Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tonight's Line Up

Khan(!) provides us with tonight's lines/pairings/goaltenders...


Scratched: Maltby, Abdelkader, Franzen


Scratched: Lilja


Howard (starting)

The Nightmare returns.  On my signal...unleash Helm.  Oh and how about Pat Eaves gets his first tonight?  60 solid minutes, boys...I know you can do it.

Heading a little closer to downtown for the game tonight.  Early morning skate the one and only Joe Louis Arena.

Holy Crap, ESPN Talking Wings

Scott Burnside of ESPN writes a fairly lengthy article about what ESPN is calling "The Game of the Week" between the Red Wings and the Oilers.  And of "game of the week", ESPN means it's only the second most important game of the week.  In first place?  It's a tie between the World Series and every NBA and NFL game this week (for ESPN, not me of course).

Last season, the Wings scored a league-high 295 goals. For purposes of comparison, the league's best regular-season team, San Jose, scored 38 fewer goals. If the Wings played 45 minutes of good hockey on most nights, it was good enough to win.

"We could outplay our mistakes," Ken Holland explained.

But with the departure of lineup regulars Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler, Chris Chelios and Tomas Kopecky, and the early loss of Johan Franzen to a left knee injury that required surgery, the Wings don't have that luxury every night. When they play 45 minutes instead of 60 now, it usually costs them a point, maybe two, as their 4-4-2 record suggests.

Those mistakes we were trying to outplay were usually caused by two of the players departing mentioned above (I'll let you guess which two).  It's pretty much true though, as much as I hate to admit it.  Our team was so stacked last year, that despite our inconsistent and at time, horrendous goaltending, we could still pretty much float through the regular season.  But those days are over.

Although the Wings had a more-than-capable backup last season in Ty Conklin, a netminder who would have been happy to stay in Detroit, Holland and the management team decided it was time to give Howard a shot. They had invested time and money in developing the former collegiate star, and now they'll find out whether that investment pays off.

I guess I never really thought that Conklin wanted to stay in Detroit...that's kind of sad.  I mean, I've been waiting for Jimmy, his contract is up after this year, so I guess I can't really blame the brass for making that call.  Then of course Conklin outplays Howard in the second game of the season...but Howie has improved exponentially over the years.  He played great against Vancouver, if he plays well tonight, who knows what will happen going forward.

"We've got some players who aren't playing as well as they can,  But I like the makeup of our team. I think we're real close to playing good. We're in the process of finding out who we are."--Ken Holland
I think part of that identity was established from the moment that Babbles pulled Ozzie less than eight minutes into the game.  They looked hungry, determined, and angry...all of the things that were said in the off-season.  Hey, it only took nine-plus games for it to come to fruition.  One can only hope that the level of play can be sustained and not brought out only in times of desperation.

Pointless Preview: Wings vs Oilers

Category #1: Crying Captains



Steve Yzerman once tried to force a tear...this was the result

Some have speculated that Lidstrom's tears can cure the Swine Flu...guess we'll never know.

Winner: Detroit

 Category #2: City Cold Enough to Keep Players Away

Pronger asks to be traded away in 2007, Hossa rejects 10-year, $8 mil deal in summer of 2008, Heatley rejects trade offer in summer of 2009.
Cold, but not that cold.

Winner: Edmonton

Category #3: “God I hate my first name”

Edmonton: Lubomir Visnovsky…that is just disgusting.

Detroit: Kris Draper…”Mom, this is the GIRL’S way to spell it!”

Winner: it me or does Visnovsky look like he could be Rafalski's little brother?

Category #4: Google Image Seach [Team Name] + funny


Are they the Carolina Tornados? Oh well…marks for trying, I guess.


Awesome.  Thank you,

Winner: Detroit

Tie-Breaker Category: Most French Sounding Name in the History of Ever

Edmonton: Jean-Francois Jacques

Winner: Detroit, because I still support “Freedom Fries”…not really, but maybe.

Stay tuned for Chris's odds on tonight's game. Odds that Chris posts today... 1:1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.51
"So you're telling me there's a chance?"

I say 6-3 victory for the Wings.


Chris McCosky, the newbie to the Detroit News team covering the Wings, wrote an article and talked to a few Wings members about the ever-present threat of the Swine Flu...

Piet Van Zant, Wings head athletic trainer has been lecturing the team on hand sanitation. He also is taking precautionary measures like wiping down/disinfecting locker-room stalls and door handles. Water bottles and towels are individually numbered so that nobody shares.

Here's what Van Zant had to say about the seemingly hopeless fight of prevention:

"We are doing all that we can, but you aren't going to prevent it. It's basic flu-season precautions. Try not to touch your nose and mouth with common surfaces that other people have touched. Wash your hands a lot. Don't share towels. And try to get rest and make sure you are eating correctly to help your immune system. But you know it's going to happen. It's not circling the globe for no reason."

Brad May, whose son was playing in a tournament in London against a young boy who died of the Swine Flu, had this to say:

"I mean, how tragic is that?  To have it affect a young boy that quickly, just 48 hours after he was playing in a hockey tournament. Now, was he sick before? We don't know. But there's a big panic coming out of that tournament."

