June 30, 2008

The Links: Free Agency Eve is upon us

Ahhhh, July 1st. Regardless of how your NHL or NBA team did the season before, you can always look to the start of the free agent period as a time to start anew and feel good about your team until they do something stupid again (Nazr Mohammed ... noooooooooooo!) The top of my NBA wish list this year includes Antawn Jamison, although I acknowledge that's unlikely to happen. The top of my NHL list includes Mats Sundin, although I acknowledge that's unlikely to happen. The top of my TV dinner list includes more chicken parmesan. Or food in general. Not that this pertains to sports, or that you give a shit, but I have 11 dollars to last me 4 days and I've got a can of Spaghetti-O's (with sliced franks!) and some sharp cheddar cheese to keep me alive. I guess it's a little relevant since no food will lower my morale to the point where I might have to eat the computer I'm typing on right now. On with it.


Red Wings
  • Red Wings close to resigning Lilja. Why. Why would they be close to signing Lilja. These two should be far, far away from one another in terms of a "deal". Lilja is probably expecting around a million/per, which is about what he made (stole?) last season -- and the Wings should be seeking some sort of reparations from Lilja's innate ability to always make the wrong decision with the puck.
  • Ken Holland doesn't want to spend more than 4-5 million on Mats Sundin, others willing. I would love -- LOVE -- to have Sundin. Love it. I've said this many times already. I say this while feeling like there is like a 1% chance that he signs. On the other hand, I would feel compelled to rip any hockey player who's 37, hasn't won a Cup, has been losing in Toronto since around the time I was learning cursive, is a Swedish guy and has an opportunity to play year-round with our mini Swedish national team and STILL doesn't sign with us. I mean, come the fuck on, Mats. Just sign.
  • Good discussion on A2Y about whether Stuart will resign, whether it's worth it for what he (probably) wants, and some dude's "connections" reporting the Jaromir Jagr is meeting with Detroit this week. I don't really believe the last one, but I don't want Jagr anyway. While the scoring would obviously be nice, the rest of his game is the antithesis of what this team is about. I do, however, love the thought of Jagr going half-assed on a backcheck during the first game of the year, leading to Babcock running out on the ice and head-butting him unconscious. As for Stuart, I tend to agree with some of the commenters that Holland isn't going to give him a shit-ton of money to be the 4th best defenseman, and as a 20-something UFA, it's a little silly to think Stuart is going to stay for below what he's worth. I'm still holding out hope, though.

Tigers
  • Magglio hits the DL. That kinda sucks. How many different guys can get oblique injuries in one season? This is getting out of hand.
  • Preview of the big Tigers/Twins series. The Twins are weird ... they don't scare me, but they have a Jason Voorhees quality about them. Not this season, just this whole fucking decade -- every year you think they're going to finally suck again, and every year they seem to contend for the division. And for the record, I picked the White Sox and the Twins to finish 4-5 in the Central this year. Why do I even write about sports.

Pistons
  • After being more excited for this draft than any other since the "Darko Draft" of 2003, it came and went without anything Earth-shattering taking place. We were anticipating the possibility of something huge going down via trade (although not totally expecting it), and instead the Pistons buffed up their D-League team with 3 second rounders. The most notable of which being some dude named Walter Sharpe. With some appealing names still on the board when it came time for the Pistons make the 29th overall pick, they took power forward D.J. White from Indiana. I was significantly bummed -- I wanted Chris Douglas-Roberts (turns out he didn't want to come to Detroit anyway ... that fucker). I was also confused as to why Dumars would take a duplicate of Jason Maxiell. While watching it with my dad, I said that this didn't make much sense, and I had a feeling that something was going to happen (it would've been nice if the ESPN guys made any speculation; they were too busy talking to people's moms and making Stephen A. Smith have awkward, 8 second inteviews with the drafted players). So, shortly after that, I was talking to Brent about it and before I could even say it, he goes, "They'll probably just trade him." Sure enough, they then traded White to Seattle for two second rounders, and along with their original second round pick, we now have three more guys who I know absolutely nothing about. Despite the lack of significant action, I still think Joe has something brewing.
  • Chad Ford's ranking of the best free agents. Not too interested in #1 on that list.

Lions
  • Notes from Lions Mini-camp. Feel the excitement! Exclamation points!
  • One of these days I'll have more to say on the Lions than one sentence.

June 29, 2008

Don't look now, that Tiger's are at .500

Once the Tigers started 0-7 and didn't really look like they were getting their act together through May I kind of lost all hope. Then June and the miracle known as inter league play arrived. We've gotten to beat on everyone from the Giants to the Rockies. The best part? ChiSox and MiniTwins havn't taken control and ran away with the division. As of yesterday's "Almost lost because of a shitty closer" we're 5 and a half games behind Chicago. Holy Shit! The Tigers are actually fun to watch again. And I can't argue with that.

Jones is a dilldo.... Every time he comes out to close a game I get very worried for our lead. I just happened to be in Comerica Park last night and caught a glimpse of something odd about his hat.. what a douche, what a dilldo......

June 26, 2008

Rain Sucks

Tigers 8-7 Cardinals


Looooonng night. A game that started at 7:oo didn't finish until almost 1:00 AM because of a lengthy rain delay, and thank the lord it didn't go into extras. But it just had the feeling of one of those games where the Tigers would pull out a win, despite going down 6-5 and 7-6 late. Random thoughts -- which are entirely neglectful of chronology and/or reason, just to warn you:

  • I hated the decision to have Polanco bunt with no outs in the 8th. He killed one 6 inches in front of home plate and got Granderson thrown out at 2nd. It ended up not hurting too bad as he scored the tying run.
  • Oh my God, the walks: Miner and Zumaya. Is there anything more frustrating for baseball fans than relievers issuing walks late in games?
  • Big game for Carlos: 4 for 5 with 3 RBI, a double, and a monster homerun that got us back in the game in the 4th inning. He also had a nifty snag at 3rd to rob Troy Glaus in the 9th.
  • Sheff also had a good, encouraging night: also went 4 for 5 and had the game winning hit.
  • Curtis now has a 13 game hitting streak. 2 for 4 with a run, an RBI and a walk. One of those hits was a solid knock off of a pretty good lefty to boot.
  • We all give Todd Jones a lot of shit, but he's yet to REALLY makes us want to kill ourselves this year. And his impression of Maggs hitting the 2006 ALCS-winning HR during the rain delay was priceless.
  • Speaking of Maggs, he had a game-tying single in the 8th. It was scary that he swung at a first pitch breaking ball at his ankles, but it turned out to be just a great piece of hitting.
  • Edgar's GDP in the 7th tied the game, but with the bases loaded felt more disappointing than anything. To say he's dropped off from his great 2007 season would be an understatement.
  • 19 Tiger hits were the biggest reason why it never felt like they were out of the game.
  • White Sox and Indians lose ... Twins only one back of first, but the Tigers are back to within five. I just can't get worried about the Twins, though.
  • Horrible strike zone tonight for home plate ump Wally Bell. Fucker had to have been drunk. Marcus Thames got hosed on a strikeout call, was pushed past the point of sanity, and was ejected. Clete Thomas should have walked in the 9th -- twice -- then just said "fuck it" and hit a double that nearly left the park. These were just two of many instances where Bell's zone was perceived as questionable at best.
  • I hate the rain delays, but I always love the crowds for the games that turn out late like this. They're obviously smaller, but rowdier and more entertaining because you can hear individual people yelling stuff. Plus, they were raucous by the time Sheff stepped up with a chance to end the game, and then he delivered.

June 25, 2008

Rumors: Chauncey + Sheed to Golden State?

Freep.

With the draft only one day away, the rumors are really swirling now. The alleged deal would be Chauncey and Sheed for Baron Davis and Al Harrington. I've also read about a couple other scenarios that would include G-State sending us the #14 pick to, and others that have us giving up Jason Maxiell.

I think SOME type of trade is imminent, regardless of what team we're talking about. Even though I, like most Piston fans, think a shakeup is in order, I just can't think of what a perfect deal would be. There's really no way that I see we can get equal value in return, and while I like Davis, the rumored deal seems kind of like a sideways move that doesn't do a whole lot for us. He jacks up 3's and is always an injury risk, and beside that, part of the reason for Dumars looking to make a change is because of how stagnant things have become, and Davis is a bit of an "on-off" type of guy in terms of intensity.

As for Harrington, this deal would leave us lacking in size, but that can be fixed. He's also an iffy guy when it comes to flipping on the switch, and while he can replace Sheed's scoring, the other parts of his game don't make up for it. If Dumars can swing the #14 in that deal w/o giving up Max, it might be different. And this would open up some opportunities down the road as well as far as cap space goes. We'll just have to wait and see.

June 24, 2008

Joey Harrington

As if we needed statistical analysis to tell us this, Pro-football-reference.com has branded Joey Harrington as the worst NFL quarterback of all time. He topped the list of QB's that had done the most cumulative damage to his team, so he's not necessarily the least talented, just the QB who took the biggest collective shit on his team. And believe me, that's a whole lot of shit we're talking about. Feces McGee, we called this guy.

June 23, 2008

Links

I'm going to try a weekly-ish thing where I post links and subsequent comments about my four favorite teams. Hopefully I will come up with a snazzier title than the nondescript one that you see above. I will continue to experiment with this format until I find something even more shamelessly unoriginal to do.


