Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We've Moved.

Hey gang, The Nightmare on Helmstreet has picked up and moved.

You can now find us www.nightmareonhelmstreet.com

Thanks to all our readers who made this whole thing possible.  I hope you like the new diggs.

-Drew

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tomorrow's Lineup vs The Thrashers

As per usual, Khan(!) provides us with some insight...

Bertuzzi-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Leino-Zetterberg-Cleary
Draper-Helm-Eaves
May-Abdelkader-Miller (Maltby working in)

Lidstrom-Ericsson
Rafalski-Stuart
Lebda-Meech

Howard (starting)
Osgood

Now before you get all frantic looking at that 3rd D-pairing, just read this:

The top two pairs will remain the same (Nicklas Lidstrom-Jonathan Ericsson, Brian Rafalski-Brad Stuart). They'll play against the opponent's top two lines. Then he'll pair one of those players with Brett Lebda and another with Derek Meech to use against the third and fourth lines. And he'll rotate.

Say what?  Would you mind clearing that up for us a little bit, Babbles?

"So we’ll almost have an eight-man block with six players.  It’s way too complicated to explain, but it’ll be simple.’’

Thanks, Coach.  It looks like both Meech and Lebda have been given a vote of no confidence as a pair.  Anyone want to argue with that logic?  I didn't think so.

It's the PK, Stupid

From Khan(!) this morning, following another dreadful perfmormance for Detroit's PK units which greatly contributed to last night's loss...


“You have to fight through it, have to find ways to kill those penalties and not spend as much time in the box. Just got to get back to the basics. Tonight, they're making some good plays, but we were kind of out of position, too. Instead of keeping the box tight, we were spread out a little too much. That gave them some openings."--Nick Lidstrom

Spread out a little too much?  On the first powerplay goal, you could throw a blanket over all four of the Wings, and every single one of them had their eyes glued to the puck instead of...ya know...looking for someone to conver, say like, Jason Arnott.  The guy isn't hard to miss.  Protect the front of your net by taking the body instead of trying to play the puck.  I hate that.

Face-offs were a real problem last night.  Helm and Abdelkader combined for six wins in over twenty attempts.  That is just unacceptable.  Here's what Babcock had to say about it:

"You're chasing the puck.  Those are kids getting lessons on the road, that's part of the process we're in. You just keep plugging and grinding every day."

Fix it, Uncle Mike.

Sour Grapes: 11/23 vs NSH

Well another we put another frustrating game in the books last night.  The Wings prove once again that it doesn't matter how much you out shoot or even out play a team, if you don't cover well in your own zone and don't cash in on your oppourtunities, you will lose.  Let's see what our friends from Music Town had to say about last night's contest.  These comments courtesy of On The Forecheck's game thread:

Dirk Hoag: Let's Go Marty, It's Time To Party! Might he start earning that paycheck? Thank goodness… 2-0 Preds!

Dirk is the proprietor of On The Forecheck.  Though I did respect his oppinion and occasional relevant article during his time at KK, he seems to have fallen back into a world where exclamation points and bad rhyming are acceptable. "Let's Go Marty, It's Time To Party!"?  Sounds like a bad facebook event, doesn't it?

LuvThePreds: monitoring Wings' SB nation site….“Winging it in Motown,” and there’s only been one bash-Nashville comment. Chicago was by far the worst in that department. Mainly, they’re just venting about Bertuzzi’s penalties.

This is somewhat amusing to me, the fact that not only did this person check WIM to make sure no one was saying anything bad about their team...but it looks like they do this on a regular basis.  Yes, I see the irony of making fun of someone for monitoring other teams' blogs, but I do it post-game, dammnit.  That's a big difference.  And oh, Chicago fans lacking class?  I don't believe it.

Hong Kong...

Jerseypredsfan: Phooey! 2-1

Did anybody get that?  Ok, that one was bad, I'll admit.  But these fans aren't really giving me anything to go with.  You think anyone over at the A2Y Liveblog used the word "phooey"?  I'm guessing not.

EXPECTATIONS: getting noticed on nhl.com again!!!!

Your obligatory CAPS LOCK and exclamation mark abuse post...there's one in every family.  And getting mentioned on NHL.com is cause for that much excitement?  Sounds like your "EXPECTATIONS" are pretty low for a team that plays in the NHL.

And the winner is...

Lil cutie: Erat's back baby!!! Erat fans can come out of the closet

Please do...it's nothing to ashamed of.

Surprisingly respectful and fairly well spoken game thread, small as it was.  Abel to Yzerman had almost 18 times as many comments, but that is why the Chief is the master.  So...enjoy it while it lasts, Bubba.  Remember that you took the regular season series last year, yet you were still golfing when mid-April rolled around.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"The punishment should be five games and skating lessons."

That's what Brad May told the Detroit News when talking about Georges Laraque's punishment...


"If they summon you to Toronto, it's at least four games.  He probably didn't mean to hurt him, Georges is just too heavy on his skates. The punishment should be five games and skating lessons."

Like I told a co-worker today at lunch, if Don Cherry can't even defend a Canadian cheap-shotting a European... you KNOW it was a dirty play.  Here's what Dan Cleary had to say:

"We have to get rid of plays like that.  Clearly he was beaten and he was trying to stop him and he stuck his leg out. That's when guys get hurt. We have to send a message that we can't do that -- whether it's to a player on our team or another team."

Nobody seems to be against Laraque getting suspended, and not just in Detroit's camp.  Here's a tidbit from Stu Hackel of the New York Times:

Even in Montreal there are demands that Laraque be punished. On Rue Frontenac, web site of the locked out Journal de Montreal employees, Pierre Durocher noted yesterday that he had gotten a number of emails from fans condemning Laraque’s recklessness.
Come on, Colie Campbell.  Time to prove me wrong for all the times I've called you a sniveling coward.  Another injustice has been done to Detroit, do you have the brass to do something about it?  You are the NHL vice-president after all...

Tonight's Lineup vs NSH

With Khan(!) missing in action, the Free Press has provided us with a little insight as to what our lines will look like tonight vs The Predators.  Some interesting defenisve pairs...

Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Bertuzzi
Leino-Zetterberg-Cleary
Draper-Helm-Eaves
Miller-Abdelkader-May
Maltby (scratched)

Lidstrom-Ericsson
Stuart-Meech
Rafalski-Lebda

Osgood (starting)
Howard

Coach Babcock on his pairings on defense:

“I thought Rafi and Lebs kind of share the same politics, so they can talk to each other about politics.  I thought Big E is from Sweden and Nick is from Sweden, so that works good. And then I thought Meechie and Stuie are from the West, so why not? No, really, honest to God what we did is, we got through the morning skate so far. We’re a work in progress. We’re going to figure it out.”