The Edmonton Oilers, tonight's opponent, have been hit extremely hard with sickness.  There has only been one documented case of H1N1 on their roster, but more than half the team is ill.  Coach Babcock had these sympathetic and compassionate words to say about their plight:

"I hear that (the Oilers) are sick, but I don't know anything about that.  That doesn't matter to me. They wouldn't feel bad for us if we were sick. Bottom line, we need to win and they need to win."

Yikes.  Mike's focused on the 'W' tonight.  No more H1N1 posts from this guy until someone significant actually contracts it.

Sizing up the Oilers

Ten games into the season and we still haven’t cracked the .500+ echelon. After letting in two softies early into Tuesday’s game against Vancouver, the Red Wings rallied to win 5-4, thanks to the return of Pavel Datsyuk and strong play by Jimmy Howard. Howard gets the start tonight, the Oilers have been shut out in two straight so I would imagine that they’re going to come out hungry. Aside from that last little tidbit, I don’t know much else about Edmonton thus far so the usual statistical comparison is going to be interesting.

Here are two teams that, at least in the short run, are moving in opposite directions in terms of offensive production. Edmonton hasn’t scored a goal in over 120 minutes of playing time. Detroit just netted 5 goals against one of the league’s “elite” goalies. However, the Red Wings currently sit 16th in the league as far as G/G average with 3.00, which is up one rank from last game, but still one worse than Edmonton's 15th ranked 3.08. Advantage: the smallest of margins.

In the off-season, Edmonton went out and signed Chicago’s best goaltender; the mad Russian, Nikolai Khabibulin. The ‘Bulin Wall certainly has experience playing against the Wings with career stops in Winnipeg, Phoenix, and Chicago. Edmonton currently ranks 15th in the league with a 2.92 G/A average. The Wings, despite pulling of the win, didn’t do their G/A average any favors in Vancouver and still rank near the bottom at 3.40, good enough for 26th place. Advantage: Edmonton

Dustin Penner and Lubomir Vishnovsky are the big guns for the Oiler powerplay which has been decent. They are currently converting 19.2% of the PP chances, which has them ranked 18th overall in the NHL. Detroit's power play improved to 25.5% for the season as they attempt to re-establish themselves as the power plays in the league. Detroit currently sits with 8th best in the National Hockey League. Advantage: Detroit

Edmonton seems to be a pretty “middle-of-the-road” team in terms of stats. Nothing near the top, nothing near the bottom. They currently sit 17th in the NHL, with a 77.8% effectiveness rating while killing penalties. Penalty killing has been the Achilles heel of the Winged Wheel since the regular season started just over a year ago. The statistical woes continue for Detroit as they are only killing-off 74.4% of the penalties they take. Their current penalty killing effectiveness rate is only good enough for 24th place in the league. Advantage: Edmonton

So if we pull ranks and take the average for GA/G and G/G...

Edmonton: 15th
Detroit: 21st

If you combine PK and PP percentages to get an overall effectiveness rating:

Edmonton: 97.0%
Detroit: 99.9%

The key for a Red Wing's victory tonight can be summed up in one simple word: execution. If the Red Wings we saw in the final 52-plus minutes of Tuesday’s game show up, then everything will be just fine. Though Howard is struggling with his rebound control, he is effectively challenging shooters and really seems to be coming into his own. Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Filppula, and Bertuzzi all had impressive showings…if they can keep up the tempo, we’ll probably come away with two points. Tonight, we have a chance to go above .500 again. After an impressing showing in Vancouver, let’s hope it was just the first step in the long haul to get this team back to the top.

The Wings swept the regular season series against the Oilers last year (4-0-0) including an 8-3 drubbing at home on February 7th.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Late to the party / GVSU / Odds Update

The beauty of having the best fanbase and blogosphere in the NHL is that when you want insightful analysis the next day, it is out there.  The writing talent out on the gore is just incredible.

The tough part about it is that when you aren't on your game five minutes after the game, everything that you think that you thought of yourself has already been posted multiple times in better forms, which makes you sad.

Therefore, all I have to say about yesterday's game was that it was the most fun I've had watching hockey this year.  And check these other places for some great recaps (sorry if I missed anyone, these are just ones I had a chance to read today).
As Drew did this morning, I checked out a few posts over in the Nuck's world, and wow, what a respectful crew they are.  They don't like the Wings, but they just seem so much more intelligent than any dimwit Blues or Avs fans you'd find.  Classy...

One more thing I noticed today reading various blogs out there, is that there are a large amount of Wings bloggers that went to my and Drew's alma mater, Grand Valley State out in Grand Rapids. I'm not positive, but I think Hockeytown Static and Babcock Death Stare went to GV. I have a guess on a few others too. Strange, but cool.

Couple quick comments on my terrible odds post yesterday:

-A member of the Vancouver media skates onto the ice and gets on his knees for Luongo during warm-ups - 2:1
This was true pretty much the entire game, but pretty deserving so.  Win. 

-Bertuzzi regains his old form, scores three goals, gets a game misconduct and then kills a mother and her two small children - 4:1
He didn't score, or kill anyone, but he played great and is starting to have a bit of a mean streak in him again.  Loss.

-The Chief will both talk about puppies and bitches in his next post - 7:6
Neither, damnit. We did get two graceful MBCQOTD's though. Still... Loss.  

-The Chief will talk about strangling those puppies if the Wings lose - 2:1
N/A, which makes me and puppies everywhere happy.

