night, while the Wings have been off since the debacle in LA on Saturday. One would normally associate this with “Advantage: Wings”, but not this intrepid blogger. Blues came out flying, Wings came out reeling. Shocker.

Brad May finally decided to serve a purpose with a scrap against Brad Winchester about a quarter of the way through the first. Not a very entertaining bout, but I’ll take the effort from a guy who’s most memorable play this year looked like a drunken attempt at a triple lutz as opposed to an actual hockey move.

Jimmah was the only reason this one didn’t get out of hand early. The Wings looked like they were afraid they might melt the ice if they skated too fast and Brett Lebda and Todd Bertuzzi were more concerned with throwing ill advised passes than they were with, ya know, trying to win. Kirk Maltby looked equally unimpressive on the penalty kill, failing to clear the zone on two successive attempts and forcing Jimmah to make a pair of ridiculous saves. That said, Jimmah remained relatively untested in the first, facing his regular allotment of 20 shots.

Kris Draper’s flukey goal was the only one of the opening stanza, coming off a faceoff win where Helm picked the puck out of mid-air and Ericsson’s shot pinballed all over the place, eventually hitting Draper’s skate and sliding into the net. Of course the goal went to review, and the NHL’s spinning “Goal/No Goal” wheel finally landed on the correct square.

Second period opened the same way the first ended. The Blues came out charging like a drunk dude at the bar who just spotted his female target for the evening, while the Wings opted to hang out against the wall and wait for the leftovers.

David Backes sounds like he gargles gravel. I hate him tonight, but can’t wait for him to don the Red, White and Blue in Vancouver.

After being on their heels for most of the period, the Wings finally did something to earn a power play. After mounting an effort that roughly resembled an NHL man-advantage, the Wings got caught in a line change and David Perron juked the jock off of Val Fillpula before ripping a wrist shot over top of Jimmah from just above the circle. Without fail, Paul Kariya found a way to contribute to the effort, tying up Willy Vanilly in front of the net and screening Jimmah.

Now comes the part I’ve been looking forward to the most: bashing Todd Bertuzzi. I’ve been Pro-Tuzzi for most of the season, but I’ll check my inhibitions at the door and let loose: Todd, you are a below average hockey player that makes poor decisions which ultimately cost your team in goals against and in the ever important team morale. You should be ashamed of your ineptitude and should make every effort to correct it.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Suck on that TODD!!!! Man, that felt awesome!!!

What was not awesome was the fact that you turned the puck over deep in your own zone, took a delayed penalty, fell down in front of the net, and then couldn’t find (you guessed it!) Paul Kariya as he slid home a loose rebound in the crease to break the tie. For that, you earn one more ridiculing: Perhaps you should spend additional time practicing your skating technique, because you are easily rated as a below average skater after that performance.

BOOM. I got plenty more where that came from.

Not to be outdone by Big Bert, Dan Cleary decided to join the undisciplined parade in the third period, taking a holding penalty while on the power play, negating the advantage. Of course, this would eventually lead to the Blues third goal, a bang-bang play that Howard never had a chance on as it got through his five hole while he was moving side-to-side.

With the game looking more and more dire, the Wings finally decided to up the intensity and Mike Babcock finally decided to drop Bertuzzi from the top line in favor of the Mule. It would pay off as Hank would throw one toward the crease that Datsyuk would redirect in with his foot, instantly opening the door for that cruel mistress named “hope” to step in, only to let us down again as she has most of this season. But Valtteri Filppula had other plans for that tricky lady, crashing the net only minutes later to swat home a loose puck against the post, ensuring that the Wings would escape St. Louis with at least one point.

I don’t know about you, but overtime forced me to check my undergarments a few times. Tons of back and forth action, punctuated with the Blues hitting the crossbar once and Jimmah making probably his best save of the year, coming across the crease to stop a 2-on-1 with his left pad. I can’t be sure of what exactly happened after that (since my eyes were closed), but somehow the Wings hung on to force a shootout.

Andy McDonald opened the shootout for St. Louis, missing wide. Datsyuk would do no better on his attempt, losing control of the puck near the crease and flailing at it like a teenage guy trying to get his pants off in his first sexual encounter. T.J. Oshie stepped to the plate next, and beat Howard cleanly through the five hole. Willy Vanilly went next for the Wings, pulling off a sweet move, and subsequently stopping space and time as he scored a goal(?) to tie it up. Brad Boyes stepped up next for the Blues, outclassing Howard the entire way with a sweet deke and easily sliding home the second goal for the Blues, putting the game on the stick of Zetterberg. Hank decided to get crazy, going to THE SAME MOVE HE USES IN EVERY SHOOTOUT, and Mason made the save.

Wings lose, but get an undeserved point in the process.

So what did we learn tonight?

  • Hank should never see the ice in the shootout again.
  • The Wings appear to be doing everything possible to miss the playoffs.
  • It’s good to have Johan Franzen’s playmaking abilities back. He had some nice chances tonight and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions. And he looks superb with a mustache.

That’s it for me kids. Petrella and Discher will be back with some quality writing and funny jokes tomorrow. Until then, I’ll leave you with my best Bertuzzi joke:

What do you call a Red Wing who plays so poorly that he hasn’t scored a goal in eight games?

Brad May pretending to be Todd Bertuzzi.

ZING! I’m here all night Bert.