Red Wings
  • Is Jimmy Howard ready to be #2 or not? Well, not according to Ken Holland. But if not now, will he ever be? He's going on 25! It can take a while for goalies to develop, but judging by Holland's comments, he was speaking in media-code for "this guy sucks."
  • You can track the travels of the Stanley Cup through this site. It's pretty cool. Click on the Friday, June 20th one to see Charlie Sheen looking creepily into the top of it for some reason. Also, the fact that Charlie Sheen gets to visit with the Cup while I'm scraping pennies together for enough gas to get to my shitty job makes me want to light my hair on fire.

Tigers
  • Every time I see Edgar Renteria, I think of Jair Jurrjens and his trek to becoming NL Rookie of the Year for the Braves. Then I think about Edgar's 11 extra base hits in 256 at-bats, which in turn makes me think about his .352 slugging %. After that I think about his 81 OPS+, and then I think about how last year it was 125. Lest I forget, I then think about his age (almost 33), his position (shortstop) and his defensive range (edging on "piss poor"). I then think about not liking Edgar Renteria.
  • The Tigers need good pitchers. Unfortunately, good pitchers don't tend to just drop out of the sky. I'm excited by their recent resurgence, but it's still going to be really difficult to make the postseason. You're looking at a rotation of Verlander, Rogers, Galarraga, Robertson, and whoever can solidify the final spot ... Willis has slipped into a black hole that he isn't likely to recover from this year, if ever. Bonderman is done. Robertson is at best reliably mediocre. Rogers is less likely to finish out the season injury-free than he is to die of old age. And Galarraga just HAS to slip up eventually right? Or am I too pessimistic?

Pistons
  • It looks like the Carmelo Anthony-to-Detroit rumors won't turn into anything. However, I have a feeling that this thing isn't totally dead yet. Personally I don't see how giving up Chauncey and Tayshaun makes us any better right now, seeing as how Joe Dumars is on record as saying he doesn't believe in "rebuilding". Not that getting Carmelo would be rebuilding, exactly, but perhaps you see what I'm saying. Joe wants to put the best team he can out there, and a 2008/09 starting five with Stuck-Rip-Carmelo-Dice-Whoever will replace Sheed isn't as good as what we've got right now. Honestly, I don't have a concrete opinion on what the best way to deal with Sheed would be; I'd imagine that we'd get better value for him if we dealt him near the trade deadline rather than now, but his status with the club seems completely up in the air. I guess we should keep him for now because A) maybe (OK this is a big ass "maybe") he'll be totally reinvigorated by Michael Curry, or B) if you don't think that at least one team will be open to mortgaging their future in return for 2 months of Sheed, you clearly don't know who the Dallas Mavericks are.
  • Somebody at the Free Press apparently thought all us Pistons fans were pinning the hopes of next season on the upcoming draft. In comes: "Draft Alone Won't Transform Pistons". Really? No fuck? Because I really thought that DJ White and some foreign dude were gonna lead us to a 67-win season.

Lions
  • Last week, former Lions coach Bobby Ross reminded us why society hates old people.
  • Good news for those of us who thought Lions broadcasts had been lacking in window shattering screams that make you leap from your La-Z-Boy to under the coffee table in fear: Gus Johnson.

June 22, 2008

Tigers stick it to NL West

_________________________________

Tigers 5-3 Padres


Detroit finished their set against Whale's Vagina on a positive note, taking the rubber match to win the series. After sweeping the Dodgers and taking 4 of 6 on the road in California, the Tigers will come home to face the Cardinals in a series that stars Tuesday, and they're probably bringing a ton of confidence. Along with a 3-game stint against the Rockies, they can really get back into contention if they take take at least another 4-out-of-6.

- I got home from work at the start of the 7th inning. I apparently missed another good outing from Verlander (10K's, 5 hits in 5.1 IP). His ERA (4.49) has come down a bit from where it was a few weeks ago. His velocity is back up to topping 98MPH whereas earlier in the year he was only throwing in the low 90's.

- Pudge hit his 2nd homer of the season to give the Tigers an insurance run late in the game. It was his first homer that left the yard on it's own -- his first, against Minnesota, went off of the right fielder and over the fence back in April. He had 2 hits and -- gasp -- 2 walks ... now with 15, he has 6 more than all of last year.

- Raburn went 0 for 5 while batting 2nd. He's now OPS-ing below .700.

- Maggs had a HR and 3 RBI, possibly breaking out of this little slump. The pitch he hit out looked like a complete meat ball. He crushed it.

- The Padres uniforms were odd to say the least. Camo. Apparently Adrian Gonzales thought he would just blend in or something when he was thrown out at home by like 10 feet. At least, that's the excuse I would use.

- Only 5 back of the Sox with a shitload of games to go.

- It's good to see Joel Zumaya back out there. Even in giving up runs, I'm just glad he can throw without his arm flying off. In fact, now that I've thought about that, he's due to have that happen to him next. His arm will come helicoptering off of his body and club the batter in the head, leading to the first ever bench-clearing brawl involving a one armed man. The batter will be A.J. Pierzynski, who will assume that the whole thing was done on purpose and will charge the mound with Zumaya's detached arm to use it as a weapon. Given Zumaya's absurd injuries and Pierzynski's ability to be a maniacal douche bag, you can't even say that this scenario is totally out of the realm of possibility.

June 20, 2008

EURO 2008: New Blog to Cover Soccer

To keep the Triple Deke true to it's Michigan sports roots, all Euro Soccer coverage has been moved to my new blog The Wrong Side of the Pond. I'll still be writing for Triple Deke but The Wrong Side will be all soccer all the time. Stop by and check it out.

June 18, 2008

Tigers close out Giants

_________________________________

Tigers 7-2 Giants


Detroit beat San Francisco to win their third straight series and notch their 10th victory in the last 12 games. Way too much has happened since I last said anything about the Tigs, so let's just pretend that I've been talking about their recent hot streak for days on end so this post isn't as awkwardly out of place as it feels writing it.

****

Marcus Thames -- His last 8 hits have gone for homeruns. Before Leyland lifted him for some weird-ass reason in today's game, he had homered in 5 straight games and was denied by the Mustache for his chance at 6 in a row. Reading his stat page is wildly entertaining: 13 of his 30 hits this season are homers ... he has 13 walks in 120 at-bats this year, opposed to 2007 when he had 13 in 269 (leading to a near 50-point increase in his OBP) ... he's slugging .608 (coming into the game he was .624 ... AL leader was Milton Bradley with .628) ... his OPS over the last 7 games is 1.648 ... although it won't happen, he's on pace for 39 homeruns right now ... he has 4 doubles, and if the ball would quit flying over those fucking walls they insist on putting out near the stands then maybe that number would increase ... and his middle name is Markey. Marcus Markey Thames. No shit. (By the way, Marcus has officially taken the place of the 2006 version of Craig Monroe as the "Hitter That is Most Likely to Make Rod Allen So Excited That he Falls Out of Announcer's Booth". It's a long title, yes, but somebody has to wear the crown.)

I keep waiting for Armando Galarraga to fail, for the rest of the MLB to catch up with him, and he keeps on winning games for us. He's only had a couple of shaky outings to this point, which begs for the obvious yet mandatory decree that we would be fucked without this guy. He scattered 7 hits while giving up 2 unearned runs, lowering his ERA to 3.03 and improving his record to 7-2. He doesn't have overpowering stuff but he seems to get ground balls when he needs them the most, keeps hitters off balance and all of his pitches have good movement on them. Nobody seems to be able to get a read on this guy and I hope it continues.

Polanco had 4 hits and a walk, upping his June average to .359. You knew he wasn't going to stay in that funk that dragged him down at the start of the year. Still waiting for Curtis to come around, but when these guys are both on, it's going to be hard for teams to get leads on the Tigers with those two doing damage.

The Tigers now head to San Diego where they will take on a shitty Padres team that won't be using Jake Peavy, who pitched tonight against the Yankees. Not only that, we are expected to witness the triumphant return of Joel Zumaya. Hopefully the Tigers keep the momentum going and take another series. If only we could face Barry Zito every day.

France are how do you say.... le miserable....

What else can I say about yesterday's France v Italy match other than it was sad. Ribery got hurt and I mean really hurt early on. Then the red card. Then Italy pretty much had a field day. Henry had chances to tie it up and maybe give Italy a run for their meatballs. Buuut, he didn't look much like the Henry of old and could not capitalize. The silly silly french.

If you want to know why they've failed, I only have one picture for you. Monsieur Raymond Domenech over there.

What does that face tell you? Here's what it tells me.
"What is that you say? I'm supposed to pick a team that can compete in the present!? How about I just cap all of the old relics from the World Cup final and sprinkle in some kid wonders that don't have much experience on the international level! Yeahhhhh, that's it! Oui Oui! That'll do!" It tells me that, and it also tells me that he doesn't have a clue. But that's just me. Can you believe that the night after he was bounced from the Euros he proposed to his girlfiend! How does this goofball even get a woman that hot? She's got to be at least fifteen years younger than him. Oh well, odds are he's fired anyway after a dismal showing.

