Weekend Roundup: 4 Outta 6 Ain’t Bad

As you know, it’s been a pretty slow weekend in terms of updating here at TPL. Petrella’s been hanging out in the Big Easy for work, Disch is lost somewhere in Texas and we haven’t heard from him in days, and I just got back from another trip to California to party with celebrities all in the name of work. Yes, sometimes it’s tough being a TPL’er, but that’s just the way things are.

That said, we have a blog to uphold here and we know you are clamoring for our philosophical musings on everything that is the Detroit Red Wings and their first Western road trip of the season.

First, let’s get the loss candy out of the way so that we can all move on together.

Gents (in honor of all of the Swede-on-Swede action yesterday):

And for the ladies, here’s a Swedish man:

Everyone feeling better? Good.

Because honestly, there is nothing to be upset about after this weekend. Yes, it woulda been hella cool to sweep an entire Western road trip, but c’mon now folks, that’s just getting greedy, especially when the tail end of the trip is against the red hot Vancouver Canucks. Could the Wings have beat them? Sure. Minimizing turnovers and more surehanded play in their own zone could have easily flipped this loss into the win column, but when the legs are tired and the mind is exhausted, those are the first things to go and go they did for the Wings last night. Yet despite ending the trip on a bit of a sour note, their are still plenty of positives to take from this trip, including:

  • Justin Abdelkader: Look, I admit that Justin and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye when it comes to his viability as an NHL player, but man if he keeps this shit up, I’m happy to play the part of the fool. Abdelkader was red hot, scoring a pair of goals (including a game winner), pestering the living crap out of folks, dropping the gloves and looking damn good rocking the HNIC towel during the second intermission of the Vancouver tilt. If Abdelkader can keep the pace up, he’ll cement his spot in this lineup for a long time to come, especially because he was the catalyst who jump-started…
  • The Third Line: Not to toot my own horn here, but I do recall saying something about the third line just needing more time to get some chemistry together before everyone completely wrote them off. Yes, the removal of Jiri Hudler for Abdelkader may have been the spark that got this line going, but if you focus on Abby-Doo, then you are missing the bigger picture. Both Dan Cleary and Mike Modano had excellent games during the Western swing, which is only a by-product of having Abdelkader out there with them. They bought into it, they started making plays and the team started reaping the rewards. Tip your hat to Abdelkader, sure, but don’t forget that Cleary and Modano bought into this and elevated their games as well.
  • Jimmah: Yes, giving up six isn’t usually grounds for praise, but Howard deserves his due after backstopping the Wings to a pair of wins in Alberta before the car finally sputtered to a halt in the third period in BC. Lest we forget, Howard was just returning to the lineup after a week of back spasms, so to see the kid bounce back and deliver 4 points on the first big road trip is something to smile at.
  • Riggy Shitbox scored a goal. He also didn’t look all that bad in terms of defensive play, so I guess we can chalk that up as a win(?).

Other plusses? Let’s see: Kronwall netted some goals, which is always a nice thing. The Wings stayed relatively healthy throughout the trip, which is a definite win. And Nick Lidstrom rocked a sweet hoodie on HNIC after the game, while also giving a pretty lengthy interview about himself and the Red Wings even after a loss. Something about watching Nick talk about….well, whatever…just makes you feel good inside, even when the Wings just came out on the wrong side of a decision.

So yea, I’m cool with how things turned out this weekend. The guys look like they banded together well, even in the face of adversity in three tough arenas and they worked hard to earn their four points. Like I said before, I firmly believe it could have been five or six points, but sometimes the tank just hits “E” and there’s nothing you can do about it except coast into the pits and get ready for the next race. Here’s hoping the Wings fuel up quick before the Coyotes hit town tomorrow.

(Ed. note: Production charts will be updated tomorrow to reflect the last three games, and will then be updated on a game-by-game basis. Thanks to those of you who flagged for us over the weekend. Yes, we know we are lazy and we do sincerely apologize.)

Two-Wheeled Troubles

Remember when you were a kid and you jumped on your first bike without training wheels? It was a liberating feeling once Dad let go of the bike and you realized you could keep it up on your own. All you wanted to do was ride the bike everywhere and explore every little detail of every single thing around you. Eventually, as your confidence grew, you took on bigger challenges like jumping curbs or popping wheelies, and pretty soon you felt like the king of the street.

Like every kid, however, you eventually grew up and moved on to bigger and better things like cars, girls and (eventually) booze and parties. The thought of being on a bike was one that never crossed your mind until one night you saw a bike leaning against the side of your fraternity house and thought “Hey, it would be pretty sweet to take that thing for a spin around the block.” Of course, you failed to take into account that you had already knocked back an entire case of Natty Light, and that the fact you could even walk was a small miracle at that point. Nonetheless, the only way you were landing that hot chick from the house across the street is if you could toss her on the handlebars and take her for a lap around campus. As soon as you hopped on the bike though, it became quickly apparent that the whole “It’s just like riding a bike” phrase didn’t necessarily apply to…you know…riding a bike.

Crash. Burn. Broken arm. Bruised ego. Cuddling with a fifth of Jack and some codeine.

I imagine that’s how the Wings felt last night when they took the ice. Sure, these guys are professionals, but even the most seasoned vet can’t be expected to come flying out of the gate at top speed after not being in the saddle for almost a week. It takes time to ease back into the game, just like it takes time to get familiar with that bicycle when you jump back on it for the first time in five years. Unfortunately for the Wings, time was not a luxury afforded to them by a feisty Phoenix Coyotes team, who jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period and hung on for the 4-2 win.

