Saturday, May 30, 2009


En-cour-age. transitive verb. meaning to inspire with courage, spirit or hope. Straight from Merriam-Webster.

I've got a lot of thoughts after game one's 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh, and all of them are just what I said above: encouraging. The speed, the toughness, the physicality. The Wings and Pens both brought it tonight, but the Wings came out on top in relatively convincing fashion.

I may have picked the Wings in five, but that doesn't mean I think it'll be a walk for Detroit. I thought all of those five games (including tonight) would be tough as nails and come down to the last minute. Tonight's game wasn't exactly like that, but it wasn't close to being out of hand either. The Penguins are a great team, but like I thought, Detroit is just that much better. I expect more of the same in the next week.

A few notes specific to tonight's victory:
  • The Pittsburgh defensemen played slower than Kenny G at a senior center. I watched Helm, Hossa and Franzen (heck, even Maltby!) fly by the standing statues that were dressed in Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi jerseys. I nodded and agreed with Buccigross as I read his note about Hossa and Franzen creating horrendous match-up problems for Pittsburgh, but I never considered how right he was. Those defensemen need to start eating their Wheaties or something, because if they keep skating like they did tonight, they are going to be in huuge trouble.
  • This entire season, I've wondered to myself: does Kirk Maltby have anything left in the tank? Is there any reason whatsoever to keep him on the team, other than the obvious experience and leadership role he plays? Tonight, I got my answer. A definitive yes. He was awesome tonight. I haven't seen him skating around like a madman since the late '90s. His line with Leino and Abdelkader (and sometimes the rotating Helm) was unbelievable. They got more minutes than anyone expected, but they completely earned it. The "Staalshank Redemption" line had no answer for the Wings fourth unit. Very pleased with that.
  • Abbadabbadooooooooo! I love Helm so much more, but I've been waiting to see this kid perform and he came through tonight. Big game. Great for him. I look forward to seeing some more Abdelkader on the ice in this series.
  • The Penguins can complain all they want about Detroit's first two "fluky" goals (and I'm sure they will), but they were both created by hard work and Pittsburgh turnovers. So, suck it Pens fans, those were legit. Get your goalie to start playing in position.
  • Hossa was left off the scoresheet, but it's worth noting that he was showing all-out effort a lot tonight. Diving to get pucks, playing strong defensively and churning those legs past Penguins left and right. Hossa is a beast, and he'll show these Penguins why they should regret losing him.
That's about all I got. The Wings looked good. And with the second game tomorrow, I think they can keep the momentum and turn it into a two-zip lead. At least, that's what I'm pulling for. See ya tomorrow. Go Wings.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Here we are again. The Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. I don't think it's any coincidence that every season the Red Wings have played since I started this blog has led them to the Finals. I'm two-for-two, baby. Looks like if I keep this up, we could see the Red Wings pass the Canadiens' mark for most cups as early as 2022. I won't let you down, Wings fans.

Anyway, so this is supposed to be a preview. I'm on top of it. I can't come up with a preview that has the type of hilarity and awesomeness that you'll find at The Triple Deke, but I'll do my best to break down the hockey aspect of things as I see it.

Stanley Cup Finals

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins

Whew. At the beginning of this year's playoffs, I can say I totally expected Detroit to be here, and I kind of expected the Penguins to be here. I thought the Bruins and Penguins series would go seven games, but it turns out Carolina has a hockey team that plays well every once in a while. Here's something to cheer you up though, Bruins fans: the Sharks still lost in the first round, and they were supposedly the best team in hockey! God I love the playoff version of Evgeni Nabokov. He never disappoints.

I keep getting sidetracked, but I swear I'm getting to the real intriguing aspects of the series. Crosby vs. Zetterberg. Malkin vs. Datsyuk (I hope). Lidstrom's constant domination and Kronwall's crushing hits. The Nightmare on Helm Street (coincidentally the best nickname ever). French names like Maxime, Marc-Andre, Philippe and Mathieu pitted against foreign awesome ones like Valtteri, Pavel, Johan, and Ville. The Hossa situation. The "young guns" against the "old men," part two. Shitsburgh vs. Detoilet. It's all on the line. This is the best of playoff hockey.

Many comparisons are being made by the pundits between these Penguins and the Gretzky-Messier Oilers from the early 1980s. I think that besides the fact that those Oilers played the Islanders two Stanley Cup Finals in a row and these Penguins are playing the Red Wings two Stanley Cup Finals in a row, there is no comparison. These Penguins finished fourth in the conference this year and didn't quite reach 100 points, while those Oilers finished 32 points ahead of everyone and had an astounding 119 points in an 80 game season in 1983-84. These Penguins have a lot of question marks, despite two straight Cup Finals, and those Oilers went on to win five Cups in seven years. I'll drink battery acid if Pittsburgh can match that feat by 2016. Just because it was Gretzky-Messier and now it's Crosby-Malkin, doesn't mean there are real similarities. Put it to bed. These Red Wings match-up much more closely with those Oilers, despite their "old age."

I learned the only thing I need to know about this series today. Lidstrom is a go for game one. Alrighty then. If he's good for game one, he'll be good for the series. Done deal. And that is a huge problem for the Penguins. Lidstrom and Zetterberg will shut down (and I mean shut down) Crosby and Malkin to a point where they're dangerous but under control. As Buccigross wrote in his column today, Hossa and Franzen will create serious match-up problems with the Penguins' defensive corps. Draper is expected back later in the series, so his faceoff fortitude will again come into play in the most important games. Fleury has been great, but has shown weakness (see the Flyers series). Osgood has been even better than he was last year. The Wings haven't really needed their top scorers because their depth has been so good. These Penguins are hot, but the fact still remains that for most of the season, they were a mediocre club without much confidence.

These Wings won't face that same midseason Pittsburgh team, but they can relegate them to that status once more. I see these Red Wings playing with the hunger I didn't see in the regular season. I see these Red Wings playing with the heart that I didn't see in the regular season. Marian Hossa cannot and will not lose this series. If he does, he'll never live it down. But he knows that. And he won't let that happen. He might not be the guy the Wings need most to step up this series, but step up he will. I can guarantee you that.

