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Updated: 2017-06-21T22:23:04.917-04:00


Playoff Preview Round 2: Detroit vs. Anaheim


Shame on me for not posting about the Wings' 6-5 sweep victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets what feels like ages ago - while it might not have been the team's greatest victory (congrats to the Jackets and their fans for putting up the fight that they did; your team has a bright future ahead of it), it was a victory nonetheless which means the Wings have moved on to their next opponent - the Anaheim Ducks, a team that the past few years have turned into a pretty big rival.Of course this preview is late as well, but let's just pretend no one noticed that.Keys to Winning:First and foremost the Ducks are one of the most physical teams in the league, and a huge part of this series is going to rest on the Wings' ability to deal with this and yet remain healthy. They have to play physically, but also stay smart - the Ducks are good at getting under other teams' skin, and there's a huge difference between playing pissed and letting that anger make you stupid. Unfortunately, staying healthy isn't always something a team has much control over (and the Wings are already missing Andreas Lilja, Kris Draper, and, at least for Game 1, Brian Rafalski), and thus there are plenty of other things the Wings are going to have to do if they want to move on. In line with this, the biggest factor in this series is going to be discipline. The Wings and Ducks both have some serious powerplays, but the advantage the Wings have here is that they've done much better than the Ducks at staying out of the box, averaging 10 minutes in the box per game to the Ducks' 17. Another factor that could turn the series in Detroit's favor is their success at screening the goaltender. While the Ducks' Jonas Hiller looked great in the first round against the Sharks, the Wings will test him early, often, and constantly with the amount of pucks they put on the net in any given game, and even more importantly have some of the best screeners in the game to block his view and tip pucks in - guys like Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, and Dan Cleary. Hiller may be strong, but a lot of that is the Ducks defense in front of him - a team that shut down Steve Mason as easily as the Wings didn't shouldn't have a big problem putting pucks past Hiller, especially with the lineup and the depth they have.Schedule:Friday, May 1 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN2 Sunday, May 3 at Detroit, 2:00 p.m. NBC, TSN Tuesday, May 5 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. VERSUS, TSN Thursday, May 7 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. VERSUS, TSN *Sunday, May 10 at Detroit, 5:00 p.m. TSN *Tuesday, May 12 at Anaheim, TBD VERSUS, TSN *Thursday, May 14 at Detroit, TBD VERSUS, TSNAround the Web:The usual Detroit culprits can be found at:Winging it in MotownOn the WingsGorilla CrouchAbel to YzermanHockeytown BlogAnd if for SOME reason (sorry Finny!) you like the Ducks look into:Girl With A PuckThe Battle of CaliforniaOn the PondIf you blog for either team and would like to be added to the list please feel free to let me know!And Finally:I know Game 1 is already over and the Wings won 3-2 (expect that post soon!) but I still felt the need to post a preview, because I expect this to be a hell of a series. I want to say the Wings will win, but I feel like, given the Ducks' gritty performances so far, and the outcome of tonight's game, that it may take 7 games to do it.I leave you with one of my favorite Mike Babcock quotes ever, on my favorite Wings rookie and Grand Rapids favorite Jonathan Ericsson: "Big body. Actually, he looks like Chris Pronger. Except for the cross checking." Awesome. GO WINGS![...]

Ready With the Brooms (Wings 4, Blue Jackets 1)


For 67 seconds the Columbus Blue Jackets and 19,212 of their fans (give or take a few, including Wings blogger Christy who made the trip to watch the game) basked in the exhilaration of the first ever post-season game played at Nationwide Arena, the goal they spent this entire season fighting to achieve. 67 seconds before Tomas Holmstrom scored the opening goal, took the wind out of the crowd's sales, and began yet another thrashing of the team unlucky enough to draw the defending champs.Meanwhile, a slightly smaller group of us watched from Hockeytown Cafe, the sight of @cjsier's Detroit NHLTweetup, as the Wings ended up winning the game 4-1, taking a 3-0 lead in the series and all but sealing their place in the semi-finals.Christine and your intrepid blogger (we're in the middle), having forced everyone to put on their playoff beards. Home ice advantage did little for the Blue Jackets - in fact, rather than the crowd's electricity spurring on the players to victory, it was instead, according to Sarah of The Neutral Zone Trap, the team's lackluster performance that deflated the fans: The building was just crackling with electricity, and the Jackets’ defense broke down a minute in, Detroit scored, and the life started to go out of the crowd. They hung on for awhile, tried to get the team going, but the boo birds were out in the second period, and it was just funereal by the third. Disappointing for Blue Jackets fans, but exactly what we here in Detroit want to hear.Interesting Stats & notes:Chris Osgood's shutout streak was finally snapped last night, at 144:27 of goal-less game play. After three games, Osgood's stats have stayed strong - the playoff veteran, no longer hearing much comment about his unsteady play throughout the regular season, has stopped 76 of 78 shots in the past three games, holds a .67 GAA and a .974 SV%. Meanwhile, the Jackets rookie phenom and Calder Trophy nominee Steve Mason sits at an uninspiring 3.67 GAA, .888 SV%. For three games straight Mason has allowed four goals - not at all what Columbus, or most of the media covering this series, expected. The Wings continue to get point contributions from nearly their entire roster. The team's 12 goals have now come from 9 different players (Jiri Hudler has 2, Henrik Zetterberg has 3), and 14 players have points. Meanwhile, R.J. Umberger remains the only Blue Jacket to score, once in Game 1 and once in Game 3.Picking up where they left off in the playoffs this past season, the Wings have returned to the physical play that took them to the finals last season. Brad Stuart absolutely leveleing Umberger was the high point last night - unbelievably, Umberger returned before the game was over. More importantly than just being physical, the Wings are being smart about being physical, and it's getting noticed: “They check hard,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Wings. “Everybody talks about their skill, but Detroit wins the fight for space, individually and collectively. That’s why they win so many hockey games. Yeah, they have skill, but in critical games, they win the fight for space. Regardless of what happens, if you don’t fight for your own space, you’re going to get run out of the building. They beat a lot of good teams by doing that.” Of course, the Wings have a whole lot of skill to back up that physicality, as well. (The Jackets, on the other hand, can't even seem to get hitting right, right now. Either that, or Mike Commodore just wanted to see what it's like to be on the winning bench that badly!) The Wings hope to close the series out tomorrow night at 7 pm - the Wings certainly have to keep up the pace they've set so far and not let their collective feet off the gas, but here's to hoping for the sweep. GO WINGS![...]