Um....yeah...what he said.

Awaiting a Decision on Laraque

From NHL.com this morning...


"There were four refs on the ice and they didn't call anything.  If they called a match penalty it would be different. There was no intent, there was no reason why I would try to go and hurt him. It was a pure accident, that's why they called it tripping, so I'm not worried at all."--Georges Laraque

No intent, huh?  Your knee just sort of accidentally stuck itself out?  Why would you try and hurt him?  Maybe it's because you're a goon.  You're not paid to score goals, block shots, kill penalties...you're paid to enforce.  What's more believable: that it was purely accidental, or that you were frustrated because you were already taking a bad penalty so you made a stupid decision?  I'm thinking it's the latter. 

Basically, whatever suspension he is handed down isn't long enough.  This was a fourth line player taking out a top echelon defenseman.  Laraque may get 1-5 games, but what about Kronwall?  He could be out for two months.  If you ask me, a blatant cheap shot such as this should see the offender be suspended for the duration of time spent on the sideline for the victim.  Think Georgey boy would think twice about sticking his leg out if that were the case?

Pointless Preview: 11/23 vs Nashville Predators

Category #1: Our Coach Looks Like a Fast Food Icon


Nashville has Barry Trotz as Jack in the Box.



Both have bulbous heads with no neck.







Detroit has Paul McLean as Colonel Sanders.

 


…not so much. I only went on this for glasses/facial hair. McLean would look sweet rockin’ that goatee though, if I do say so myself.



Winner: Nashville

Category #2: We’ve Never Won a Play-Off Series…Ever.


Nashville:

2003-2004- Lost to DET 4-2 in WCQF
2005-2006- Lost to SJ 4-1 in WCQF
2006-2007- Lost to SJ 4-1 in WCQF
2007-2008- Lost to DET 4-2 in WCQF

Detroit: Don’t make me go into details...just trust me on this one.

Winner: Detroit

Category #3: Quality of Ownership


Nashville: Craig Leipold was going to sell the team in 2007 to the infamous Jim Balsillie. Balsillie promptly put tickets on sale in Hamilton, which actually outsold tickets currently being purchased in in Nashville. Gary promptly put the kibosh to the deal and instead put in William “Boots” Del Biaggio who ran into legal trouble over a multitude of unpaid loans, culminating in him filing for bankruptcy. Del Biaggio, it is rumored, acquired the loans he used to buy his stake in the team through fraudulent means, prompting an FBI investigation and criminal charges. Del Biaggio may have offered to sell the team to Balsillie as a last ditch effort, but the deal was once again blocked by Mr. Bettman.

Detroit: In 1982, Mike Ilitch bought the Red Wings (legally) from Bruce Norris for $8 million. He used to give away cars at home games to boost attendance for the struggling franchise. His treatment of players/staff is second to none. Many former players are given front office jobs (Jiri Fischer, Steve Yzerman). When the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008, Illitch had Stanley Cup rings made for all the living players who had won the Cup previously, but did receive championship rings. His philanthropic efforts have been recognized by three different US Presidents. On May 8, 2009, Illitch was named by Sports Illustrated as the best owner in the NHL.

Winner: Detroit

Category #4: Google Image Search [Team City] + Redneck


Nashville:



Whew, doggie. Think he’s ever told a man to “squeal like a pig”?

Detroit:


Kid Rock is the self-proclaimed “long haired, red neck rock and roll son of Detrot”.


Winner: Detroit

Prediction: Will Nashville resort back to playing the back-up against Detroit? Dallas, Florida played their back-up and won. Montreal played their starter and lost. I’m saying that the Wings play surprisingly good defense and win this one 4-1. And that is still one too many times that “I like it, I love it” should be played at a hockey arean. YEE-HAW!

Sizing Up the Nashville Predators


Masochists, rejoice! Kronwall is out 4-8 weeks with a sprained ligament in his surgically repaired left knee, leaving us with BOTH Brett Lebda and Derek Meech in the lineup for the foreseeable future. Tonight we play the Nashville Predators (aka Bubba). The Predators currently occupy 10th in the Western Conference while Detroit clings to 9th in the West, having taken 3 out of a possible 4 points on the weekend. Nashville stumbled out of the gate this season, but has gone 8-2-0 in their last ten games played. Once again, three out of the four Central Division teams are in play-off positions.


Scoring goals is not something the Nashville Predators do well. They’ve never really boasted a prolific scorer aside brief stints by Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg (yeah…remember when he was there?). The Predators currently rank dead last in the league as far as G/G average with 2.24. Detroit’s one goal game against the Panthers and two goal (three with the shootout) effort against the Canadiens brought their G/G average down slightly. However, they remain at 6th in the NHL with a fairly robust 3.10. Advantage: Detroit

Of course, when a team is struggling to score goals yet is only a couple points out of a play-off spot, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are at least decent at keeping the puck out of their own net. Nashville has had a history of riding a hot back-up goalie, and riding the starter out of town. Dan Ellis stole the job from Chris Mason, Pekka Rinne has stolen the job from him. The sophomore sensation has backstopped his team, which currently ranks 9th in the league with a 2.62 G/A average. The Wings are coming off of Saturdays’ 3-2 shootout win, which helped their goals against slightly. Howard played well on Saturday and Osgood can’t be blamed for Friday’s OT loss. They’ve risen to 16th in the league with a 2.81 G/A average. Advantage: Nashville


Nashville’s abysmal offensive numbers can in part be explained by ineptitude with the man advantage. The Predators are currently only converting 15.7% of their PP chances, which is good enough for 25th overall in the NHL. Detroit's power play scored twice on Saturday in the first frame, but was shut out the rest of the way. The biggest money-maker on the PP seems to be Rafalski’s slap pass to Datsyuk who camps out just below the circles for a tip-in. Nashville would do well to watch out for that. Detroit’s PP is currently 5th best in the NHL with a 23.9% conversion rate. Advantage: Detroit.

Barry Trotz, the neck-less bench boss for the Nashville Predators always preaches tough team defense. This, along with some stellar play by the Nashville goaltender has allowed the Predators to put up at least decent numbers on the penalty kill. The Preds are currently ranked 16th in the NHL with a 79.7% effectiveness rating. Detroit, has moved up one spot in the rankings, but remain near the bottom of the NHL in penalty killing effectiveness. They are currently ranked 26h in the league with a 75.7% kill rate. Advantage: Nashville

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


Nashville: 19(.5)th
Detroit: 11th

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


Nashville: 95.4%
Detroit: 99.6%


The key for a Red Wing's victory tonight will be to take care of the puck in our own defensive end. With Meech in for Kronwall (dear god, please don’t put Meech and Lebda together as a pair), it’s going to be interesting to see how well we play defense. Meech has looked decent at times, but for the most part, he’s been a huge headache. Nashville doesn’t usually score very many goals, which means they will probably score a lot tonight. No more turnovers in our own end, please.