How about the dutch? I'm so excited for them to be playing this well so far. Since our national team is always blah, I've associated myself with the dutch since I was little. I've got them going all the way. Hopefully they aren't too high all the time to disappoint me.

June 17, 2008

Euro 2008..... Holy Crap! (The Rolling Stones Are Still Alive)

Holy crap! It seems like ESPN picked some of the worst music to represent it's Euro coverage. But I guess who else represents soccer better than the Rolling Stones right? fuck that........

Anyway, now that that's out of my system. For all of you who had been following my coverage of Euro 2008 Triple Deke Style I'm sorry. I've been watching all the games but I was out of town and busy for the past few games. Here's a quick summary of where we are leading up to today's group deciding game Italy - France. (Yawn.... I'm no a big fan of either team, mainly Italy. Tyler has some sort of hard on for France because of his last name)

Group A (Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland, Czech Republic)
The Swiss being a host nation and all would hope they could at least advance to the quarterfinals. But apparently that's too much to ask and they bombed out. Turkey on the other hand played one of the best games of the tournament. They came back from 2-0 to beat the Czech Rep. in dramatic fashion.

Portugal and Turkey through to the next round.

Thinking about Portugal, Their manager Scolari has already agreed to move to Chelsea after the Euros and I'm willing to bet C. Ronaldo will become the bigity bitch he is and cry about wanting a move to Real Madrid after the tournament. The question is, even though they claim not to think about it, and they're focused on the task at hand. Will all this effect the rest of the squad? I think so, Ronaldo will miss a goal and start crying. Sir Alex Ferguson will call him out for being a bigity bitch and then the winger will want out. I guarantee that's how it will go down.

Group B (Croatia, Germany, Austria, Poland)
Austria is pretty much Switzerland in group B so crash and burn for both host nations. Germany pretty much limped through to the next stage. Ballack had a cannon of a free kick (start at the 10 minute mark of that video) which should have ripped right through the net it was kicked so hard. Even if the Austrian keeper was able to get a touch on it I bet it breaks his wrist and scores anyway. Both managers go kicked out of that same game but other than the double send off and the goal it was a bore. Croatia has looked impressive since the Poland match and I've always liked Croatia for their red and white checkers that they wear on the kits. Learned about them waaaay back in my early FIFA video games. Poland couldn't muster enough to pass through.

Croatia and Germany are through. Beware the red and white picnic blanket jerseys.

Group C (Netherlands, Romania, France, Italy)
The final Group C games are today with Italy vs France on as I type. France shot themselves in the foot no more than 25 minutes in a red card. Holland is already through and Romania controls their own destiny. I'll update later with more.

Detroit Red Wings Season Review: Part II

_________________________________

#30 Chris Osgood -- Including the Playoffs, Ozzie had a record of 41-13-4. I'm not going to look this up, so I'm going to just assume that he's the first backup goalie to ever make an All Star team and then be handed the starting job after the playoffs started and won his team a Stanley Cup. Probably a safe bet. He didn't quite "stand on his head" but he was the perfect fit for this team: a sturdy, well-positioned netminder who doesn't get rattled and has a career's worth of experience, plus, he's cool with occasionally going for like 10 minutes at a time without having to make a save. It's also funny to me how he basically ended Dominik Hasek's career by himself. I got a little carried away with asking about where his MVP publicity was, I'll admit. But he's getting all of the post-postseason attention with this ridiculous media tour that he's on. Have you seen this? He's been on Leno, Jim Rome, and he's going to some movie premier, all with the Cup. He even went on that hapless Carson Daily show with Nick Lidstrom that airs at like 4 in the morning or some shit. Honestly, Carson's mom doesn't even watch that fucking show.

#33 Kris Draper -- Draper's playoff beard has gotten 10 times better with age. Back in the 90's he had that pencil thin, gay hair-dresser goatee thing going and now it's developed into an immaculate cinnamon-sprinkled face bush. Hands down, he won the award for best beard this year, and this was a season that included such competitors as Dan Cleary and Andreas Lilja (who's only redeeming quality was that he looked like a fearsome lumberjack). The beard was the #1 reason he was so dominant on faceoffs this year (an absurd 64.6% in the playoffs). No question about it. With under a minute to go in the Cup-clinching game, the Wings had a defensive zone faceoff with Draper maning the right circle. I said, "If you never do anything right for the rest of your life, just win this faceoff," and he did just that. So that pretty much alleviates him from all criticism as long as the Triple Deke is in existence. Never again will I complain about Draper mashing an open 25-foot slapshot straight into the goalie's chest. In fact, I will just chuckle and shake my head, as if he's a toddler who won't stop playing with the pots and pans. He's fucking adorable in that regard.

#37 Mikael Samuelsson -- For as many times that I've mentioned his name, I always -- ALWAYS -- have to double check the spelling on his name. Don't know what it is, just can't remember it. I give him a lot of shit, but it's mostly in good fun (it's easier to say things like that with a straight face when your team has won a championship ... had the Wings not won it this season, I'd be referring to him permanently as "Keith Premieu" and caused utter confusion to anybody who accidently finds this blog), and he actually had a pretty good Finals. Not just his out-of-nowhere 2 goal performance in Game 1, either. He and Filppula did a wonderful job helping with the shutting down of Evgeni Malkin, but didn't seem to get a whole lot of credit from NBC (or me for that matter.) I'll forgive NBC though because, even though they're the experts and I'm just some douche at home on my computer, Mike Emrick had one of the funniest "scores!" calls in recent TV history with Sammy's wrap-around. It sounded as if Emrick's brain was trying to yell 58 different words out of his mouth in a span of 2 seconds: "...Samuelsson trying to go by Scuderi ... aroundhe'sgotamaninfrontbackhanderSSCCOOOOORRE!!!"

#39 Dominik Hasek -- Ken Daniels made a great point during the victory parade that Dom's style just didn't suit this team as well as Osgood's, being that he was probably affected by not seeing a whole lot of shots. Combine that with the fact that he never played more than a few games in a row and then was supposed to play 20+, you just never got that comfy feeling with him in net. In fact, when Babcock finally made the switch, there was a collective sigh of relief because we all realized that, with a good performance from Ozzie, that was probably the end of Dominik Hasek. And it was. I'll remember him fondly for 2002, I'll feel sorry for him for how he was robbed in 2007, and I'll remember how antsy I felt with him in goal in 2008. But mostly I'll remember his kooky celebrations after big goals, namely in '02 when he tried to join a hog pile after Shanahan's empty netter in the Cup-winner against the Canes.

#40 Henrik Zetterberg -- Datsyuk is my favorite player to watch, but Hank is the best, most complete forward in the NHL. Like I was with Lidstrom, I'll admit that I have a total inability to look at things with any objectivity whatsoever. Also, I don't really care. He absolutely owned the NHL in the postseason and earned every bit of that Conn Smythe trophy. 43 goals, 49 assists, another 27 points in the playoffs, and he plays lockdown D against the other team's best line. He's a sorcerer. I wonder how bad his back pain is, and if it's a chronic problem that continually persists without us knowing,then he sure doesn't show it all too often. He gets better as the game goes along: of his 92 regular season points, 23 were in the 1st period, 30 in the 2nd, and 37 in the 3rd (the last 2 came in OT's). And against the "rougher" teams like San Jose and Anaheim -- the teams that were "supposed" to beat the "meager" Red Wings with their Canadian-ness and physicality -- he posted 13 points in 7 games. So for all of the dickheads who can't call a guy tough because he was born on the other side of the pond (no, change that ...) because he wasn't born in Canada (nope, still not good enough for our "65+ year-old Canadian" demographic ...) because he wasn't born in Alberta (dammit, almost got it ...) because he wasn't raised in the mountains by a ravenous family of blood-thirsty grizzly bears (there we go ...), you can rot in hell. Just TRY paying attention to Henrik Zetterberg for once. I swear, if he was from Jasper, you'd never hear the end of how great Z is.

#51 Valtteri Filppula -- Yet another guy who was streaky during the year only to finish out the season on a good note. He started the year without a single point in his first 10 games, and then had a 4 points-in-3 games stretch that included a clutch game-winner in Edmonton on October 30. His scoring touch was on and off though through the majority of the season as he occasionally went for weeks without points, something that we all feared would help doom the team if the 2nd-tier guys like Val couldn't muster any offense. He went over a month without a single goal or an assist between March 13 to April 18, which is inconceivable given the skill he has. In the playoffs, however, he and Samuelsson turned into a great forechecking tandem who could play solid defense as well (Val probably played the best defense of any forward outside of Datsyuk and Zetterberg.) In the Finals he left his mark with an incredible goal at the Joe and the 2nd tally in the clincher, the latter on a hustling effort that had little chance of scoring.

#55 Niklas Kronwall -- My collar bone was broken just watching this video. He's certainly the heaviest hitting Wing. The frightening part for his opponents had to be the percentage his total hits that were of the "holy shit" caliber; the kind that made you lose your lunch when a forward would venture out of his own zone with his head down and meet his demise. Yeah, sometimes those vicious open-ice checks look a little, um, illegal or whatever, but they're still fun to watch. They don't have the same impact that a Scott Stevens hit would provide, because he made it look like people were running 50 mph into a brick wall. But with Kronwall's collisions it looks like a complete car wreck, with his body as well as his target's left laying on the ice. Then you have the other side to his game, a complete 180 from the whole physical destruction thing. He's a brilliant passer. The fact that there is someone with his offensive skill holding down the 2nd defensive pairing says a lot about the talent on this team. Like Lidstrom or Rafalski, Kronwall's outlet passes add to the team speed with their precision and tendency to land on the stick of a player who's already skating in full stride. He played in 65 regular season games -- which is a fair amount considering his injury standards -- but he made it through the postseason without missing any games at all. He finished with a team high 15 assists and tied for the team high with a +16 in the playoffs.

