November 29, 2008

Not Home




Lot's of leftovers still to be had.
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November 23, 2008

Wings @ Flames - Recap

I hate sounding like I'm complaining when we win -- by three goals, no less -- but this wasn't the greatest game to watch. It was choppy and sloppy. It had it's bright spots (last five minutes of the second period; Datsyuk's goal), but other than that ... meh, win's a win.


Red Wings 5-2 Flames
**********

  • Jiri's on fire right now. Scored the go-ahead goal on a delayed penalty as the extra attacker, giving him multiple points in three straight games, and he's only played about 35 minutes combined in that span. If he goes on a Franzen-like tear it's just not going to be fair to the rest of the league.
  • Lilja to Maltby. Okay. Whatever. That didn't even happen.
  • Brett Lebda? A goal? Stop it.
  • Whoa whoa, back up. Lilja assisted on the alledged Lebda "goal" too? Two assists? In the same game? Who the fuck am I directing these questions to?
  • Conk looked good yet again. 31 saves on 33 shots.
  • Todd Bertuzzi: no points, -3, two penalties and two give-aways. Suck it.
  • Hossa picked up an empty netter with 6 seconds left to prevent a three game point-less drought.
  • Wings take on the Luongo-less Canucks on Monday.


November 21, 2008

Wings @ Oilers - Recap

Start strong. The finish? Eh, a win's a win, especially way out West.


Red Wings 4-3 Oilers
**********

  • Jiri Hudler's show tonight. Not just the goals -- he really looked to be on top of things and is playing better than the first week of the season by miles. I honestly didn't think he'd snap out of it but he's sure as hell done it.
  • Tomas Kopecky stood in for an injured Homer and fit right on the first PP unit, getting his first goal of the season and screening for another. Now if only John Keating could get his name right during the between-period interviews.
  • The Wings just love these one-goal games. Some penalties let the Oilers back in it late, and then with the net empty they missed a couple of chances to stretch their lead to two.
  • "I hate it when I hate having a lead at the very end of a game. Doesn’t make sense unless you are a Wings fan." -- MOWingsfan19, A2Y Wings/Oilers liveblog. Truer words were never spoken.
  • Ozzie looked all over the place at times. In the first five minutes alone he was wandering outside of the crease multiple times. Draper saved his ass with a spectacular play when he let a puck flutter over and behind him, nearly into the open net, but Drapes batted it out of the air in the nick of time.
  • Lidstrom picked up his first penalty minutes of the season. He was aslo collosally burned on one occassion the likes of which I've never seen out of him. Had two assists though.
  • Hossa was awarded the 3rd star despite finishing with no points. Had eight shots and played his ass off.
  • The power play is clicking at level that should be illegal.

November 20, 2008

Wings @ Oilers - Pregame

The Edmonton Oilers weren't too pleased with how they played at the Joe on Monday night. They took out their frustration on the poor Blue Jackets 24 hours later with a 7-2 win, despite being outshot 39-19, which is insane. They had a better shooting percentage than Tracy McGrady did against the Mavericks last night.

I failed in trying to find out what the most goals scored after being shut out was, but apparently the Oilers have a team precedent to what occurred Monday-Tuesday night: the 1985-86 Oilers were shut out 4-0 on March 11 by the North Stars, and then came back the next night to beat Winnipeg 8-5.



A good way to kill five minutes would be reading the 1983-84 Oilers Wikipedia page. Just look at some of those scores. They won a game 12-8 that year. Stupid crazy shit right there.

**********

The Dustin Penner/Craig MacTavish romance continues to blossom:

"I didn't talk to him after the game," said Penner, rather coldly, when surrounded by the Edmonton media yesterday upon his return to Rexall Place (Slam Sports).

When pressed further about the issue, Penner said he was "too tired from boning Craig's mom" and didn't want to be bothered anymore. MacTavish overheard the comment and told Penner to "eat shit", to which Penner obliged by actually biting into a stray turd found in teammate Erik Cole's locker, just to spite his coach.