"I Love My Life" (Wings 4, Blue Jackets 0)


Okay, it's probably a little early for the "I love my life" sentiment - but I saw a fan yesterday at the Joe proudly carting around exactly that on a sign and I had to admit, I was pretty much feeling it after watching that game.Yesterday night the Wings took a 2-0 lead in the series, posting a 4-0 shutout victory against the Blue Jackets in a phenomenal game that will hopefully really set the tone for the rest of this series.The good:Chris Osgood, once again looked great. He didn't steal the show quite the way he did in the first period of Thursday's game and he wasn't tested quite as much, but he still made a few fantastic saves - and more importantly made every save he needed to, earning his 14th playoff shutout. Osgood's SV%, which settled in at a seriously questionable .887 through the regular season, sits through these two games at an unreal .978, and he's sitting at 88 minutes of shutout time. The crowd once again cheered on Ozzie's rising to the occasion - my throat hurts from chanting "OZ-ZIE OZ-ZIE!" so much!The team is firing on all cylinders right now - 11 players picked up a point in yesterday's game, and the Wings' 8 playoff goals so far have come from 7 different players (congrats to Jiri Hudler for being the one with two). The stars have done their parts, and so have the third-liners. Everyone on this team is hungry and it shows. The Wings are simply outclassing the Blue Jackets. It's a strong statement, but the series so far is giving a lot of backing to John Grigg of THN's comment on the matchup: "Mason did all he could, but Detroit is just too good. Any of the Wings’ top-nine forwards could play on the Jackets’ top line and there may not be a Blue Jacket blueliner who could make the Red Wings. It’s that simple." I hope so.The Bad:Columbus will come out harder and even more desperate in Game 3 on home ice - but does anybody think the Wings can't shut them down right now?The Ugly:With 8:39 left in Game 2 and the Wings up 4-0, Antoine Vermette, whose play has been less than stellar in the series so far, took issue with Pavel Datsyuk and responded by hammering him into the ice from behind and then effectively climbing on top of him. A dirty play by a frustrated player, and the sort of thing the Wings are going to have to watch out for - the Blue Jackets ended the night with 34 minutes spent in the box. However on the bright side, the Jackets haven't yet acted out too poorly thanks to frustration; things could be much worse - and the encounter spawned one of the greatest Datsyuk quotes yet: "He just used me like pony," Datsyuk said. "He was on top of me. I don't like being the pony. I want to be on top."The WTF?:Maybe he thought it was his team's only hope (a legitimate concern), but someone should probably tell Jakub Voracek that you're only allowed to have one stick at a time...That's all I got - Game 3, hopefully another dominate performance from the Wings, is Tuesday night in Columbus. GO WINGS! (Sidenote, the Griffins are up on the Hamilton Bulldogs two games to zero as well!)[...]

Gotta Want it to Win it (Wings 4, Jackets 1)


Okay, Hockeytown, time to relax. Your worst fears have been assuaged - this team is as hungry as ever. Your Red Wings want to repeat and have no intentions of settling for mediocrity. Nevermind what parts of this season looked like - the boys have turned it back on. Granted, it has to stay that way, but nobody can complain about the effort we saw last night at the Joe, and if they keep up that kind of energy, it's going to be a great trip through the playoffs.Of course it didn't start out that way. In the first twenty minutes the Wings not only started off a bit flat, but also spent a tremendously frustrating amount of time in the penalty box, allowing the Blue Jackets a number of nice scoring chances. Lucky for them, however, at least one Wing had his head firmly in the game - Chris Osgood quickly stole the show, played with a swagger that suggested he at least had definitely turned it on for the playoffs. When Osgood's name was announced in the starting roster, the packed Joe Louis chanted the first round of "Oz-zie! Oz-zie!" - but it was tentative, hopeful but also nervous. Not so after the flurry of diving, sprawling saves he made to hold the score 0-0 after the first period.Despite their success early on, the Blue Jackets, playing their first Game 1 ever, looked lost out on the ice for much of the game. Rookie goalie sensation Steve Mason couldn't save them from the swarming Red Wings once the team turned it on, and Osgood stole his Hot Goalie show, backstopping the Wings to a 4-1 victory. Osgood had some words to say about his performance in both this game and the regular season:“I don’t doubt myself ever,” Osgood said. “People that don’t know me do. I’ve played for 15 years. I have the most wins in Red Wings playoff history for a reason, not because I’m a bad goalie.”Exactly the sort of swagger you want to hear from your number one this time of year.Osgood wasn't the only story of the game, of course. Rookie and NPI favorite Jonathan Ericsson scored the game winner (although it was the Jackets' Manny Malhotra who effectively put it behind Mason), his first career playoff goal. The Wings' third line of Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, and Mikael Samuelsson was huge - Hudler had a goal and two assists, while Filppula notched two assists of his own.The other Wings goals came from Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen, while Columbus' was scored by RJ Umberger.If the Wings can keep up the pace they set in Game 1, the series could be over quicker than expected - the playoffs are here, and the boys know it:"It's been hard to find excitement before the games," Franzen said, alluding to the Wings' 2-5-1 record over their final eight games. "We were really looking forward to this playoff start. You feel it in your body. Your legs get a lot faster. Everything's more exciting."As infinitely frustrating as it is to watch your team flounder, looking disinterested and bored, it makes it that more invigorating to see them like they played last night. Hopefully they can keep it up as the playoffs progress, but for now, the goal is to pick up another victory tomorrow night, Game 2 at the Joe. GO WINGS.(Besides, when the opposition is already accusing you of cheating, you know you're doing something right.)[...]