Detroit was only able to post a 2-3-1 record against Nashville last year, which included an 8-0 demolition in Nashville during a very cold February. Will Trotz start a backup against Detroit tonight? I don’t know, what I do know is that I hate Nashville.  This is a team that we should always beat.  Yet, we always seem to find a way to lose. Let's do this.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kronwall out at least Two Weeks

Doubled up the competition in shots on Friday, lost 2-1 in OT.

Doubled up the competition in shots on Saturday, won in a shoot out.  Three out of 4 points isn't bad I guess.  But the big news isn't good.

Ever had one player injure two different guys in one shift?  Well cement head George Laraque can now say that he's accomplished that feat.



After smacking Helm in the mush with his stick, the SOB went and stuck his leg out, one of the most dangerous plays in hockey...just seconds later.

And now this from the Detroit News...

"That's something that shouldn't happen in hockey.  A guy shouldn't hang his leg out there and hurt another guy. It's unacceptable and it's disappointing because we just lost a good hockey player for a period of time. Our doctors will look at him (Sunday), but he's out for a chunk of time for sure." ---Mike Babcock

Holland says that Kronwall will be out at least two weeks, depending on the MRI results from today.  Laraque said it was an accident...yeah-frickin'-right.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's not worth winning if you can't win big.

Few random thoughts about tonight's game...updated throughout the game.

  • Anyone feel like the Canadians are too worried about how they look rather than the product on the ice?  Cool jerseys though.
  • Apparently you need to break a stick to get a cross check called today today. 
  • I missed Kronwall's incident, feed died...how bad was it? 
  • Nice goal by Stewy.
  • Damnit feed died again before goal two...but nice tippy by Datsyuk.
  • Wait, the new powerplay rules for faceoffs are confusing...you need a lawyer to know where the damn faceoff is.
And nothing till the end, but I think I'm gunna have to end this, my feeds aren't stable enough to really watch the game.  For a real live blog, check out Abel to Yzerman

Go Wings!

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Wings Quarter Pole Player Rankings

    So it's about the quarter pole of the season, and I'm going to do a team ranking of each player, because, well, why the hell not, it's not like I have my first real law school final on Monday or anything.  It's going to be hard not to write the same "so and so is doing better after a slow start" for each player on this list not named Maltby.  I know it will come out here and there, so bear with it.

    After the name is the following: GP/G/A/P/+-. 


    Abdelkader, Justin - 16/3/1/4/1 - B-

    For a guy who is supposed to be in the AHL, he's fit into the team admirably. While his totals aren't impressive, he's been doing what we want him to do. He's gunna be a solid 3rd liner for a long time for the Wings. Plus your goal got me on FSN. 


    Bertuzzi, Todd - 19/3/6/9/-5 - C+

    I've always been a Bertuzzi supporter. I think it's from his quote from a long time ago when he was a badass and knew it. Plus I was in high school and wanted to be cool.

    "If beer has never touched your lips, you've never packed a lip or dropped the mitts, chances are you're not a hockey player...if you are, you're not a very good one"
    --Todd Bertuzzi
    So all year long, I've defended Big Bert from the haters that absolutely tore him up every game.  And the Unabomber has surprised a lot of people, in a few different ways.  He's working harder and backchecking more than any of us would have imagined.  He's also shown us new ways to hit the post when it seems like the puck has no choice but to go into the net.   So basically, we expected a lazy player who will put up points.  We got the opposite.  Is this good?  Who knows.  I still say he gets it going eventually though and ends up with 60 points.


    Cleary, Danny - 19/4/7/11/1 - B

    Cleary has, well been, Dan Cleary.  He's a hard worker, isn't pretty, works wherever Uncle Mike puts him in the line-up, which is a new place every day.  And Drew mentioned, he's on pace for his usual forty or so points.  So not great, but not bad. 


    Datsyuk, Pavel - 17/4/12/16/4 - B+

    Pav is starting to consistently look like himself lately, which means he is one of the top players on the ice.  He singlehandedly showed the world that he's better than Ovechkin in the early matchup this year.  And when he's on the ice with Zetterberg, good god, those two give me a rager with the magic that they make together.  But, there have been games where Pavel has disappeared.  I know he can be better and I'm sure he does as well.


    Draper, Kris - 18/3/3/6/1 - B+

    Babcock scratched Draper once this year.  The team lost that game like 14-1.  Yeah, I doubt that will happen again.  He's gained a step this year and since Babbles put together the "Red Corvettes" line (is that gonna stick as like name?) those little f'ers have been flying around the ice. 


    Eaves, Patrick - 11/1/4/5/6 - A-

    Eaves, after a start to the season where he wasn't even playing, has worked his way into the lineup (or figured out a way to poison people where their bones are brittle....) and has played like a madman.  He doesn't have 20 goal potential really, but he is a quality player.  He's the offensive threat on the Corvette line, but compared to Draper, I'm an offensive threat in my Thursday night bender league.  I like the kid and he works.  Thanks Carolina and Boston for the gift. 


    Ericsson, Jonathan - 17/3/6/9/-2 - B-

    The Big Rig is having a mixed year.  He's playing like a rookie defenseman, but a seriously talented one.  His nine points is solid, but he's been real, real rough defensively. (He's third on the team in GF per 60 minutes played, but third worst in GA per 60, what does this tell you?)   But hey, we expect this out of the kid.  He'll be great in a year or two, and I expect him to get his shit together by the playoffs. 


    Filppula, Valtteri - 11/2/4/6/-6 - B-

    Before the pretty boy broke himself, he was one of those players that looked like he was playing great, but the stats weren't showing it. Like I would have thought he had almost a PPG until I looked at his stats. He's the worst on the team for GA per 60, but unlike those who have the IQ of a chimp and think you can know everything from a few select stats, I know he's on his way up and was playing well. 


    Franzen, Johan - 3/1/1/2/0 - N/A

    I remember how easily the Mule could score and that makes me sad.

    Helm, Darren - 14/2/3/5/1 - B

    Helm, our namesake, had a little Babbles mindf'ck timeout, but came back and is dominating like he can.  Anyone else notice that he has a wicked wrist shot?  Yeah, he's doing well after an average start. And he's fast.  Real fast. 