#82 Tomas Kopecky -- Hey remember this guy? Shame he had to miss the playoffs after a strong showing in the regular season. Not a huge scoring threat (5-7-12 in 77 games) but for a fourth-liner he does his job well. He's got a big frame and throws it around a bit, finishing 3rd on the team with 111 hits, which was 1st among forwards. His absence made way for guys like Darren Helm, who also impressed with his time during the playoffs.

#93 Johan Franzen -- To me, the #1 thing I'll be looking forward to in 08-09 (other than Mats Sundin scoring 25 goals as a Red Wing ... seriously dude, why stay in fucking Toronto when you can come to Little Stockholm and be with like half of your countrymen + play for the best team in the league + give yourself your best chance to win a Cup?) will be seeing if Johan Franzen comes down from the cloud he ascended to during the last two and a half months of the season, or if he stays there and posts maybe 40 goals (or more?). My feeling is that, if his insane hot streak lasted more than two whole months, then he's likely to continue. That's not just a streak -- it's a major breakthrough. His series against Colorado (9 goals in 4 games) was fucking preposterous. Unforgettable. That move he put on Fleury in Game 3 of the Finals was something that truly showed how confident he has become, and how comfortable he feels trying to make such a play. Can you imagine a line with Fippula/Sundin/Franzen? As your 2nd scoring line?

#96 Tomas Holmstrom -- Finally this thing is coming to a close. My God it has taken way too long. Gotta be honest: a Pistons season review is not on the horizon. Too burnt out from this, as ridiculous as that may sound. Someday soon I'll get to my thoughts on the Michael Curry hiring, as well as make some comments about the (fingers crossed) Sheed trade ... which, by the way, in my mind is necessary but would at the same time be pretty sad to see. Mixed feelings on that one. And also, it's time to start talking about baseball again. There have been dozens of noteworthy topics that I've neglected in favor of playoff hockey/basketball (good excuse though), and baseball will soon be back on the map later this week as the Tigers look to surge back into relevance again. Anyway, what was I talking about? Holmstrom? Right. OK, he's a good way to end this thing. All that shit I said about Zetterberg and the media and toughness: amplify that by 10 with this guy. Why Don Cherry has to talk about Gary Roberts when Homer was playing with a bad hamstring and a fucking hernia is beyond me. He's incredible. Before injuries slowed him down, he started the season on a torrid pace with goals in his first 4 games and points in his first 7. It looked like he was going to go for 40 goals but then he hit a few bumps in the road, and instead finished with 20 which isn't too bad. A new year and a healthy start should put him back on track though for 2009.

June 14, 2008

Detroit Red Wings Season Review: Part I

_________________________________

EDIT (June 16) -- The Datsyuk section now contains a link to takeaway stats that previously didn't show up for some reason. That is all.

(Note: I've been writing this stupid thing bits at a time spanning like four days and it's only roughly half done. Did you know there are a lot of players on a hockey team? Good lord. I had to split it into two parts because the only thing more monotonous than reading the usual shit on this blog would be reading a 5,000 word player-by-player hockey season summary. So my answer to this was apparently making two smaller ones. Whatever. Just hit Stumble already.)

I can't let go of hockey. I've spent the last week watching old Red Wing tapes and DVDs, digging up old magazines, pouring through boxes of cards, and watching an endless stream of highlights on the Internet ranging from '80s playoff games to cheesy highlight montages to fight videos. The 2008 Red Wings have made me even more maniacally obsessed with the sport than I thought I already was. Not just winning the Cup, but the team itself -- just a boatload of likeable players with star-talent and toughness and all that other cliche shit that bad newspaper columnists spew out when they can't think of anything more clever to write. Aside from an injury-plagued stretch in February, a hiccup in Nashville and Game 5 of the Finals, this was an utterly dominant season that was perhaps the best that I've witnessed as a Wings fan. The 2002 team was littered with Hall-of-Fame talent, but in places where the '08 squad lacked in pure scoring power they made up for it with defense and superb puck control. I want this championship to last, but in a way I wish the '08-'09 season started next week; I want to see that banner raised, I want to see if the Joe can get as electric as it was during the Finals, and above all I want to see if Mikael Samuelsson finally misses a shot so bad that it clears the protective netting above the glass and strikes an elderly man in the face.


#3 Andreas Lilja -- What a phenomenal talent this guy is. The blazing speed. The supernatural stick-handling. The vision, the surgeon-like hands, the anticipation ... by God, Andreas Lilja has become Bobby Orr. They are the same fucking person. We are too lucky to have a defenseman like Lilja to go with Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, Chelios and Stuart. Just look at the way he dominated from shift-to-shift this season, it was almost unfair to the opposition. Who can forget that game last November when Lilja played 1-0n-5 against the Blues and we still won by 11? Or the time that he played an entire game in Dutch wooden clogs? And what about the time he delivered triplets on the ice while killing a 4 minute-minor? He can really do it all, that guy. I bet he can fly too. (I've gotten bored coming up with negative adjectives to describe the actual performance of Andreas Lilja. He has no skill, no concept of right or wrong, is a serial rapist, and will one day commit a homicide with his skate blade during a nationally televised game. I'm just saying.)

#5 Nicklas Lidstrom -- Greatest defenseman ever. I'm 100% biased, I've only seen like 15ish years of hockey, and I pretty much only watch Wings games, but I'll cling to my wild proclamation on the basis that I'm like 50% positive that it might be totally right. He's 38 fucking years old and he's as good now as he's been at any other point of his prime (his "prime", it seems, has lasted something like 9 years now). When he went down against the Avs on February 18, it was indeed a scary sight watching him wobble back to the bench seeing as how I've never seen him so much as blink let alone fall to the ice in pain. There were a number of injuries during the Winter that seemed to occur right in a row, but Lidstrom missing 3 weeks was the one that had us worried the most. Nobody was sure how long it would take him to get back to full strength, but luckily it was a non-issue come playoff time as he finished with 10 goals and 60 assists (good for 2nd on the team). In the post season, he and Rafalski formed the perfect blue line tandem and clamped down on every opposition's top line. Crosby and Hossa managed to put some points on the board after being humiliated in the first two games of the Finals, but even so their space was still limited and they didn't see as much of the puck as they're used to. The Wings play a great team-oriented system and it starts and ends with their anchor Lidstrom; he's the rock-solid backstop of the defense and starts the transition attack from their own end with tape-to-tape outlet passes. He's the shit.

#11 Dan Cleary -- Before having his jaw broken on February 9, Cleary had 20 goals through 57 games and was having the best season of his career. After returning from injury six weeks later, he finished out the regular season and playoffs (a total of 28 games) with only 2 goals and 3 assists. I'll admit that I am nowhere close to being intelligent enough to even take a vague shot in the dark as to what he was doing differently once he came back with the repaired face, but it was obviously something, and I couldn't quite spot it. He seemed to have a lot of missed opportunities and appeared to be snake bitten for prolonged periods of time as far as goal scoring, but he was always buzzing around the net and looking for rebounds so it's hard to explain how he managed to finish the year with 2 goals in 28 games. It's weird. He had an absolutely killer mountain-man beard, though.

#13 Pavel Datsyuk -- Personally, he's my favorite hockey player. Nobody is better at keeping control of the puck while crossing the opponent's blue line, nobody is better at finding the open man, and it's well documented now that nobody is better at stealing. He's a fucking klepto. If he sees you in front of him with the puck, you will soon be without it. It's fairly simple. You turn your back on him, he lifts your stick, you look like a dip shit, the end. He had 144 takeaways while Mike Modano was 2nd with 86. I'm sure that I'm placing too much emphasis on this, but seriously, how can one person be that much better at one particular thing than everybody else? (Just look at this page and see how ridiculous it looks.) He's not just about the handy stick work, either. He's an excellent backchecker; when he and Zetterberg and the Lidstrom/Rafalski pair are on the ice, it seems like the other team is playing 5-against-8. He also led all forwards in blocked shots, and then get this: he was second only to Brad Stuart in hits for the postseason (56 in 22 games) after finishing the regular season with 40 in 82 games! Kinda looks like he ratcheted things up for the playoffs or something. All those who questioned whether he could play in the postseason before 2007 look like douche bags right now.

#14 Derek Meech -- Meech got into 32 games this year and picked up 3 assists, but stats aside, I liked what I saw from him. He looked quick and positionally steady for a young defenseman, typically choosing to make the correct play under pressure. I also liked that he wasn't timid about shooting when he had an open chance either. I hope that he and some of the other young defenders get a legit shot next season.

