Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend in Review

A combination of forces have struck the NOHS staff lately that has kept the posting light the past few days. I had my first law school journal review due this past weekend, combo'd with the girlfriend's birthday and wisdom teeth that are hurting like a bitch the past few days. And who knows where Drew wandered off to. But I did manage to catch the Wings game last night and today caught up with the various takes on the past few games...and here are a few thoughts on what I have seen and found.

  • Wings fans are bipolar. 

    A few days ago, after Howard heroically stepped in after Osgood gave himself an upper-decker in Edmonton, we were ready to proclaim the next great Wings goaltender, or at least, nominate him for the "President of Space."   After Thursday's game (which I only caught the highlights on DVR) there were 12,500 death threats written on various places on the intrawebs towards his family, friends, and childhood pets.   One example was from Detroit4lyfe:

    Howard seemed to be over committing and too far out of the net most of the night. If you add up the distance jimmy was out of net on the first 3 goals it would come close to the size of Ovechkin's ego. Interesting side note, when Ozzie is feeling less than confident and playing poorly, he seems to back up into the goal. Howard is the exact opposite. Personally I’m not thrilled with either at this point.

    There isn't much to disagree with there.  There is no question that one of Howard's worst qualities when he is off his game is that he overreacts to everything.  Subtility is one of the best traits in the goaltender.  Small movement, guide yourself towards the puck.  Howard does that when he's on, but he's a mess when he's not.

    But that wasn't it.  Easily the most scalding was Chris Hollis over at Motown Wings' attack...

    Go find the nearest mirror, look at your reflection and repeat after me: “I believe that Jimmah Howard is a good goaltender.” If you kept a straight face, something is wrong with you

    On almost every shot I’ve seen him face, he either winds up flat on the ice or stretched out halfway to the boards. He gives up monstrous rebounds. Most of the time after the first save, there is a gaping net for teams to shoot at because he’s either in the back of the net, or laying off to one side. He comes out farther than any NHL goalie I can ever remember. He’s constantly out of position. When he’s in position, he falls down or flails awkwardly. He still looks like he’s fighting the puck and still appears to be struggling to get with the speed of the NHL game.

    The fact is that Howard is just fundamentally flawed. His technique, his positioning, his mindset. It’s all wrong. And every time he’s out there, it looks wrong. Deny it if you want, but in this corner of the blogosphere it’s as clear as day: Jimmah. Howard. IS. NOT. GOOD.

    Chris, I can say without a doubt that Jimmy is a good goaltender.  I've seen him for four years in Grand Rapids.  At Maine, he was one of the best ever.  Right now, in the NHL, he isn't a starter, that's for sure.  He's way too inconsistent right now.  But honestly, he shouldn't be yet.  He's a rookie.  We seem to forget that.  He's got flaws in his game, but his overall game is very solid.  He plays the current prototypical butterfly style right now and his technique is solid.  He's quick with recovery, always gets up with the right leg, and his reaction time is stellar.  But his big problem, right now, is that he panics.  When he panics, he overcommits, he tries too hard, and just finds himself out of sync.   And some goalies can get away with it, Howard can't.  This explains a lot of what Chris is seeing at Motown.

    What Jimmy needs is Osgood to put together a good streak where we don't need Jimmy to be a big part of the team right now.  We need him to be comfortable out there and to be comfortable with being a Red Wing.  We need him to work on a few small things with his technique with his goalie coach.  This takes time, but is fixable. 

  • Osgood and the team looked good yesterday:

    Yesterday's game was a boring game.  Other than a little panic at first and a few goals in like the two minutes I didn't watch yesterday, nothing too much happened yesterday.  Which. Is. Awesome.  Other than the first few minutes, the Wings controlled the game, controlled the pace, and never panicked.  They kept the Flames, one of the league's highest scoring teams, to 21 shots.  Osgood didn't look like a window-licker with goalie pads on.  Homer is the next Ovechkin.
  • Babcock is still a great coach:

    Everyone of us questioned Uncle Mike when he benched Darren Helm this Tuesday.  What happened?  Helm came back and scored in his return and got an assist last night.  Babcock couldn't have been more right when he said Helm needs to be playing on the third line, not the fourth.  And Helm responded.  Shows a lot about the kid and alot about the coach.  And Lieno is one of my favorite players, but he's been invisible lately.  Will he respond?  We'll see. 

  • Nick Lidstrom is still a god:

    Despite the shit beginning of the season, the spotty at best goaltending, the horrible luck the Wings have dealt with and just the awful backchecking, the team Captain and perfect human is a +7.  His defensive partner, Rafalski, is a -1.  The next best on the team is Draper with a +4 (didn't some idiot say Drapes' usefulness has passed? Yeah, he's looked great this year along with Malts).   How does he continue to do this?  I have no idea, he's just that good.  Still the best in the league. 

  • Eaves has been good:

    The proclaimed next Dan Cleary (is that something people strive to be?) has been very good the past few days, which included some time on the PP.  He's had two points in the past two games and has been involved a lot.  I say keep playing the kid.   And oh yeah, Maltby is almost to his last year goal amount.  Keep it up sniper.
And now the overdue Red Wing players of the game for Halloween night.

1st Star - Brad Stuart - Solid game, nice snapshot goal. More of a first star to the entire defensive corps, but he stood out.
2nd Star - Pavel Datsyuk - Hey NHL, he's back!  Datsyuk is on a PPG pace and dangling everyone on the ice.  Nice assist to Stuart and created a lot of chances all game.
3rd Star - Chris Osgood - Half of this is for a solid first few minutes, half of this is simply relief he didn't miss a slow as wrist shot from the blueline.  Either way, good job Osgood.

Wings - Boston on Tuesday.  I'm calling a goal from E-ville.

Credit to the Wayne Fontes Experience for the Howard picture.


  1. i agree on howard. i thought the D just let the oilers have their way around him, but he looked really good in the shootout despite the loss.

    the game against the flames is the first i've missed all year... maybe i'm bad luck?

  2. Rookie goalie growing pains are the ugliest things in hockey - but unless you get a new finished product in goal every year, sooner or later you have to let a young man look lousy while he is learning. It just takes time and there is nothing anyone can do to make it happen faster.