    Holmstrom, Tomas - 19/9/3/12/5 - A

    Jesus Holmstrom, you are awesome.  The only consistent on the team this entire season, he's been putting the puck in the net as fast as his chubby Swedish arms will let him.  Sure he's not fast, but you know, he's not bad with the puck.  And I think this year was the first time since the Clinton got his winky wacked that he's scored on a slap shot.  I wasn't even quite sure if Homer knew how to shoot a slap shot. 




    Howard, Jimmy - Record 4/3/1 SA 90.0% GAA 2.87 - B

    Oh Jimmy, how you've split the fan base.  At first everyone called for your head served on a platter and called you ugly.  Now some people are saying you're taking over the number one job.  Well no, no you're not.  But you've done pretty well lately, so please, keep it up.  None of that shit from the beginning of the season.  Giving you a grade is tough.  But a B is a solid way to say absolutely nothing in particular, so that's what you get.


    Kronwall, Niklas - 19/5/8/13/3 - A

    Nick Jr. has been playing like the way we knew he could for years now.  He's been smart about his huge hits, hasn't missed any time yet, is third on the Wings in scoring, and just has a rocket slapper.  He's been great.  Not like Sr. great, but great. 


    Lebda, Brett - 16/1/2/3/-3 - D+

    Lebda has lived up to my expectations of an offensive defenseman who doesn't score.  I never thought I would yearn for The Lilja, but I do.  He has gotten a little better, but, but, f**k how couldn't he?

    As suggested by JJ, Lebda gets an extra bonus.





    Leino, Ville - 18/3/2/5/1 - C-

    I like you, Dr. E-Ville.  You're talented, no doubt about that.  But it is hard to get a read on you Ville.  Are you trying hard?  What's wrong?  Are you happy?  Did your puppy run away?  I can't tell with that mean look on your face.  You scored a few great ones at first.  Then I forgot that you played on the team.  Now you and Zetterman are on a line, so please use that to your advantage.  And please, try to smile. 

    Lidstrom, Nicklas - 19/1/6/7/11 - A-

    Oh, Mr. Lidstrom.  I know the season has started a little slow for you offensively, but you're Nick Lidstrom, of course that's forgiven.  Defensively, you've still been incredible (GA per 60 = 1.31), even when the goaltenders behind you were too busy taking a giant dump on the ice to care about the black disk flying towards them.   Now the idiots in the media think that you've started to fall off, but anyone that watches you play know for a fact that isn't true. 


    Maltby, Kirk - 13/3/2/5/5 - A-

    For Malts, it is hard.  Do I grade him for the fact that he scored three goals already and has been rock solid defensively?  Or do I grade him for the fact he's been in and out of the line-up?  He's proven to me he's still got a little left in him, so I'd say he's done better than I expected.   Plus he's a plus five.  Impressive Kirk.


    May, Brad  - 12/0/1/1/-1 - B

    Turns out I like Brad May.  He seems like a great guy, tries hard, exposes Little Gary for the terrible commissioner that he is, and throws a great haymaker.  And you know, he ain't half bad at hockey either.

    Meech, Derek - 5/0/0/0/-2 - D+

    Voted most likely to be picked up on waivers by some team and turn out to be a superstar.  But honestly, Meech, come on.  You can't win a spot over Brett Lebda?

    Miller, Drew - 3/0/0/0/1 - N/A

    Hello Drew, welcome to Detroit.  Heard you're brother isn't half bad, want to talk to him and see if he can get out of his contract and come play here for like, I don't know, how does 500k sound?  It'd buy you like at least 50 or so houses around the area. 

    Osgood, Chris - Record 6/3/2 SA 90.0% GAA 2.77 - B-

    Osgood, you schizophrenic S.O.B.,  Be good or be bad, just as long as you pick one.  I don't care, this is killing me. 


    Rafalski, Brian - 18/2/8/10/3 - B-

    Rafalski is potent offensively as usual, but without Nick Lidstrom out there, I think he's +/- would take a beating.  He's been caught a ton this season on pinches and, well hasn't looked great.  But he's still a great PP guy and hopefully things will start coming together for him defensively.


    Stuart, Brad 19/1/3/4/2 - B-

    Stuart, we overpaid you a tiny bit, but I like you and your consistent ability to hit.  And hey, you get PP time now. Oooh fun!

    Williams, Jason 15/2/5/7/-5 - B

    Sort of the same as Val, I think he's been playing well, even if the stats don't really show it.  He's a lot better than I remember him, though in my memory, he was wearing rental skates and drooling on himself as he passed to the other team for a shorthanded breakaway, so that wasn't a high bar to surpass. 

    Zetterberg, Henrik - 19/9/14/23/7 - A

    Stupid goalies got in the way at the beginning of the season, but if you've watched the Wings more than once, you know Zetterberg has been nothing short of dominate.  He's an interesting player in the fact that he's not really great at any one thing.  Like in NHL terms, he'd be a 89 at everything.  And it turns out that being an 89 at everything makes you a 97 overall.   Even the create a player guy don't have enough points to cheat and make themselves as good as Henrik is, though he gets a few bonus points for going home and pounding Emma every night.  Hell, I'd be in the show if I could rest up with her just once a week.

    Harsh Words

    This from Free Press, Coach Babcock wants more out of his top line...and he isn't pulling any punches while talking about it:


    “Pav, Bert and Homer haven’t been as good. They turn the puck over way too much and haven’t had enough substance playing in the offensive zone. For Homer to score goals and be effective, they gotta be on the grind in that zone, and he’s gotta be at the net. That’s a key for him.”

    Sure he's abrasive and a little blunt at times, but that's our Uncle Mike, and we love him.

    Truth be told, this line did look a little shaky on Wednesday.  Bert looks like he's hustling, but without sustained pressure in the offensive zone, Holmstrom can be a liability at times.  The pressure and shots needs to be established by Datsyuk and Bert, and the defense need to get their shots through the opposition.

    Let's go, boys.

    Another Back-Up Starts vs Wings

    Well, it's either one of two scenarios...

    1. Coaches of opposing teams come on here, read my Pointless Preview and get so worked up about it that they change their lineup just to spite me.

    2. Pete DeBoer is taking a page out of Marc Crawford's play-book to see if it actually works

    That's right, this from the Miami Herald...

    Scott Clemmensen, Florida's most vocal defensive critic to date this season, will find out firsthand how much better things have gotten.  Clemmensen, who gave up seven goals against Washington on Nov. 7 and said playing behind the Panthers defense was ``kind of survival'' afterward, will start in place of Tomas Vokoun.