Go Big or Go Home. Playoff Preview: Detroit vs. Columbus


It's official - playoffs are here. And I'm going to suck it up, stop being a terrible blogger who hasn't posted a single thing since December 10th, and get back into the grind, because now things are serious. Forget this 'work' nonsense that's been consuming my life, forget the constant driving down to the Joe (I've gone to 20 Wings games [and 1 Capitals game!] this season, including the Winter Classic, and posted about exactly zero of them), forget the desperate attempts to have a life outside of NHL Center Ice on my TV - the playoffs are here.Yesterday night the playoff schedule hit the internet - although we already knew the Detroit Red Wings would start the post-season off against familiar Central Division foe, the Columbus Blue here we go.Keys to Winning:First and foremost the Wings have to play like they care. The team this season has an uncanny ability to turn it off as easily as they can turn it on. It's no secret that the Wings have a huge lineup of devastating forwards - Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen, and on down the line. Unfortunately if the team decides to play lackluster hockey (see: Sunday's game against the Blackhawks) all the offense in the world can't save them. The talent levels are there (can you think of anyone on the Blue Jackets you really want to compare to the Wings top line talent?), but they have to want it to win it, and you know the Blue Jackets, making their first post-season appearance ever, want it. Equally important, the Wings have got to take this series seriously. Yes it's the Blue Jackets, yes again, and no it might not be a team that inspires fear in its opponents...but the last time the Wings blew them off they lost 8-2 at home.Another huge, possibly the hugest, part of this series is going to be goaltending. The Red Wings' Chris Osgood, who took over the starting role from Dominik Hasek around this time last season, has strugging mightily this season, looking shaky at best. Meanwhile the Columbus Blue Jackets are riding rookie sensation Steve Mason and his 10 shutouts, .916 SV%. Looks pretty impressive standing next to Ozzie's 2, .887. Wings fans can hope for three things, however - first of all, that Ozzie gets it together. His game against the Predators last week, despite ending in a loss, was one of his best games all season long, and he has plenty of playoff experience. Second, that the Wings offense steps it up enough to solve Mason (the Blue Jackets have three 20 goal scorers, the Wings have five) and the defense, which has also faultered this year, can protect Osgood a little better. Third, the playoff-inexperienced Mason chokes under the pressure. Come on Wings, let's teach them that there's only one "Stevie Franchise".Finally, the Wings are going to have to solve Rick Nash. The guy has two hat tricks against the Wings already this season and whether it be luck or skill, Nash has got our number. It's got to stop right now, or we're going to be in for a long summer.Schedule:Thursday, April 16 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN Saturday, April 18 at Detroit, 6:00 p.m. TSN Tuesday, April 21 at Columbus, 7:00 p.m. TSN Thursday, April 23 at Columbus, 7:00 p.m. TSN *Saturday, April 25 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN *Monday, April 27 at Columbus, TBD TSN *Wednesday, April 29 at Detroit, TBD VERSUS, TSNAround the Web:The usual Detroit culprits can be found at:Winging it in MotownOn the WingsGorilla CrouchAbel to YzermanHockeytown BlogAnd if you're into the Blue Jackets, or just want to read about the competition, check out:Bethany's Hockey RantsThe Neutral Zone TrapCarry the FlagPuck-rakersIf you blog for either team and would like to be added to the list please feel free to let me know!Last and probably least:Dammit, Red Wings, if for no other reason please, please knock the Blue Jackets out fast so we won't have to deal with any more of this Ohioan rivalry nonsense - the Wings are NOT U of M and t[...]

How much do you think they weigh?


The Red Wings received their 2008 Cup Rings this Sunday night and they're so stunning it would be a serious shame not to allow them a post of their own:

Unlike the '97, '98, and '02 rings, this one is all white-gold and covered in diamonds. The front is of course lovely, but what really impresses me is the side, and its image of all 11 of the Wings cups complete with the dates of each.

My favorite comment about the rings had to be Mike Babcock's:
"It was nice,” Babcock said. “Usually, the only one who gets that is my wife, so it was kind of nice I got some.”
Fans at tonight's game vs. Calgary will receive commemorative rings - I can't make it so if anyone finds themselves with a spare lying around....!

Don't like beer? Have some alternative hockey beverage options:


The Red Wings have joined forces with a college kid's two best friends - booze and caffeine. Granted #8 and #5's attachment is a little more classy than your average undergrad's method of indulging...
  • Recent Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee and former Red Wing great #8 Igor Larionov spent this past Saturday at two metro Nino Salvaggio locations signing bottles of wine from his Triple Overtime line. Nino's is my favorite fruit market around so of course I had to drop in, buy a couple bottles, and chat (very) briefly with the Professor. The two I purchased, the Slapshot Shiraz and the Triple Overtime Sauvignon Blanc, both look delicious, and to top it off, Igor Larionov himself (who clearly has great taste!) complimented my haircut. And all around success, I'd say! For those who didn't get to make the event I took a few pictures that you can find here. Here's to hoping the Wings win the cup again so we can celebrate in style!
  • Biggby Coffee, formerly Beaner's, which holds a dear place in my heart as the coffee shop I'd always stop at on my way in to my former job while in college at the bleary hour of 7 am (those were the days), has also decided to partner up with the Red Wings and offer a new "Number 5 Latte" in honor of the Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom. There's no word on what is actually in the drink - the closest Biggby comes to a description is the promise that "THIS ESPRESSO BASED DRINK WILL BE A SLAP SHOT TO YOUR TASTEBUDS" - but if you stop in to any Biggby location on a game day wearing Wings gear you can get a dollar off the "super cup size" and try it out for yourself! Coffee and hockey? How could it be bad?
This evening the Red Wings take on the Calgary Flames at home and hopefully the excitement of receiving their Cup Rings can inspire them to the sort of play we've come to expect - none of this come-from-behind high scoring games victory nonsense! (Although let's face it, I'll take a win however it comes.)