The Penguins won't be as jittery as they were in games one and two of last year's Finals, where they didn't score as much as a single goal, but they'll still lose them both. And Detroit will, once again, take one of two hard-fought games in Pittsburgh. Only this time, they won't lose at home in game five. All games will be close, all games will be physical. But I see Detroit as the vastly superior team. Detroit in five.

I had to get this post done now, since the first two games will be over in the blink of an eye. I'm pissed at the league and NBC for letting this happen, but it doesn't help complaining about it. Just read Mitch Albom's column and you'll be up to speed. Go Wings!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Done deal. Bring on the rematch.

So, my new apartment in Gloucester, Mass. that I'm living in while I complete my summer internship has neither cable nor internet. Thus, this post is a bit delayed from what it would have been had I been able to post last night.

But, as you can see, all is well in Red Wing land. I watched from a nearby bar and received many awkward looks when the Red Wings scored and I jumped from my seat with a loud cheer of excitement. I didn't care; the Wings are back in the Finals! With an overtime goal by HELM no less! God, I just love that guy. He never disappoints.

The game itself was great. Somehow, Cristobal Huet actually looked like a real goalie in regulation (especially on that unbelievable pad/skate save on Franzen with 22 seconds left) and Osgood was phenomenal once again; I'm growing more and more confident in him with each passing game. The Wings could have won in regulation, but that damned Patrick Kane had to make something happen with that ridiculous backhand shot over Ozzie's shoulder for a goal to tie it. I was slightly worried at that point, but I was very happy to see the Wings pull it out. A game six in Chicago would not have been too ideal, even if it eventually meant more rest for the Wings.

And on that note, why did the NHL all of a sudden move up the Finals to start this Saturday? AND have game two the very next day on Sunday?! I don't understand that at all, especially since they originally said the Finals would start on June 5th. It makes me angry only because I know the Wings will need both Datsyuk and Lidstrom (and Draper too, hopefully) back and healthy to win another tough series against their best opponent to date. Don't get me wrong; I'm not scared of the Penguins, but I know they present a strong challenge if we don't have Captain Lidstrom to shut down Crosby and/or Malkin. I think it will definitely be a tougher series this year. The Pens won't be scared or jittery in games one and two like they were last year, that's for sure.

I need to actually write some real work, (which you can find at the Gloucester Daily Times), before the day starts to get hectic, but I'll use some more time where I should be working tomorrow to write a more in-depth Cup Finals preview and prediction. See you then. Go Wings!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Looking for a one-word description for today's 6-1 victory against Chicago in game four of the Conference Finals? Here's mine:


Let's get this straight. The Wings were playing on the road without the best defenseman in the league and their Hart Trophy candidate, and they still beat the Blackhawks 6-1? Unbelievable. There's no way I saw that coming.

Detroit killed them. They ate them for breakfast. They verbed the adjective noun and they metaphored like a simile. That game was like a wonderful version of hockey mad libs. The Wings scored early and often, while the 'Hawks lost all composure and took idiotic penalties. And yes, they were penalties, no matter what Joel Quenneville had to say afterward.

His take on the roughing penalty to Matt Walker at the end of the first period that led to Valtteri Filppula's goal and the Wings' 3-0 lead...

"I think we witnessed probably the worst call in the history of sports there," Quenneville said.

"You know, they scored, it's 3-0. They ruined a good hockey game and absolutely destroyed what was going on on the ice," he said. "It was a call that could. ... never seen anything like it."

Yeah Joel, it was the worst call in the history of sports. I didn't even see the penalty you're talking about (because it didn't even merit a replay on NBC), but I know you're an idiot for saying that. How could a two-minute penalty when your team is already down 2-0 ruin the game? Oh, you've never seen anything like it? How about in game three, when a different player in red was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for an entirely clean hit? Sound familiar? Yeah. Shut up Joel Quenneville, you're just being...


Simply put, the 'Hawks are done. They tried real hard and all, but they're going down fast. Cristobal Huet can't stop a beach ball, let alone a small rubber disc. Everyone on the team, except Jonathan Toews who actually played well and acted like a captain should, lost their cool and tried to cheap shot the Wings on multiple occasions. Kris Versteeg took a roughing penalty, got out of the box and immediately took another roughing penalty. Ben Eager came back from a ten-minute misconduct in the third only to be kicked out of the game immediately afterward when he decided to run a Red Wing player like a crazed bull.

The Red Wings pulled their starter just so he could rest. They played Brett Lebda on the power play. They couldn't have tried harder to throw this game away. I've seen my share of blowouts in hockey, but I don't think I've ever seen one get so out of hand in the playoffs -- and I saw the Red Wings beat Colorado 7-0 seven years ago. The Blackhawks didn't mount so much as a single charge in the third and virtually boarded the flight to Detroit for game five during the second intermission. Shocking but yet so...


I couldn't help but laugh. I was a little worried about possible injuries because most of the 'Hawks were playing such reckless hockey, but it turned out alright. As TTD accurately predicted, Hossa came up huge. Ozzie was solid in net for his two periods, Zetterberg was a menace and the whole defense stepped up. The Wings play again on Wednesday at home and try to rap up the series in five quick games. My guess: Lidstrom and Datsyuk both miss game five and the Wings still win. Hell, maybe Hossa, Zetterberg, Rafalski, Holmstrom, Filppula, Cleary, Samuelsson, Leino, Stuart, Kronwall, Ericsson, Osgood, and Conklin all come down with day-to-day injuries too. I still think a line of Abdelkader, Helm, and Maltby with Leather Cheli and Lebda on D would beat these 'Hawks without any reserves. And I find that...


See you Wednesday. Go Wings.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Change of Pace

Pregame thoughts: Game three is a big game, but I know that I can't get my hopes up too high because if the Wings do lose this game, they're still up 2-1 in the series. Breathe; relax; it's not the end of the world.