    They may say that it's because Vokoun just played...but I think we all know the truth...don't we, Pete?

    Pointless Preview: 11/20 vs Florida Panthers

    Category #1: We Made the Worst Trade Ever

    Florida: Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek, and a sixth-round draft pick in exchange for Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Auld, and Bryan Allen.  Luongo is still regarded as one of the game's "elite" goalies.  Bertuzzi had the worst numbers of his career as a Panther and became a pariah for quite a while (still considered by some) until he landed in Detroit...again.


    Detroit: Traded Adam Oates and Paul MacLean (yes, THAT Paul MacLean) for Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney.  Federko was a star, so was Oates...a short term gain, long term pain. Detroit beat up on Adam Oates for pretty much the rest of his career. If Washington had won the Cup back in ’99 with Oates on the team, this would have been different.

    Winner: Detroit (meaning Florida’s trade was worse).

    Category #2: We Made Mike Milbury Look Stupid

    Florida: Traded away Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha to then Islanders GM, Mike Milbury for Olli Joikenen and Roberto Luongo

    Detroit: Completely shelled Jose Theodore in the second round of the 2008 Stanley Cups Play-offs shortly after Milbury, now a TV analyst who said that Theodore was “the best goaltender left in the post-season”.

    Winner: Florida

    Category #3: Google Image Search-  Panthers + Red Wings




    Winner: Detroit, trash talking in THOSE jerseys was an automatic disqualification.

    Category #4: Pavel Datsyuk


    Florida: Tried to trade for him using Luongo as bait.

    Detroit: Told them where to shove it.

    Winner: Detroit

    Prediction: With Ozzie starting for the first time in a while, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some cobwebs that need to be shaken off. Vokoun has the ability to steal games, and so do the refs. I would imagine Detroit will come out pretty hungry tonight and win a 4-3 that’s not as close as the score would indicate.

    Well...They Seem Optomistic


    Sorry for the late start, I participated in my second skate this morning at Joe Louis Arena.  Though I heard that Babcock was already in the building, no word yet on if he actually got a chance to see me play.

    Anyways, here's a little bit preview from a Florida source that helps paint a better picture of what we're up against tonight...

    The Panthers are coming off a lopsided victory in Buffalo, winning for the third time in four games and extending their point streak to four straight contests (3-0-1).


    This could be a good thing, considering that Detroit is usually good for curing a slumping team (Toronto), and turning up the intensity for those who are on a roll (San Jose).

    Michael Frolik netted a pair of scores as Florida used a four-goal third period to skate away with the recent win in western New York.



    Rostislav Olesz and Dominic Moore each posted a goal and one assist for the Panthers. Stephen Weiss and Cory Stillman also tallied while Tomas Vokoun stopped 26 shots for the win.

    Someone asked me who the big gun was on Florida, and honestly, I didn't have an answer for him.  I know the names of Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton...and I think I remember hearing Frolik's name once or twice last year.  Anyway, we all know Vokoun well enough to know that we don't like him.

    I'll be looking to rebound after Wednesday's game in attendance tonight with the brother-in-law.  Actually, I don't think I'm counting Wednesday's game because I "intended" to see them win...which means it must have happened....right?

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Sour Grapes: 11/18 vs Dallas Stars

    So I started this segment after the loss to Phoenix, yet haven't done one since.  Well, in the essence of staying angry about what happened last night, let's see what Dallas idiots had to say about last night's travesty...

    (These brought to you by Dallas Stars Blog and the letters F and U)

    Gary Shinski: I can't believe it is the Detroit Redwings who are consistantly screwed by the refs. How the hell can you mean to blow a whistle? That call never would have been made against Dallas.

    Okay, so that guy must not be a Stars fan...or maybe he is, and actually knows what he's talking about.

    Jessica: are we going to see this team tomorrow night? or is the roller coaster ride going to continue? Good mood by Crawford to start Auld!

    So, you’re telling my Crawford played Auld because he was cheerful?

    Here's the winner...

    TRXTR: Hehe, Wings getting screwed by the refs. That is classic...


    LMAO!!!!!


    Really? Are you serious with dat?

    ROFL!!!!!

    Bertuzzi was mugging people early, phantom calls on Daley for goalie interference, Ribeiro for cross checking, and the delay of game on Auld.

    You are a funny guy Gary...

    Oh where to start?  How about with that username?  $20 says TRXTR is this person's liscence plate on one of those useless pick-up trucks lowered to about an inch off the ground.  Let's see, 10 exclamation points between the LOL and ROFL...good use of caps too, kid.  Does anyone else picture these people actually phonetically pronouncing ROFL when they spell that out?  That's what I hear in my head anyway...I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.  Oh, and I am serious with "dat".

    Dead Wings: Any long time hockey fan has consistently seen the Red Wings get all the calls. I think this was the first time in hockey history that a call didn't go there way. Kinda cool.  Perhaps the economy is bad enough in Detroit where the Wings fans can't pay off the refs anymore. Now maybe all the teams will be on a level playing field with them.

    Any one who thinks that Detroit has consistently gotten calls their way A. disproves that they belong to the demographic they describe as both 1. long time and 2. a hockey fan.  B. You're an idiot.  Maybe if you had watched the Wings in the play-offs last year (not like a Stars fan would have missed a game by watching Dallas in the post-season), you would have seen what really goes on with Detroit and refereeing.  And of course, more immature middle-school level pokes and (in this case, catttle) prods about the struggling Detroit/Michigan economy...I know it's just a blog where anyone can post, but those are just cheap shots that have nothing to do with hockey.

    Oh and by the way, your Cup doesn't count...Brett's foot was in the crease.  That's why he came to Detroit to win a legitimate one.  Keep dreaming about your livestock and wishing you could ever build a dynasty like ours.  The refs handed you that one on a platter.  Enjoy it.

    Tomorrow's Lineup vs FLA

    Khan(!) gives us tomorrow's probable lineup vs The Florida Panthers (and possibly the refs).

    Bertuzzi-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
    Leino-Zetterberg-Cleary
    Draper-Helm-Eaves
    Miller-Abdelkader-Maltby
    May (scratched)

    Lidstrom-Rafalski
    Kronwall-Stuart
    Ericsson-Lebda
    Meech (scratched)

    Osgood (starting)
    Howard

    With the return of Ozzie, Daniel Larsson has been sent back to the red hot Grand Rapids Griffins.  Also, Lilja has flown back to the miraculous chiropractor that had previously helped with his headaches.