#17 Dallas Drake -- He wasn't brought in to score goals, but for only $550,000 he was a big pickup. He dropped the gloves a few times at the start of the season which immediately won him over with the fans and probably the locker room, and then he had his face broken and laid off the fighting for a while. But he still pulled his weight with good defensive play and hitting (ranked 2nd for forwards during the regular season). His lone goal in the postseason was in the clinching game against the Stars, and it was one of my favorite "holy shit -- who scored?" moments which ranks up there with Joe Kocur in the '97 Finals and McCarty's hat trick against the Avs in '02. It was awesome to see him get the Cup first after Lidstrom, and at 39 it's up in the air whether or not he's going to come back, but my gut tells me he will.

#18 Kirk Maltby -- After playing in 188 straight games and at least 79 in every season since 2000-01, the injury bug bit Maltby in November and forced him to miss about a month and a half with a bad back, and then he sat out the first two rounds of the playoffs with a hamstring injury. He's not the agitator that he used to be, and now that his offensive skill has dwindled from like a 1 out 10 to an even zero, I wonder if it wouldn't be more of a benefit for some of the younger guys like Justin Abdelkader to get split some PT with him over the next few seasons, but I doubt that happens right away.

#19 Steve Yzerman -- He scored 84 goals in my season of NHL '96 for Sega this past winter (including a 5 goal/3 assist single-game performance that nearly melted the console it was so spectacular) and won the Hart, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe trophies as I beat the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup. This is relevant shit you that need to know.

#20 Aaron Downey -- I haven't heard or read anything, but I don't think he'll be back, which is a shame because I really like Downey. Great "team" guy, great clubhouse guy, seems like an overall good natured dude. When Lidstrom got hurt in Colorado, Downey was the first one to take the Avs to task. In my opinion, he should have his own show where he goes from city to city and starts fights with people that are messing up at there jobs. Try and tell me you wouldn't watch him bust into a kitchen at Denny's and stick a cook's head in the deep fryer when he fucks up an eggs Benedict.

#22 Brett Lebda -- I thought he was shaky during the regular year, but once he was called upon after being a healthy scratch for a couple of playoff games he finished out the year really well. He only had two assists in the postseason but defensively is where he picked his game up. Plus, he capped off his victory celebration in the locker room by saying "fuckin" on live TV, so I'll always remember him fondly regardless of what he becomes.

#23 Brad Stuart -- I still feel like a douche for being one of the obligatory assholes who complain when a big name star isn't acquired at the Trade Deadline. I was hoping for us to swing Hossa or Sundin and when we ended up with Stuart I wondered "what the fuck" a few times. In my defense I came back the next day with some bullshit about how it's usually those B-level trades that solidify the lineup and win you Cups, but whatever. Stuart played better than I could've imagined, given my previous assumptions of him, although he had some up-and-down stretches to go along with everything. I think he and Kronwall play exceptionally together, and it would be beneficial for his career if he chose to settle in with the Wings. Hey, what better place to raise his newborn kid than Detroit?

#24 Chris Chelios -- He did his normal Chelios thing in the regular year, and then weird shit started happening in the playoffs. He played all of the Nashville series, the first three of the Avs series, and the first five of the Dallas series with a wild good-to-poor range in effectiveness, then he had a "leg injury", then it was healed, and then he was a healthy scratch for Andreas Lilja? What? I've loved having Cheli for as long as we've had him, but he will be forty seven next year. I know 46 is old, but for whatever reason, 47 sounds like it's getting into "alright, that's pretty fucking old" territory. I'm sure the Wings wouldn't be at a total loss if he finally decided to hang 'em up.

#25 Darren McCarty -- Mac was chosen over Downey because he's basically the same player with better hands, and, let's face it, if he wasn't brought in, FSN and every other local media outlet would've been left blue-balling without the opportunity for 900 puff pieces and sappy stories about the triumphant return of one of the city's most revered sports figures of the past 20 years. I was surprised at how well he played, honestly. I was afraid it was going to be a total joke and blow up in the face of the team, and then possibly alienate our only real enforcer (Downey), but after proving his worth through a couple playoff games, he validated himself with a heads-up pass that directly led to a breakaway goal in the Wings' 5-2 win against Dallas in WCF Game 3.

#26 Jiri Hudler -- He scored the biggest goal of his life in Game 4 of the Finals, and then he was probably feeling suicidal by the end of Game 5. In a strange way (and I don't remember if I typed this already once before or thought it to myself and I'm too lazy to check) I'm glad that we lost Game 5 in the way we did, rather than, say, an own goal or a breakaway goal or any basic form of a "cheap" goal you can imagine. I was tense as can be up until he was whistled for the double minor, and when that happened I collapsed on my bed feeling like it was over before it technically was. It was an easier letdown. I guess it's like if you had to pick between being run over by a cement truck or a Jeep. Or something. OK this whole paragraph was pretty pointless. He had like a B- year, if that makes you happy. Just watch this clip of Hudler drunk at the parade if you haven't seen it already and laugh.

#28 Brian Rafalski -- Because I am an easily impressionable human being, Brian Rafalski will forever have a direct link to SCF Game 5 in my memory (I have to stop talking about this fucking game already). Even though we lost the game, that was one of my ten favorite Wings goals ever. I don't know how to explain it, I was too joyous to know how to react. Raf was so happy that he looked like he just discovered 10 million dollars in his basement ... anyway, I really have to let it go -- seriously. Rafalski is another one of those guys who automatically has his talent maximized playing alongside Nick Lidstrom. I suppose anybody would, but with the way he moves the puck up ice and works the power play, he's the best suited to play with Nick. Statistically he had his best season with 13 goals (5 more than his previous high) and 55 points, and he did it in only 73 games, so if he stays healthy next year he could even top that. He also looks weird, for the record. Just throwing that out there. Don't know where that came from.

June 10, 2008

Euro 2008 : Spain 4 v 1 Russia - Greece 0 v 2 Sweden

-Group D
Spain v Russia - Tivoli Neu Stadium (30,000)

<-(Tyler's gay for #9 Fernando Torres. Mostly I suspect because he had a great season for Liverpool. But partly the blond hair.) The picture pretty much says everything and Spain pretty much took a stroll in the park against Russia today winning with a 4-1 stomping. In all honesty, it could have just as easily been 3-2 or even maybe an 3-3 draw if Russia could have capitalized on their chances. For some odd reason I've noticed a lot of wide open chances are being shot directly at the keeper. I don't know if they're just so surprised they have the ball in open space the player panics or what but enough of that. David Villa's hat trick was well deserved and Spain looked much more comfortable on the pitch than in the friendly with the USA. (Here's a video of all the goals)


4-1 Spain vs. Russia Goals - MyVideo


-Group D
Greece v Sweden - Wals-Siezenhem Stadion (30,000)

Seeing the the roster for Greece looked like someone spilled a can of alphabet soup all over the lineup. Must make an announcers life hard. And for the first half the Greek squad held down the fort like they were guarding one of Zeus's nail clippings. It looked like a 5-5-0 lineup for most of the match and Greece looked like they didn't even want to bother with an attack. They tried to completely rely on the counter attack and it failed. Now the letter jumble of a national team (and defending Euro cup champs I might add) get to face the likes of Spain and Russia. They really need three points in the next one if they want to advance. Sweden on the other hand had a delightfully mediocre day but with one solid strike Zlatan Ibrahimovic ended the stalemate and the Swedes had it locked up from there. (here's another video of the events)

Schweden vs. Griechenland-EM 2008 - MyVideo


Tomorrow back to Group A for two more group round matches.

June 9, 2008

Euro 2008 Coverage: Triple Deke Style

Now that hockey is over and the Stanley Cup is in it's rightful home. It's time for me to cover my favorite sport in the world which is.................... Soccer! That's right, soccer. I've been playing since I was five years old and I'm one of the minority here in the US that grew up and still enjoys the sport. And now is a wonderful time for me and all in the states that follow soccer. Someone over at ESPN realized they might actually make more money showing showing relevant world sports than retarded poker re-runs or car auctions. Each and every game of Euro 2008 is being covered here this year and I for one am fucking stoked! Of course not every match will be available for me to watch because six or seven are on ESPN Classic. But I will be able to see the majority and will cover each game here in The Triple Deke.

Of course, being the lazy blogger I am I missed covering the first two days of games in Groups A and B. But I will be starting with Today's games in Group C (a.k.a. The group of death)

-Group C
Romania v France - Letzigrund Stadium (30,000) Noon EST


What else can I say about the first game other than snooze fest. It's games like this that people use as arguments against the sport. France was the strong favorite, but seemed to have played way too safe vs. the spunky Romanian side. The matched ended 0-0 and I ended with a gun faced towards my head knowing that the stalwart defense of the Italians was due up next.

-Group C
Netherlands v Italy - Stade de Suisse Wankdorf (31,500) 2:30 EST


My personal favorite of the tourney Holland plays defending World Cup champs Italy. Right off the bat the Netherlands was attacking. They made Italy look very old and it wasn't long before a clusterfuck around Buffon left a wide open Van Nistelrooy available to knock home the first goal. Not long after the Dutch were able to put a second goal in and never looked back. This match was the exact opposite of the bore that was Romania v France. Lost of free flowing attacking on behalf of the Dutch. Italy had a few good looks but the ball just wasn't going where the Azzurri
had hoped. After this match Holland has to have loads of confidence to face the rest of the group of death and hopefully make it through to the next round.