**********

David Staples of the Edmonton Journal explains why plus/minus is as useful of a hockey stat as battery acid is to your digestive system:

It is used endlessly in debates about the merits of this individual player or that one, but it's not really an individual stat at all. Instead, it mostly measures the quality of a player's teammates and also the quality of his opponents.

For instance, young Robert Nilsson was plus-8 last season, best among Oilers forwards, while Ales Hemsky, with his minus-9, was way down the list, ninth overall.

But Hemsky's NHL was very much different than Nilsson's NHL. Hemsky would regularly be put out against the toughest of opposing players, the likes of Jarome Iginla and Henrik Zetterberg, making it more difficult for him to score and much more likely he and his linemates, Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner, would be scored against.

**********

Recap late tonight.

Go Wings.

Thanks ESPN

When I wake up at 5 AM, the first thing I like to see is A.I. flashing his junk in my face.



Pistons 96-89 Cavaliers
  • Down 11 at the half, the Stones outscored the Cavs by 9 in the 3rd and 4th quarter.
  • Iverson had 23 points (which ESPN.com failed to get correct on their little caption there ... apparently too worried about posting the perfect nut shot) on 8-16 shooting, also had 4 steals.
  • Sheed 3-6 from downtown. He bookended his production by starting and finishing hot, ended up with 21 points and 15 boards.
  • Arron Afflalo got into the game in the 3rd quarter and finished the game on the floor with some tough D on LeBron. Also hit a big 3. Play this man.
  • Pistons/Cavs don't meet again until February 1st.

November 18, 2008

Oiler @ Wings - Postgame

Red Wings 4-0 Oilers
***************

1st Period

  • Wow, Craig MacTavish ... kind of a dick: "When we (the Oilers) signed Dustin (Penner) we thought he'd be a top two line player. We thought the contract was a starting point for him, but he views it as a finish line. I can't watch it for another two and a half years. He's not competitive or fit enough to help us, so why put him back in?" I'll be damned if that isn't the new gold standard for throwing a player under the bus. It shouldn't even be called that anymore. They should just call it "MacTavishing the shit out of somebody" from now on.
  • Hopefully Hockeytown Todd had the mute on during the Wings first power play: "Edmonton has struggled in the faceoff circle ... and that's why, in large part, the Oilers' penalty killing is just 27th in the NHL" (Ken Daniels). So in HTT fashion, I'll finish this bullet by stating that the Oilers won the faceoff, but failed to kill the penalty.
  • Oilers were disorganized as you can be (as detailed on-the-fly by Mickey Redmond) while down two men, leading to the Red Wings picking them apart and Kronwall scoring the first goal.
  • Kronner then looked like a gangster on the Oilers' 5-on-3, planted statue-still in front of two Sheldon Souray bombs.

2nd Period
  • The Oilers still look way out of whack. On their power play to start the period, they had two shots from right under Ty Conklin's taint and missed the net entirely. It's better to be lucky than good sometimes.
  • 2-0 Wings as Samuelsson scores. Brett Lebda does his first possitive deed of the season with a centering assist (we're only 17 games in, Brett, no rush), and Sammy crawled between the stagnent Oiler defense to deflect it home. Also: please tell me I wasn't the only one who saw the guy in the stands who celebrated the goal by doing the cabbage patch. The cabbage patch. For fuck's sake, people.
  • 3-0 Wings. Lilja knocks down a long pass by Souray ... on the breakout, Fil goes cross-ice to Huds who slaps it toward the goal and finds a bit of luck. It appeared to hit Souray on the way in. Poor Sheldon has had a miserable game to this point.

3rd Period
  • 4-0 Wings. Johan Franzen, scoring like a Mule on skates would. They threw sticks at him, they hooked him, they couldn't stop him. Including playoffs, he has 37 goals during his last 44 games.
  • Fernando Pisani looked to have really hurt his foot/knee/ankle or something. Looked pretty serious. (***EDIT: He's not okay. ***)
  • I'm debating whether this game is more "meh" or "blah". There are dominating 4-0 games and then there are ones where one team looks infinitely more terrible than the other. I don't want to unload a clip into this dead horse, but the Oilers look worse this game than any Wing opponent has this year.