Oh, who am I kidding? I live and die with the Wings; every game, every period, every minute, every shift. Let's go boys.

First period thoughts: Unbelievable. 11 minutes of powerplay time for the 'Hawks, five of which went to Kronwall for a major interference penalty. That hit was brutal, but it was completely legal. The puck was there, and it's not Kronwall's fault that Havlat is too stupid to not pick it up between his skates.

The hit was amazing, it was legal, and it took away five minutes of time where Detroit could have tried to build some momentum heading into the second. The officials continue their shocking lack of consistency and idiotic penalty calls. The first Chicago goal happened on a powerplay (high sticking on Cleary that couldn't be avoided) and the second was a softie -- Ozzie's fault. He should've stopped that one, but only being down 2-0 after that mockery of a period is good, I suppose. I cannot believe how badly the refs blew that period. They gave the Wings absolutely no chance. Ugh. Must move on.

First intermission: Game misconduct? Really NHL? What. The. Sasquatch. That is complete bull. The hit was LEGAL. The announcers said so and everyone on the ice knows it. Here's some quotes for ya:

Brian Engblom: "I don't know why they kicked Kronwall out of the game. I hate seeing those hits too, but he should not have been kicked out of the game."

Keith Jones: "The call was excessive; that should not have been a five-minute major."

Ed Olczyk (the Blackhawks home announcer): "I think it was a violent hit, but I don't see a penalty on that hit."

What a joke this league is. Kronwall getting kicked out for that hit is the worst thing I've seen in this year's playoffs. If they lose this game in a close one, I'm gonna flip. Now, Detroit is going to have tired and fatigued defensemen by the end. Ugh.

Second period thoughts: No, no no no no no no no. 3-0 'Hawks. Damn deflection.

Ugh, now the refs are trying to make up for their incompetence with some "make-up" calls against Chicago (even though they're real penalties). It hasn't helped yet. Without Kronner, this game is in serious jeopardy. Now, the second powerplay unit defense has Lebda and Samuelsson on the point. Shoot me. The Kronwall ejection changes everything. It doesnt help that every bounce is going Chicago's way, especially in front of the net.

Unbelievable turn of events. Couple deflections and perseverance in front of Khabibulin, and all of sudden this bitch is tied. 3-3. Wow. Way to go Detroit. Silences the crowd and the Wings have every bit of momentum. Suck on that Chicago. If the Wings win this game, Chicago should just stop trying and quit the league. Still a whole period to go, but as long as the Wings keep playing like this, I'm confident.

Possible post titles: "I thought the Great Chicago Fire was in 1871? Gotta love a sequel." "Green Day has a new album? Nah, the REAL 21st Century Breakdown happens in Chicago."

Oh, and if the Wings win it'll be without their Hart Trophy candidate and while skating five defensemen. Awesome.

Third period thoughts: Whoa. Huet is in, Khabibulin is out. Ridiculous choice. How do you possibly make the decision to switch goalies in the most important game of the season when your team desperately needs to regroup? It takes serious balls to sit your starting goaltender and completely demolish any confidence he had. Crazy idiocy.

Ah, well apparently there's something wrong with Khabibulin because rookie backup Corey Crawford is on the bench. Even if it isn't Quenneville's fault, Chicago now has a goalie in net that hasn't played in a month in the third period of the most important game of their season. TAKE THIS WINGS!

The 'Hawks are playing tight. They're throwing hits, big ones at that, but the Wings have what teams call "poise," so they don't overreact. They keep playing their game. Good things coming, I can feel it.

Ugh, period ends tied. OT, here we come.

Overtime thoughts: Bullshit. Lucky bounce, lucky goal. Chicago has nothing. I'm not even that upset right now, to be honest. I mean yes, I'm angry, but I'm not throwing anything, pacing around seething or scaring the dog. Cody's half-asleep on the floor. There's no way that'd be true if I was really angry about this loss. Hell, the TV IS STILL ON. If I was pissed, it might be broken. Considering the situation (my absolute favorite team just lost a playoff overtime game), I'm calm.

What this game told me: Chicago is a complete fluke. They played a good period in the first, but who wouldn't when you get 11 minutes of powerplay time? I mean seriously, the last-place Islanders could have been up 3-0 on Detroit under those retarded circumstances. Then, they collapsed like a team of rookies and blew the lead at home. So what if they scored yet another opportunistic goal in overtime? They barely beat the Wings, who were playing without their best player (Datsyuk) and one of their top-four defesemen (Kronwall).

Last take: Game four will be a bloodbath, but the Wings will win and take a 3-1 series lead back home. I'm optimistic about that. Oh, if Kronwall is suspended, I'm going to demand Gary Bettman be replaced. That would be the ultimate injustice in a playoffs that has already seen way too much of it. Let's go Wings. See you Sunday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shock and Awe

Somebody pinch me, poke me or do anything that would tell me this is real. The Red Wings, who've lost 16 of 23 playoff overtime games this decade (thanks TTD), won in overtime?! On a goal by Mikael Samuelsson?!?! I'd never believe it if somebody told me, but I saw it with my own eyes. It happened, and it. Was. Awesome.

Sammy is such a schizophrenic player. In a single game, I move from hair-pulling and cursing to fist pumping and loving entirely at his expense. This game was no exception. His lazy turnaround soft toss to Brian Campbell at the point in the first period that led to the 'Hawks first goal was awful. I hated him. His finishing touch on a bouncing puck on the Wings' 3-on-1 break that ended the game was beautiful. I loved him.

At the start of these playoffs, I was preparing my goodbyes to Sammy because I was sure he'd be leaving at the end of the postseason as one of Detroit's many unrestricted free agents. Now, I'm not so sure. He has five goals, three assists and sports a nice +5 rating. Obviously the magnificent Hossa is the top priority, but has Samuelsson now become more important than Hudler? I'm not prepared to answer that right now. Crazy how things turn in 13 games.