    Here's what Babcock had to say about replacing Brad May with Kirk Maltby:

    “May’s done a real good job, it has nothing to do with how he’s played, it’s just the lineup that (Florida) have sets it up that we can roll four lines.  We’re playing three games in a four nights, it’s important to have four lines rolling out of the gate.’’

    AKA...Maltby scores goals that the refs actually count.

    Sizing Up the Florida Panthers

    Tomorrow we play the Florida Panthers, a team who hasn’t made the play-offs since the Clinton Administration. However, while Detroit was having yet another game stolen from them by crap officiating (yeah, I’m still not over that), Florida was skating away with a 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres; a team that beat Detroit by that same score earlier this season. The Panthers currently occupy 13th in the Eastern Conference while Detroit slipped two spots to 9th in the West. So as it stands right now, of the four teams that started the season over in Europe, only Chicago (3 points ahead of Detroit) is in a play-off position with just under a quarter of the way through the season.


    Like Dallas, Florida doesn’t boast superstars in any position, really. They have a decent mix of seasoned veterans and youth that they depend on for scoring. The Panthers currently rank 19th in the league as far as G/G average with 2.68. Detroit’s one goal (technically two) game against the Stars (and refs) hurt their G/G average. However, they remain at 4th in the NHL with a healthy 3.26. Advantage: Detroit

    Thomas Vokoun has been a thorn in Detroit’s side before. He led an upstart Nashville Predators into battle against the Wings earlier this decade. He talked a lot of talk against the Wings once the series was tied 2-2, claiming Detroit was “not as good as they think they are”. Well, as you can imagine, Vokoun and the Preds were ousted in six and he was traded out of Music Town. His All-Star performance last season forced Florida’s hand in dealing Craig Anderson to Colorado…good call. Florida currently ranks 26th in the league with a 3.32 G/A average. The Wings are coming off of Wednesday’s 3-1 loss, which only hurt their goals against slightly. Howard’s play in Osgood’s stead has been stellar, if not show-stopping. They slipped to 20th in the league with a 2.90 G/A average. Advantage: Detroit

    Florida’s lowly statistical numbers continue with its power play. The Panthers are currently only converting 14.7% of the PP chances, which is good enough for 25th overall in the NHL. Detroit's power play, after looking strong in three consecutive wins, looked outright bad on Wednesday. The crisp, clean passes and well-timed accurate shots gave way to turnovers and blocked shots. Despite the poor showing on Wednesday, Detroit’s PP is currently 6th best with a 23.5% conversion rate. Advantage: Detroit.

    Well...this could be the first time that I’ve done one of these whereby Detroit swept every single category. With Vokoun being somewhat inconsistent and Scott Clemenson (yeah he left New Jersey), Florida also has a putrid penalty killing, even worse than Detroit. The Panthers are currently ranked 29th in the NHL (only in front of Toronto), with a 73.7% effectiveness rating. Detroit, who gave up their second of two PP goals against shortly after Dennis LaRue stole a goal from us on Wednesday, fell yet another spot and remain at the bottom of the NHL in penalty killing effectiveness. They are currently ranked 27h in the league with a 74.3% kill rate. Advantage: Detroit…barely

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

    Florida: 22(.5)nd
    Detroit: 12th

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

    Florida: 88.4%
    Detroit: 97.8%

    The key for a Red Wing's victory tomorrow night will be execution at both ends of the ice. The Wings need to stop turning the puck over in all three zones. They also need to pass and shoot with a purpose. Too many times against the Stars, the Red Wings tried to make the pretty little play which more often than not, lead to a giveaway. They also need to celebrate more emphatically when a puck is in the net, the goal judge turning on the light wouldn’t hurt. Ok, so the key for tomorrow’s victory will be to have competent referees…are there any out there?

    Last season, Detroit took the only meeting between these two clubs by a score of 3-2 at Florida’s home rink. However, the three key components in Detroit’s victory are no longer with us. Hossa had two goals, Franzen had the other and Conklin played in net. So who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow?

    Williams/Newbury Panning out in GR

    Alright, let's attempt to move on here, people.  It might not stick, but let's try it anyway...

    From NHL.com:

    "If Detroit is interested in you, it's a great compliment.  I guess you could say I was jealous of (Kris Newbury) that first day. Then, the next day, my agent called and said Detroit was interested."--Jeremy Williams


    I think I touched on this story a few weeks ago, but it still seems to be working.  The Griffs went on a nine game winning streak, thanks largely to Williams and Newbury who lead the team in points.  Newbury has 3G-9A-12Pts, and Williams has 8G-2A-10Pts.
     
    Willaims continued on about the Detroit organ-i-zation:
     
    "I'm extremely happy with this organization.  It's opened my eyes a lot. The main thing as a player is you want to win all the time. You want to win championships."


    Good luck doing that in Toronto.  You made the right move, my friend...uh, I mean friends.

    Not Letting it Go, Not Moving On, Not Yet

    Canada.com with some quotes you've heard, and maybe a few that you haven't...


    ``The guy never meant to blow the whistle.  It was a shot. It was in on the shot. It's as dumb as I've ever seen."--Mike Babcock

    He'll probably get fined for that comment, furthering the contraversy.  Not only did the official make a mistake, not only did the league set up their rules so that it can't be corrected, but I'll bet you that instead of using their energy to correct a growing problem, they use that time to slap the wrist of anyone who calls them out for their shotty authority to make this game worse.

    Babcock continues on the phone call with Toronto's War Room:

    "That (call from league) was probably because Toronto can't believe you could shoot it in the net and it could be waved off.  They tried to make a way for him to change his mind, I mean whatever.''

    To make the play dead before the puck went in, Dennis LaRue would have had to have blown his whistle while the puck was traveling to the net.  Watch the replay, well over a second goes by with the puck just sitting there behind the goal line, before that whistle is blown.  Someone needs to sit down with Dennis and say, "Okay, here's the puck, here's the puck behind the goal line....and HERE's where the whistle was blown.  You had a chance to correct yourself.  Why didn't you?"

    Anyway, here's what Brad May had to say:

    "I recognize the referees are in a tough spot, but we have video replay in hockey for a reason, to make the right call in those circumstance.  I think it's a joke. It's a 2-2 game and it's a different outcome for us.  There's not a chance he's going to blow the whistle on a shot from the slot. I'm sure when he sees it, he'll be OK that was a blown call.  Clearly, that's a difference maker in this game.''

    Yeah right, Brad.  No way that the league admits that it was a mistake...No.Fricking.Way.

    Now just sit back and wait for the fines to be issues and the apologies to be NOT issued.

    Plain Old Fashioned Highway Robbery

    A player shoots the puck; the goalie fails to keep the puck from crossing the goal line. The referee blows the whistle after the puck is across the goal line. This has been the definition of a goal in a hockey game for over a century. When did we start getting this one wrong?

