Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Winner Winner

Game #9: Red Wings 5, Predators 2

One: Home unis. I absolutely loved the decision to bring back the home whites for this game. If it's up to the team every game, they should just buck the league trend/rules and play in their whites all the time. Not that I have anything against the gorgeous reds on the road, but there's just something awesome about the Wings in white. Reminds me of '97 and Stevie lifting that Cup for the city. Great memories.

Two: Central Division statement. So far, the Wings have dominated the Hawks and the Preds in their only divisional games this year. Those are supposedly the top two teams to challenge the Wings for the Central crown. I don't care if it's early; I love that the Wings are making a statement to their "rivals" and setting the tone for a great year. They have the best talent in the best division in the league. I'd say that puts them above everything else. Put on your white gloves, Cup people. Start engraving.

Three: Bad journalism. I just couldn't let this slide when I'm reporting on small town local news and some person out there gets to cover all the Red Wings games for the Associated Press. Here's the lead from tonight's story, found on
DETROIT -- Usually a set-up man, Pavel Datsyuk has suddenly turned into quite a goal scorer.

Datsyuk had two goals and an assist to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Seriously? I know hockey recap writers love to use the one-liners to open up a very plain game story (because they're essentially the same format every single fucking time), but this is unacceptable. Pav is a set-up man, but he's also been one of the flashiest goal scorers in this league for several years. Apparently, this idiot didn't do his/her homework. Shame on you.

Next up: Red Wings at Flames, Nov. 3 at 9:30 p.m. This game, along with the following two games against the Oilers and Canucks, will make for a tricky situation. I'm spending next weekend at Penn State to visit a few friends and catch a football game, so it's possible three games could pass before I get a chance to Hat Trick them all. So expect either a bigger summary next Sunday night or perhaps a four-game combo post following their game against the Coyotes on Nov. 8. Either way, Go Wings.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Ugly

Game #8: Red Wings 2, Coyotes 4
One: Goaltending. Ozzie was terrible, like seriously atrocious in the first. I assume he must have some sort of brain injury because that shorthanded goal to put the Coyotes up 3-0 in the first was the worst thing I've ever seen. To his credit, he played well in the second and third periods to keep the Wings in it and give them a chance to pull off the comeback. But his shockingly awful opening frame cost the Wings the game.

Two: Slow start. The Wings were lazy in the first and sorely missed Brian Rafalski on the blueline. Kindl was undressed by Vrbata on the first goal. Keith Yandle picked the corner on the second when the Wings took a stupid penalty. Then no one chased down Lauri Korpikoski (supposedly a man) on the third goal and he put a soft wrister past Ozzie's near pad. All of it could have been avoided with a little more focus in the first, and maybe the Wings could've won this game.

Three: I have nothing else to say. This game sucked. And Lauri Korpikoski needs to change his name. Or leave it for excessive verbal abuse. In fact, I kind of like that second option.

Next up: Red Wings vs. Predators, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. Let's kick these southern bastards in the teeth. Never liked their existence and never will. Why even bother with hockey in Nashville? Sell 'em to Quebec. Go Wings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Just Ducky

Game #7: Red Wings 5, Ducks 4

One: Pavel Datsyuk. Need I say more?

Two: Deflections. An amazing one by Tomas Holmstrom tied the game at four and a couple great redirections by Zetterberg brought the Wings back into it. I admit that I don't watch many other NHL games and teams, but it would be hard for me to believe anyone else in the NHL is as talented at deflecting and redirecting the puck past goalies as the Wings. The tying tally by Homer through McIlwhatever's legs was awesome. I'll never understand how a guy with such soft touch with his back to the net has absolutely no awareness or skill when facing it.

