June 28, 2009

That might be all she wrote


Khan says ...


"Red Wings GM Ken Holland not optimistic on chances for deal with free agent Marian Hossa"


The Red Wings have 19 players signed for approximately $53.5 million. The salary cap for next season is $56.8 million. The club needs to sign three more forwards.

Sources said the team is offering Hossa a front-loaded deal in the neighborhood of $4 million a season and that Winter is seeking a pact worth $6 million a year. Winter could not be reached for comment.

Even if the Red Wings signed Hossa to the lower cap number, they would need to trim some salary, which they are reluctant to do.

*****

A dude from Edmonton says ....


If Marian Hossa doesn't take the Red Wings' long-term offer for between $4 and $5 million a year, Detroit will trade his negotiating rights, likely by Monday, two days before free agency opens.

Reliable sources say the Los Angeles Kings, who are looking for a marquee player and have lots of salary cap room, will come hardest after the unrestricted free agent. They could play Hossa with Anze Kopitar.


*****

Here's some great roster detail from Gorilla Crouch, as Dave makes his triumphant blogging return.

Just for fun let’s play with the idea that Hossa will sign with Detroit for $4 million a year on average. Here is what I think needs to occur for this to happen.

There are two options for signing Hossa for $4 million: trade two forwards or one d-man .... Trading a defensemen would be very tricky given the guy most likely to be moved in a pure salary swap - Brad Stuart - has a no-trade clause through next season. You would also need to replace a top 4 defenseman and that would be nearly impossible given the small amount of cap space Detroit would have remaining. The only way this could work would be if the organization really believed Jonathan Ericsson was ready to play top 4 minutes.


The Hossa Experiment was certainly an interesting one. Can you say it was a failure just because the Wings fell a couple goals shy of the Cup? Hardly. The only change from the 2008 Championship roster was an upgrade talent-wise from Dallas Drake to Hossa, and you can't say that cohesiveness or chemistry was an issue. Injuries ended up being a huge factor (not at all an excuse for the loss, just pointing out something that was out of his control). After having a few weeks to unwind after the unbearable tension of Game 7, we're ready at last to move on with this, whether Hoss is on the train or not. It definitely feels like a "not" right about now. Given the way that Dave so expertly outlined the roster and the cap, how can the Wings think about sacrificing anyone for Hossa, given that a very, very good lineup (dare we say "elite"? No, no, wouldn't want to tear a hole in the Sun or anything) won the Cup without him in '08?

If he does move on, he won't receive any ill-wishes from our end. No way can we justify blasting a dude who sought out the Wings in an effort to win a championship at the risk of losing gobs of money elsewhere. Athletes simply don't do that while they're in their primes. It's virtually unheard of. This has been said here at least a thousand times.

But we'll always wonder what was going through his head as NBC cameras stared him down on the Wings' bench, moments after the haunting chorus of cheering Penguins filled Joe Louis Arena. After that game we talked about enduring images that will be forever etched in our brains, and this series gave us a handful of them. There was Kronwall's dejection. There was that moment right before Cleary's breakaway in Game 6, where you saw Pav with the puck and the pass coming before it even happened. And then you had that shot of Hoss squirting water into his mouth after the Pens did the unimaginable, almost as if he was like, "well shit, what am I suppose to do now?"

The answer to that, of course, is to take a six million dollar pay cut and give it one more try.

June 26, 2009

Now what


The Anaheim Ducks have traded defenceman Chris Pronger and forward Ryan Dingle to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenceman Luca Sbisa, forward Joffrey Lupul, two first-round picks and a conditional third-round pick in 2010 or 2011. The Pronger trade comes following reports that Ducks' defenceman Scott Niedermayer will return for the 2009-2010 season.

(TSN)

So are we supposed to hate Joffrey Lupul now?







Farewell, you fuck.



****


Be honest, though. Doesn't this disappoint you just a tiny bit?


June 24, 2009

What's this about Yzerman?


Shame on me for having a Red Wings blog and not acknowledging His induction yesterday. Not even so much as a picture or a three-word post. Indefensible.