Overall, that game was more stressful than the first. Some of the ridiculous confidence I exuded after game one has died down, but it would have been completely depleted had the Wings just lost another game two OT thriller. Clearly, Honest Abe Toews and his baby sidekick Kane stepped up their play. But then again, so did Osgood.

Ozzie was amazing. He shouldn't have to make 35 saves in regulation because the Wings will usually bail him out with more goals, but he was great. I don't know where the Wings would be if they listened to me and threw Conklin in there from day one. Ozzie has proved everyone wrong, especially me, and been everything and more that the Wings need him to be. I'm impressed.

I'm going a little insane with Datsyuk still scoreless, especially since he is playing well in every other aspect, but he'll get one sooner or later. As long as he's winning faceoffs, forcing turnovers, dishing out hits, and making plays, I'm happy. Cleary was great again and the secondary scoring continues. I keep waiting for Dats, Hoss and Z to dominate a game with goals of their own but it hasn't happened. It will soon.

A couple last things before I move on: what the hell penalty killers?! Can we please go a single freaking game without allowing a powerplay goal? It's been 11 straight games; I'm tired of it. Game three prognostication: no powerplay goals for Chicago. Please. And lastly...I finally heard Samuelsson speak tonight in his postgame interview with Whosie Whatsit from Versus. He sounds kind of like how the Triple Deke makes him sound. I wish I could find the post where TTDSammy mistakenly mixes up Stevie Y and Paul Ysebaert. Hilarious. His real-life voice might have sounded a bit less intelligent tonight because he was yelling a bit, but I'm warming up to him. He could talk like this guy for all I care, and I'd still love him after tonight's heroics.

As for game three, I know the 'Hawks will come out strong and fast in front of their home fans. My hope is that the Wings can get a quick goal past the still-struggling Khabibulin and steal the game. If they do that, they might not even need a return trip to Detroit. If they let up an early one though, we could be going back to the D tied up at two just that fast. Let's pray to Yzerman that doesn't happen.

I always hate two days in between games, but only because I want to watch the Wings play every night. I'm sure both teams could use the rest, but I'll be waiting. One dominating performance in Chicago and this series could be over. See ya Friday. Go Wings.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Note to Chicago: Get used to it!

See that? See that flock of Wings celebrating and the 'Bulin Wall crumbling behind them? Get used to it. You've got three more doses of it comin' real soon.

Neither the Wings nor the Hawks were at their best this afternoon, but Detroit came out on top 5-2. Cleary had himself a ballgame and the usual suspects played strong and sound defensively. Osgood was good when he needed to be and the 'Hawks were only in the game because of a couple opportunistic goals (one of which came on a powerplay that resulted from a complete phantom interference call on Jonathan Ericsson).

It's funny; I never once felt stressed about this game. Sure, it could have been some of the lasting effects of a killer hangover from my last night at college, but I can tell you right now it was nothing like game one against the Ducks. Now that was some stress. The kiddy Hawks? Nah, they don't scare me. I'm more scared of Nashville in the postseason. Why? Oh, I don't know; maybe because the Predators have been to the postseason before. These Hawks have zero experience. Sammy Pahlsson, the 'Bulin Wall and Andrew Ladd are the only players with rings on the team. That's laughable.

I mean yes, this team will be good and might win a Cup, but they're simply a road bump on the Wings' drive to 12. This first game proved that to me.

I must catch myself a little, since I felt great about Detroit and championship banner number 12 after their game one win over Anaheim too, but this is different. Chicago can't win this series. They can try, and try they will; it'll be tougher than it was today, but it won't happen. These Red Wings are more talented at every position.

See you Tuesday. Go Wings.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here We Go Again: the Conference Finals

From a hockey purist's viewpoint, those NHL conference semifinals were amazing. Three of the four series went the distance and the other one was a hard-fought, back and forth six-gamer. I can't honestly say the best teams won because I still think the Bruins are the 1B team to the Red Wings' 1A in the league, but I suppose you could argue the best teams right now are all moving on.

While I don't claim to be some sort of Nostradamus or even the only one who picked a finals rematch, but I did predict a Wings-Pens Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row at the beginning of the season. It looked like a mistake in the middle of the season, but the Penguins' new coach Dan Bylsma has really lifted that team and they look as strong as ever.

I picked three of the final four according to my second round picks (even though I had both the 'Canes and the 'Hawks out in my first round picks), and I am not too surprised with how the series went. The Wings had a long battle with the Ducks and won because they were the better team. The Penguins did the same with the Capitals, but showed a slight chink in their armor when they couldn't close out the series at home in game six. The Blackhawks beat the Canucks and I still don't care, and the Bruins crushed the Hurricanes in three games. Shit, they had to win four? got me. I'm still shocked that the Bruins lost to the 'Canes; I really am. They were better for every second of the three games they won, but fell asleep every once in a while in the four games they lost. Plenty of my friends are heartbroken and disappointed, but the Bruins have a bright future ahead. It's too bad they couldn't make it further in the playoffs, but they'll be back in the next few seasons to come; that I am sure of.

Looking forward, these are two interesting matchups to try and sift through. There are little nuances that make me think they could both go the opposite way that I'm predicting, but in the end I think I'll come out with two correct choices. Let's dive in.

Eastern Conference Finals

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes

The Pens look strong. Marc-Andre Fleury is playing well and has the capacity to steal games, and Crosby and Malkin are two of the game's best scorers. They have depth with Jordan Staal, Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz, and Kris Letang and a solid core of defenders led by Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney. That said, they also have the tendency to give up a lot of goals every once in a while and can be overcome by speed and resiliency. The Hurricanes never say die; they have a very good goalie in Cam Ward (who is 4-0 in game sevens and has never lost a playoff series in his career) and a great mix of talent and veteran guys. Eric Staal is only a small step below the guys like Crosby and Malkin, and Rod Brind'amour wins a ton of faceoffs is a tested playoff guy. I didn't even realize he was still alive this year until I saw his ugly mug on the bench in the Bruins series. Yikes. Anyway, this series could really go either way. I can't believe the Hurricanes won the Cup two years ago, then missed the playoffs two years in a row, and are now in a good position to try and capture another championship, but it's happening so it's hard to count them out now. On the other hand, Pittsburgh has the experience of last year's playoffs and a great young team that will be very hard to slow down. I'm going to go ahead and pick the Pens in a short one, but it could easily be a long series with the Canes coming out on top. Pittsburgh in five.