-The Chief's next post will be at some ridiculous hour like 4:12 AM.  - 4:3
Damnit all to hell, again.  11:37 AM.  Very reasonable.  Loss. 

-Babcock's Death Stare will have the best post-game wrapup (and best header) on the blogosphere - 5:4
Read it, you will smile about the good times, laugh at the fun you had, cry at the thought of Osgood in net and realize you are reading greatness. Win!

-Tram will comment on the Triple Deke's post game post -  2:1
Tram might have killed himself after the Colorado loss, we aren't sure.  We also believe that he might have the most comments ever for someone who refuses to take the five seconds to register on blogger. 

-Osgood will play better than Luongo, yet everyone in the media will still say the Wings goaltending sucks -5:2

-Ryan Kesler's real name is "Livonia Native Ryan Kesler" (NHL 09 reference) - 8:1
I think it was referred to like 4 times last night.  Win. 

Great game, but I still wish that Pavel Bure was still on the Canucks.

Cleary Quietly Producing

So apparently 'good news' means 'no news' when it comes to Detroit.  After they lost to the Dives?  No one would shut up about it.  But after they make the all and powerful Ro-Borat-o Luongo eat his lunch?  Nothing.  Just the generic rhetoric you would expect if the Flint Generals won a game from...whoever the hell else plays in that league.

So instead of looking for a story to comment on, I thought I'd do a little research of my own and come up with one.  I've watched every single Wings game this year (5 in person)..okay, I fell asleep after the 2nd period against the 'Yotes, and thank god for that.  But what I've noticed, or should say "haven't really noticed" thus far this year, is Dan Cleary.  Don't really hear his name much, no 'Game Star' honors.  So I thought I would do the usual minimum amount of research and come up with a story about how he isn't playing up to par. You know what I found...he is.

Cleary sits at 1G-4A for 5 Pts. (let's ignore the fact that he's -5).  So through ten games he has an average of 0.1 goals per game and  0.4 assists per game.  Do your simple math, project that over 82 games, and you're looking at about 8 goals and 32 assists for 40 points.  Here's what Cleary has done thus far as a member of the Detroit Red Wings...

2005-2006: 3G-12A-15 Pts
2006-2007: 20G-20A-40 Pts
2007-2008: 20G-22A-42 Pts
2008-2009: 14G-26A-40 Pts

So it would appear that Detroit's favorite Newfie is right on track for another 40 point season.  What's that you say?  He's supposed to be producing more because of all the scoring we lost to Free Agency?  Well I have four short but strong words for you: shut the hell up. 

Cleary's point totals are actually quite impressive if you consider that he's basically played on a line with everyone on the team at some point.  He's played  the wing of the first line as well as the fourth line.  Recently, Babcock has fallen in love with the idea of putting him out there with Todd Bertuzzi...a move that I questioned at first.  The two big-bodied wingers seem to be playing well with each other, especially with Filppula between them.  When (if) Dan can finally settle in with the same linemates for a string of consecutive games, it wouldn't be unfair to assume that an increase in point output is likely.

Cleary seems almost a lock for 15-20 goals every season and at least 40 points.  As I said before, the fact that he's playing at 0.5 points per game amidst the goal-starved Wings is impressive.  Here's a question for you, "how many goals does Cleary end up having to celebrate while laying on his back?"  Who wants to look up that little peach?  My guess is more than a couple times. year in and year out.  This is due to the fact he is alwayss up in the goaltender's grill and not afraid to muck it up and score a dirty one (ask Jonas Hiller).

So just because he's not lighting the lamp like MaryAnne Hossa or Mikael Samuelsson, don't be so quick to jump all over him (as I was about to do).  If you don't see him on the scoresheet right away, don't worry: you can find him where he always is - mixing it up along the boards, going to war in the corners, and giving the opposing netminder fits.

Helm Scratched, Hopefully Ticked-Off

Found this on this morning about the "Nightmare" being sat as a healthy scratch last night against Vancouver.

Here's what Coach Babcock had to say about sitting this blog's namesake:

“Anytime you miss training camp, especially when you are a kid, it's tough. Helm, on this team in my opinion, should be pushing for third-line center, not battling to be the fourth-line center. So, he's going to get an opportunity to watch (Tuesday). I talked to him about it and he's going to be fired up to come back. Sometimes just a shot over the bough is a good reminder."

I'm guessing that by "fired up to come back", Babbles meant "very angry about sitting".  I suppose this is Uncle Mike trying to inspire Helm.  He called out Zetterberg the other day in the media, and Z has responded by going on a tear as of late, despite the team struggling.

Helm had this to say:

"I don't think I've been bad for the first five games, but I definitely have to step it up. I have to be a lot better. What he's telling me (about being the third-line center), I don't know if it's a challenge or not, but Drapes (Kris Draper) has been playing well. You can't take anything away from him. I think it's just (Babcock) telling me that I've got to start working harder and pushing myself. I've got to be more focused and more prepared," he said. "I have to work harder. I am not going to see the game as well after five games as I did at the end of any year. I think I've been playing physical, but the emotion is not quite as big as it is in the playoffs and that's what drives me ... I have to find a way to get that edge each night."

Babcock agrees that Helm hasn't been "bad", but not living up to expectations...

"Helmer's been fine. He's not at the level I am used to having him, but there's a lot of guys that could be accused of that."