It Begins


I'm sparing you the excuses for my absence (work work work work work) and cutting right to the chase:

Last night during NBC's Monday Night Football the NHL debuted the first big deal commercial for the Winter Classic, and it's glorious:

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The commercial itself is gorgeous as a hockey commercial alone, featuring shots of players from both teams gearing up for the event, but the best part is the way the NHL seamlessly inserts Take Me Out to the Ball Game sung by Harry Caray - amazing.

I'm still involved the arduous process of getting tickets, but it's looking likely - hope to see you all there!

I swear this really isn't political


For all of us State-bound, I think, no matter party affiliation, that we can agree on one thing:

Thank heaven the ads are over.

Apparently, our president thinks along the same thing: Check out the Onion's article. Not hockey related, but pertinent to the day and time...and full of the humor we all know and love from The Onion.

Happy election day everyone!

It's Quincey with an "e".


(image) Former Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey put up with a lot here in Detroit - from AHL playing time when he was certainly good enough to eat minutes in the NHL to the constant appearance of his name written "Kyle Quincy". While hardly suffering for the cause, it had to be more than a little frustrating.

Snatched up on the waiver wire (where he was placed through no fault of his own but rather because the Wings had such a logjam of defensemen that someone had to be sacrificed) by Los Angeles, Quincey has gone from a reliable call-up to a full-fledged NHL defenseman in record time. Joining the young, previously bottom-feeding Kings might not have been the most appealing idea around, but Quincey, now paired with Matt Greene, took it in stride, and has been rewarded with a huge amount of playing time (most nights he clocks in just behind Drew Doughty, with the second most time of everyone on the team). So far in 5 games he's scored 1 goal and picked up 2 assists - not bad for a self-proclaimed physical defensive defenseman.

One of those assists came last night during the Wings game against the Kings. Quincey was interviewed about the move at the time and how weird it was to go up against his former teammates:
"When I look back on all the possibilities, I'm real thankful it happened this way," said Quincey, who got caught in the Wings' logjam of talent. "It was definitely mixed emotions.

"One day, you realize part of your life is changing, you're not a Red Wing anymore, you can't put that jersey on again, you have to say bye to close friends.

"The next day, you're filled with excitement for a new opportunity, you're reunited with former buddies, it's a great spot in Los Angeles. We have a really young team. I think I fit in well here."
It's always hard to hear a favorite admit that he wanted to stay, but it sounds like he's poised to have a great time with the Kings this season, which I, being a huge Quincey fan when he was in Grand Rapids, am more than happy to hear. He was also interviewed during the second intermission last night wherein he admitted that he still looks up to Nick Lidstrom - but how could you not?

He also received big praise from Wings coach Babcock, which just goes to show how deep the Wings go, that they had to let someone go about whom they had such good things to say. The Kings picked up a pretty good thing, which I hope Connie and Marie are quickly learning! I admit I've been watching them a little more often lately to see how he's faring - always good to see one of your own succeed, even if he's not quite, anymore. Maybe Kyle Quincey can finally get some of the recognition he deserves. We miss you here in Detroit!

Breaking it Down


These late games are killing me. As a lot of you know, I work super early mornings - usually I have to get up around 4 am and be coherent enough to count a lot of money by 5, so staying up and watching games that start at 10 pm are out of the question. While I was able to watch the last two games despite their late starts thank to days off, I still find myself nearly falling asleep during them (and subsequently sleeping late enough that my "breakfast" this morning consisted of a toaster strudel and some Andy Capp's hot fries at 2 pm), so my comments about the particular games may not be quite as astute as in the past ( if they ever were). Coming off of two shootout wins against Chicago and the LA Kings, both of which involved a comeback on the Wings part, the Wings have improved their record to 7-1-1 on the season, not too shabby! However, not everything is smooth sailing when it comes to Wings hockey right now, as the team has more than a few struggles to go along with their strengths.PROS:Goals for. The Wings certainly aren't short on firepower, as they lead the league in goals scored. Even better, the scoring is coming from across the board. Twelve players have notched goals thus far, and the team certainly doesn't need to be worried about secondary scoring.Marian Hossa, after starting the season not poorly but slowly, has stepped it up. The most talked-about addition to the team put up a goal and two assists in Saturday's game against the Blackhawks and then scored the winning shootout in the shootout as well, curiously enough with a slapshot that blew right past Hawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. Hossa now leads the team in points (12) and +/- (+7) and the chemistry between he and Pavel Datsyuk that seemed absent early in the season is really heating up. Don't worry though, Hank, I'm sure you're still Pav's favorite.Brian Rafalski is second in points (10) and started off the season with a 7-game point streak (h/t to Gorilla Crouch for that link - what a neat Yahoo feature!) that set a club record. There isn't much else to say - he's been awesome. How's that defense of yours doing over there, New Jersey?CONS: (Please note the first time I typed that it read, "CONKS")Goals against. Usually a strong point for the Wings, this season the all-star defensive lineup has look just a little bit shaky. The team is 18th in the NHL for goals against, allowing an average of 3.11 per game - not a very pretty statistic. Not only that but the team who boasted a huge chunk of players in the top 10 league +/- this season has nine players in the red, lead by Brett Lebda who boasts a gaudy -7. Goaltending needs a little work as well; neither Chris Osgood nor Ty Conklin have been particularly bad, and both are racking up wins, but neither looks all that stellar, either. Osgood's save percentage is only .884 and he's 21st in the league in GAA. With the defense looking a tad wobbly, Osgood's going to need to step it up as well. Faultering defense and goaltending is a recipe for disaster. The Wings have been winning games, yes - close games. The defense needs to buck up and start playing like we all know it can, and should, be, or sooner or later these numbers are going to catch up with the Wings.Johan Franzen's knee injury could put him out for 3-4 weeks. The Mule came into his own last season, breaking a Gordie Howe record for game winning goals in a month near the end of the season, tearing it up in the playoffs, and starting strong this year as well. with 5 goals and 2 assists in 7 games played. Unfortunatley Franzen took a knee-on-knee hit from Brent Sopel in Saturday's game against the Blackhawks and is expected to miss a month with a left knee sprain. The Wings have looked okay without his firepower so far, but Franzen was a key piece [...]