Italy can suck it!

Tomorrow we get to see Spain in their first game of the tourney v Russia and also the Greece Sweden match. Should be fun, I'll be back with more tomorrow.

June 5, 2008

#11: Part 2

_________________________________

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6
Red Wings 3-2 Penguins



As the puck entered the thicketed fortress of Red Wing Defense for one final time, I felt like my life flashed before my eyes. With 3.5 seconds left, a desperate Penguins team did everything they could to just put a shot on goal, hoping the impossible would happen and force overtime despite being down by two just a minute and a half earlier. It wasn't to be.

Chris Osgood, looking to give us one final scare, mishandled the shot as it bounced behind him and to the left. He stretched out to paddle the puck behind the net, Marian Hossa whacked at it, then it sailed across the goal mouth, fecal matter filled my shorts, and the game was over. The series was over. They finally did it........they won the Stanley Cup. Ozzie raised his hands over his head, looking around at his teammates. A stunned Dan Cleary didn't move at first and appeared unsure as to what was going on. Then the group as a whole realized it was finished. There was no equalizing goal in this game. The massive pileup ensued as the gripping tension turned to an entire season's worth of exuberant celebration.

It wasn't until about five seconds after the clock struck 0.00 that I realized we had won. I was assuming the worst after the Pens brought it to within one, and began pleading with the Lord to not put us through another overtime. "The worst" will be saved for another day, another season, I guess. "The best" was the jumping and cheering after Triple Deke Headquarters realized that the Cup was coming back to Michigan. We finally had a championship to celebrate. Last night, I was a part of the gayest looking group man-hug in my entire life, and I never imagined that level of homosexuality would ever feel as good as it did. It was a euphoria that can only be related to if you've experienced it for yourself; there's nothing like it. (Wait, did I say gay hug? I meant rowdy high fives and unprotected sex with copious amounts of women.)

****

Brian Rafalski opened the scoring to make it 1-0 Wings, and thankfully we only had to wait five minutes to get on top. He got help from a gritty effort by Zetterberg, who fell down as he was delivering the set-up pass, and Homer was doing his usual thing in front of the net. A major key to this game was going to be getting the first goal. The Wings commanded the play, were down the throat of every Penguin who got within 10 feet of the puck, and looked especially confident. That confidence lent a hand in keeping me calm, as I felt from the start that the guys really had control of things. If there were any serious effects from Game 5, they weren't showing any. (Weird side note: like many sports fans, I'm somewhat superstitious when it comes to game-watching. While watching Game 5 with my roommates, Brent changed into his 1998 Red Wings Stanley Cup Champions shirt while Detroit was down 2-1 and on the power play. Literally as he was changing the shirt, Datsyuk scored to tie the game. So as the Wings went on their first power play of Game 6, we had Brent go change his shirt, and within seconds Raf had scored. It was strange.)

The Wings ran into trouble shortly after when they faced another 5-0n-3 penalty kill. Surely Pittsburgh was going to capitalize on this one, we thought. But the trio of Zetterberg/Lidstrom/Kronwall killed off the majority of the Pens power play, and even though they faced a minute and a half of being down two men, the Wings dealt a big blow by keeping the score 1-0. Huge moment of the game.

In the 2nd period Detroit scored again to go up 2-0. Mikael Samuelsson -- apparently bored with trying to shatter the glass behind the net on a nightly basis -- actually fired a shot that landed on goal which resulted in a rebound. A hustling Val Filppula did all he could to get a backhander on Fleury, and luckily enough it squirted through the goaltender's legs to put the Wings up two goals. Still a long way to go at this point, but man did having a two goal lead feel great.

Nearing the end of the period, though, Evgeni Malkin returned from hibernation to blast one of his trademark slapshots past Osgood to cut the Wings' lead in half. 2-1 Detroit. The crowd was mostly restless up until their team scored, but it didn't take them long to get back into it. Heading into the 3rd, Pittsburgh seemed to have a little bit of momentum.

With about 12 minutes to go in the game, Zetterberg gathered some speed into the Pens' zone and snapped a wicked wrister through the defenseman's legs. It seemed to catch Fleury off guard, though he appeared to make the save. But there was no whistle. Hank kept pushing hard to the net, following his shot just like they teach you to do. Datsyuk followed suit, as did a couple Penguins to protect their net-minder. Still no whistle. Then, I began to hear a beautiful sound: screaming. Not an arena's worth of drunk Pennsylvanian screaming, mind you. A much smaller group of people ... it was the sound of cheering Wings fans. Oh, what a harmonious sound it was. And soon following their emphatic yelling was the sight of the referee, pointing down inside the net to signify a goal. 3-1 Detroit? Incredible. We waited for a replay to see just what had happened. Then we discovered that Marc-Andre Fleury is an excellent Ass-Tiddlywinks player. The absolute best. It's like he ate the puck on the initial save and shat out a Detroit goal. So much for that amazing Game 5 performance.

The Penguins looked like they were left for dead during most of the final period. With about 7 minutes to go, they had only mustered one 3rd period shot. The Wings were suffocating them on every possession. They looked completely done, until Jiri Hudler was called for a pretend penalty in the waning moments.

Osgood had a great line after the game, saying, "I haven't seen Hudler yet, but I'm gonna smack him when I see him." In Jiri's defense (maybe), I didn't see a penalty, but I only saw one replay. From what I've heard, there wasn't anything that happened that can be interpreted as an infraction, and I read this from Penguins fans. So it must've been a pretty lousy call if THOSE people are noticing it. Regardless, Marian Hossa deflected a point shot home to put the fear of God in me. I went from a calm, confident state to a complete shell of a man. I fell to the carpet in a crumpled heep, looking up at the clock to see that we had to stave of this fucking Penguins team for another 1:26.

But despite our worst fears, nothing bad happened. There was no Max Talbot to save the Pens this time. There was no gift rebound begging to be banged into our net. Stanley was to be welcomed onto the Mellon Arena ice on this night, and lifted by the epitome of exemplary human excellence, Nick Lidstrom. They celebrated, we cheered, everyone smiled and had an awesome night. Game 5 will always be burned into our memories but it didn't make winning this thing any less sweeter. I no longer hate sports. This was a great season, a great team, and I look forward to watching them attempt to defend their title come October. Go Wings!

Other random thoughts on this final game recap of the season...


- A few minutes after the game, Brent put his shoes on and ran around the outside of the apartment complex, whooping and hollering. While he was flying around the building, somebody yelled to him, "Shut up you dumb motherfucker!" This phrase will forever have a place among the lexicon of inside jokes and stories that only me and my friends think are funny, as well as a warm corner of my heart. I hope that "Shut up you dumb motherfucker" will someday replace "good-bye" in my everyday speech.

- Well, Malkin finally scored. Easily his best game of the Finals, not just cuz of the goal. One too many jokes I suppose.

- I personally couldn't wait to see Dominik Hasek carry the Cup. That was the one guy I wanted to see, just for the awkward, unintentional comedy of it. He didn't disappoint.

- Truth be told, I didn't actually see the puck at the final second as it went through the crease. I saw Osgood bobble it, then I saw him stretch for it, then I looked at the clock and became disoriented with fear/anticipation/suspense and almost blacked out. It wasn't until they showed it on the overhead camera that I became scared simply in retrospect of what could've been.

- Tigers lost 10-2. It's the least upset that I've ever been at an 8 run loss.

- Henrik FiveOnThreeberg is his new name. What a player -- forever a Wing, no matter what happens now. He looked the most excited to carry the Cup, letting out the loudest yell after hoisting it. He really earned the Conn Smythe.

- Not even gonna get mad at the Cherry/Melrose clip, or Cherry's shameless bias. Too happy right now. I'll make another post about it another day. They can suck it though.

- Didn't hate Pittsburgh before this series, but can't stand them now. The preposterous media attention and the coach are enough, but I don't remember a team's fans booing the team that won the Cup on their ice. That was just absurd. You really stuck around just to boo every player that carried the Cup? Really? That's a little ridiculous.

- Dallas Drake was the first to get the Cup first after Lidstrom. I thought that was awesome. Wonder if he sticks around now that he's finally won it.

- Game 5 has sort of a different feel now, but like I've already talked about ad nauseum it's an experience that I most certainly will never forget. I've never been one to think that winning a championship on the road is any less special, it just never made a huge difference for me for whatever reason. Obviously I'd rather see them lift the Cup at the Joe, but sticking it to Pittsburgh IN Pittsburgh was terrific. I'm more scarred about the game itself than the fact that we didn't get it done in Detroit.

- I wouldn't rather have another coach or GM, I wouldn't replace our top 3 players with anybody in the NHL, and I'm sure almost all of Red Wings Nation would agree with me. I'm too attached to this team.

- Lilja better not be on this team come training camp. The guy can't come within 5 feet of the puck without an outright clusterfuck occurring. He's too much on the nerves -- I can't take it.

- Stuart had a much better game last night, and he absolutely killed Crosby with his hit in the 2nd period.

- Filppula, despite hit streaky ways this season, ended the year on a good note with a very good series.