Western Conference Finals

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (4) Chicago Blackhawks

Well, the NHL certainly did a great job in getting two teams I venomously hate to play the Red Wings back-to-back in the playoffs. Nice work. It helps my blood pressure go off the charts when I'm playing an opponent I can't stand. Last year, that happened in the first two rounds with the Predators and the Avs, but I don't really hate the Stars or Penguins so those rounds weren't as exciting on the hate-scale. Last series though, was absolutely ridiculous. Every game I wanted to see the Ducks die on the ice, especially Sasquatch and Corey Perry. They drive me insane. The same goes for the Hawks, but on a smaller scale. I don't like 'em one bit, and with each game these Chicago fans and Toews and Kane lovers are making me sick. Toews is not pronounced Taves, first of all. I hate that. And he's not the second-coming of Steve Yzerman, like many Chicagoans have said, because that would literally be the second-coming of God and I just don't see an idiotic Blackhawks youngun constituting such incredible rapture. So, knock that off. Stevie Y is the one and only; you'll just have to get used to that.

See what I mean? All this nastiness and I haven't even started in on the actual series yet. I'll get to it, I swear. But first, look at Patrick Kane. He's 11 years old. He shouldn't be in the NHL. His whining antics about hating Detroit sports teams is cute, but his super-cool Power Rangers backpack (the hologram changes when you move it!) and life-supply of fruit snacks and pudding are evidence enough that he's just a kid. I can't wait to see his crying face when the Blackhawks lose; I wonder if he'll use his first swear word if they get swept!

In all seriousness, I hate Nikolai Khabibulin the Blackhawks are a solid young squad. They have offense, defense, goaltending, and special teams. They don't have experience like the Wings do, but I feel like their puppy-like energy and comeback potential will limit the effect of not having any playoff experience. The Red Wings are just really, really freakin' good at everything, and they should win every seven-game series they play. It's that simple right now. They might not win, but they should. And with that as my basic argument, there's no way I can pick a close one. Pavel Datsyuk will do much better this series after struggling against Anaheim's burly defenders, and the rest of the offense will provide enough support to drown the 'Hawks. The only way I see the Blackhawks winning this series is if they rebuild the 'Bulin Wall so that he can handle 40 saves nightly and manage to get a couple goals at the right time each game. They absolutely cannot win a scoring race with Detroit like they did against Vancouver. They will be swept or forced to forfeit if they try that route. But, it doesn't matter; the 'Hawks are the Wings' bitch, and that's not changing in 2009. Detroit in six.

It all starts tomorrow. Go Wings.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Brief sigh of relief

So I watched the first 10 minutes of the first period, and then I went to Third Eye Blind and received updates from friends and family about the game. Chris Moore summed it up perfectly in his comment on my last post: Third Eye Blind was good, not great and certainly not game-seven great. So, I missed out. But from what I hear and read, the Wings won an epic game where the officiating was a joke. Now, they're moving on to face the kiddy 'Hawks in the conference finals. Oh, joy.

I don't anticipate Lil' Gary liking the fact that the Wings made it through to the West finals, but after not suspending Scott Walker and letting him score the series-winner against the B's, he doesn't deserve to be happy. The league's officials are awful and the basis for suspensions are completely inconsistent and terrible this postseason. I've enjoyed watching the playoffs thus far, but the NHL has completely messed up in many areas. I could talk about it more and I certainly would if the Wings had lost, since I was told there were a few non-calls on Pronger and others last night, but my team's still alive so I'm grateful and happy. Movin' on.

The Wings don't get much rest before they play Chicago at home on Sunday afternoon, but I think they'll come out firing. Chicago fans and the Blackhawks players may have wanted this matchup, but they'll soon learn that was a huge mistake.

Back tomorrow with Conference Finals previews and predictions. Way to go Wings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Level-headed and looking to Thursday

I'm awake. I had some nightmares of what I just watched at the bar last night, but I'm up and ready to take them down. I still hate me some Ducks and people in Anaheim, but I'm able to begrudgingly retract the notion that I hope all the players on the team die a slow and miserable death; I suppose that was harsh.

The Wings played sloppy for two periods and let the Ducks score two bogus goals that Osgood really didn't have much chance to stop. Corey Perry should never have been allowed to hang out untouched in front of the net, as he was on goal number two, but Ozzie played alright as far as I could tell. The Wings, on the other hand, didn't. This was a game six, stomp-on-their-throat situation. How in the hell did this happen?

It really is impossible to fathom. A possible series-ender, and the Wings lay an egg. And, to top it off, that team full of goons went after Datsyuk, injured-Rafalski and Hossa (among others) in what had to have been the cheapest, most blatant bullcrap of the entire playoffs. Yay, you won the game. Leave our players alone.

If I keep my head in a good place, I can get over this game and know that the Wings will come through in a game seven at home. They just will; it's in their nature. You have to go back 15 years to find the last game seven loss, and that was at the hands of the Arturs Irbe-led Sharks in 1993-94. They will win this game; I know they will. It's just the possibility of the Ducks coming out on top and taking the series with one fell swoop that keeps me on edge. If that happens, it will be the worst playoff loss in Red Wings history. If that happens, don't expect me to take it like an adult.