I think that's called "the play-off gear" that you're used to, Mike.  Remember, Helm is yet to register a regular season goal up to this point in his career.  We know that Babcock holds him in high regard...he wanted him on the team full time (Kenny said 'no').  We just have to continue to be patient and hope that Mike's mindgames gets the kid going tomorrow.

Kick 'Em When They're Down: Canucks

So last Friday, I decided to add a little post-win tradition whereby I go and find some smack talkin' by a beaten opponent's blogger either the day of or the morning after the Red Wings go on to win.  You may have forgotten, because we hadn't won a game since last Friday.  Well last night the Wings rallied in the 3rd period to topple the Vancouver Canucks, snapping Vancouver's three game winning streak.  So it's time to find some smack talking...

Problem is...I couldn't find any.  I checked,, Canucks and Beyond,,,  and The Cancuck Way, only to see no trash talking whatsoever from the Vancouver blogosphere.  Nothing, Nathan, nada.

That is unheard of.  Outrageous.  Baffling.  So I guess we'll just use what The Cancuck Way had to say about last night's game...

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, courtesy of a couple of soft-ish goals on Chris Osgood, the Canucks couldn’t find a way to put away the boys in white and red. Heaven knows they tried, as Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond both had dangerous chances to make it 3-1, but backup Jimmy Howard (drafted by Detroit 2/64 in 2003) played exceptional in relief of Osgood.

So not only do they not talk trash before hand, these arrogant and self-righteous Canuck bloggers have the audacity to pay us compliments!  I know, I'm just as angry as you are.  And it gets worse...

Pavol Datysuk would register his 2nd of the game to put the Wings up 3-2, and also take home first star honors. Although more quiet than normal to start the season, it looked like this game infused some energy and sense of urgency into the All-Star center. He’s recorded 97 points in each of the last two seasons, and was a huge factor in Detroit’s come-from-behind win.

How dare you call him an All-Star...he didn't even play in the All-Star Game last year!  A REAL All-Star would've merited a phone call from Gary Bettman, outright begging him to come to Montreal despite nursing an injury.

It's stupid, I know.  But waking up to find the opposition pumping our tires after a win is an all-together new experience for me.  Thanks to Larenzo from The Canuck Way for at least letting me write about something...stupid classy Vancouver gentlemen!


Finally, a road win...

5-4 Red Wings win.  Datsyuk is back.  The Williams/Bertuzzi experiment is working.  Filppula is playing great.

Oh and Jimmy Howard is making a strong case to be our #1.  But then again, that's what we said about Conklin last year.  Let's see how Howie does Thursday against the Oilers.

Edit: Chris' note - pregame odds for every game? I think so.  Until I forget.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hilarous and sad at the same time...

From A2Y:

Detroit vs. Vancouver - Odds

For tonight's preview, I offer what should be some Vegas odds on tonight's game against the Nucks. Quick note: I don't know a whole lot about odds...

Anyways, NOHS' Vegas Odds. 

-A member of the Vancouver media skates onto the ice and gets on his knees for Luongo during warm-ups - 2:1

-We eventually find out that a BJ from the media is actually part of Luongo's new contract - 3:1

-Bertuzzi regains his old form, scores three goals, gets a game misconduct and then kills a mother and her two small children - 4:1

-Bertuzzi regains his old form, scores three goals, gets a game misconduct and then kills a mother and her two small children AND regains the admiration of Baroque - 100:1

-Babcock's Death Stare will have the best post-game wrapup (and best header) on the blogosphere - 5:4

-The Chief will both talk about puppies and bitches in his next post - 7:6

-The Chief will talk about strangling those puppies if the Wings lose - 2:1

-The Chief's next post will be at some ridiculous hour like 4:12 AM.  - 4:3

-After every Wings goal Brad Watson will rush onto the ice from his hiding space in the Zamboni entrance waving no goal emphatically, even though he is supposed to be reffing in Washington for tonight's game - 3:1

-Tram will comment on the Triple Deke's post game post -  2:1

-I will think it is hilarous that everyone (even Google!) thinks Kyle Welwood is fat - 1:1

-JJ from Kansas will have the best live blog comment and hockeytowntodd will have angryoldman syndrome against Babcock - 4:1

-Maltby will make Samuelsson cry sometime during the game - 3:2

-Osgood will play better than Luongo, yet everyone in the media will still say the Wings goaltending sucks -5:2

-Samuelsson will score for Vancouver -10:1

-Samuelsson will score ON Vancouver - 4:1

-The Sedins will switch jerseys at intermission and not one person will notice - 3:1 (though, this begs the would we know?)

-It will feel like every single Swedish player in the NHL that isn't a cheater (this means you Lundqvist) will be on the ice tonight - 5:2

-Mathieu Schneider will ask Ken Holland for forgiveness for his Judas like betrayal in 2006.  Holland will place his hand on his shoulder and relieve Mathieu of all his sins...for he already has been punished; all his skills were taken away from him and he was forced to play for Atlanta. - 20:1

-Helm will be fast as hell - 2:1

-You will realize that the Schneider one really doesn't make a lot of sense - pretty likely.

-Ryan Kesler's real name is "Livonia Native Ryan Kesler" (NHL 09 reference) - 8:1

-Everyone in the world will think that it is stupid that the goalie is the captain - 5:4

-Robert Esche will fume in Russia over the fact that Andrew Raycroft still has a job in the NHL and he doesn't - 2:1

As usual, I'll guess a 4-2 Wings victory.

