Sunday, January 18, 2009

Teetering On the Edge...

Okay. I'm pissed, I'm jacked on adrenaline, and I'm ready to write. I don't have any idea if I will regret this post in the future but I can tell you it will take every ounce of energy in me not to use profanity or break something in my closest vicinity.

I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, except my chant is: "It's only a loss in January. It's only a loss in January. It's only a loss in January." Because that is what tonight's 6-5 loss to San Jose was. A loss in January. The playoffs start in April and the big show starts around June. So, I shouldn't be this upset, right?

Wrong. The Sharks and Red Wings were separated by a single point coming into this game; winner takes over first place in the league. Sorry Bruins fans, but after the game I just watched tonight, there's not a single doubt in my mind that Boston would be outmatched in every category if they made it to the Finals and had to face either of these teams.

Back to the game. It was a battle. Back and forth, goal after goal. Feuds broke out, cheap shots were thrown, and hearts were pumping. This game felt like a playoff game.

At 4-4 in the third, the Sharks took advantage of a couple defensive lapses and had two breakaway opportunities on Osgood. They scored on both, and the crowd was rocking in the HP Pavilion Center. The Wings struck back in the last couple minutes and almost put the tying goal in...but couldn't do it. Game over, and the Sharks celebrated like they just won the Cup. *Cough* Pathetic *Cough*.

Now for my assessment of the Wings tonight: the offense was great and the defense was sub-par. Osgood managed to take most of the heat on Red Wings' message boards after allowing four goals through two periods but in reality, those first four weren't his fault. Those last two definitely were. Sure, they were breakaways, but both scorers didn't even try a fancy move. They just shot the puck. And Ozzie didn't even come close on either one.

I will be the first to acknowledge that there's a goalie controversy in Detroit because ever since I've followed the team, there's always been a goalie controversy in Detroit. But, with that being said, I must tread carefully because Ozzie has helped the Red Wings to two Stanley Cup championships. So first, thank you Chris Osgood. You have been great to the organization and you are a wonderful human being. But the difference between your playoff run last year and the 2008-2009 regular season is staggering.

You suck, to put it kindly. It was funny when you were posting the worst goalie stats in the league and still finding ways to win; I even mentioned how ridiculous it was in a post a while ago. But it's not cute anymore. Your .883 save percentage is last in the league and your 3.23 goals against average is only ahead of three goalies (two of which are the starters for the Islanders and Thrashers, who are both dead last in the NHL standings). I wish I could just hope for the best and pray for the 2008-playoffs-Osgood to emerge from a pile of pucks like a phoenix from the ashes. But I can't. Now is the time for me to start pushing for Ty Conklin as the starting goalie for the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.

Conklin's .922 save percentage is ninth in the league; his 2.21 goals against average is sixth and his five shutouts are only one behind the league leader. This is like the 2007-2008 season all over again, except Chris Osgood is playing the role of the struggling and aging Dominik Hasek (a little too well, I might add) and Ty Conklin is playing the role of the not-as-old-as-I-look, resurgent Chris Osgood from a year ago. The statistics don't lie; the torch needs to be passed.

Don't get me wrong: this is not solely about Ozzie's performance against the Sharks tonight. He played admirably for a while; he made 35 saves and kept the Wings in it for a couple periods. But he dropped the ball in the third and he continues to let in more and more goals with each passing game. The defense deserves some of the blame, surely, but a goalie cannot expect to consistently give up three or more goals and come out with a victory, especially in the playoffs.

I'm sick of it. I'm sorry that Osgood isn't having the year he wanted or expected to, but the bottom line is about winning. I love Osgood's history with the Wings and I know he played a major factor in their 1998 and 2008 Cup championships, but I want the Red Wings to succeed more than I want Chris Osgood to be their starting goaltender.

There. That's my rant about goaltending. It's definitely premature and in a month, I might regret all of it. But right now, I'm 100% fed up with the lack of respect for Conklin and the trust that Ozzie will get it together by playoff time. It's just hard for me to believe that right now.

As for the Red Wings and Sharks, they have both held home ice in their three meetings this season, and the final meeting is in Detroit on February 25th. These two teams are absolutely starting to hate each other and I expect the game in February to be another war on ice. I pray that someone on the Wings looks back at the game tape and sees the cheap shot that Joe Thornton laid on Franzen tonight, which sent Franzen out for the crucial third period and the rest of the game. A nice, concussion-causing hit right to Big Joe's pea-sized brain would please me greatly. Thornton is an overrated brute and he is an utter disgrace to the number 19. So, I want to see somebody drop a shoulder and lay him out like a ton of bricks come February.

But I need to go to bed. My heart rate is back to normal and I'm feeling worse about my violent wishes on Thornton and insults to Osgood by the minute; so it's best I sleep on this compassion and let the rage stay on the page. Goodnight.

1 comment:

Jake O'Donnell said...

Sorry Bruins fans, but after the game I just watched tonight, there's not a single doubt in my mind that Boston would be outmatched in every category if they made it to the Finals and had to face either of these teams.

As you can expect, Cam, I can't let you get away with this. I can tell you one category where the Bruins should as hell wouldn't be outmatched in the Finals against either of these teams, and it might be the most important of all: GOALTENDING! The B's two-headed monster has a 2.03 GAA and .933 SV % on the year. Since Nabokov always folds like a lawn chair in the playoffs, and since the Red Wings have only had one consistent stretch of good goaltending all season (when Osgood was hurt and Conklin was on fire), I'd take my chance with whoever the Bruins might throw out there come playoff time.

What amazes me is how you can go on a rant about how bad Osgood's been, not to mention after a game where 11 goals were scored, and make such a claim about the Bruins being "overmatched in every category" when YOU KNOW how good the B's goaltending has been this year. You're better than that!