- This post has already been a little heavy of the self-indulgent side, but what the hell ... A new superstition was born with the winning of this game. The "shower cap" will forever be a tradition that takes place before every playoff contest from now on: After Pittsburgh scored the OT winner in Game 5, I gave a depressing toss of my Red Wings hat into the bathroom that's in my bedroom. It happened to land in the shower, and the next day, I accidentally showered with the hat still hanging from the shampoo bottle on the floor. Of course, the Wings won last night, and I'm giving full credit to the "shower cap". I can't wait to test it out next season.

- The Wings are favorites to repeat next year as things stand, although that's pretty moot since free agency is still to come. But a whole year of new SuperFranzen, Helm, Meech and the other young guys getting their shot, a whole season of Stuart, no Lilja, and hopefully no Hasek. This machine is going to look pretty damn good once again.

- In conclusion I'd like to thank the Academy, my parents, the crew, my loving wife and our 17 glorious children for a wonderful season. It was very kind on the Wings part to go on a Stanley Cup-winning run in the first year of this blog, I must say. I'll be back with a player-by-player season review post sometime, but like the Pistons one I don't know when that will come. I do know, however, which one of those two will be more enjoyable. Actually, fuck the Pistons -- that one will probably get finished midway through the 2009 NBA season. That way I can do a Pistons season preview before the next Conference semi-finals, which is right around the time they think the season starts anyway. One more time:

GO WINGS!!!


2007-08 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS



June 4, 2008

#11

(freep.com)

_________________________________

YYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





****EDIT: I won't have time for a full recap right away, so extended thoughts won't come for possibly a couple of days ... unless I die celebrating, which wouldn't be a bad way to go. I love the Detroit Red Wings.****

Laugh

_________________________________

- This made me happy. Via Behind the Jersey, a couple of videos brightened my morning and helped ease the tension of this heavily anticipated Game 6. Thank you, Author Of That Site Who Has No Idea Who I Am. (The creators of the videos themselves have a bunch of others, all of which are hilarious. Search "knob hockey" on YouTube and set aside like a half hour, if you haven't seen these videos already. It's worth it.)

- Mike Babcock tells Pens coach to eat shit and die. Or at least, in an encoded, passive-aggressive hidden meaning kind of way. It was awesome regardless. I love the Babcock.


****


The Wings will take their second crack at the Cup tonight. Hopefully overtime won't be involved.

Now that I've had some time to calm down from the impossibly wild Game 5, here are my actual, level headed thoughts on the game as well as what we'll see tonight -- of which I will compare to my I Hate Sports post that followed Game 5 much too soon and should have been filed under the pseudonym of "Chicken Little".


"Losing a game THIS way -- when you can end it any number of times like we could have -- is worse than having your season ended in OT."

That's going a little overboard, and is a prime example of why you don't post shit after a bad loss. It's not good for anybody. It makes you look stupid and say things you don't mean, and it makes you call your mother at 3:30 in the morning and ask her why she did something so cruel as to bring me into this cold, cold world. For this, I am sorry, I guess, to our core readership who only stumble upon this page when searching for Gordon Bombay stick-handling footage and are barely compelled enough by my handy cut-and-paste job on the upper right-hand side of your screen to read maybe 30 words of my indecipherable nonsense. Translation: I just apologized into a cavernous hole of nothing.

"34 seconds ......."

First off, the correct usage of this reference is 34.7 seconds, not 34. And secondly, if I would've put the computer down for long enough to let the elements of the game marinate in my head for longer than like an hour Monday night, I would've liked to add that the buildup to the goal was much more complex than the Penguins simply scoring. After seeing it a couple of times now it's obvious that we didn't do a good job of closing that one out, Ozzie left a gift rebound, and nobody was there to pick up Talbot or the puck in time. It was somewhat of a disappointing effort, you could say. Credit the Penguins for getting it deep into the zone in the first place with enough time to do some damage.

"They had done it -- they had somehow overcome their insanely poor start, done a 180 on the Pens and were minutes and ultimately seconds away from the most memorable win of any sporting event I've ever watched as a Michigan sports fan."

In all honesty, it probably would've been. That game was fucking absurd. Game 6 and/or (no, don't say it you asshole) a possible Game 7 have less than a 1% chance of topping it. But I need to add something, and I'm saying this as a fan of the team that lost in Game 5: That was one of the 10 best hockey games I've ever seen. It had mistakes, it had flaws, it ended on a power play goal in overtime, but those flaws also created some exciting scoring chances both ways, great saves, and any time the Cup is on the line it amplifies the intensity 10 fold. Had the Wings actually scored an OT goal to win the Cup -- or even if they just held off Pittsburgh for another 34.7 seconds, this victory would be too hard to beat.

"I know it's a bit down the road, but if the Wings somehow blow this series, it will probably be the end of this blog and too much for me to handle altogether. I would probably stop watching sports if that happened. I don't think that's a joke. I would need counseling, therapy, a lobotomy, and a coke-binge just to begin thinking about starting to consider embarking on the preliminary steps of the healing process."

This is thinking in the extreme to the extreme. But I also have no idea how I would actually handle it. I've gotten over the 2000 Lions missing the playoffs on a 53 yard field goal. I've gotten over the Tigers losing the World Series. I've gotten over every other Wings postseason loss, mainly because we've had a few Cups to stifle the pain. But should the unthinkable happen, I won't know what to do. There's no blueprint on how to handle going from the euphoria of Game 5's third period to the horror of watching Crosby take the Cup from Bettman on top of the Hockytown logo. Let's not think about this.

"I think the Penguins will win Game 6."

No I don't. I'm flip-flopping all over the place, and I don't care. The Wings are the better team, period -- more depth, better defense, better coaching, and better two-way playing star players. As bad as Red Wings fans feel about Game 5, you have to think about the people who actually lost that game. The probably aren't too happy about it. And I don't think they are going to come out flat for a 4th straight game. No way. How could they? They haven't come out of the box flying in quite some time now, and they know that they need to. I hope and think they will do that tonight. Go Wings.

June 3, 2008

Crosby is a Bigity Bitch

Now I'm a trash talker when it comes to sport, but in the end I give credit where credit is due. The Penguins completely and utterly sucked in the last five periods of last nights game. To their credit, they managed to keep me hating them for atleast one more game. I can't even put into words how shitty I felt last night. Hockey is the only sport I enjoy watching in it's entirety on TV. So to watch my team come within seconds of hoisting the cup and then failing due to a shitty four minute minor an hour later was crushing. I thought Tyler was going to kill himself, and had he been alone last night he might very well have.

To help ease the pain I've dug up a picture of Crosby trying to grow a playoff beard, enjoy.


(What a Bigity Bitch!)

The day after

_________________________________

Not enough sleep. Like, maybe 3 hours of it. Not nearly enough to fend off the shock of Max Talbot's goal, or hearing that Jiri's high stick drew blood. Some carryover thoughts now that I've had (half) a night's rest...


- A couple of bizarre facts I read on the ESPN game recap: Sykora's goal was his third career multi-overtime game winner in the playoffs. His third, people.

And also: The last SEVEN multi-OT Finals games have been won by the road team. That has to be a little more than just coincidence, don't you think? Seven? I guess I could imagine the pressure to win it at home would be a little greater, so I don't know, maybe that has to do with it. The weird thing was that I said during the game that it always seems like the road team wins these type of games, and sure enough I read a stat the next day verifying that.

- I don't know why I subject myself to this stuff, but after each game of the Finals I've watched the Levy-Cherry-Melrose postgame thing that ESPN has with each recap (for the record, ESPN is not the place I go for my hockey info, and nor should you) to see if they spend more than 3 seconds doing anything other than slurping off the Penguins, and boy did those guys have a ball with this game. Anybody who thinks the Wings are the Yankees of hockey need not look any further than these post-game segments -- if this were the Wings were truly Yankee-like, the Pens would be getting absolutely no attention and we'd be discussing how the Wings lost it, not how Pittsburgh won it. Trust me. The Tigers beat the Yankees in '06, and America heard about how the Yankees were the worst team in the universe, how A-Rod needed to be euthanized, how Torre should be fired, how there was a rumor that some mysterious team may or may not have actually just played better than the Yanks. The same thing happened when the Pistons beat the Lakers in '04.

- I hope we can just get this series over with a win tomorrow. I want to feel the joy I felt when Rafalski scored that goal again. That would be super. And then Game 5 will hopefully have a totally different feel to it.

Last night's post was done in such a haze, I probably shouldn't have wrote it. Yeah, it was a bad idea. In my defense I didn't want to do anything else. Didn't want to sleep, eat, watch TV, video games, nothing. I needed to attempt to organize my brain. I can't remember if I said these exact words, but it was the absolute worst feeling I've ever had immediately following a game. Thank God this didn't happen in a Game 7, because I can't imagine it feeling any lower. But hopefully, if we can still win the series, it will be simply take it's place in time with other tough Red Wings losses. Like in '98, when the Dallas' Jamie Langenbrunner scored an OT goal from center ice in a game that could've sent the Wings to the finals. The following game, Chris Osgood shut out the Stars to win the West, and the previous one was 1000 times easier to get over.

- That Pistons Season Review post I plan on doing feels like it's light years away right now.

- NBC's play-by-play guy Mike Emrick is pretty much a consensus vote for best television hockey announcer in America (not like there's many to choose from). My only gripe with him is that he's a little too good for games like that. Every shot had me shitting my pants because there's something about his voice that can make a mundane 65 foot wrist shot sound as epic as Christ coming back to Earth.