Go Wings!

Waiting for the Avalanche to Fall

I just wanted to take a second to throw out the idea that I am completely sick of reading about Craig Anderson and his "lights out season".

1.) The Avalanche are tied for most shots against this season
2.) Craig Anderson has played in every single game
3.) I bet you no team has ever won the Stanley Cup allowing the most shots against
4.) At this rate, Anderson will most likely become injured or fatigued
5.  This is what's going to happen to the Avs when Anderson goes down...

Their problems remain the same, but nobody seems to want to talk about that so long as they have the hot goaltending that is completely carrying them thus far in the season.  All the bandwagoners who took last season off are jumping right back on like the last couple years never even happened.

And because of that, I'm starting to hate Colorado all over again, even without Patty Wah, Floppa, and Foote...oh wait, he's back...I didn't even notice him.  Rant over.

Lines get Shaken Up


No report as of yet on what the defensive pairings are going to be...but I hope that is because the Detroit brass is thinking long and hard before they decide to put Ericsson and Lebda together again.  Jonathon "Big Rig" Ericsson has been a gigantic dissapointment thus far in the season.  But here are the possible forward lines for tonight's game vs. Vancouver Canucks.

May-Helm-Maltby (Abdelkader working in).

Well, for all of you that thought Filppula should be our second line center, you are certainly getting your the delight of many girlfriends out there (mine included).  Leino and Williams down, Bertuzzi and Cleary up, and Filppula stays put at center of the 2nd string unit.

I'm guessing this move is to see if we can awake Bertuzzi's scoring ability from its slumber.  With multiple posts, and goals being waved off, he could easily have 4 goals (at least) by now through 9 games.  With Filppula's natural playing ability and Cleary's ability to score the dirty rebound goals, this could actually work.

Throwing Draper in with Leino and Williams, who have worked well together so far, could prove a little more complicated.  Though Draper has played well, still has decent wheels, and certainly works hard.  Hopefully, he doesn't get too lost out there when Williams and Leino try and cycle the puck off the boards as they had done with Filppula at center.

It looks like Patrick Eaves will be sitting again.  Despite a good effort in each of his games played this year, he's yet to register a point, something that cannot be ignored.  Hopefully, Helm can get going as well and May continues to forecheck hard and provide grit and toughness.

Ozzie starts tonight, Howard on Thursday vs. Edmonton.

Bertuzzi Finally Finds a Home...for now

Found this little interesting piece on Todd Bertuzzi from the Vancouver Sun.  Bertuzzi spent eight years as a Canuck before being ridden out of town on a rail after the 2004 incident with agitator, Steve Moore.  Big Bert has been on 5 teams in 3 seasons since...but finally feels like he might have finally found a home after almost quitting the game of hockey.

"I didn't want to play anymore, for a while. The trade to Florida ... there have been some weird situations. But I'm quite happy here. I love playing with this team. For how much longer, I don't know. I'm having fun this year.  I've got to be -- it's tough to even say it -- a very defensively responsible player now. They need that from me. It's something I've had to work on and they've worked hard with me."--Todd Bertuzzi

Kenny Holland had this to say about big forward:

"He's doing everything he can to play the system and do the things our coaching staff wants.  He had 15 goals and 44 points last year and we hope at the end of the year he'll have similar stats.  [The Moore incident] has been a very, very difficult situation for everybody involved. You certainly feel bad for the Moore family, but you also feel bad for Todd and his family. It's had a big impact on Todd's career. But since we've got him here, he's been positive. I think he's been more comfortable; he's cracking jokes and I think he's happy to be in Detroit."

Bertuzzi heads into GM Place tonight to face many of his old teammates.  Expect the boo birds to come out again.  Hopefully for us, Big Bert starts seeing some of those shots off the post deflect into the back of the net.  Vancouver is coming off of a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers.  It's going to be a late night again, folks.  Coverage begins at 10:00 PM EST.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Proof that the Wings just need a little luck on their side.

Just looking at the Stats page on Yahoo today and noticed a little something, the worst shooting percentage in the league that wasn't zero was held by our future Captain, #40, Mr. Henrik Zetterberg. He's currently tied in last (with former Montreal savior Vincent Lecavalier) with a 3 percent shooting percentage. Right up there with him is fellow top two scoring line winger Jason Williams with a 3.6%, Cleary and Lidstrom with a 4.5% and Todd "Even if I score they wave it off" Bertuzzi with a 5%. And oh yeah, our leading pointman last season, Pavel Datsyuk at 0%. Thankfully, Kirk Maltby is picking up the slack with an incredible 50% shooting rate so far.

There is almost no chance that any one of these players will continue with this sort of percentage as on the year goes on, especially Maltby. And once it does, the wins will come.

Wysh Chimes in on Wings' Slow Start

Sooner or later, Puckdaddy was going to have to talk about knew it was coming.  The lead writer (and New Jersey Devils fan) finally thought it's far enough into the season to call the Red Wings out.

After rattling off some of their meager stats through nine games, Wysh says:

Again, it's been nine games; but nine games are a large enough sample for national media, Detroit media and the blogosphere to take a critical look at a team that's critically underperforming.

Some of the analysis is scathing, some of it is panicked, but much of it applies the kid-glove label of "transition year" to a team that came one win over the Pittsburgh Penguins away from the Stanley Cup last spring, and to a franchise that's been able to reload like a gunslinger for the last 15 years.