Final
  • Hudler has 14 points (4G-10A) the last 13 games.
  • The Oilers were outshot 41-21. No way they look this bad in Edmonton on Thursday. It's not possible.
  • Twilight Zone: Lilja and Lebda had one point apiece while Lidstrom, Rafalski and Datsyuk had none.
  • Conk was in good form and managed to stay awake for the entire game.
  • Datsyuk's been trying to look a little too cute the last week or so.
  • I haven't been watching hockey as long as a lot of the older folk out there, but I don't think I've ever seen somebody handle his stick with one hand better than Marian Hossa. He failed to record a point for only the 3rd game this year, but he hardly had a bad game. Up 3 and 4 goals in the final period, he was still hunting down puck carriers in his own end and busting his ass in all three zones.

November 17, 2008

Oilers @ Wings - Pregame

The Wings are home tonight before flying out to western Canada for a three game swing.

I've got a strange feeling about this one. I'm thinking the Oil jumps out to an early lead and wins, say, 4-2. Don't know where this is coming from. Just being a weirdo.


**********

Dan Cleary sounds miserable and I don't envy him in the slightest.

His left eye was red and nearly swollen shut. He is recovering from a second scratched cornea in a matter of weeks.

"This is the first day I've really been able to do anything," said Cleary, who simply worked off ice. "It almost hurts to keep it (the eye) open. I can't see out of my left eye. Skating probably wouldn't be the best option" (detnews.com).

Gross. I wonder if it bares resemblance to THIS (OH MY GOD DON'T LOOK, AHHHHH, JESUS--)

**********

Nick Kronwall is hitting his stride again. That "stride", of course, has run through some opposing players the last few games.


I was struggling big-time, no doubt about that. I wish I had an answer for why, but if I had that, it would have been easier to adjust."

Kronwall, who laid out opponents in the playoffs with tremendous open-ice hits, also has been getting more involved physically.

"The last two games was pretty much the first open-ice hits I had all year, and that's just how the game is played sometimes," he said. "The more comfortable you feel out there, the easier it is to read when to step up and when not to step up" (freep).

Kronwall has logged an average of 23:07 minutes of ice time, second to Nick Sr.


**********

Projected lineup:

Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Hossa
Franzen-Zetterberg-Samulesson
Hudler-Filppula-Kopecky
Maltby-Draper-McCarty

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Stuart
Lebda-Lilja
Meech (healthy scratch)

Conklin (starts) (RWC)

Sammy (15 points in 16 games (??)) gets some 2nd line duty again, and the Grind Line will bring up the rear.


**********

Oiler's power forward Dustin Penner benched for tonight's game in favor of newcomer Liam Reddox. Penner has two points since scoring two goals on opening night.

Called up from the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield on Tuesday to inject energy into a stagnant lineup, Reddox, 22, scored his first NHL goal midway through the second period (Edmonton Sun).


**********

Recap late tonight.

November 15, 2008

Wings @ Panthers

We keep bringing this up without actually doing anything, but we plan on giving a face-lift to the blog within the next week. We'll be moving from our humble abode here at Blogger to bigger and better things, including a brand new design and, hopefully, a much more appealing site to peruse. (I swear I just heard somebody outside my window shout "who gives a shit" ... no, couldn't be.) Just giving you a heads up.


Red Wings 3-2 Panthers
***************

It's way too late for me. This shouldn't be too long.

  • Another huge hit to note out of Nick Kronwall in the first period. He's getting his groove back. Keep your head up, League.
  • Even when the Wings aren't scoring on their power play they still look scary. They failed to score on their first opportunity with the man advantage but the puck movement looked extraordinary.
  • Marian Hossa has had two points in each of the last four games. There hasn't been a Red Wing to tally 100 points since Fedorov did it in the 1995-96 campaign; Hossa is on pace to reach 118.
  • Conk played well enough in net to earn the start Monday at home against the Oilers, according to Bruce MacLeod. He made some big saves ... the biggest of which may have been a perfect poke check on Detroit native David Booth with about 4 minutes to play.