- In my below average Stanley Cup Finals Preview, I wondered about how this particular Wings team would be remembered, since the last three championship squads had three distinctly separate stories to them. This could've been maybe the one case in which one single game provided the lasting image for a teams' entire season. Had they won, it's likely that that would've been my favorite game of all time, narrowly supplanting the Steve Yzerman Game of 1996. If they recover and win Wednesday or (gulp) in Game 7, they'll be the team that rebounded from what was probably the worst loss any of them have ever experienced to win the Cup. I hope this happens.

I Hate Sports

_________________________________

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5
Red Wings 3-4 Penguins (3OT)


I have no idea how this post is going to unfold. It's against sports-blogger rules to do an entry right after your team lost, so this isn't really a game recap. Or maybe it will be, I have no idea. I'm hoping this will be a little therapeutic. Just random thoughts and stuff.


- It's going to take days, probably weeks to put this game in the proper perspective. My first reaction is to say it's the most remarkable hockey game I've ever witnessed. I recognize that this statement is amplified by the fact that the Wings were involved, and that we were a ball hair away from winning the Stanley Cup. But if you are against the use of hyperbole, you should probably go do something else right now. Like this instant.

By "remarkable" I don't mean best. I don't mean worst. I mean in the literal sense, the game itself is worthy of more remarks, notes, descriptions and opinions than any Red Wings game before it. If you aren't a Wings fan, or if you haven't had a favorite team in a similar situation, it's impossible to convey how low we feel right now.

- The Wings, nor any of my other favorite teams, have been in a position such as this, where the championship was their's for the taking and it was snatched away in the cruelest of fashions. So now I can say I've experienced this end of things -- the end when you're that close and you have to put off celebration plans for another couple days. The other side of it was what should have happened to Pittsburgh tonight. Sudden death.

I know it's only been a couple hours since the game ended, but I don't care: losing a game THIS way -- when you can end it any number of times like we could have -- is worse than having your season ended in OT. I speak of experience; in 2001, 2003 and 2004 the Wings' season ended because of overtime goals. It's just harder to deal with, I guess. When your season ends in sudden death, that's it -- that's the end of it. You know that your next game is going to come months from then. When you lose a Triple OT game in which a goal can win the fucking Stanley Cup (God it hurts typing that), you have to sit around for 2 fucking days before watching them try again. You have to imagine the terror of the Mellon Arena crowd, yelling themselves hoarse, urging their team to push on for what already feels like an inevitably epic Game 7. This sucks.

- A quote from me, yesterday:

"If this game goes to OT, I will puke from the soul-crushing intensity. I will literally vomit. The Wings have miraculously only played one single solitary overtime game this postseason, and that one only lasted a couple minutes. So I think we're due for one."

I'm not exaggerating -- I almost felt sick watching this game. I said the words, "this is too much" at least a dozen times. It didn't help that I have eaten only a Nutri-Grain bar, a couple tacos and a handful of potato chips before this game (I tend to eat a lot more than just that, especially before 8 o'clock.) I was going to get something serious to eat around the usual dinner time, and then something distracted me and I can't remember how I forgot to eat dinner. My memory pre-Game 5 is a little shady right now anyway. It was a poor dietary choice on my part in retrospect. Also, I can't believe I fucking said those things and then the overtime nightmare actually came true.

- The Joe was fucking alive. I haven't seen it that loud in forever...it was like the outpour of excitement was about to spill into my living room. There were a hundred different "Ozzie" chants, "We want the Cup" chants, and a rousing chorus or two of "Let's go Red Wings". It was absolutely awesome. Red Wings fans? 100% better than Pistons fans. Yes the Cup was in the building, but I don't give a damn. Even after it was 2-0 the crowd was still behind the club, unlike the Palace, which goes church-silent the minute a team goes on an 8-0 run. Even into the OT's, they were still yelling and cheering. Unlike me, who was reduced to an embarrassing shell of his former self during the overtimes...I felt like if I moved an inch it would affect the outcome of the game.

- Maybe I should consult a New Jersey Devil's fan out there somewhere: they lost Game 5 of the 2000 Finals in Triple OT with a chance to win the Cup. Too bad Devil's fans don't exist.

- The image that keeps replaying in my mind is how happy Brian Rafalski looked after he scored the go-ahead goal in the 3rd period. He was so happy. As was I, albeit partially reeling from the sheer disbelief of everything going on at the time.

- 34 seconds .......

- This 6-period fuckbomb was like watching three separate games, and not just because of it's length: The opening segment was the first 22 minutes. The 1st period was legitimately the worst 1st period the Wings have played this year. It was awful -- there almost nothing positive at all to say about it. I said aloud after watching it that I couldn't envision them coming back after such an atrocious start, and shit, I almost wish they didn't. The 2nd period opened up with a handful of Detroit players seemingly trying to give the game away. It wasn't until a few minutes in that they started to pick their play up.

The second segment of this game was the Wings dominating the action from the middle of the 2nd period to the 19:26 mark of the 3rd period. In the 2nd period they got a lucky goal from a line that had been great through the first half of the game (Hudler-Helm-Maltby). That line was playing better than any of the others up to that point, which isn't really a good thing as far as the team goes. Then the 3rd period hit and the Wings threw everything they had at the Pens. Everything. Datsyuk finally got his first home goal of the postseason on a perfect tip-in. I went completely nuts. Then, the improbable comeback was capped by Raf's goal. I went whatever is more than completely nuts. They had done it -- they had somehow overcome their insanely poor start, done a 180 on the Pens and were minutes and ultimately seconds away from the most memorable win of any sporting event I've ever watched as a Michigan sports fan. Then, in one of the most shocking feelings I've ever felt in life, the game was tied.

The third segment was the painful experience of waiting through the 4th, 5th, and 6th period for the Wings to score. It was just surreal. My wildest dreams as a Wings fan could've come true on just one shot -- just one fucking shot had to beat Fleury and we would've had an overtime winning Stanley Cup clinching goal. Too much to wrap my brain around. Way too much. Maybe I'm just too much of a sucker for this shit but it had me waaaaaaay hooked. I was in shambles watching this game, I can't express that enough. We had chance after chance after chance after chance .... and after a while, around the middle part of the 2nd overtime, I slowly started to realize that we were going to find a way to lose this game. Things had been going in our favor for way too long from the 2nd period through the 5th period, aside from that thing that happened with 34 seconds to go in regulation. Fleury had the game of his life, he just could not be beat. And as we crept into the 3rd overtime, my imagination wouldn't allow me to picture the Stanley Cup celebration like I had been picturing for the previous 4 hours. Things just weren't feeling right. And Jiri Hudler's errant stick drew blood on a Penguin. Then, the fucker who told Pierre McGuire "I'm going to score" actually scored. Unbelievable.

The game as a whole will be so lastingly memorable partially because of how flawed it was. I mean, this was just a crazy fucking game. The absolute zaniest I've watched under the Cup-like circumstances. There were an infuriating amount of turnovers which led to numerous odd-man rushes and scoring opportunities. I could look up just how many there were but I'm going to estimate there were around 300 different "HOLY SHIT" moments, shattering the record of whatever the fuck game was the previous record holder. The fact that the Wings went from dead to alive to dead again was crazy. Marc-Andre Fleury was crazy. Ozzie was crazy. I went crazy. The crowd was crazy, and I can't picture the Game 7 crowd being any better in a few days. Oh fuck it...this game was just too much.

The only time I've ever had the same weird out-of-body type of feeling -- a feeling like "is this actually happening?" -- while watching a sporting event was when Magglio hit that homerun to send the Tigers to the World Series. The difference being that this time, that feeling lasted from the 3rd period to the final goal, and I wasn't watching in awe of just one moment. It was like 50 different moments, each amplified by the last one.

****

- I thought Darren Helm and Filppula each played really good games.

- I think Brad Stuart played the worst game of his life.

- I think Datsyuk had a rather shitty first 2 periods. Then he made up for it.

- I think Samuelsson needs to hit the net one of these days when he shoots.

- I think the Penguins will win Game 6. Whether that's a level-headed opinion or not remains to be seen.

- I think Babcock was awesome in his coach-y-ness tonight. Right adjustments, right line changes + shakeups, and apparently the right 1st and 2nd intermission pep-talks.

- I think the dude who called Z for goalie interference should be taken behind a shed and shot.

- I think the Cleary call was bad too, but not quite in the same league as the Hank one.

- I think I'll probably forget at least 30 others thoughts about this game after I post this.

- I feel kinda bad for Jiri Hudler. But I just knew they were going to score on that power play.

- MAF's save on Sammy was bone-crunching. I wanted to jump through a window.

- I know it's a bit down the road, but if the Wings somehow blow this series, it will probably be the end of this blog and too much for me to handle altogether. I would probably stop watching sports if that happened. I don't think that's a joke. I would need counseling, therapy, a lobotomy, and a coke-binge just to begin thinking about starting to consider embarking on the preliminary steps of the healing process.

- I've already predicted a Pens win next time out, but I'm still really curious to see how this team responds Wednesday. Will they fold, or will they pull their nuts out and raise the Cup in enemy territory? We'll see. It's going to be a long, long two days.