All of it points to two questions: What's wrong with the Red Wings, and can they recover?

He doesn't really go on to answer either of these questions.  Using parts of the Brad Stuart quote I posted on here earlier about "bad puck luck" and then quoting King Lidas about all of the new faces in the lineup...which I guess starts to answer the first question posed above.  Is chemistry an issue on this team?  Watching Saturday's game, and even parts of Thursday's against the 'Yotes and I would have to say 'No'.  It appeared to me that all lines were clicking on Saturday, getting chances, working hard.  There was not an abundance of miscues and errant passes.  It didn't look like there was any dissention on the bench, though my exposure via FSD was limited.

The fact is that the Red Wings are struggling out of the gate in the wrong season, as up-is-down in the Western Conference and playoff spots that appeared slotted for the elite are being slowly claimed by the peasants. It's going to take an epic nosedive for the Colorado Avalanche (18 points) and the Los Angeles Kings (16 points) not to be near the bubble this season after their torrid starts. Chicago, Columbus and Calgary are all on schedule. Vancouver's just getting warmed up, and the Ducks haven't made noise yet.

This isn't to say Detroit won't be a playoff team. This is to say that Devellano's correct in thinking that the Red Wings are going to have to fight like hell to make them, especially if this early-season swoon is prolonged.

What's more possible?  A group of veterans who have been to two consecutive Stanley Cup finals turning their season around, or a group of kids taking a nosedive through the standings at the first sign of adversity?  Look at what happened to Crosby and Malkin's team when the going got tough last year...after a white hot start to the season, they found themselves out of a play-off spot in February until bringing in new faces (Kunitz, Guerin, Bylsma) turned their season around. 

Point is, it's better to be slow out of the gate, and fast to the finish.  Unless you're St. Louis, that is...the league's hottest team in the 2nd half of the season was swept in the first round.  Maybe the fact that the Red Wings are doing so terrible now, means that they won't totally suck in the month of February, as the norm has been the past few years.

Would any other team be getting as much recognition with such a slow start?  I can think of 2 other teams: Pittsburgh and Washington.  Look at Anaheim, a team that, in my mind would have beaten Pittsburgh for the Cup last year if the Wings hadn't stopped them.  Anaheim is currently 3-5-1, a point behind Detroit in the Western Conference standings, and Wysh classifies them as "not made noise yet".  Panic in Anaheim?  Probably not, because historically, the team has always gotten off to a slow start.  People just aren't used to the Red Wings starting off that way...those in Detroit and those simply watching from across the country.

If the Red Wings had put even two performances like the game against Buffalo together, I might be a little more inclined to buy into the whole "transitional period" hype.  But they're playing well, they're trying hard, and they're coming close.

So in conclusion, either the pucks are going to start bouncing our way as Brad and Bert have suggested, or that argument is going to prove a bad excuse and the sky is in fact falling down around us.  As a biased blogger (and an optimist), I'm going to assume that the Wings will turn it around...but I may get my umbrella out of the closet.

Larsson Rebounds from Shaky Start in GR

An update on the Grand Rapids Griffins, via mlive...

Daniel Larsson is starting to look more like the goaltender that was an AHL All-Star last year, instead of the one who gave up five goals and was pulled in his second start of this season.  The 23-year-old Larsson won his second game in a row and stopped a career-high 41 shots during the Grand Rapids Griffins' 6-1 victory against the Abbotsford Heat on Sunday night.

That game that got him pulled against Phoenix affiliate San Antonio saw 5 our of 6 shots (ouch!) go past Larsson in the first period before he was pulled.  Coach Curt Fraser came to the young Swede's aid:

"To be fair, he went over to Sweden with Detroit, didn't play, didn't practice very much, wasn't prepared as maybe he needed to be to start this season and we threw him in against some real tough competition.  He kind of struggled the first couple of outings. Against San Antonio, he kind of struggled, but tonight he shows you the real deal.  It was nice to see Daniel have such success like that. That's the way he's going to have to play for us all year if we expect to get to where we want to go."

Larrson didn't get his 6th shutout as a Griffin as a result of a late 3rd period goal scored on a five on three, but he did register his first penalty as a Griff.
"The guy ran me before I slashed him. I was a little (ticked) off about that," he said. "That wasn't the best thing to do, but we got a win anyway, so that's the most important thing."--Daniel Larsson
The Griffins are currently 4-4-0 in eight games played this season.

Bad "Puck Luck"

In retrospect, the Wings did have a ton of chances against Colorado.  At times, they dominated the young Avs and if not for some great goaltending from Craig Anderson, who turned away 48 of 49 shots, the game could have been won in going away fashion by Detroit.  We're all just waiting for one of our shots to bounce off a defenseman's stick in OT and trickle through the goalie.  We want to see one of those shots off of the post bounce in instead of out.  And we're not alone...this from very early this morning:

"We're doing a lot of good things, but we're having trouble putting the puck in the net.  It's one of those stretches that you go through where you've just got to continue to work through it. It happens to be at the start of the season and the tendency can be to maybe try to start doing things differently, but I don't think we need to do that. The route we need to go is to continue to do the things we're doing, and I think we'll be all right."--Brad Stuart

Todd Bertuzzi had this to add about Detroit's scoring woes...