November 14, 2008

Wings @ Lightning


1st Period
  • Huge Nick Kronwall hit at center ice. Great to see Kronner lay somebody out ... after his devastating playoff run he hasn't had anywhere near the same timing with his open ice checks. Here's to hoping he's getting back on the right track.
  • Another Brian Rafalski give-away. Luckily it didn't lead to a goal. He's not quite up to "Lilja" standards, but then again, who is. Raf just hasn't been as good with the puck in the defensive zone this year, period.
  • Both teams looked brutally sloppy the first eight minutes.
  • Brad Stuart gets called for the most chicken shit penalty I've ever seen. (It's now standard to describe such ridiculous NHL penalty calls as definitively "the most ridiculous" because some of these calls are literally so made-up that you can't help but go the limit of the extreme. And what was Mickey Redmond's take? "Oh my goodness gracious me, WE ARE IN A HOCKEY GAME! NOT A TENNIS MATCH! GOOD LORD!" For those that didn't see it, he was seriously yelling. He's losing his fucking mind.
  • 85 year old Mark Recchi put a 3rd degree burn on Kronwall at the blueline, blew by him and then wristed a perfect shot by Osgood. Good little maneuver there from Recchi but Kronwall can't let that play happen. Like, ever again. He's gonna be given some shit for that one.
  • Too much 1-on-1 from the Wings' forwards in the first period.
  • Power Play goal for the Bolts. Ozzie left out to dry after a cross ice pass went through multiple Wings sticks and on the tape of Jussi Jokinen, who finished nicely. 2-o Lightning heading into the break.

2nd Period
  • The Lightning to this point are making the Wings dump the puck in on every attempt into the zone. The Tampa Bay Lightning are doing this.
  • Wings get a goal. Hossa gets to a lose puck coming out of the corner and makes a timely one-touch pass to Lidstrom at the point, who fires a shot that is brilliantly deflected by Datsyuk to cut the lead in half. 2-1 Lightning.
  • Random observation that I've been meaning to say for some time now: Tomas Kopecky has to be wearing the baggiest pants that the NHL has ever seen. They seem enormous to me, I don't know.
  • Hot damn, Kirk Maltby. Three times now he's had real good efforts on the penalty kill, the latest of which occurred in the Tampa zone that nearly led to a shorthanded goal. Couple this with a real good even-strength shift that he/Kopecky/Mac had in the first period and Kirk Maltby is having the best game of any Wing to this point.
  • About time to say something positive about Brad Stuart. Excellent play to get in front of Matt Pettinger and swat the puck away. Amazing how he did that without getting a penatly.
  • Poor Hank Zetterberg. While Datsyuk and Hossa get to skate merrily side by side together, Z has the priveledge of setting up the retarded Mikael Samuelsson. So not only is he making slave wages compared to what his talent suggests he should be earning, but about 2 to 3 months come off his life expentency every time Sammy fucks up a one-timer.
  • Coming to the end of the period, the Wings are right on the cusp of tying the game. All of the possession is in the Tampa zone and the Wings finally start to draw some penalties. 2-1 Bolts heading into the 3rd but the Wings will start the period with a 5-on-3.

3rd Period
  • The 1st period ended with the shot count at Wings 7, Lightning 6. The 2nd ended with the Wings up 25-9.
  • The absurdity of the Wings power play continues. Hossa fights for a puck in the crease, chops Kolzig's legs into oblivion and Z picks up the scraps. Tie game, 2-2.
  • ... and then they do it again. The guy I just called retarded 20 minutes ago rips a screamer from the point, on the power play, to give the Wings a 3-2 lead. You cannot take penalties against this team. Ever. Even Samuelsson is scoring.
  • Ohh shit, what a nice goal. Sammy again looking rather mentally stable pressures the Bolts right in front of Kolzig -- 1 man against 3 -- but because the Lightning play like turds on skates they couldn't clear the puck, it winds up on Z's stick and he finds the Mule alone with the barn door open. Goal. 4-2 Wings.
  • Olaf Kolzig absolutely flips his shit in front of the refs. Apparently he believes he was slightly interfered with on more than one occasion. Hmmph.
  • At the 10- minute mark of the 3rd, the Lightning have recorded 4 shots in the last 30 minutes.
  • The Lightning score to make it 4-3. Somehow Pettinger was allowed to walk down the goalline uncontested, Ozzie went flacid and all of a sudden it's a one goal game. Weak goal.
  • On Tuesday the Wings lost a defensive zone faceoff against the Pens and it led to a game-tying goal with 23 seconds left. Tonight they won a draw in the same spot and finished with a regulation win.