*****

He's still, three years after his last game, my favorite hockey player. He will never not be my favorite hockey player. I used to think it was lame when I was younger and kids my age would say that Michael Jordan or Barry Sanders was their favorite player even after they retired, but I sort of get it now. Somewhere in the back of my brain, I'm still cheering for him as if he's a 44 year-old active player with surgically repaired knees and playing 7 minutes a game on the 4th line. And there's a tiny, selfish part of me that wishes that this was reality.






We don't actually know professional athletes, despite how much we worship them. We're reminded of this fact whenever a positive steroids test or criminal report comes out and permanently changes somebody's image for the worse. But you never felt as assured about someone as you did with Stevie Y. You could watch just one of his post game interviews or press conferences and your lasting perception of him would be one of class and character. When you hear him talk, he almost comes across as overly humble; you can practically see the pain in his face whenever he's asked to talk about himself. Your mom probably saw him on TV at some point and remarked, "wow, he seems like a nice guy, why aren't you more like him?" (Assuming your mom is the same as mine).






On the ice he was perfect. Physically, he wasn't imposing with that 5'11"/185 lb. frame, but he squeezed out every last ounce of talent. That was my favorite thing about watching him, how a guy could appear to be so unassuming yet consistently do amazing things with the puck.

There was the one where he lofted a puck over a defenseman's head and into an empty net, like a soccer player chipping the keeper. Or that goal against the Penguins in the above video. Or any of the times that he terrorized Patrick Roy: In the '97 playoffs with that bank shot from behind the net, or the '99 playoffs when he roofed one over his shoulder though like a 2 inch window. His goal-scoring touch was simply different, if not the best, from anyone I've ever seen. He found the strangest ways to score sometimes.

Not to mention his playmaking ability, leadership, general sexiness, and how he helped set a Red Wing precedent as a "skill guy" who would play defense -- something that's been the norm for some 15 years now. He's a living legend in every sense of the term. A hockey deity. If I'm ever fortunate enough to meet him, It's likely that I will literally collapse and die. Right there at his feet. And for that I will be able to say that Steve Yzerman was the last person on Earth that I saw, which wouldn't be that bad.

June 23, 2009

Well, this may conflict our rooting interests


"Report: Babcock will coach Team Canada"



According to a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail Tuesday, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will be named head coach of the 2010 Canadian Olympic men's hockey team in Montreal Thursday.

According to the Globe and Mail report, Hockey Canada has been secretive about who would coach Team Canada at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Steve Yzerman, the executive director of Canada's Olympic team, who knows Babcock very well from their time with the Red Wings, is expected to make the announcement Thursday as the hockey world gathers in Montreal for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.


::::::::::

This announcement doesn't change the fact that we were already gay for the upcoming Olympics anyway. But the '10 Winter Games and the '10 Red Wings season just got a bit more interesting.

Think about this. Babcock is already occupying the premier coaching position in the NHL, and thusly, is under more pressure to win than any other coach in the League. Now he'll be under more pressure to win than any other hockey coach at the Olympics, leading team Canada their own country. That's an unfathomable amount of stress.

Oh, and that doesn't even acknowledge the fact that like 9/10 of the Wings will be Olympians, or that a number of Canadians are some of our favorite villains. It's impossible to imagine how one would handle this. Gameplanning against a Zetterberg line? Line-matching with Crosby, Getzlaf, Iginla and Pronger? How weird is that?

With Babcock at the helm, perhaps we won't cheer for an outright embarrasment of Team Canada. But the Pointless Rankings of our rooting interest probably goes something like:


1. United States
Langenbrunner! Stastny! USA!

2. Sweden
Looking forward to Zetterberg vs. Crosby III.

3. Finland
Ideally we'd liveblog a Finland game where all of the Fil-lovers can unite and talk about his hair.

4. Slovakia
Hossa. Marcel Hossa.

5. Russia
Plenty of likeable players (unless you don't like them, of course).

6. Czech Republic
Jiri reunites with Robert Lang.

7. Canada
Ok, so nothing really changed.


June 22, 2009

Red Wings part with Chelios


After turning down a new contract that would've paid $7.50/hour over the remaining 8 years of his life, Chris Chelios was let go by the Wings today. Khan with the details.


Red Wings general manager Ken Holland met with Chelios on Monday afternoon and informed the future Hall-of-Fame defenseman that he will not be offered a contract for next season.