Three: Standings. Since I didn't see the game and can't offer too much comment on it, I'll take a general look at where this win puts the Wings. First. Yeah. In the league. Only seven games in and they have five wins. Sounds pretty good to me. Pittsburgh and Chicago are there too, but they've played more games without any additional success. Believe me, I'm not getting ahead of myself. It's been seven games. But I've seen enough hockey to know what it means for the Wings to get off to a hot start and get the chemistry rolling. A good October bodes well for June.

Next up: Red Wings vs. Coyotes, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Somehow I thought the Wings were playing the Ducks twice in a row. Instead, they get the Coyotes for the second time this month.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Dousing the Flames.

Game #6: Red Wings 4, Flames 2

One: The Great Datsyuk. His magic was on full display again tonight, setting up Zetterberg's goal with an amazing backhand pass and then Lidstrom's powerplay tally with a ridiculous display of tic-tac-toe stickwork. It honestly looks like he's fooling around by himself on the ice sometimes, deftly swinging the puck around and tapping it over and under opponents' sticks just for fun. There's no other player like him. I refuse to believe there ever has been or ever will be. (By the way, I must have a copy of that shirt. It's fantastic. Combines my love of The Prestige and the hockey magician himself. Gift ideas anyone? I like the slate color.)

Two: Jiiiimmy Jimmy Jimmah. Have I mentioned how much I like this kid? He's an awesome goalie. He kept the Wings in the game for the first two periods and backstopped the team to a win in the third. I've been trained to have doubts about the Wings' goaltending, except for the magical year with Dom in 2002, and this year is no exception. But I'm coming around fast with Howard in goal. He really steps up and makes big saves when the team needs it. Plus he's an awesome guy. One of those goalies who would never lift the Cup and take it home with him if he had nothing to do with the team that won it. Right? Oh. Damn. Well I'd do it too if I had the chance.

Three: I'd love to say I had three separate thoughts about this game not about Pavel Datsyuk, but I didn't. My mind was slobbering over Dats pretty much the whole time. Well, except for Franzen's awesome goal in the third that he banked off Kiprusoff's head from no angle and the puck rolled down Kipper's shoulder. That was amazing. And Bertuzzi's clincher in the top corner. Sweet. But no, this spot will be for Detroit commercials. I don't live in the area, so I can't usually watch the Wings on FSN-Detroit. But with Center Ice being free for the month of October, I caught the game on God's favorite channel and was able to watch many Michigan commercials. The Pure Michigan ad with Stevie Y chomping on an apple, the new Dr. Rahmani Eye Doctor spot with Lidstrom and my personal favorite: the Red Wings team commercial with Babcock, Osgood, Franzen, and Datsyuk. Hilarious. Almost makes me want to pony up the cash to watch Center Ice and FSN-Detroit all year long.

Next up: Red Wings vs. Ducks, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. I won't be watching, but I'll have the Hat Trick up by Sunday night once again. This is the second of three match-ups the Wings have against the Ducks this month. Odd scheduling, but I love to hate the Ducks. Let's do it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Badgerbadgerbadgers

Game #5: Red Wings 2, Coyotes 1

One: Kronwall. I only saw the highlights, but if the Wings didn't score in the five-minute overtime period with TWO four-on-three powerplays they deserved to be docked a few points in the standings. Thankfully, some great passing and a nice shot by Kronner ended the game.

Two: Jimmy Howard. The kid's still playing great to start the year. Except for a few softies to the Avalanche, I'm starting to come around to the idea that this guy from Maine is going to be Detroit's starting goalie and the next one to win a Cup for the franchise. His talent is real. I can't wait for him to prove it in April, May and June.

Three: Wisconsin football! Yes, this is a Red Wings recap. No, this is not a Red Wings comment. But I didn't see the Wings game so I have little to say about it, and everyone wins when Ohio State loses. That's not even my rule; it's the word of the Lord.

Next up: Red Wings vs. Flames, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. Sweet? It's hard to get excited for the Flames. Oh well. Go Wings!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Latres on the menjay. What did I just say?