Final Verdict on the Hossa Signing (DET 5, ATL 3)


It might have taken ten games, but nothing says it better than this goal, Hossa's first from this past game against his former team, the Atlanta Thrashers:

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Hossa Gets it Done


Last Saturday a group of coworkers and I headed down to the Joe to catch the Wings take on the Rangers - it seems like ages ago, having a three-day break in between games like this.

The game was fantastic one to see live, especially, from the quick start the Wings had out of the gate (Mikael Samuelsson scored 28 seconds into the first period, and Johan Franzen picked one up around three minutes in), to the sketchy third period where the Rangers not only tied it up but skated to a 4-2 lead on two goals by Aaron Voros. The real fun began with Jiri Hudler tied it up on the powerplay, but it was the ensuing overtime that was the icing on the cake.

After mentioning new Wing Marian Hossa's struggles to make a serious impact so far this season and jokingly swearing to my boss every time he fell short on an opportunity, it was Hossa who tapped in Pavel Datsyuk's shot to beat Henrik Lundvist and win the game in overtime for the Wings and also to notch his 300th career goal. So is Hossa ready to step up? Maybe, maybe not - after all, a tap-in is hardly proof of a sudden chemistry between the two, and more likely a happy coincidence. But you have to think Hossa's feeling better about, well, just about everything, scoring the goal that won a dangerous game against a team with one of the current best records in hockey. He'll be one to watch in tonight's game against the Blues (for the number one spot in the division - how weird is that!). About that goal, Hossa replied:
"It doesn't get any better than this, the 300th, the first goal as a Red Wing and the game winner in overtime."
I hope it does get better - let's see 301, 302, etc. With luck, that victory was an eye-opener to the team, who has seemed to be playing down to its opponents a little bit, as well as a jump-start to Hossa's season. Either way it was a fun thing to see live, and the Joe's reaction was awesome.

We'll see tonight in a game that promises to be interesting - Henrik Zetterberg will be back, along with Brad Stuart, but Andreas Lilja will be sitting out after undergoing an appendectomy. Also out will be Darren Helm, who was returned to Grand Rapids, but Darren McCarty, who cleared waivers today, could make his debut soon.

What's the Best Cure for a Hangover?


Okay, I know, the Wings have played four games already and I'm off to a very bad blogging start - the fact is, I have to get up for work at 4 am most days, and when the game ends I'm usually crashed mere minutes afterward. However, I promise to make a better go of it starting now!It's been an odd start to the season so far, but nothing to panic about yet. The unexpected 3-2 season-opening loss to the Maple Leafs caught us all off guard, but the Wings bounced back against the Senators and Hurricanes before dropping yesterday night's game against the Canucks in overtime. While the Wings haven't looked all bad, they haven't look all good, either - here's a few observations I've made since the beginning of the season.For a team that preaches puck-possession, the Wings have made a lot of awfully bad turnovers thus far. From minor to downright cringe-worthy, it's something the team for sure has to work on in the upcoming games if they hope to regain the dominance of the past season.We haven't seen a whole lot of what's expected out of Marian Hossa so far - he hasn't looked bad, per se, but his chemistry with Pavel Datsyuk leaves a bit to be desired. However, coach Babcock remains insistant that we won't see the Eurotwins back together again to save the day, even on the powerplay. Personally I miss seeing them on the ice together, and I think it could be of some help, given the way the top line has performed so far, but what do I know?Ty Conklin looks fairly good in his debut - he scared me a little at first, with his flailing around (and has anyone else noticed his propensity for just falling over when making saves?), and his decision to cavort around the net especially against Carolina of all teams had me desperately hoping there would be no repeat of this debacle, but he did well to prove himself.It's been, so far, a season of weird bounces (take Thursday night's game against Vancouver, for example) - but the Wings, and Chris Osgood, though he's looked solid so far, can't use that as an excuse. Many were created by poor execution on the players' part as well, and the team as a whole needs to ramp it up a bit. They've looked a little like they've been playing down to their opponents lately, and if they don't step it up, the hangover label is going to come back in full force.Things won't get easier yet, as both Henrik Zetterberg and Brad Stuart will be out tonight against a scary Rangers club, but Darren Helm, who was called up to fill in for Zetterberg, and Derek Meech, who will see his first action of the season tonight, are more than capable replacements. I'll be at the game - my first of the season - hopeful that we'll see the effort this club is capable of. Go Wings!! (PS the best cure I've found? Greasy McDonald's hashbrowns. Ask my lovely friends in DC. But don't try that, boys, it can't be good for you.)End Notes:Former Wing and NPI favorite Kyle Quincey suited up for his debut with the LA Kings last night. I was only able to catch the first period of the game, but he looked good paired up with Matt Greene, was given time on the PK to showcase his self-professed stay at home defenseman skills, and showed that despite the Wings lack of room for him, he is in fact an NHL-ready defenseman. He also, according to the Kings recap, was part of a scoring chance that helped to set up Anze Kopitar's game-tying goal, and took a slapshot seven minutes into the second period that caused Hurricanes' Frantisek Kaberle to leave the game with a leg injury. While you of course don't want to applaud another player getting hurt, congrats, Kyle, keep it up and all our best![...]

Getting Down to Business


The season starts (for real, nevermind those odd European games) tomorrow. The Red Wings look to defend the Stanley Cup and the Penguins (to be and equal opportunist to both blog authors) are out for revenge. Nevermind all this draft, trade deadline day, training camp business - tomorrow, hockey is really, truly, back.