"He's been a tremendous Red Wing; we've done a lot of winning with him in a Red Wings uniform,'' Holland said. "It's time for us to create opportunities for some of our younger kids.''

Holland informed Chelios last summer that his 25th NHL season likely would be his last in Detroit. Chelios' role was reduced. He appeared in only 28 games during the regular season and six in the playoffs.


There might be a tendency to say "About time" after hearing such news, but let's give the guy his due. He's been a great Red Wing over the past 10 years. And yeah, it's weird to think that he first came to the team when we were in 7th grade -- it just doesn't feel like it was that long ago. Best of luck to him.




June 21, 2009

Yeah, maybe. But don't get your hopes up.


"Yzerman likely to be named to Hall on Tuesday"


Other things likely to take place on Tuesday:

  • The Sun will rise.
  • It will still be June.
  • You could throw something in the air and it will come back down.
  • Still won't be over Game 7.
  • Still won't be over Game 5 from last year.
  • Somebody will write an article about Chris Osgood being average.
  • A Penguins fan will tie politics and hockey together and form an insult that includes the words "jobless", "wheelchair", and at least one other term that indicates he/she is 11 years old.
  • Nik Kronwall will wake up suddenly at 3:30 AM after having yet another "crossbar" nightmare.
  • We will wake up mysteriously in each other's arms after having another "crossbar" nightmare.
  • Pavel Datsyuk will watch a rerun of his all-time favorite show: Perfect Strangers.
  • While playing a game of Pictionary with his family, Jiri Hudler will kill all the momentum his team had generated on the last four turns by taking a premature slapshot that misses wide, swings around the boards and leads to a 2-on-1 the other way. No, that's not suppose to make any sense.
  • Joe Thornton will choke on his roast beef sandwich at lunch and falsely claim that "it went down the wrong tube."
  • Bruce MacLeod will receive another email from us suggesting that Red Wings Corner and TTD join forces to create "Bombay's Corner" -- a site that would showcase A) the incomprehensibe amount of hockey knowledge that resides within MacLeod's brain, and B) dick jokes. He will report the email as spam.
  • Mark Messier will wake up, disrobe, walk over to the full length mirror in his bathroom, look himself right in the eye and masturbate until he loses consciousness.

June 19, 2009

Probably the best picture I've ever seen


Congratulations to Datsyuk (huge fan of our site, definitely will see this) for his repeating triumphs of the Byng and Selke trophies.

I was fairly certain that Richards would take away the Selke, but perhaps the national media doesn't love his balls as much as I perceive them to. In the 15 NHL seasons since 1994, the award has been won by a Red Wings six times: Fedorov in '94 and '96, Yzerman in 2000, Draper in 2004, Datsyuk in '08 and '09.








The deadpanned "Second" was superb. Pav's the best.

June 18, 2009

TTD on the Red Carpet


Blogger has paid our way to Vegas for this year's NHL awards ceremony, so here we are reporting on the festivities. Our beloved Red Wings have three players nominated for various awards: Nick Lidstrom for the Lidstrom Trophy, Chris Chelios for the Masterson, and Pavel Datsyuk for all the others (How Pav snuck his way into the group of Calder finalists is perplexing, but no less amazing). We caught up with the three Winged heroes for a quick chat at a pre-award show party. Here's what they had to say.


Tyler: "Nick, we're honored that you guys could join us. What's it like knowing that you could be named the best defenseman in the sport for a ridiculous 7th time in 8 seasons?"

Lidstrom: "Well, you just try to take it one game at a time. You can't look too far ahead because then I think you lose focus on the task at hand. It's about staying disciplined and taking it period-by-period, shift-by-shift."

Tyler: "Right, right. So, any thoughts on the award itself? Perhaps a word on the other nominees? I hear Mike Green styled his ball hair into a faux-hawk to honor your battle through the testicle injury. I told him that didn't make any sense whatsoever but he was too distracted from making out with his own reflection to respond. Thoughts?"

Lidstrom: "It's all about staying consistent. When you stay consistent you can develop a rhythm, and then you can start winning as a team. It's not about this guy or that guy; it's about all 5 skaters moving as one. From there we can be at our best and achieve anything."