Final
  • Weird ass game.
  • Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Samuelsson all had a goal and an assist each.
  • Hossa added two assists to put his point line at 8-13-21 through 15 games

November 13, 2008

Wings Rant

Instead of going full out into this petty Wings/Pens fans back-and-forth like a real man I'm going to address two topics from behind the safety of this insignificant blog. If you're completely oblivious to what I'm talking about just look up the comments on A2Y or any site that's flogging the Penguins these days. Here's one that represents an old, reoccurring theme that I've grown far too tired of hearing (from A2Y):


I hate this team (the Wings) because for right now, this season and last, the Wings are hockey’s New York Yankees and N.E. Patriots

- Posted by Charles Limerick from N.C.


Okay, this shit has to stop. Stop, for the love of God, saying that this team is the New York Yankees. The only thing that the Wings and that shit pile waste of media attention of a franchise have in common is that they have a history of winning, and some notable star players littered throughout said history. The Wings excel in a number of departments all throughout the organization, from scouting to coaching to the entire front office to the owner to the players to the everything. Look at the roster from "this season and last" and write down the laundry list of players that were home grown and trained with the Wings. Why people "hate" other teams because they are good is a concept that I have always failed to understand. It's pure spite.

There's a salary cap now. Things are more even than they ever have been. Hating a team for succeeding is mind-fuckingly stupid.

****

The other topic of issue that keeps stabbing my side is the pointless accusations that there aren't as many Wings fans in Detroit than there are Penguin fans in Pittsburgh. Or something. Like, how Detroit isn't "Hockeytown" because some seats are empty and there isn't a condensed population of blood-thirsty hockey fans within the city. Do I have that right? We're supposed to remove the Hockeytown moniker because the overall population of sports fans near Detroit aren't as gay for our team as we used to be? I don't know anymore. This topic is so old and insane that I can barely process rational thought. If I had a national audience I would beg for this to stop entirely. Look ... we're all hockey fans, right? People wouldn't be reading each other's sites and commenting on those sites if we weren't fans of the sport, right? So why do we keep bringing up how "popular" a team is or how many fans they have? Why are we commenting on the FRINGE fans, in that sense? Why do they matter?

Talk about the sport, it's a fucking awesome sport, people. Quit trying to prop up yourselves by attacking a group of people that don't even know you're talking to them; and even if they did know they wouldn't care, because, again, they don't like hockey like you and I do. The Pittsburgh area had higher ratings for the game than the Detroit area. I don't give two shits about that. I don't care that there are a number of people who didn't watch the game in the Detroit area. That affects me in no way. There are plenty, plenty of fans throughout the state and the country that follow the Wings (talking about the transplants, not the band-wagoners.) As for the people who don't watch -- why would people give a damn?

I hope this doesn't sound too "hippie"-ish (mainly because I hate hippies), but can't we all as hockey fans stop comparing fan-bases and such and just come together on this? Can we just stick with the old debates, like who's got the best player and shit? Can we come together on this, please?

****

Wings / Bolts recap late tonight or tomorrow morning.

November 12, 2008

I can't put a finger on it but that game looked mighty familiar ...

Red Wings 6-7 Penguins (OT)
***************

Last time Pittsburgh was in town, the night ended with that distinct, incomparable sound of away fans and bench players hollering with joy, with Mike Emerick's piercing voice echoing throughout my head, and with the feeling that the better team just couldn't finish.