So, getting down to some blog business:
  • I recently signed on as a guest blogger at Rumor Me This, representing the Red Wings for the duration of the season. Several others whose blogs I love, respect, and frequent, such as Marie, Cat, Tracy, and Jennifer, have joined as well, so be sure to check us all out. My first post, a Wings season preview, is viewable there, and I'll be updating at several points throughout the season with team status news.
  • The start of the season always means a site overhaul - in my case the last time I tried to make a new Pens/Wings playoffs layout during the finals last season I crashed my computer, so the chances of that happened are slim. However, it is in fact time to update the blogroll again! So, if you would like yourself added to or (hopefully not) removed from, or have suggestions of any blogs you think belong there, feel free to comment and let us know!
  • Finally, on a bit of a personal note, I made this post about Wings tickets prices recently and received far more feedback than I'd expected on the topic. One in particular was an e-mail from a reader, fellow fan, and season ticket holder named Dave who apparently took pity on my plight and who offered to let me purchase tickets from him to select games at prices that put Ticketmaster to shame. Having now increased the number of games I'll be at this season by three, I just want to say a huge thanks and comment on how awesome I think it is to see fans doing things like this for each other. I genuinely hope someday I'll be in the position to do something similar for a fellow blogger or fan. Thanks again, Dave!!
That looks to be about it - happy hockey season and GO WINGS (and...Penguins) from those of us here at NPI!

It's not you, it's us.


There's been a lot of discussion this summer about the defensive logjam the Wings had going into training camp this season - with the resignings of Andreas Lilja and Brad Stuart as well as Chris Chelios, once again there wasn't a lot of wiggle room for the kids (even with Chelios out the team is only around $450,000 under the cap) - most of whom aren't really kids anymore and are ready for their own legitimate chance to perform in the NHL. The summer closed out with the defensive roster looking like this:Obviously not going anywhere: Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Chris Chelios.Maybe going somewhere: Andreas Lilja, Brett Lebda, Derek Meech, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson.However, Mike Babcock determined that the start of the season would see Lilja/Lebda as the third defensive pairing, as it was during the Stanley Cup Finals this past season and this afternoon Ericsson was sent to Grand Rapids as he can still freely move between teams without being subject to waivers, making the likelihood of his being traded nearly nothing. The moves left the final spot a battle between Meech and Quincey, and it appears that Meech has won as the team is trying to shop Quincey around.The club likes the 23-year-old Quincey's size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) and the physical element he brings, but believes Derek Meech, a better skater and puck-handler, has a bigger upside. Meech, who also can play forward in a pinch, has outplayed Quincey in training camp and the preseason. The Red Wings likely are seeking a mid- to late-round draft pick for Quincey, who can't be assigned to Grand Rapids (AHL) without clearing waivers.It has seemed a little bit inevitable since the start of the summer, but I personally was holding out hope that perhaps it wouldn't come to this. Having lived in Kalamazoo for the past four years, I caught a lot of Griffins games and Quincey quickly became one of my favorites. However, aside from a chance during the Cup Semi-finals agains the Ducks in 06-07, Quincey never really got a chance to break into the big leagues - the Wings are just too deep a team with too much talent to make it easy. During that run, all that was asked of Quincey was that he not mess up - a feat that he accomplished admirably. His attempts to join the team last season were stymied by an injury and the first part of his season with Grand Rapids was mediocre, but he bounced back after another short stint with the Wings to end the season on a high note.In the end, Derek Meech may be the better fit for the Wings' puck possession style of play - but Kyle Quincey shouldn't be overlooked. He's proven himself to be an NHL-ready stay at home defenseman and even studied this summer under fellow Wing Aaron Downey to improve his enforcer-type skill set in attempt to fit himself into a niche and help the team. I had the chance to meet Quincey at a signing at Gibraltar Trade Center recently - of the three signers (Quincey, Jimmy Howard, and Brett Lebda), Quincey's ticket cost the least, and when I stepped up to purchase one the lady behind the desk told me she'd sold less of his than the others by far. Quincey, however, was gracious - he signed my glossy and even took a few moments to chat. I told him I'd followed him in Grand Rapids and hoped to get to see more of him with the big club this year and he replied that he really hoped he'd be sticking around and would get a chance to do just that. Throughout the whole event his name was misspelled 'Quincy' everywhere it appeared - poor kid. (And incredible failure on the part of the staff - really? How authentic do you think a certificate that "Kyle Quincy" signed your i[...]

Ice cream and hockey


What's better than hockey camp after a long summer? Hockey camp that's in the Green Mountain state. The Bruins have been training here among the leaf peepers for a few days, and tonight they will be at the main Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury, signing autographs and basically reaching out to a Vermont community that loves their hockey, and their 'home town' boys on the Bruins. The University of Vermont has housed a few NHL-ers in it's time, Tim Thomas being one of them (honorable mention goes to Mighty Mouse St.Louis and John LeClair), so this autograph session should be a nice touch to the Bruins stay and organization.

So B's fans, if you're in central Vermont at around 8pm tonight, you should check it out. I recommend the Phish food and a handshake from Patrice Bergeron.

(thanks to Teka for the heads up)

Pack up your tents and macaroni art, camp is over.


That's right, kids, camp is over and the preseason is in full swing. The Penguins, who have topped the Atlantic in the preseason (which as we all know, means about jack in the long run, but it's still nice to see the Flyers below the Pens) seem to be getting their lines together and working pretty well, but with some changes coming into their (last?) season at the Mellon.

-Departures are always bittersweet, but Ryan Malone will be missed on the top line. Apparently SATAN and his ex-Islander counterpart are making their new homes there, and easing the ache left by he of the wonderfully tattooed arms. We will miss you, Malone! Enjoy sunny Florida and the Lightning.

Honorable mentions go to Ruutu and Laraque, who are going to missed for the character they brought to the ice...and the neverending intimidation and irritation to the opponent. Who is going to annoy the crap out of visiting teams and lead the Pens faithful in confusing chants that sound like booing? 'Coooooooke' doesn't have the same ring to it.

Hossa doesn't get a full sentence.

-Malkin is the new pointman? Apparently until Gonchar is healed (get well soon!) Malkin will take point on the power play, sounding excited about the prospect. Is it me or is he talking without the aid of a translator in his Trib interviews lately?