And there's one little tidbit I have yet to mention about Thursday night's game: I won't be able to watch it. I already have tickets booked to see Third Eye Blind in concert at Hampton Beach tomorrow night, and I'm completely torn. The last time I had a chance to see Third Eye Blind was on October 27, 2006. Yep, game five of the World Series between the Miracle Tigers and the crappy St. Louis Cardinals. Even though I had originally bought a ticket, I sold it and stayed in my dorm room to watch the game, which the Tigers ultimately lost 4-2 to end the Series and their magical season. I regretted not seeing 3EB in concert, but only because the Tigers lost. Now, I face an eerily similar situation with a team I care much more about. What to do?

I plan to go to the concert because when I didn't go three years ago, my team lost. My hope is that the tables will turn and all of the universe will be right again if I do go to the concert. I'll have somebody text me updates as often as they can, but I think I'm going to have to let this one be decided by the Hockey Gods, who couldn't possibly let a team of goons like the Ducks prevail over the Wings for the second time in three years. That's just absurd. I send my pleas to the Detroit locker room: please don't let this season go to waste. Don't lose this game. Take it from these scumbags and move forward. You. Are. Better. Show them.

Kill me now part two.

I was drunk when I was watching the game at the bar, and I'm drunk now. I hate everyone in Anaheim. I can't deal with a game seven. I hope everyone on the Ducks dies a slow and miserable death. That is all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Helm! I need somebody,
Helm! Not just anybody,
Helm! You know I need someone...Heeeellllmmmm!

I just love that guy. So awesome to see Helmer score (finally!) after all his hard work and 150% effort. And to have the goal be the finishing touch on a game that Anaheim had no business being in was just icing on the cake. What an awesome way to end the game. Huge win. A 3-2 lead and a chance to close out the series and move on to the Conference Finals on Tuesday. I'm lovin' it.

I'm psyched, mostly because I was a little worried that the typical Wings-Ducks playoff crap would happen where Detroit outplays them but can't finish and ends up tied and losing in overtime. I don't like those.

But this wasn't one of those games.

Helm, Hudler and the Wings weren't going to let that happen. This team is just too good, too full of talent. They allowed the Ducks to hang around a bit in the second and third, but as whole, this game was all Detroit. They played exactly how they have to play to win this series.

The line changes were just as good as game four, and I hope they stay the same for game six. That Helm, Hudler and Cleary line is just too good to pass up. As is the unstoppable Franzen, Hossa and Filppula line and the always amazing line of Dats, Z and Homer. The addition of Justin Abdelkader at Kopecky's expense worked out nicely too; I like that ex-Spartan. Amazing how quick my loyalty switches with a simple fashion change. Red looks better on him anyway.

I'm sorry to hear about Kopecky, but I don't really think the team will miss him. Abbadabbadoo and Leino are both better players, both guys I'd rather see on the ice anyway. I think Leino will make an appearance sometime in these playoffs...probably in some sort of rotation with Abbadabba. Sounds awesome to me. Now we just need Raffy back and the pieces will be set. I say sit him for game six; we can finish the Duckies without him, but we'll need him for round three. Give him another few days of rest to get healthy.

Game six is Tuesday. I'm very glad the game doesn't start until 10pm because I'll be gone for most of the night at our annual staff dinner and I kinda want to watch the game. I'll be back with a possible preview and definite recap then.

Last couple weekend notes: the Killers are amazing in concert and casino poker sucks. I already knew the Killers were good from when I saw them last year, but they were just as good last night at the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena. Awesome songs, awesome time. Our time before the concert was not so awesome. The casino's version of Texas Hold 'Em was dumb and expensive; I lost $15 bucks by playing one hand (6-7 unsuited) because it costs five bucks to get cards and 10 more to see the flop. And that was the cheapest table they had! Ridiculous. There's too much smoke there too...not a big fan of holding my breath, having my eyes burn and throat dry up for an hour. I don't know how people stand it in there. Can cigarettes be globally eliminated? I think that'd be pretty good for everyone.

Last but not least...Happy Mother's Day! Love ya Mom.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A sigh of relief.

That was the first time since the Columbus series where the Wings fully took control and dominated from the first drop of the...oh dammit the Ducks already scored. Corey Perry is a whiny pest that I have nothing but contempt for. But no matter: it was after that little mishap when the full-on domination began.

I may not have had an immediate recap or a pregame preview, but that doesn't mean I didn't watch the game. I put off my work entirely when the Wings were on, but didn't get a chance to write about it mostly because the last full issue of TNH was being finished and I was up until 6am for that. I even slept through Spanish accidentally this morning, but I'm up now and ready to write. The Wings are back.

The score was 6-3, the pounding was worse than that. The Ducks looked depleted, even after Perry scored another goal in the 2nd period to tie it at 2-2. They were running out of air, running out of time. They missed their chance to put these Wings to bed.

Franzen, Hossa, Filppula. That line was impeccable. Four goals in two periods. Talk about finding the right chemistry...Babcock's genius never ceases to amaze me.

How the hell did Sammy score that goal?! Whenever any goal like that goes in for Samuelsson, you know the Wings are going to win. He hits glass on just about every one of those. Great top corner snipe.

I was really, really mad after game three. I tried to tell myself that if the Wings could win game four handily, it'd be a better result than if they won game three and lost game four. But that thought never really sunk in until now. The Wings have all the momentum, heading back to the Joe and they've broken Hiller's previously unbreakable aura. It was only a matter of time; I think Hiller's play this postseason has been ridiculously overrated anyway. But I'm excited, I can tell you that. Even strength and power play goals both came at will and the Ducks flopped all over the ice trying to slow us down. Nothing worked. This series is back in our hands; let's not drop it fellas.

I don't have much time to go into further detail, but that's how I'm feelin' about the series now. It could change just that fast with a poorly played game five, but this was a big sigh of relief. Way to go, boys. I'm taking most of the weekend off, but I'll be back Sunday with a little pregame insight and a postgame wrap-up for sure.

Go Wings!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My ears don't lie.

It's over. Fine. I'll deal with it in my own way. But just listen for yourselves.

That puck definitely crossed the line before the whistle blew. It just did; there's no denying it if you watch that video. So why was it ruled dead if the puck went in first? Just because the referee intended to blow it dead and screw the Wings? If that's true, that's the worst explanation I've ever heard. Garbage. Bring on game four, we've got some poultry to roast.