    I, along with all the fans at the Joe knew it was in. Dallas knew it was in. The fans in Dallas knew it was in. All of the Red Wings fans watching the game on TV knew it was in. Ken and Mick and even Larry knew it was in. Anyone watching Ken and Mick and Larry on the center ice package knew that it was in. Anyone logged on to NHL.com who was watching the game on their computer knew it was in. The people in the War Room in Toronto knew it was in. Even Gary, sitting atop his ivory tower ran down to the basement where Sidney has been living and told him that was a goal. But Dennis LaRue said it wasn’t, and thus…the goal doesn’t count.

    That’s one person…out of thousands and thousands of people who knew it was a goal. One man said it wasn’t and thus it wasn’t. “The whistle had gone to blow the play dead.” Yes, we understand that, Dennis. That is what happens when a goal is scored, When you blew the whistle and skated over to the net with Abdelkader pointing and yelling, “It’s in! It’s in!” you must have noticed that the puck was completely over the line. When you got the call from Toronto, Dennis, they told you that the puck was over the line.

    “What was the call on the ice?” Toronto says.

    “I blew the play dead because I thought the puck was covered by the goalie,” Dennis replies.

    “Well it was covered, behind the goal line.”

    “Well I didn’t think it was.”

    Therefore, it isn’t a goal? About 2.5-3 seconds after the puck had crossed the line, Mr. LeRue pulled out his whistle and blew it. Why do we even have instant replay? Seriously. If we can’t fix a monumental mistake such as that, we should just get rid of the entire instant replay system and revert back to the Bud Selig ways of Major League Baseball. You have a chance to right a wrong and the rules are set up in such a way that they prevent the right call from being made.

    Let me say that again in a different way: the rules are set up so that mistakes can be made and that corrective actions simply cannot be taken.

    That, my friends, is a flawed system. Oh and of course, this happens days after the GM meetings conclude…perfect.

    Instant replay was instituted so that human errors could be corrected in an attempt to make sure that the game is fair as possible and the correct team wins. Well, that system broke down last night…again. The people on the NHL Network say “They get it right 99.9% of the time, and this time they got it wrong.” Sound familiar? It should, it’s the same B.S. argument we heard during Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals last season where Brad Watson “intended to blow the whistle” cancelling out a game-tying goal that went in before he could muster any air out of his pie hole. This was less than 30 games ago. Still want to think that they’re right 99.9% of the time? Those are two games (one of them a play-off game) that have been swayed by a wrong call that was not corrected.

    Are we going to see an apology? Don’t make me laugh. We are going to get the same story we got when Brad Watson singlehandedly robbed us of a chance to get out of that Anaheim series a game earlier. The league will back the officials to the bitter end, no matter how badly he blew the call.

    And he blew this one big time.

    Edited because Drew didn't want me throwing f'bombs in the in title of the post

    Try explaining this to your twelve year old daughter Gary...



    Turns out the only thing that can unite Wings, Pens (the couple who aren't idiots), Chicago (if they've watched hockey for more than two years), and any other teams' fans is something that all true hockey fans share, a f'***ing hatred towards the little troll that runs the league.

    Dennis LaRue should never ref another game in the NHL. If he was a judge and he pulled that crap, he'd be disbarred and removed from the podium immediately, then taken to the back of the courtroom and beaten until he looked like Glass Joe at the end of a round of Tyson's Punch-Out.

    I truly believe that Toronto called him back and said, "Hey Dennis, that's in. It went straight f***ing in." And LaRue responded "Go screw yourself."

    From A2Y:

    Are you sure they didn’t (call it a goal from Toronto)? Something tells me they did...and LaRue ignored it.


    Posted by mrfluffy from Cincy on 11/18/09 at 10:45 PM ET
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So what are the headphones for that they put on during a review? I didn’t see any this time, and that’s bollocks. This misunderstanding cost a team the tying goal. Review one way, each game, always. But no...he would’ve had to admit he was wrong...and that was apparently too much.


    Posted by mrfluffy from Cincy on 11/18/09 at 11:12 PM ET
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That’s why I miss Shanny.


    He would fight Auld for the rubber, be penalized, argue with LaRue, fight LaRue, not be penalized, get the goal and sign LaRue’s dismissal.


    Posted by Guilherme from Brasil on 11/18/09 at 11:15 PM ET

    And he'd follow up by punching Gary in the face.

    And here's a few Pens' fans comments.

    Totally agree with Paul there, it obviously went in RIGHT from the shot! even when the the whistle would have been blown, the puck was already in the net. This is a pens fan here and i’m upset about that call! ludacris, man.


    Posted by SteelPens111 on 11/19/09 at 12:58 AM ET

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I am a huge Pens fan who used to laugh at your whiny columns during the Finals. Having said that, you have every right to be furious. Detroit got robbed. The whole intent thing is stupid. How can there be intent to blow the whistle on a SHOT ON GOAL???? The intent begins only when the refs can’t locate the puck anymore. By the time the ref couldn’t locate the puck, the puck was already in instantly.


    And even if one is too stupid to understand the simple point that a ref can’t have intent to blow the whistle on a shot on goal until at least a moment after he can’t see the puck, how is there a two second delay between intent and the actual whistle? This is why the whistle alone should be the deciding factor, not any vague notion of intent.


    NHL should suspend the ref.


    Posted by Praveen from Atlanta on 11/19/09 at 01:02 AM ET
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Screw it. We all know Brad May's real stats. Congrats to Brad on your first as a Wing.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Pointless Preview: 11/18 vs Dallas Stars

    Category #1: Isn’t that the from Guy Fresh Prince?

    Dallas has Mike Ribeiro…



    Carlton? Oh, that was Alfonso Ribeiro. But they probably dance the same way.






    Detroit has Kris Newbury. Apparently (according to imdb), Kymberly Newberry played a character named Shauna in three episodes from 1990-1993

    Winner: Dallas

     
     
    Category #2: Google Image Search [Team Name] + stupid

    Dallas yielded: Power Play Panda



    That's pretty dumb but....


    Detroit yielded: a picture of Marian Hossa





    Winner: Detroit, for reasons not needed to be given.

    Category #3: What Kind of Idiots have Away Third Jerseys?




    Dallas: White third jerseys? Really? Maybe it’s because they’re last alternate home jerseys looked like a cross between a bull and a uterus.





    Detroit: Too classy for third jersey revenue ploys.