A good journalist must have balance. The job requires writing ability, curiosity, sharp judgment, a quick mind, and an affinity for extra-strength coffee. Black.

Many of those things are picked up or learned in school. Professors correct and guide writing styles, help develop a student's inquiring mind and conduct classes at 8 a.m. (thus planting an early addiction to life's perky poision).

But one thing they don't teach you -- and it's an essential part of a journalist's daily work -- is the ability to answer, talk and leave messages on the telephone.

You have to pick that up talent on your own. And most of the time, the only way to get better is to fuck it up royally. Over and over and over again.

Think about the last time you called someone you've never met, or even someone you barely know. Maybe it's your friend's friend selling you his old couch for cheap or a cute girl whose number you snagged over drinks on a rainy Saturday. No matter who it is, the conversation is awkward.

Remember "I Love You, Man"? Paul Rudd plays an graceless character that seems exaggerated, but he's more normal than you think. Here's his first phone message to Jason Segel, the man behind his budding bromance.

Reporters make those kinds of calls and leave those kinds of messages anywhere from two to ten times for every one of the ten to twenty stories they write per week. It's a recipe for disaster.

Now, any journalist who's been at the job for more than an hour knows it's not that extreme. But it can be close. I've had bad days where I mumble my name into complete ambiguity, lose my line of thinking for five full seconds of silence or sound just as ridiculous as Rudd when he ends his message.

And it doesn't help that the people you're calling generally don't want to call you back. It interrupts their day, and reporters make people skittish. The second they hear "Hi, my name is Cameron Kittle and I'm a reporter with the Nashua Telegraph," their mind jumps to a grouchy, inconsiderate bulldog whose only goal in life is to make fun of your age and misquote you with libelous remarks. Some nerve he's got, calling me at three in the afternoon with questions about the recent heat wave...

So, not only is it your responsibility to try and avoid awkwardness, but you have to actually be genuinely interested enough in their collection of 400 dolls to make them like you and return your call. You also have to be quick to summarize your point, slow to relay your contact information and clear to enunciate properly.

This is all if the call goes smoothly. But shit goes haywire in a newsroom more often than not, and you can end up dialing one person and be transferred to four others in a single call. And don't expect any of the transfer-senders to inform the transfer-receivers (that would make way too much sense), so you'll have to repeat what you just said multiple times while your fellow employees stifle laughter as you're yanked around again and again.

It might sound like a minefield for rookies only, but it can be even worse when seasoned veterans switch jobs. Take the young guy who sits behind me for example. He worked in Masschusetts for a few years, just long enough to render his brain nearly incapable of improvisation. Nearly a month into the new job, I could still hear him fumbling his words at the end of a message:

"...and if you could give me a call back that'd be great. Once again this is Jake Berry at the Nashua Telegraph, and my number is 508-862--oh that's not right. I'm sorry..*awkward laughs*.. I'm still new. The number here is...*shuffling papers*...I'm sorry. You can reach me at 603-594-4108. Hope to hear from you!"

Annnd scene. Ouch. Maybe it doesn't sound that bad to you, but an eagle-eye newsroom camera would show every reporter seize up in the shoulders and cringe at Jake's struggle. But it's not his fault; it's a problem with routine.

Reporters leave so many messages and say their phone numbers so many times, it becomes cemented in the brain. Changing that after a few years would be like adding digits to your social security number and trying to say it backwards on the first try.

It might sound easy, but phone calls can sometimes be a reporter's biggest hurdle. Stumble out of the gate and you might be looking at a bad story, but master the art and you could see your byline in the New York Times. Of course, you'll still need all that writing and interviewing and coffee stuff, too.

Cam's Hat Trick: Blech. That was ugly.

Game #4: Red Wings 1, Stars 4

One: Turnovers. The Red Wings looked sloppy in every period, making bad passes and not controlling the puck. No one was exempt; even Captain Nick made a no-look pass in the first that was absurdly stupid and almost turned into a goal. I've watched the Wings for many years, and it's pretty rare when they put together a full 60-minute stinker like they did here. Just a lack of concentration all around. Oh, and Ozzie sucked.