Tyler: "You're aware the season's over, right? You don't have to read from that cliche notepad anymore, you can let loose. So for real, Green's a douche, isn't he? Come on, be honest."

Lidstrom: "I don't think he meant anything by it, I just think he was a young guy caught up in the moment and mobbed by the media. People make mistakes. He's only 21, so it's har---"

Tyler: "No, no no no, not the Crosby thing, we're past that. Focus man: Green, Mike Green. How lame would it be for him to win your own award instead of you? I mean, that would suck right?"

Lidstrom: "We just have to keep moving our legs and take advantage of the scoring chances out there."

Tyler:



Brent: "Okay this seems like a bit of a lost cause ... Moving on, let's bring Pavel into the discussion. Pav, you had an excellent season in 2007-08, taking home the Selke and Lady Byng in addition to the Stanley Cup. It's a long shot, but you could possibly follow this by winning the Hart, Pearson, Selke and Lady Byng tomorrow night. What are your expectations?

Datsyuk: "Oh, no expectation. I do not care. I feel no feelings. I am empty inside."

Brent: "Jesus, Pavel, you look rough. You know you can shave now, don't you? I know this is a tough time and all but you've got to pull it together. And I'm no fashion expert but I'm pretty sure your 'I Farted' t-shirt violates some sort of dress code."

Datsyuk: "I know, I know this. It's Homer's shirt .... Friday night I had nightmare about the Talbot Monster so I burned house down to kill him. I have no clothes. Homer give hand-me-downs from shopping spree from long time ago. Talbot Monster gone?"

Brent: "Well no Pavel, Talbot's not dead ... you burned your house down? Seriously? Shouldn't the police be looking for you?"

Datsyuk: "If you are Talbot, I'm going to be very angry."

Brent: "I'm not Max Talbot, Pavel."

Chris Chelios: "Pav's just a little down, Brent, don't take anything he says seriously. He's not exactly sure what's going on. Pavel, we've been over this: Max Talbot's in Pittsburgh, it's in a different state than where we live. You didn't kill him. You'll play against him again one day. But you did set your house on fire -- that was pretty fucked up."

Datsyuk: "I know, I had to eat the dog so he wouldn't burn to death."

Chelios: "....Understandable."

Tyler: "Man, and I thought we took it bad when you guys lost. He honestly ate his dog?"

Chelios: "I wouldn't doubt it. After we lost to Anaheim in 2007 he broke into his neighbor's house and ate their cat. When the cops found him later, he had covered his entire body with tomato paste and was playing KerPlunk in his garage. Nobody takes losing harder than Pavel."

Lidstrom: "Cheli was probably just caught up in the moment after that Anaheim series, I don't think he meant anything by it. He's a competitor. People make mistakes, he was only 64 at the time, so --"

Tyler: "Enough with the handshake snubs, Nick."

Brent: "Oh yeah, Cheli ditched the handshake line in '07. Can't believe the Pens fans haven't brought that up."

Lidstrom: "As long as the goalie keeps his head up, and bounces keep skating, upper body injuries and trying hard, we'll be right back in this thing. Play our game, full 100% minutes. Effort. One shift at a time."

Brent: "Huh?"

Lidstrom: "I don't even know anymore."


::::::::::


Pointless NHL Award Predictions (i.e: the most pointless thing we've ever posted):


Hart: Alex Ovechkin

Vezina: Tim Thomas

Lidstrom: Mike Green

Calder: Steve Mason

Lady Byng: Pavel Datsyuk

Selke: Mike Richards

Jack Adams: Andy Murray

Masterson: Richard Zednik

Pearson: Alex Ovechkin

Messier Leadership award: Mark Messier


*****

June 17, 2009

Wanna talk about the draft?


Seems as though the discussion is a little light over at ESPN's official Red Wings draft conversation page.

It's ultra heavy, however, at Kyle's brand new Babcock's Death Stare (formerly of WTF Hollandfame). His extensively detailed mock draft has begun with parts 1 and 2. By the time I got to around pick #18 I came to the realization that Kyle knows more about the 2009 draft than I know about my entire life, at which point my brain started leaking out of my ears (always an indicator of a good read). Last year I was a bit more draft-conscious than I had ever been, so this year I thought I'd continue that by reading up on some of the players not named John Tavares. The first non-Tavares dude is behemoth Victor Hedman of Sweden (6' 6"/220).