First off, credit the Pens for not packing it in after facing a three goal deficit on the road in the third period. The team is talented, yes, but their quick-strike ability makes them dangerous as hell. When you're as deep down the middle as they are, this kind of shit can happen and you need to put the proverbial boot to their throat when the opportunity arises. The Wings' soft D didn't come close to doing that.

I said before the game that it's just a regular season game, that it's only November 11th. What a crock of shit. That loss felt fucking awful. I watched it with three friends -- after recording it and not being able to start watching until after 1 AM -- and afterward we didn't even want to look at one another. The Wings are so far removed from where they were in the playoffs that it's remarkable they've come away with at least a point in 12 out of 14 games. If it weren't for the power play things would be looking a lot different right now. So with pretty much the same exact roster -- except for the upgrade defensively of Marian Hossa over Dallas Drake -- you'd think that the assistant coaching shakeup from the summer might be the root cause. Something is different. I'm hardly an expert so until somebody points out some specific shit that is being done differently in our own end I'm going to continue to close my eyes and point fingers. I sure as hell haven't spotted it yet, but I'd like to know. Can the McClellan - McCrimmon switch be THIS big of a deal?

Game thoughts ...

  • Rafalski looked weak on the back end. I don't want to start a movement piling on the guy or anything, but for all of his offensive ability he is liable to a fair number of blunders. He gets pushed off the puck far too many times in my opinion.
  • Overall I thought that there was a noticeable lack of physicality from the Wings, namely in front of their own goal. Brad Stuart was whatever is worse than a complete non-factor on Pittsburgh's second goal, letting his man push him balls deep into Osgood.
  • Jordan Staal had an insane game for the Pens. I can't imagine that he's had a better game than the one he played last night. And aside from, oh, getting a fucking hat trick against the vaunted Wings defense (did I say vaunted? I meant unwatchably horrendous) he completely punked Datsyuk on the overtime goal and set up Fedotenko perfectly to win the game.
  • Speaking of Datsyuk, he didn't have his best outing. It was cool how he hoodwinked Crosby to get in position for that wicked slapshot goal. But how he got THAT lazy for Staal to rob him like he was a 90 year old woman walking down a dark alley is ridiculous.
  • Jiri Hudler was the Wings best player, finished with a goal and two assists. He looked like he was seeing the ice really well. The fact that Jiri Hudler was the Wings best player probably isn't a good sign, however.
  • People abound are trashing Hossa because he didn't score 17 goals and cure AIDS last night. Ok maybe those people are just The Pensblog and their commenters. That's cool. I didn't think he was in top form but his two assists and five shots prevent me from throwing out the "he didn't show up" tag.
  • Plus/minus ... minus 2 = Zetterberg, Rafalski, Franzen, Hossa and Lidstrom; and a minus 3 for Datsyuk
  • Chris Osgood isn't stealing any games for us. If the bad defense continues to fuck it up in front of him, hang onto your asses, Red Wing fans.

November 11, 2008

Is there a hockey game tonight?

Okay. I set a goal for myself to cover or recap every Wings game this season. Even if it was a little blurb I wanted to dedicate at least the quickest of thoughts to every game, for consistency's sake.

Well it's November 11th and I've already failed. But this game deserves the pre+postgame treatment. Not for the revenge-ness that the media will like to talk about. There will be none of this "revenge" they speak of. It's a regular season game in mid-November. Even if the Pens win 10-zip it won't make up for the anguish that any of them felt last June.

That said it's still a big game for hockey fans. Regardless of the fun made at the expense of Malkin/Crosby and the gang, it's a thrill to watch all of this head-to-head talent. So to get prepared, here's some mandatory reading material that you've probably already seen and don't need me to point out:

  • RWC: No Dan Cleary tonight, who's out with an eye infection. Jiri gets promoted to 3rd line duty with Drapes and Sammy. Mule returns to the lineup alongside Fil and Hank.
  • Also from the Corner: Pens practice lines
Talbot (ugh, the name still makes me cringe)-Crosby-Satan
Sykora-Malkin-Fedotenko
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Dupuis-Zigomanis-Godard

Fleury in goal.