Look: I know you are waiting for me to dog on Chris Osgood’s performance, and I promise you, we’ll get to that. But first, let’s take a second and find Jesus together. Osgood or not, the Wings played largely like crap throughout the entire contest, relying on sheer talent to muster up a pair of goals to make things interesting. Guys looked slow and uncoordinated, making careless passes and turning the puck over with alarming frequency in their own end of the ice all night long. I thought Brad Stuart looked downright awful, getting beaten regularly while looking extremely fatigued for a guy coming off of 972 days of rest. Niklas Kronwall also looked like a bag of dog shit, putting the cherry on his poop pie by coughing up the puck at the blue line with under a minute to go, allowing Laurie Korpikosksoksjijdfski to drive home the empty net coffin nail (although, I’m not sure Osgood would have stopped it anyway.) The lack of energy “off the hop” killed the Wings and they just didn’t have enough in the tank to dig themselves out of a gaping first period hole.

Now to everyone’s favorite part of the show: Chris Osgood. Three goals in the first period, with at least one of them being ridiculously soft? What is “The Chris Osgood Memorial Start,” Alex.

Absofuckinlutely.

I’m just not sure what to say about this guy anymore. I want to believe in him. I root for him to succeed and I want to see him come in and do well, but there’s a reason why when I sit down on my couch halfway through the first period and he’s in net, I fully expect to see Gamecenter welcome me with a deficit (usually larger than two.) I don’t get how one guy can be that bad over the span of 20 minutes, and then go lights out for the next 40. Sure, Jakub Kindl’s triple lutz of FAIL while trying to stay with Vrbata ultimately led to the first Phoenix tally, but the other two were just plain BAD. The Yandle power play goal saw Ozzie get caught on his knees and get picked over the high shoulder, while the eventual game winner was a freakin shorthanded shot from 20+ feet away that Ozzie just watched sail by him. Seriously, it was like watching someone let the air out of an overinflated balloon, fart noises and everything. To be fair though, Ozzie did make some excellent saves in the second and third periods, so we can’t pin this one entirely on him. Notice I said entirely…

This is what happens when teams take long breaks, especially teams that are working on building chemistry, timing and all of the other X factors that go into being a successful hockey club. Practice only affords these guys so much in terms of playing together, with the real chemistry developing when the other team is pinning them into the boards or chasing them down the ice. Those intangibles will come, and I have the feeling they will come rather quickly now that the endless layoffs between games are finally over with. The Wings are still a very good hockey team and have plenty they want to accomplish this season.

They just gotta hop back on that bike and keep pedaling.

LOSS CANDY

In honor of the show I’ve been watching on DVR for the last two nights, tonight’s loss candy comes to you courtesy of ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7, whose cast was recently at the Joe taking in a Wings game.

Motown. TV. Good looking people with guns. Sounds like the perfect recipe for some sweet candy.

For the gents…

It’s all about the incredible and lovely Erin Cummings, also known as Dr. Abbey Ward on the show. Deceivingly good looking, Miss Cummings (leftover “porn name” entry, anyone?) portrays the medical examiner for Detroit’s finest, yet sadly, she doesn’t receive nearly enough air time. ABC: please remedy this yesterday.

And for the ladies…

How about the rugged and handsome D.J. Cotrona, who plays Detective John Stone on the show. A former narc cop, Stone is now working his way up the ladder of the homicide department, all while looking dashingly handsome yet totally sweaty at the same time.

Editor’s note: Totally unrelated, but I’ve talked with Petrella and Disch and we’ve decided to bring back all of the stat charts from last year that used to live over at Motown Wings. Obviously, we’ll leave the CSSI to J.J., but the line production numbers should be up and running sometime later today.

Devastating Loss Candy: Timely Edition

Kind of like this.

In the sixteen or so months since we launched The Production Line, we’ve learned a handful of things: offer the audience something different… spell important names, like Lidstrom and Ilitch, correctly to be even a touch respectable… and the last thing you want to read the morning after an ass-whooping is a 74th recap, describing what a dumpster fire looks like.

Following that train of thought, it’s time to break out a classic TPL coping mechanism. The first loss stung, but it didn’t HURT the way that the Stars jailsexing did. That was a thorough dismantling, and we all need something happy to help wash the salt out of the open wounds. And with that, I’d like to present the 2010-11 season’s first Loss Candy — and, like many things here, there’s a quasi-theme. Both of these stunners are in the news this week — for very different reasons.

EXHIBIT A :: Jenn Sterger

The unbelievably gorgeous 26-year-old (Jesus Christ, we’re old) has found the spotlight on her this week for a reason other than those magnificent sweater puppies. Once-American hero Brett Favre seems guilty of sending creepy ass voicemails and picture-camera shots of his junk to this young lady, who (I assume) is sweet as pie, makes a mean lasagna, and enjoys monster truck rallies. If she needs somewhere to lay low until the heat (and chodes) blow over, we’ve got an extra set of keys to TPLand in the drawer.

EXHIBIT B :: Tom Hardy

On the complete opposite end of the “How Are You Measuring Up This Week” scale sits the English actor. Stealing scenes in this summer’s mindfucker Inception paid off, as director Christopher Nolan has cast Hardy in “a lead role,” presumably as a villain, in the third installment of the Batman series — which means he’s probably set for life, and hopefully it lasts longer than the departed Heath Ledger.

There you have it. If these two can’t make it all better, I’m not sure anything will. If you have suggestions for future Loss Candies (that is, assuming the Red Wings lose again) — feel free to drop them in the comments or send us an e-mail.