Sleeping on it.

I woke up this morning without the same anger I felt last night. Maybe it was the early wake-up call for a Spanish presentation worth 10 percent of my grade that kicked me into gear, or maybe it was Coach Babs and Captain Nick's cooling words that helped me calm down. Whatever it was, it happened. A turnaround of major proportions.

Here's what Uncle Mike and Liddy had to say:
"We should be playing (overtime) obviously, right now," Babcock said. "Two teams scored twice tonight, but it just didn't work out that way. There's no sense in complaining about the refereeing or anything like that."

"I'm standing up at the blue line and I can see the puck the whole time," Lidstrom said. "I think the referee was in a bad position where he couldn't see the puck. It's unfortunate for us, but that's the way it happened tonight. It's a tough call. That's the way the rule is right now."
They're bigger men than I. There's no way I could handle a post-game press conference like that after such an unjustified ending. But they need to be, especially if they're going to come back and win this series.

That's all I have for today. I'll be back tomorrow with a preview and recap for game four. Get the boys ready Babcock...Thursday's game is a biggie.

Sometimes I literally can't believe what I'm seeing.

What just happened can't possibly have occurred. This apartment is only intact and undamaged because the closest thing to me when the referees made that call in the third period was a pillow. If it was anything else, this place would be in shambles. I threw a tantrum like a little five-year-old, and I had good reason to.

The Ducks "beat" the Wings tonight in game three to take a 2-1 series lead. The call I'm referring to is the play at the end of the third period when Old Man Niedermayer misplayed a dump-in behind his net, Franzen pounced on it and tried a wrap around on Hiller, who had no idea where it was. The puck slid beneath him and into the open crease area, where Hossa then dived out of nowhere and smacked the puck in for what should have been the tying score. But, of course, the NHL hates the Red Wings and can't possibly deal with the fact that they are without a doubt the best team hockey has seen in years, so the referees waived off the goal.

Their reasoning was that the whistle was blown and the play was dead before the puck crossed the line. The replays suggest otherwise. From what creeped into my cerebellum, I definitely heard the whistle blow AFTER Hossa hit the puck in. But why deal with the what ifs? Just go to the war room in Toronto like they have with EVERY SINGLE GOAL SO FAR THIS POSTSEASON. Oh wait, it's the Red Wings? Nah, we'll skip that part. We'll let them lose this game and put their season on edge. No big deal.

I can comprehend a referee blowing his whistle when the puck is loose but it's outside his line of sight. It's still a completely asinine thing to do, but it happens. I get that. The problem is that this particular case was reviewable and they didn't review it. I can't stand it. If it wasn't quarter of two in the morning, I'd still be stomping around, hitting everything in sight with a pillow, pulling my hair out, and screaming obscenities loud enough to wake the aliens on Mars. The amount of anger boiled up inside of me that has mixed with the emotions from the triple overtime loss is ridiculous. A human being shouldn't be alive with blood pressure this high. And I'm supposed to go to sleep now? Not. remotely. possible.

I can only pray to Yzerman that the same referees are not on tap for game four. I don't think I could handle it. I'm still going to stay as positive as I can and imagine the Wings taking game four, gaining momentum and taking the series, but now I definitely won't be back to look back on Scrubs with happy thoughts tomorrow. That post will have to wait until later. There's too much anger here to have it all go away in a single day. Goodnight.

UPDATE (5/6): I thought the goal was reviewable because they said on TV that they could check to see when the whistle was blown. If it was blown after the puck went in, it could be ruled a goal, but I have found out now that I was mistaken. The play was not reviewable.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

You know what, adults move on.

I can't do it, Detroit. You know I tried; I tried, but it hurts too bad it hurts me deep right here it hurts me I can feel it in my chest.

That's me being Turk, but instead of missing a trip to Disneyland, I'm trying to get over the game two loss that ruined my weekend and left me shivering in a corner for too long. I put the thoughts away as much as I could yesterday, but the impending game tonight has only worsened my stress level. I need my boy Pav to have a big game tonight; he's been invisible outside the faceoff circle.

Short post. I can't do a long one until the Wings win again. Hopefully that's tonight because I want to do a tribute to my favorite show in the world (Scrubs) in honor of the show's finale tomorrow night. That may or may not happen depending on tonight's result.

Go Wings.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Feature Writing Project

As a little break from the hockey madness, I've just finished my audio slideshow for my feature writing class. It's pretty sweet and only took me like six or seven hours to put together. I had to cut down the audio from about 16 minutes to two and a half so...that's where most of the time went. I don't think it needs any introduction because it's supposed to tell a story in itself so, hopefully I didn't fail in that regard. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Putting it all in perspective.

Only a few hours after the game I found this. Changes my view on a few things and takes away some of the anger and sadness from the game today. Check it out.

I miss ya Vladdy. You were so much fun to watch in my younger days as a Wing Nut.

Kill me now.

Just do it. If this series is going to be anything like 2007, I don't want to live to see it. If the Wings are going to put me through that much stress and exhaustion in every game this series, just kill me now. I don't want to see the Wings lose at the hands of the Ducks ever again.

I hate how the game ended. It felt exactly like game five of the Finals last year, when the Red Wings dominated every second of play in the first two overtimes and then somehow lost in the third. That lucky, top corner shot by Marchant is one he'll never make again. No way Ozzie could've stopped it; I don't blame anyone on the Wings. It was just not going to go their way today.

I really don't understand how anyone in the world can be a Ducks fan. How can you root for a team where literally every player is a scumbag? The star player, Getzlaf, loves himself so much he has permanently gelled hair. The best defenseman, Niedermayer, looks and acts so old he's virtually useless until the post-game bingo numbers are called. Pronger and Perry are both cheap shot artists who haven't shown even the occasional flash of talent or intelligence since their careers began. In reality, this team might be the one I despise most out of every team I've ever watched. At least with the Avalanche, I always respected Sakic. Sometimes I hated him, but when the game was over I figured he was probably a good person. I can't see that with any of the Ducks players. Zero.