Another aspect of Hossa that has impressed fans, teammates, and the media alike is his infectious and down-to-earth personality that seems ncharacteristic with a star of this magnitude.

"I knew he was a really good player when he got here, but I didn't realize that he was this good," Niklas Kronwall said. "I mean, he's so strong on the puck, even just going against him in practice, it's amazing how strong he is.

"And then not only is he just an unbelievable player, but the type of person he is, I mean, he is just the nicest guy to everyone. He's not cocky. He's not one of those divas that some great players are."

  • And then of course a whole bunch of shit from George James Malik that makes your blog look unimaginably irrelevant by comparison.
  • Unless you've been living under a rock you know where to go for all things Penguin. Nuf said.
  • Malkin is tied for the NHL lead in points with 22 (4 goals 18 assists) ... the Wings' insanely lethal power play (30.9 %) goes head-to-head against the league's 5th best PK unit (88.5 %) ... Some dude named Hossa is leading the Wings in scoring with 17 (8G-9A) points through 13 games.
  • That's enough from me. Be back late tonight/early morning with the word on the game. Go Wings.

November 5, 2008

Tayshaun takes over

Pistons 100-93 Raptors
**********


BAM. First b-ball recap of the season. For those that are newer readers to the site, I can all but guarantee that every word spoken in this space about basketball will come from me, as Brent has a fiery hatred toward basketball that is both unjustified and deeply rooted in passionate, unabashed racism.

Actually I'll say immediately that that's a lie, and there is no need for the emails. I've played basketball with Brent on numerous occasions -- mainly when we were younger and could run for more than 8 minutes without needing a ready supply of oxygen -- and his annoyance with the sport stems solely from the ludicrous amount of stoppages due to fouls (or his not-at-all-condusive-to-basketball 5'9" frame, I can't remember). He has no problems with the African American-ness of the NBA that I can speak of.

As for the game ...


The Stones are 4-0, and I've been impressed with what I've seen so far. Haven't seen everything, but I caught the final three quarters of this one so I figure that's enough to comment.

Last season I went on and on during the regular season about how much I loved the Pistons '07-'08 squad. Absolutely loved it. It had the talent and consistency of the old mixed in with the influx of new blood coming off the bench. It was terrific to watch that team come together. As big of a letdown as the '08 playoffs were (again -- I need to get over this), I've had the requisite emotional bounce-back to my current state: falling in love with a new Pistons' team all over again. And tonight I was really impressed with what I saw.

  • The Pistons only turned the ball over 5 times (Toronto = 11). Always impressive in a tough road environment.
  • 46 points in the paint. Getting to the hoop and failing always feels better than swinging the ball around the 3-point line and failing, so why not just get to the fucking basket every game. It's games when people stand around and wait for a teammate to create an open shots that never come that annoy the shit out of me. With more Stuckey, Amir, and the introduction of A.I., points in the paint should be on the rise.
  • Zero ... ZERO fast break points for the Raptors.
  • Player of the game for the Pistons, hands down, was Tayshaun Prince. As we transition from the Chauncey to the Iverson era, Tay took on the role of leader with a team high 38 minutes, 10 of 13 field goals, 9 boards and 3 assists. He hit a game killing jump hook in the waning minutes that held the Raptors at bay.
  • Give it up to Walter Herman, played some huge crunch time minutes and looked goofy as fuck doing it. I love this man.

The Pistons hope to have Iverson in uniform by Friday against the Nets. He couldn't play yet because Chauncey has yet to complete his physical for the Nuggets.

Iverson-Billups trade thoughts

I've had a couple days to think this one over. I feel a bit better about things than I did on Monday.

For starters, I've been a big Chauncey Billups fan since day one, so it's hard to watch him leave. But the fact is, the Pistons have been playing for nothing short of the NBA title since they won it in '04, and from '05-'08 they fell short. They failed with pretty much the same group of guys, and those guys are only getting older.