"We're getting the puck to the net. We're getting a lot of really good chances. Puck luck right now is just not in our favor."

Bertuzzi has had two shots clink off the goal post and another waived off by our buddy Brad Watson, even though Bert had his arms up in the air celebrating before the whistle even blew...Brad can stop the play in his mind before he even blows the whistle, remember?

Sizing up the Canucks

9 games played, 3 wins, zero wins on the road...unacceptable.  After netting zip on the powerplay goals (first time all season) with a boat load of chances, the Wings have yet to crack the north side of a .500 record this season.  Scoring one goal isn't going to win you very many games.  And if you thought Craig Anderson was frustrating, tonight tomorrow we play Roberto Luongo, who just shut out the Oilers.  Statistical comparison is going to be ugly until this team A. figures out what's wrong and B. fixes it.

Vancouver hasn't been known for it's high powered offense.  They even lost one half of their dynamic duo, Daniel Sedin for at least a month with a broken left foot.  Luckily for them, they signed away Mikael Samuelsson from Detroit, who has 10 points (more than any Red Wing) thus far this season.  However, the Canucks currently sit 18th in the league as far as G/G average with 2.73, which is only one worse than Detroit's 17th ranked 2.78.  Advantage: a hair.

However, with Bobby Lou in net for the 'Nucks, you can bet that their G/A average is going to be pretty low.  It has been in the past, it will continue to be so so long as that lanky bastard stands between the pipes.  Vancouver currently ranks 7th in the league with a 2.54 G/A average.  The Wings have tightened up a little on defense, but still sit 25th in the league with a miserable 3.33 G/A average.  Advantage: a landslide.

Vancouver boasts one of the league's top power play, believe it or not.  They are currently converting 27.4% of the PP chances, good enough for 4th overall in the NHL.  Detroit's power play went 0-7 against the Avalanche on Saturday night...very "un-Red Wing-like".  We're used to having one of the top power plays in the league, but instead currently sit with 10th best with a 22.7% conversion rate; underachieving to say the least.  Advantage: Vancouver

Vancouver's penalty killing, backstopped by Lunogo currently has them ranked 13th in the NHL, with a 80.8 effectiveness rating.  Detroit, who went 1-1 on the PK on Saturday, is still trying to recover from a dismal start in the first few games of the season.  They are currently ranked 20th in the league with a 77.1% kill rate.  Advantage: Vancouver, but surprisingly, not by very much.

So if we pull ranks and take the average for GA/G and G/G...

Vancouver: 12(.5)th
Detroit: 21st

If you combine PK and PP percentages to get an overall effectiveness rating:

Vancouver: 108.2%
Detroit: 99.8%

The key for a Red Wing's victory tonight tomorrow will be simple: conversion.  If not for a couple of Bertuzzi posts, a quick whistle by Brad Watson (again), a and a slew of unconverted power plays, Detroit could be off to a 2-0-0 start on the road trip instead of 0-1-1.  We're all still waiting on Pavel Datsyuk to put one in the net.  Let's hope that tomorrow night is the night.

Last season, these two teams split the 4 regular season meetings, though Vancouver needed OT in both of their wins.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stealing Shamelessly After Losses

I didn't have a chance to watch the game live last night (as the GF decided that it was for some reason worth it to follow me to the drive-thru state, aka Ohio, while I'm in law school, I decided that it might be worth it for me to help move her in her new place), I caught highlights and parts on DVR and read most of the recaps.  So, to continue this quality reporting, I found a post on A2Y that was a perfect rundown of the game...

Posted by OHWingsFan40 from Oregon/Bowling Green, OH
Well, another game where the Wings fail to put a team away, turnovers cost them and a marginally weak goal ends the game. Winless on the road thus far.

My thoughts:

- The PP needs to be changed. Every fuching player in the league knows the Wings take shots from the point, it’s so predictable and boring. Work it down low and get someone open in the slot.
- Howard plays a good game, then he’s off his angle horribly on the Stewart goal. An NHL goalie needs to stop that shot.
- Ericsson and Lebda need to be split up, they are just brutal together. I see Lebda more in the offensive zone than his own, if he wants to score so damn much, move him up front.
- Bert played his best game I’ve seen him play in 4-5 years. He deserved better tonight and back to back games with posts has gotta be frustrating.
- This team is gonna live and die this year by Pavel and Hank. If they can’t generate anything, they’re likely going to struggle to score.
- Lastly, hats off to Anderson for playing his tail off. The season is young, and we’ll see where the Avs are come February, but they have to be mighty happy that he’s played so well for them.

I’m frustrated beyond hell again, the Wings deserved a better fate tonight and played a pretty complete game.
Agreed with every point.  Another day, another chance to actually turn it around Monday Tuesday.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pointless Preview 10/24 vs Colorado Avalanche

I actually wrote this on Friday, but since I'm stuck in Internet hell, I scheduled the post to be released today, as we look for revenge against the one that got away one week ago.

Since my co-author failed to write one of these the last time we played the Avs, I thought that I would give it a try since no one seemed to mind my “Pointless Preview” against the Coyotes…we’re not talking about that game again…ever.

Category #1: Best Name that sounds like a Pirate

Detroit has Darren Helm
Who better to pilot a ship than a man named Helm?