-A sign of the times: the Penguins have their own Facebook page.

A couple odds and ends here, but has anyone checked out the model for the women's t-shirts? Pretty, yes. Nice figure, yes. Vacant expression like someone drugged her? Yes. Come on, you're posing a nice looking lady in hockey clothing for oodles of cash and you can't do a smile?

Now, while my camp councilors this summer, a nice set of people in white coats that told me that making angry pictures with flying wheels and then burning them was a bad thing to do, recommend that I not talk about the damn Red Wings, it looks like the dirty rat bastards Wings will be hosting a rock concert for their opening banner raising ceremony on October 9th. Tickets are 35-45 bucks, which seems rather reasonable for the Wings. Congratulations to them and their win this past spring. Jerks.

So now that the Penguins are leaving for Europe this afternoon, the preseason is winding down and the 2008-2009 season is a week away, what are fan expectations for their favorite team? Anyone else think Tampa might be more of a challenge than expected? Capitals make a run for the Cup? Flyers fail horribly and cry themselves to sleep in April?

Either way, go Pens.

Time Out


Preseason is rearing into full swing and there is blessedly more hockey coverage appearing by the day. However, as exciting as all that may be, there's always something to come along and remind us all about the things in life that are really more important.

Fellow HLOGger Bethany just texted me with some absolutely tragic news regarding former Oiler Jussi Markkanen:

Jussi Markkanen's son Oli-matias (4) fell out of a window in the goalie's apartment in Moscow yesterday and died almost instantly ... the CSKA goalie brought his family to join in him in Moscow just a couple of weeks ago ... it seems Oli-Matias was playing with his younger brother, climbed on the window sill and fell.

Unsure whether Jussi will stay or will require a break, the team has called up a spare goalie [...] The entire team went to Markkanen's place after the [last] game, to spend time with him and his family.

Of course an incident like this is always a tragedy, but Jussi has always been a favorite here at NPI - in fact, Jussi was one of the biggest part of 06 Oilers Cup run that brought Elly and I together as fans. I speak for both of us in saying that we would like to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Jussi, his family, and everyone else affected by this loss. Whether or not Juicy returns to the CSKA lineup or takes a well-justified break, he will be always be missed as an Oiler in our hearts here, and our support will always be with him.

We love you, Jussi - all our best to you and your family.

Bobble the Vote!


The Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's AHL affiliate, announced their promotional schedule recently - most of the promos were the standard hockey cards, dollar beer nights, team posters and the like, but it was the picture at the top of the page that really caught my eye:

(image) This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I still lived out on the west side of the state, where I used to catch Griffins games all the time. For those, like me, curious about just what is going on here, the blurb about this particular promo is as following:
"The Griffins’ early-season promotional schedule will be highlighted by “Bobble the Vote ‘08” on Saturday, Nov. 1 -- three days before Election Day -- with a giveaway of John McCain and Barack Obama bobbleheads that depict each candidate in a Griffins jersey. One thousand bobbleheads of each candidate will be available to fans, who will select their favorite upon entering the arena. The first candidate to run out of bobbleheads wins!"
While 'bobble' doesn't quite have the same ring to it as 'rock', props for coming up with such a ridiculous and yet excellent slogan as well as promo. I wonder how hockey mom Sarah Palin feels about her glaring omission? (Sorry Becca - the photoshop was too good not to toss up.)

For more information about Griffins schedule, tickets and promos - I can vouch for the games myself, they are cheap, a TON of fun and a great alternative to driving 4.5 hours from Grand Rapids to Detroit, a feat that gets a bit pricey for those living on the west side - see their website. Other particular notables include limited edition figurines of Darren McCarty (Dec. 20) and Valtteri Filppula (Jan. 10). For some reason the figurines have been given names, of sorts - McCarty's is referred to as "Hat Trick" for obvious reasons (WOW do I not vouch for that Griffins...themesong) but Filppula's is the slightly more obtuse "Superman". I can only imagine - and hope - that it has something to do with this.

Needs more Red Sparkles


As it seems I'm stuck with the mantle of dispersing the Ty Conklin news and as he is now, in fact, a Wing (I'm still not over this, it makes me laugh every time I see it), here would appear to be the first look at his Red Wings mask, though he hasn't (yet, anyway) been using it in practice:

Rather matte for Conks, although it does seem to be in a similar vein as his Pittsburgh mask - quite a bit less shiny than what he wore in Buffalo.

Ticket Woes


There's been lots of good Wings news lately - the team wins the Cup, they resign almost all of their players to contracts that work for both the players and the team (the most recent being another year for Chris Chelios and two for Kyle Quincey - the article also includes a great bit about him working with Aaron Downey at fighting; it's always great to see a player putting for extra effort to find a niche that allows them to truly benefit the team, and as Quincey is NPI's Griffins favorite, this was especially promising news for me.), they secure at least one year of Marian Hossa to bolster their firepower...the list goes on.However, there's always a dark side to things. Red Wings tickets, fallen in favor this past season due to the economy woes of much of Detroit and potentially even the team's habit of falling just a little (or a lot - see the 05/06 playoff exit) short of the big prize (the season opener last year against the Ducks didn't even sell out), are once again a hot commodity. Winning the Cup set the tone for the coming season - prices could, and would, raise.Of course, back in July we were collectively told that several upper bowl seats were actually going to drop in price - and for good reason:Violetta said lowering the prices for some of those upper-bowl seats -- which basically run from goal line to goal line -- was done after research from this past season. Many of those seats were unsold as fans simply went to the next section up and bought $22 tickets.Makes sense - in fact, I did exactly that last season, especially when it came to playoff time. Make no mistake, I'm a poor recent college graduate, then college student, and of course I was looking for the filthiest of dirt cheap - but even so, it sounded like a good idea to get more bodies in the Joe - after all, I'm not the only poor college student who loves her team.Well, then the price chart washed up from the depths of the internet and lo and behold, the season ticket holders were the only ones really benefitting from these recent price drops. The rest of us saw across the board price raises from, according to James Malik, $4-$65 per ticket. Of course, it's not completely unreasonable to see a team jack up prices, even in a job-draught town like Detroit, after a Cup win. The really good part is what comes next - the team quietly, and by quietly I mean without any notice at all, introduced the sort of 'premium game' ticket pricing some teams (like the Buffalo Sabres, for example) have. Imagine my surprise when yesterday morning at noon I logged on to Ticketmaster with the futile hope of getting tickets to the season opener, and the more likely one of nabbing a few to see the Rangers on October 18th, and the Oil on at least one of the two dates. After a thorough round of fighting with Ticketmaster's website, I realized that the ticket prices for the two games were substantially different - to the Rangers game you could pick up seats in the upper bowl, row 18, for $55 apiece. The Oilers? Row 17 for $48. Let Malik explain:In addition to boosting the prices of single-game tickets in a state that continues to lose jobs at an astonishing race based upon a Stanley Cup win, they've also introduced "premium" game pricing. If you want to go see the Wings raise their Stanley Cup banner against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 9th, you pay from $45-125 in the upper bowl, and from $125-235 in the lower bowl. Want to see the Wings play an Original Six rival in the Rangers on Saturday,[...]