A.I. is about the same age as Chauncey, and they both have enough miles on their bodies to make themselves appear even older than they are. Or if their age isn't quite showing yet, it surely will soon. In Chauncey's case I think he'll be on a steep decline in a matter of 2-3 years. He's a big guard who's bound to lose some of his quickness sooner rather than later. If we're going to complain that a shake-up was in order, why not deal Chauncey now while he's still got some value -- it's not like the Billups/Hamilton/Prince/Sheed combo needed a FIFTH crack at a 2nd NBA title, right?

Iverson is on a bit of a decline himself, but contracts, team chemistry and bullshit aside, who would you rather have right now? With Chauncey's Piston teams, we felt a sensation of security, which mainly was forged out of the roster stability + experience built up over this decade. But that safe, snugly feeling led to only one championship. Chauncey's teams had a way of looking a little too content come Conference Finals time each year. It got old. Maybe the Celtics had a better team last season (God I need to get over this) but there was no excuse for the way the Pistons let up during that series. Boston never let off the intensity and that's why they won. With A.I., we can at least hope for a bit of a change in attitude. How great would it be for his career if he won it all? "Really fucking great" would be the correct answer.

Look, I know he's not a real point guard. I can only hope the Iverson/Rip/Stuckey rotation somehow blossoms into a beautiful relationship that makes this whole thing worthwhile, but if it doesn't, I can't be too upset. It's too hypocritical for fans like me to moan about the need for a big roster facelift and then get defensive when Dumars actually pulls the trigger. I give him credit for having the balls to do it. If it doesn't result in a championship, Iverson walks at the end of the season and we have a shit load of extra cap space, and you can't say that it was entirely a bad trade since the '05-'08 Pistons couldn't finish the job anyway.

I'm still a Chauncey Billups fan, but now that I've had two days to let this sink in I feel better. We have a new crunch-time scorer to hand the ball off to in the playoffs; a deep (repeat: DEEP) rotation of players at multiple positions; new blood in the coaching department; and now we have an entirely new perspective on this season. Stylistically I'm curious to see how this group plays together. Now with Iverson and Stuckey counted on to slash and get to the basket, perimeter shots are gonna open up and that means more of Sheed waiting for those open 3's.

Honestly, it's fucking weird that Allen Iverson plays for the Pistons. Cool, but weird nonetheless. In conclusion, I can say that I'm fairly happy about this trade ... Joe Dumars, possibly, pulled off a trade that actually made the Pistons better instantly while still improving the outlook on the future. It's worth repeating: Detroit has an obscene amount of cap room over the next two summers. It's ludicrous. Go look right now at some of the FA's in 2010. You'll wet yourself if you haven't already.

November 3, 2008

Wings @ Canucks

Red Wings 3-2 Canucks
**********
  • Hank Smythe had himself quite a game. I loved the goal he scored; like he was yelling "kiss my ass" to the Canucks' D as he skated in from the corner and scored from in tight on Luongo. His puck movement was in top form as well, helping Sammy get his 2nd goal of the year among a few other nice feeds that didn't result in goals. First star of the game goes to Hank for sure.
  • The Wings only came up with 23 shots, but they took care of the puck for the most part. The defense looked drastically better than it did in San Jose.
  • Holy crap what a power play. It's almost unfair. Wings lead the league in PP% (33.3), scored all three with the man advantage last night.
  • Hossa failed to record a point for the first time since game #2 against the Senators.
  • Derek Meech played in favor of the scratched Brett Lebda. He played 12 minutes and finished with a -1. Nothing other-worldly.
  • Jiri Hudler finished the road swing with 7 points in 5 games, shot the puck a bit more, and executed on the power play. Had he started this season awake his overall production would look so much better.
  • Brian Rafalski is still skating at a point-a-game pace (3 goals, 9 assists.) 12 of his 16 goals as a Red Wings have come via the power play.

Chauncey, Dice = GONE

... For Allen Iverson? I thought it was just a rumor!


Initially? Not a fan of this. Not yet anyway. I need a minute to sit on this one ... more reaction later.