Colorado has Davey Jones

Also seen crappy 60's musical group the Monkees and Disney's Pirates of the Carribean 2 & 3

Winner: Detroit ...because the Monkees didn't play their own instruments and the pirate Davy Jones has an octopus face…clearly Gore Verbinski is a Wings fan. (Much love to Bill Nighy.)

Category #2: Franchise Built because Eric Lindros was an arrogant ass

Winner: Colorado
When Lindros was drafted in 1991, he downright refused to play with Joe Sakic and the Quebec Nordiques, forcing the ‘Diques to make a ridiculous trade to Philadelphia. The soon-to-become Avalanche received in the trade Peter Forsberg, as well as Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, a 1st round selection (Jocelyn Thibault who be included in the deal for Patrick Roy) in 1993, a 1st round selection (later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, later traded to the Washington) in 1994, and $15,000,000 cash....Unbelievable.

Category #3: Arena Name

Detroit has Joe Louis Arena
JLA is named after the Brown Bomber. 65 wins, 3 losses and the Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1937 to 1949. Joe Louis is widely regarded as the first black man to achieve the status of a nationwide hero within the United States.

Colorado has the Pepsi Center
Coca-Cola’s little step-sister (the not hot one)

Winner: Detroit (would have considered Colorado if it was the Mt. Dew center…makes more sense anyway.)

Category #4: Quality of Captain

Detroit has Nicklas Lidstrom
A world class person and talent. Lidas is highly respected amongst players, teammates and opponents alike. He has over 1,000 career points, 6 Norris trophies (8 nominations), the first European to captain a team to the Stanley Cup and the first European to win the Conn Smythe trophy. Nicknamed “The Perfect Human”.

Colorado has Adam Foote
Left “The Perfect Turd” in Patrick Roy’s hotel bathroom back in ‘98. He has almost 30% of Lidstrom’s career points (291). He remains one of the last remnants of Colorado’s golden years. Most common response to the question, “why the hell would you make Adam Foote your captain?” Paul Stastny is too young.

Winner Detroit

Prediction: 4-2 Red Wings with an empty netter because sooner or later this team is going to learn how to put their skate to their opponents throat and press down. Jimmy is probably going to start, lead us to victory, kid…and close that 5-hole.

A look at goaltending...

George Malik is one of best bloggers out there (by the way, I find it funny that Blogger thinks that "bloggers" is misspelled, irony makes me laugh). He IS the source for all news Wings related and usually has an intelligent viewpoint on almost any subject.  However, his last few posts on Osgood's play have, well, made me wonder if we were watching the same game.

Regarding last night's Phoenix game, he posted the following about the last goal, under the title "The game-winner wasn't Osgood's fault."
Despite the claims of Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy that Chris Osgood should have stopped Adrian Aucoin's game-winner...Jonathan Ericsson tipped the puck from what would have been Osgood's five-hole to the blocker side, or at least swatted at it to the point that Osgood didn't get set.

And on the game last Saturday when Ozzie gave up a soft wrist shot from outside the circles and another goal between the legs, Malik had this to say.

For all one could say about Osgood's performance tonight, Craig Anderson looked equally shaky on the goals he gave up, and while the first goal Osgood gave up may have been a "squeaker," the Red Wings ensured that the Avalanche would score on essentially the same play every time.

Once again, Ericsson and Lebda negated superb performances by getting caught up in line changes, and the usually-solid Stuart surprisingly followed suit in screening Osgood, and the third goal's three-on-three-turned-three-on-two was simply inexcusable...
Regarding Saturday's game, Osgood was average in net at best.  The goal that went between his legs was stoppable (something we need now) and the wrist shot by Duchene was a must stop.  As a stupid goalie myself, I understand screens happen, but the shot was from far outside enough that there should be no problem finding the puck again and tracking it to the blocker.  Stuart played it perfectly and simply, that shot has to be stopped.  This shot was not much different than the game winner last night.  The shot was again shot from almost the blue line, and, while I agree that there was a mild tip from the Big Rig, Ozzie again reached with his stick rather than following it with his blocker.

Osgood used to have a huge issue with the lower blocker side early in his career, always going for a stick save when the proper move would be to extend to the puck with his blocker.   He was always much more of a reaction goalie than a blocking goalie.  After his banishment to the Island and St. Louis for a few years to work on his game (yes, I'm saying that getting traded to the Islanders and the Blues is sort of like sending someone down to the AHL), Osgood was called back up and has reemerged as a solid butterfly goalie with the ability to react to the puck when necessary.  His fundamentals and experience usually make up for the fact that in today's game, his edge control, size and flexibility are all subpar as compared to other NHL netminders.

In the past few games, however, there has been a few signs of the Yzerman era Osgood.  Now, while we all hate to admit it, he is getting older.  The natural tendency of the body is to turn the leg up and swing the stick at a shot to the blocker side, like the goaltenders pre-90's did.  It does take a significant amount of hip flexibly to stretch out with the blocker square to the shooter (as somewhat shown in this photo with the white jersey).  The next photo shows the old technique that cost him goals the past two games.  He more swings at the puck rather than pushes towards it. 

Now, having said that, Osgood was great in Phoenix for three periods.  Usually that would be enough, but lately, we need him for the entire game on every shot.  I know he can do it.

Jimmy starts tomorrow.  I hope he can get in a regular rotation with about a 2-1 ratio with Osgood. If so I have no doubt he'll be fine.