Pavel & Henrik, sittin' in a tree...


For all Mike Babcock says about Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg agreeing to be split up because both wanted to play center, Datsyuk appears a little broken up over it, when asked about his feelings on the matter:
"My reaction?" Datsyuk said Thursday after an informal skate at Joe Louis Arena. "I start crying. I can't sleep two days. But now everything is fine."

Datsyuk and Zetterberg were a dominant one-two punch when they played together last season.

"I help Hank, Hank helped me," Datsyuk said.

Datsyuk is taking a wait-and-see approach with the proposed break-up with Zetterberg.

"Every year we start like that (on different lines)," Datsyuk said. "It's not new. It's a long season. Nobody knows. I'm happy we're still on the same team. I hope we finish on the same team."
It seems Pavel is as skeptical as the rest of us about whether or not the move will last. It's great to see the comradery and chemistry between those two (as D-Mac said last year, "they're together"), as well as Datsyuk's always entertaining humor. (Okay, I admit, that was the real reason I wanted to post this.)

"We can still be friends."


Coach Mike Babcock has confirmed - "not maybe, for sure" - that the Eurotwin superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will be broken up for the upcoming season. Says Babcock,"They're not playing together. It would be crazy to play them together. They both want to play center anyway." While I've never heard anything on Zetterberg professsing the desire to play center rather than wing, they were both natural centers, told by Babcock when they were put together to decide amongst themselves who was going to play what, if I remember the story right, it certainly makes sense.Adding Marian Hossa over the summer, and the breakout performance of Johan Franzen last season are the number one reasons the move is possible - and it's impossible to argue that with the new depth of the team, breaking up the stars isn't smart. Earlier in the summer the rumbling was that perhaps the big line would stay together, allowing for a second line of Hossa, Valtteri Filppula, and Franzen, but the plan for now is that Datsyuk will open training camp on a line with Hossa and Tomas Holmstrom, while Zetterberg will play with Franzen and Jiri Hudler, squashing all speculation of a Franzen-Filppula-Hossa line.It's an amazing thing to see the team have enough depth to make a move like this, but questions remain. Will the new lines gel in the same way that last year's top line did? Not only that, but will Babcock stick to his guns? It's hard to doubt the man, but Babcock has tried on many occasion to split up the two and still, the standard philsophy these past few seasons has been whent he team struggles, put the Eurotwins back together and things will fall into place. While I hope the new lines succeed, seeing Datsyuk and Zetterberg playing together is something pretty special:I for one am certainly torn - you always want to see the team succeed however possibly, and creating this much depth and allowing your best forwards to improve those around them is a great way to cement future success. With the talent the Wings have developing, it probably is crazy to put all your eggs on one line. But still, you have to love to see the sort of chemistry the Eurotwins possess. As usual, speculation is practically useless - everyone will have to wait until at the very least training camp to see the new lines, and the new Wings, at work for now.[...]

More on McCarty


(image) The Grand Rapids Press reports this morning that McCarty has received a two-way (as predicted) offer from the Red Wings to return this upcoming season, which he is confident he will soon sign.
"We're just trying to work out some intricacies," he said. "I think there's some collective bargaining things in there that we're trying to get clarification on, but I'd say it's 99 percent that I'll be back in the organization."
The two-way contract means McCarty may return in 08-09 for a second stint Grand Rapids, much to the delight of the Griffins and their fans many of whom remember watching his home-debut hat trick this past season. Earlier in the week there were reports that McCarty's agent was looking elsewhere in hopes that the 36 year old free agent could perhaps garner a one-way contract from a team looking to add his brand of veteran grit. McCarty himself had stated many times that he would much rather have a one-way contract that would seal his season in the NHL, which received mixed reactions from Wings faithful - sure people love D-Mac, but is he necessarily still NHL material, especially given the sacrifices the Wings will already have to make to stay under the cap ceiling? Luckily for us, it looks as though we won't have to worry, as when asked about returning to GR McCarty responded:
"Who knows, I'll probably be down here for a bit. I love playing in Grand Rapids. If the call for me is to put my Griffins jersey back on, I'm all for it."
One of the things that impressed me the most this past season was D-Mac's attitude about playing wherever he found himself - which is probably one of the major reasons he made it as far as he did at all. Needless to say, Wings fans should once again be impressed with Holland & Co., persuading McCarty to stay under terms that suit the team's needs, keeping a fan-favorite under contract in a manner that clearly has the team's best interests at heart.

Last season McCarty posted a rather unremarkable 1 G 1 A in 17 playoff games (1 A in his three regular season outings) - but as he's shown, the scoresheet isn't necessarily where he proves his worth on the ice. Personally I look forward to seeing McCarty wherever he ends up and am glad to have him back in the fold especially in this manner. Hats off to the organization again for another good move - that is, assuming he does in fact sign, and we haven't jumped the gun!