Two: Posts. Datsyuk made a great move and dangled one off the crossbar in the first that would have tied the game, and Hudler rang another off the bar in the second. If both those shots go the Wings' way, I think it's a whole different game. It just seemed like the team couldn't generate any momentum, and an early goal before the Stars put the game away would have helped keep them in it.

Three: Road announcers. I don't live in the Detroit area, so I had to watch this game on NHL Network via FSN Southwest. I won't bother to look up the names of the idiots in charge of the play-by-play, but man, they were bad. Whether it was describing a player's actions as "corrupt" when he was called for a penalty or lauding Kari Lehtonen's play when he was, at best, a combination of awful and lucky, these Dallas guys had no clue what they were talking about. Play-by-play is a tough gig, so I can't say I'd do much better on the spot. But I'd venture to say I knew more about hockey when I was 10 years old than these guys do now.

Next up: Red Wings at Coyotes, Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. Rematch of last year's playoff series. Should be a good one. I won't be watching because I'm going to watch Michigan play UNH in what should be an awesome college hockey game, but I'll have the Hat Trick up by Sunday night. Go Wings!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: I hate you, Brandon Yip

Game #3: Red Wings 4, Avalanche 5

One: Kirk Maltby. Yep, the guy didn't play in this game. But for any longtime Red Wings fan, you know he deserves some recognition on the night he finally hangs up his skates. He retired this afternoon to take a scouting job with the team instead of play another year mostly in the minors. It's too bad, but he's just not good enough to make the roster anymore. The grinders made in his image are younger, faster, better. But that doesn't mean we don't all remember that Sports Illustrated cover in 1997, that back-and-forth goal with Joey Kocur against Philly in those '97 Finals, or the countless penalties he killed. It's sad to see him retire, but it was time. Thanks for everything, Malts. You were awesome.

Two: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. These guys are fucking magic together. Prepare for me to slobber over them way too many times this season. Whenever they're on the ice I'm ready for a goal. Their beauty in the second period was too easy. There's no other duo in the NHL that is as in sync as the Euro Twins. If Hank wasn't married to ungodly gorgeous Emma Andersson and Dats wasn't with his wife, whoever she is, I swear these two would be as good together as George and Mary Bailey.

Three: Doug Janik. Ugh. Please go away. Damn you, Rafalski's knee. I don't know if I can stand extended time with this guy on the ice. It's like Lilja, but worse.

Next up: Red Wings at Stars, Oct. 14 at 8:30 p.m. This game is on NHL Network, which makes me happy because that makes two nights this week Red Wing nights.

On a side note, I love watching a sport that gets over in two and a half hours with limited commercials. Not any of this all-afternoon football junk or forever-and-a-day playoff baseball. Exactly why hockey is my favorite.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cam's Hat Trick: Get used to it, Chicago

Game #2: Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2

One: Second-line scoring. Valtteri Filppula had two goals and Goon Bertuzzi had another as the Wings flew past the Hawks to ruin their opening night and their Stanley Cup banner ceremony. Filppula needs to step up and have a productive, healthy year to keep the Wings in it until the end and a game like this is a good start. His winner was a fluky one, but I'll take it. Nice way to jump on Chicago early in the season and grab two quick wins on opening weekend.

Two: Oh, Marty Turco. I loved you so much as the championship-winning goalie for the Michigan Wolverines back in their late-90s glory days and I was able to not hate you on the Stars, but this new deal you've got with the Hawks has soured me. Well, in fact it's made me very happy in that you can't stop any piece of black rubber sent from the stick of a Red Wings player (Turco is something like 1-2,000 against the Wings all-time), but I'm conflicted in that it makes me a teensy bit sad to see you suffer. But Wings over Wolverines, so I must root for your demise. Thank you for signing with the Blackhawks. The whole Wings faithful is forever grateful.