    Winner: Detroit

    Category #4: Mr. “I’m Too Good for Your Farm System”


    Dallas has Fabian Brunnstrom. He was a highly touted Free Agent in 2007-2008 and almost signed with the Wings. Was chased away by Kenny Holland saying that he would have to spend at least one year in the AHL. Scored a hat trick in his first game, Detroit fans wept. Has seven points this season with the trade rumors picking up, Detroit has forgotten all about him.



    Detroit has Ville Leino. When Dallas won the Brunnstrom sweepstakes, Detroit settled for the Finnish super league MVP, Dr. eVille. Leino was promised a roster spot if he would spend one year in the minors to get used to the North American style of play. He spent his time with the Griffins and signed an extension with the Wings in the offseason after somewhat covertly forcing Kenny Holland to make good on his promise not to return him to the AHL this year.



    Winner: Detroit, Leino only has 4 points to Brunnstrom’s 7…but Ville did his time like a man and is by no means in danger of leaving the franchise he signed with.

    If Jimmy can outplay Luongo, then Turco in Detroit should be no problem.  Let's be bold, I'm saying the Wings win this one 3-0 and Jimmy gets his first career shut out.

    Tonight's Lineup

    Khan(!) reports what tonight's lineup should look like...

    Bertuzzi-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
    Leino-Zetterberg-Cleary
    Draper-Helm-Eaves
    May-Abdelkader-Maltby (Miller working in)

    Lidstrom-Rafalski
    Kronwall-Stuart
    Ericsson-Lebda
    Meech (scratched)
    Lilja (out)

    Howard (starting)
    Larsson
    Osgood (out)

    And also this...

    Center Valtteri Filppula skated by himself after practice for the second consecutive day. His broken right wrist will remain in a cast for a few more weeks, so Filppula wasn't able to do anything except skate. The club expects him to return in mid- to late December.


    Seems like Wally's recovery is going well.  That's good news.  The saddle remains on Jimmy Howard until Ozzie starts feeling better.

    Helm's Deep

    From the Free Press this morning...


    "That's probably been my biggest problem even in juniors and when I was in Grand Rapids, just being able to find that level where you have to play at without killing yourself.  I'm starting to get it -- how I have to work off ice and on ice to play pretty consistently and with intensity, but not running around trying to do everything I did in the playoffs."--Darren Helm

    It still remains Detroit's "nuclear bomb option", that emergency switch only pushed when the post-season rolls around.  I had apprehension before this season even began that if Helm did try and sustain the level he has played throughout the past two post-seasons, he would spend a significant time on the LTIR.

    Helm gets it.  And he owes a lot to #33, Kris Draper.  Here's what Helmer had to say about his mentor:

    "He talks a lot, that's for sure.  But just watching him, the little things he does, the off-ice training -- he's an intense guy and he practices 100% every day, and sometimes in practice I get laid back, whereas he's always going. He's been doing it for a long time, so if I can learn from that, hopefully I can have a career like he has."

    You mean spending the bulk of your career and winning multiple Cups in Detroit?  Yeah, I think I can deal with that.  In fact, I'm counting on it.  I thought long and hard and while attending last week's game against Vancouver, I walked into the Pro-Shop and ordered a custom jersey, embroidered with all of the fixings...an early Christmas present to myself.  A red #43 Helm jersey.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Not-So-Random Clip

    Don't believe that Detroit owns Dallas?  Watch this...



    Ouch.

    Sizing up the Dallas Stars

    Tomorrow we play the Dallas Stars, a team we vanquished in six games way back in the 2008 Western Conference Finals (they missed the play-offs last season). Detroit is currently a single spot ahead of Dallas in the Western Conference on the heels of Detroit’s 3 game winning streak (Dallas has played an extra game). The two teams, at present, would occupy the final two play-off spots if the regular season would end today. Pretty much all of the mainstream media is in full back pedal mode after predicting “the downfall of Detroit”, Detroit is 10-3-3 after the Swedish Stinkfest.


    Dallas doesn’t boast superstars in any position, really. However, they do have a tendency to be moderately strong in each department, which sums up to at least a play-off caliber squad…if you ignore last year. The Stars currently sit at an impressive 7th place in the league as far as G/G average with 3.05. Detroit’s eight goal shellacking of the Blue Jackets and seven goal performance against the Ducks have lifted their G/G average as they rose to 4th in the NHL with a hearty 3.39. Advantage: Detroit

    Marty Turco had an absolutely horrible start to the season last year, which contributed to Dallas’ slide out of play-off contention especially because the Stars were lacking of a consistent back-up. Marty, a former all-star hasn’t quite returned to his former glory this year, but has improved dramatically…Detroit owns him though. Dallas currently ranks 16th in the league with a ho-hum 2.79 G/A average. The Wings are doing much better on defense as of late, despite giving up three to Anaheim in the third frame of Saturday’s contest. They’re sitting 19th in the league with a 2.89 G/A average. Advantage: Dallas, but not by much.

    Dallas’ mediocrity continues with its power play. The Stars are currently converting 17.2% of the PP chances, which is only good enough for 21st overall in the NHL. Detroit's power play looked bad against the Leafs, but has turned the corner. Working on the PP in practice last week seems to have paid dividends. Despite the PP losing Jason Williams on the point, it’s currently 5th best with a 24.7% conversion rate. Advantage: Detroit.

    Marty Turco’s improved play has not seemed to help the penalty killing, which may come as a surprise. Dallas is currently ranked 17th in the NHL, with a 79.7% effectiveness rating. Detroit, who had came close to killing off an extended 5 on 3 power play on Saturday, remains mired near the bottom of the league in terms of penalty killing effectiveness. They are currently ranked 26h in the league with a 75.4% kill rate. Advantage: Dallas

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


    Dallas: 11(.5)th
    Detroit: 11(.5)th
    …weird.

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


    Dallas: 96.9%
    Detroit: 100.1%


    The key for a Red Wing's victory tomorrow night will be to continue to own Marty Turco. Detroit has historically beaten the former U of M goaltender with staggering effectiveness. Detroit is clearly a more talented team, even with the injuries they have suffered. The loss of Sergei Zubov is a big blow to Dallas’ defense. The fact that Marc Crawford is the Stars’ bench boss could rekindle this rivalry right quick if he resorts to the same methods that brought him success in Vancouver and Colorado. However, unlike Bowman…I’d put my money on Babcock if another coach confrontation turned to fisticuffs.

    Last season, Detroit surprisingly struggled against teams that failed to qualify for the play-offs (they were swept by Colorado and were shut out by the Islanders). They posted a 1-2-1 record against the Dallas Stars in 2008-2009. The home winning streak and my perfect attendance at the Joe will be on the line tomorrow night.