Monday, April 13, 2009

Men of Evil, Goats with Wings and Pre-Playoff Excitement

A light night for sports in the newsroom here...we're leading with women's lacrosse for the third issue in a row. Wow, that just screams news. If a college female lacrosse game between the New Hampshire Wildcats and the LeMoyne Dolphins (WHO?) isn't an irresistible story, I don't know what is. That's the joy of covering sports in the spring when your school doesn't have a baseball team, I suppose.

Anyway, I've decided to use some of my time to finish the post I started a week ago: the ghosts that have haunted many Detroit Red Wings' postseasons past. I have both sides of the bench covered too, from the team's memory-melting enemies to the team's self-inflicted cancers. Cooperating with my cyberfriends (no homo?) at The Triple Deke, I have a goalie, two defensemen, two wings, and a center for each, so be sure to check over there before the playoffs start on Wednesday for their own choices.

The All-Nemesis Team:
G - J.S. Giguere '03

There's really no one else who can fill this spot. I refuse to fill it with Patrick Roy because a) I hate him, b) the Wings once scored nine goals on him and c) he reeeally didn't steal any whole series from the Wings like this Lucky Duck did. The Wings have been swept only six times since 1950, and the 2002-03 loss to Anaheim was one of them. Giguere was the reason. The only reason, really. I was so tempted to put "Marc-Andre Fluery '08 (Game 5 only)" in this spot just because of how personally violated I felt after leaving the Joe at 1 a.m. that night and having to fly home out $800 bucks without seeing the Wings hoist the Cup. But they won two nights later...sooo that takes some of the sting away. Giguere takes it.

D - Scott Stevens '95

I've never liked him. I think he's a dirty player who threw his arms up and got away with a bunch of calls. But to make this list, he had to hurt the Wings in the playoffs. Try 1995 on for size. The Wings should have won five straight cups from '95-'99 in my opinion, but this hit turned everything around and knocked off any momentum the heavily favored Wings had at the time. Damn. It didn't matter that much because I became an obsessed fan during that playoff run, but it hurts a little in retrospect.

D - Chris Pronger '06, '07

Sasquatch: the affectionate name many of us A2Y fans have come to love calling Pronger. He gets that title for a reason. He has no brain, he's an overall asshole and he just skates around trying to cheap shot anyone he can. The only problem: he's a menace to the Wings. While his Ducks have been losing feathers for the past couple years, his year as an Oiler when he upset the top-seeded Wings was painful and the following year as a Duck when the Wings went down in the West Finals was heartbreaking. So, hate him or loathe him, he makes the list.

RW - Claude Lemieux '95, '96

It's not possible to make an all-nemesis list without this "human being." I put that in quotes because I question how any person could commit the offenses he has and still be considered "human." He's a menace to society and a menace to hockey. And while that's certainly an exaggeration, he was at least a menace to the Wings. I hate him more than any player ever, if you remember my post from a year ago, and he was a key part in the 1995 and 1996 playoff heartbreaks to the Devils and Avs. Some of it might be forgotten if the Wings play the Sharks and Kronner drops the gray-haired Lemieux for a career-ending concussion, but his hit on Draper will never be forgiven.

LW - Adam Deadmarsh '96, '99, '00, '01

The name just sends shivers down my spine. Deadmarsh. He scored so many timely goals while he was on the Avalanche and then again when he was traded to the Kings and they upset the Wings in the first round in 2001. The worst part: he's not even that good! The guy sucks most of the year, is an average ice-eater in the playoffs against any random team but somehow buries Detroit whenever he sees that winged wheel. Annoying.

C - Peter Forsberg '96, '99, '00

Forsberg...ohh Forsberg. For a period, there was no one more talented in the league. He could score at will against the Wings, and certainly against Osgood. I don't know what it was, but Forberg could beat Ozzie with a blindfold and without a stick. I was never more scared of any player than I was of Forsberg in the late '90s and early '00s. He was just that good. That is...until the injury bug finally got to him. I guess the lockout was good for something.

The All-Goat Team
G - Manny Legace '06

While Manny gets too much blame for the team loss against the Oilers in the first round of '06, he was not ready to be the starting playoff goalie for the Detroit Red Wings. He just wasn't. The team played badly and Dwayne Roloson was incredible, but I honestly think the team would have won with someone else in net. His mental demons got a hold of him and screwed the Wings for the series. I will say that Osgood in 1996 and 2001 was an honorable mention for this spot, but he'll be our playoff goalie this year and I can't be giving off any negative vibes right before the postseason.

D - Andreas Lilja '07

You might notice that the picture above doesn't have Lilja in it. It shows Lebda and a sprawled Hasek next to Teemu Selanne right after his overtime goal sent the Ducks to a 3-2 series lead back to Anaheim in the '07 Western Conference Finals. But the whole play only happened because Lilja gave the puck away. Right to Selanne. I've never seen anything worse in the playoffs from a Wings defenseman, save the time when Paul Coffey scored on his own net in the '96 West Finals. And as good as Lilja has been this year, I can't take him out of this spot.

D - Mathieu Schneider '03

Not much reason behind this pick. I'm bitter that he left the Wings because I liked him, especially for the damn Ducks, and I'm able to justify his place here because of his invisibility in the '03 playoffs. I was so pumped that year. He was a great pickup at the trade deadline, but then was a -4, had zero points and took three penalties in the Ducks' sweep of the Wings. I'm really stretching the stats to fit my argument there, since no Wing had a good series that year, but Schnieder certainly didn't help.

RW - Todd Bertuzzi '07

The 'Tuz is the sole black mark on Kenny Holland's nearly perfect GM resume. I hate him for that. The Wings picked him up and lost Shawn Matthias to get him at the deadline from Florida. Matthias hasn't done anything of note yet, but he's a great prospect lost nonetheless. And after playing less than five regular season games, Bertuzzi did nothing in the playoffs and then jumped ship to those damned Ducks right after the West Finals loss. As Yoda would say, "A disgrace to the logo, he is."

LW - Shawn Burr '95

Wow I'm stretching this. There just aren't that many ex-Wings or Wings that I dislike. There are some (look above), but not that many. So, simply because Shawn Burr was a bust as the Wings' first round pick in 1984 at seventh overall and did nothing in their Stanley Cup Finals loss to the Devils (did he even play?), he gets a place on the All-Goat team. I almost put Mikael Samuelsson right here because he ceaselessly misses the net and rarely scores, but again, he's on the current roster and I'm a bit of a pansy so I don't want to root against him right before playoff time.

C - Jason Williams '06

I couldn't really come up with anything here. Williams came to mind because he never did very much with the Wings and he's been great everywhere else. He didn't get as much playing time as he could have someplace else because the Wings were just too good, so he might not be really worthy of this spot. He is a current Blue Jacket though, so I will be heavily rooting for his demise soon anyway. Fedorov in '03 was another possibility, but I like Fed too much to put him anywhere on an All-Goat list. I still miss him.

Alright, I'm done. I should probably actually get some work done for the paper. Tomorrow is the big playoff preview; stay tuned. Playoff hockey is only days away...

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