Three: Bittersweet Chicagoans. I love that the Wings ruined their home opener and the banner raising ceremony with a hard-fought victory. Enjoy that banner while you can, Hawks fans. You're not getting another this year. I'm not going to say it'll be another 49 years, but you have nothing close to what it takes to repeat in this league. Here starts your slow painful ride back to second place in the Central, where you belong.

Next up: Red Wings vs. Avalanche, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. Back to the old rivalry. Another good one on tap and hopefully the first game of the season that I'll get to watch live. Let's get Jimmy another shutout! Yes, I realize I just jinxed it and the Avs will probably score a minute in, but whatever. Go Wings.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Wings, New Ways

It's been a while since the Detroit Red Wings have held a strong presence on this blog, and that just doesn't sit well with me.

See, I have two followings of this blog (both of which are astronomically small): One that loves the Red Wings and wants to read endless words about their awesomeness, and one that cares nothing about the Red Wings but happens to like me as a person and wants to read my writing or what's going on in my life.

So, I've always tried to do a little of both to keep both camps happy (again, these camps barely need to split a single tent) but recently, I've strayed away from the Red Wings stuff. I don't put as much effort into writing about them as I used to, and my posts often come out quite inferior to much of the A2Ys and Triple Dekes and Snipe Snipe, Dangle Dangles of the Wings blogosphere.

I have always wanted to do something consistent throughout the season, but time commitments and laziness have always thrown a wrench into my plans. This year though, I think I have it.

Cam's Hat Trick.

It will be short, it will be sweet, it will follow every Red Wings game. And it won't affect how much I blog about other subjects, although that doesn't say a whole lot. Anyway, I'll still be trying to write about both.

Now, I can't see into the future and promise that I will hit all 82 regular season games, but I'm going to try. So if you want some quick thoughts, quirky observations or completely biased reviews, I will have three following each game. Even on nights when I can't watch, I'll bring you a fresh edition of Cam's Hat Trick based on what I read and saw on the highlight reels.

That's all I will promise for now, as the idea just came to me. It's really just a watered down version of the Triple Deke's game recaps It's going to be awesome. And with that, here we go:

Game #1: Red Wings 4, Ducks 0

One: Pavel Datsyuk getting in a fight with Corey Perry was awesome. My favorite player holding his own against one of my least favorite players in the league...just beautiful to watch. I still can't believe The Great Datsyuk finally decided to drop the gloves and I wasn't there to catch it live. But I watched it many times on replay, and I'm glad to see Dats got some punches in. The Dangle Master also had a great deflection goal and an assist before he completed the Gordie Howe Hat Trick with this fight in the second period. It's an awesome way to start the season, and it gets him the first nod in the opening edition of Cam's Hat Trick.

Two: Mike Modano scores a goal on his first shot as a Wing. A fluttering puck that floated past Jonas Hiller isn't anything to get excited about, but his presence was clearly felt. The guy is excited, the guy is motivated, the guy looks fuckin' good in red. I've been on the Mo2Motown bandwagon since the first whisper rumors emerged, and I'm so psyched to see one of my favorite former non-Wings finishing his career with the greatest franchise in the world. Very happy to see he had a good game and picked up his first goal tonight.

Three: Jimmy Howard stopped every puck that came his way and kicked off his sophomore season with a great effort. Sure, it was only 21 shots and it was the Ducks, but he showed no jitters and made every play he had to make. I really like this young kid, even if he's a former Maine Black Bear. This strong opening win will be good for his confidence and I hope he can keep it going tomorrow night against the hated 'Hawks. Speaking of which...

Next up: Red Wings at Blackhawks, Oct. 9. at 8:30 p.m. We have to watch those bastards raise their Cup banner, but hopefully we can spoil their fun and take another step toward reclaiming the division crown.