I can't believe I'm even writing right now. When that puck hit the netting, I literally just turned off the TV and sat with my head in my hands for minutes that felt like hours. Then, when I mustered the energy to move, I crawled into bed for another hour of sulking. Literally, if this series is going to be this intense every game, I can't do it. The possibility of the Ducks winning and moving on as the eighth seed would kill me.

I need to move on. The Wings can do it. They can come back and take game three, and then all will be forgiven. But until Tuesday, I'll have nightmares of '07 keeping my heart pumping and my brain melting. So, I'll leave on that note. I haven't given up hope, but this one's gonna be a bitch to handle for a couple days.

Raffy still out, Brown avoids suspension

Game two is only an hour away, and I'm already feelin' the stress. They creep up on you like nothing else, these playoff game goosebumps. It's nothing to do with how much confidence I have in the Wings (because that's still sky high); it has everything to do with the depressed and defeated feeling I have if they lose. I've been lucky enough to avoid it through five games, but I know it's coming at some point. Let's play hooky again on that today. Please.

As for an actual game preview, Rafalski won't be playing and Mike Brown will be. The "upper-body" injury that Raffy is nursing is troubling because losing him for an extended period would be disastrous, and the lack of suspension on Brown is ridiculous. I don't understand how you can so clearly bludgeon someone's head like that and not be thrown out another game or two. I guess the league might have figured that the hit was so early in the game that Brown had already served most of a game suspension, but that's no excuse. Baby Bettman should have handed out at least another game; it was a seriously illegal hit and the man should be punished justly.

But that's mostly my feeling, as many others think the hit was either a) legal or b) not as bad as it looked. The first group is full of idiots and the second just sees things differently. No matter what way you look at it, Mike Brown isn't going to make a difference in this series. He's a nobody. Nuff said.

One last thing: Coach Carlyle of the Ducks is starting to piss me off. First, it was just an annoyance at how much he was complaining to the referees at the post-game press conference on Friday. But today, he had even more to say about the non-suspension and kept whining about the "offenses" that Detroit commits but no one sees or does anything about. I don't understand how any man could be so thick, but I suppose it bodes well for the Wings that the opposing coach is already griping to officials for calls or attention.

Done. Bring on the Poultry round two game two. Recap later. Go Wings.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Liddy Boy!

Whew, what a game. I have a feeling they'll all be like this one. Back and forth tie games that come down to the third period. The Wings won 3-2 with a goal from Captain Lidstrom with under a minute left, after Lids redirected a shot to Hiller, then skated past two Duck forwards to get the rebound and send it through Hiller's five-hole. Awesome.

The play could have been prevented if either of the Ducks forwards (I don't recall who they were...I thought one of them was Bobby Ryan) tried to stop Lidstrom from getting to the net, but they ignored him and they lost game one because of it.

I'm pretty pumped up, but I could just as easily be lying in the fetal position on the floor right now. I sat hunched over my chair from about 12 minutes left in the third until the final goal, jittering in anticipation. I just had a feeling the game wasn't going to go to overtime, and I could only hope the Wings were going to be the ones to score the game-winner. They did. Their solid play in this game gives me confidence, but I'm still weary of those Duckies. They're tough. I just hope nothing else like the cheap shot on Hudler happens. Mike Brown needs to be suspended for that. Ten stitches from a thrown elbow merits at least a game, especially with the way the league has been handing them out recently. In case you missed it...

Hudler came back into the game in the second period, but it is just completely clear to me that Brown decided to throw up his forearms and elbows. He could have leaned down and absolutely crushed Hudler with his shoulder, but he went for the cheap shot. There's just no other way you can look at it when the refs handed out a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. It's how the Ducks play, and it pisses me off. I hope it doesn't happen again.

Oh, and did you notice the little smirk from Sasquatch and him licking his lips. I bet he was thinking, "If only I had been there, he might have needed a stretcher to get off the ice." He just seemed a bit too happy about somebody being skated off with a bleeding head; that's all I'm sayin'.

Nice work boys. I'll be back Sunday afternoon with a pregame post before the matinee on NBC. Puck drops at 2 p.m.

Go Wings.

How Old Am I?

It's juvenile. It's full of hatred. It's incredibly necessary on a day like today. Shield your eyes if you are easily offended.

I have trouble finding the words for my hatred of Chris Pronger and the Ducks, but I feel like this picture is worth a few thousand words on the subject. Photoshop can be so much fun when used properly, and this surely falls into that category. It seems that I've used my newspaper design skills for evil purposes, but I swear to you this is something even God himself would not hesitate to create. I even made A2Y!

Enough bull pucky. The picture is what it is, judge me if you want to. I hate me some Sasquatch. Here's more on tonight's opening game:
  • Rafalski's out. Chelios is in. Wouldn't mean so much if it was 1999, but ten years later, it could be a huge problem. The only thing Chelios can bring to the table is experience. Paired with Lebda, Chelios' speed won't be a factor but the two of them together really doesn't instill confidence in anyone. I'm not even sure if I'd want those two as a third pairing in Pee Wees, let alone the NHL. Pray for them to get as few minutes as necessary tonight.
  • Draper will miss both game one and game two. Not good. He's unreplaceable on faceoffs and a tough, quick presence on the ice that could give the Ducks problems. I hope he's back sooner than later.
  • Datsyuk is better than all of Anaheim's team combined. Chew on that; it's delicious.
  • In case you forgot who can score besides Datsyuk and Zetterberg, there's this list for ya: Hossa, Franzen, Hudler, Holmstrom, Cleary, Filppula, and Samuelsson. Depth: the Wings have it in spades. Take notes, Duckies.
I'm done. My artistic mischief and thoughts about tonight's game are at an end. I must go straight to the stress room until the puck drops in a few hours. Recap late tonight. Go Wings!