2. Tampa Bay Lightning – Victor Hedman, D.

Hedman is as much the right choice for Tampa Bay as Tavares is for New York. Hedman is a gigantic Swedish defenseman, tipping in at nearly 6-foot-6 and close to 220 pounds. That kind of size alone will grab any team’s attention, but that’s not why scouts like Hedman. He is an outstanding, fluid skater and effortlessly moves the puck up the ice with composure. At this point in his career, he is much more offensively minded. He jumps up in the rush and boasts a strong set of hands and a heavy shot. He should be ready for full-time NHL duty almost immediately, as he has played with men in the Swedish Eliteserien for two full seasons now. Scouts would like to see Hedman play more physically and put a little more meanness in his game. He relies on his stick to make defensive plays and has been guilty of looking a little too unpolished in high pressure games. He will develop in time, and Tampa Bay gets the cornerstone defensive player to the cornerstone offensive player they took #1 overall last season (Steven Stamkos).


What does this have to do with the Red Wings? Well for the two minutes that I spent linking and copying and pasting that stuff, I wasn't thinking about Max Talbot. And as long as I'm not thinking about Max Talbot, I'll be able to lead a normal life where I'm not screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOKDJAF;IDJKCEKFA;" on buses and in line at restaurants, and I can be a fully functioning member of society. No cursing at strangers, no vomiting blood, no stealing infants from strollers on the street and punting them -- just regular ol' life. That's what I want. I want to be able to do basic things like breathing and walking without thinking about Talbot. (I was cooking a Hot Pocket today, and when the timer got down to about 35 seconds, I snapped and yelled "HOLD THE POST!!" before punching a hole through the microwave.)

June 15, 2009

The Last One


Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7
Penguins 2-1 Red Wings
**********


Hello again.

Over two days later and the shock hasn't faded all that much. There's still a tiny part of me that thinks the NHL's zany schedule will reveal that there is still a Game 8 to play in Kosovo or something.

I'm guessing that the "moving on" process won't really start until after Free Agency begins and we start to focus in on next season. During the last two days it's been good having a lot of stuff to do, but during any down time I've had, I've only been thinking about Kronner hitting the crossbar and Lidstrom being one healthy nut away from jumping on that lose puck a little quicker. I know I can't be the only one out there who spent at least some of the weekend thinking about another man's balls.

But let's curb the nut talk for a second though. Game 7, like it or not, was the biggest game of the year, and that puddle of piss that I left on the blog Friday night isn't going to be our only acknowledgement of it. It gets the colored scoreboard treatment at the top of the post just like all of the other games. And here's some thoughts ...

  • I'm pleasantly shocked that Brad Stuart isn't being completely cremated by Wings fans everywhere. Granted I've been a little shy about venturing too far into the Internet the last two days, but from what I've seen, nobody is calling for his head. I thought I'd turn on the computer and see every other comment or post devoted to how Stuart lost us the game and how he should be strapped to a rocket and sent to Jupiter. I'm glad this isn't the case. Now, this may be confusing if you were one of the people who watched the game with me, seeing as how I all but vowed to burn his house down and eat his children -- but while I was a little .... annoyed .... with his blunders in Game 7, they didn't cost us the game. The Pens only put two goals past Ozzie, and if Kris Draper and Jonathan Ericsson were the Wings' only goal scorers over the last two games, then they didn't deserve to win the Cup.
  • It was a sickening feeling through most of the first two periods when the Wings were about as out-of-sync as they've ever been. They never got over that turnover bug that caused so many miscues in the defensive end. The combination of the Pens' forecheck and the Wings' neglect to support the D men at times was fatal, and essentially gave the rest of the league a blue print on how to nullify the Wings' transition game. Not that that's an easy thing to execute, of course.
  • For all of the reasons that anyone wanted the Wings to win this series, I wanted it so we could (hopefully) see Ozzie win the Conn Smythe in front of the home crowd. The roar from hearing his name announced would've been legendary. Hudler would've skipped his bizzare clucking routine and probably would've started making out with him.
  • Nobody needs surgery, which is good news. But still, the much anticipated injury report was extermely interesting. Raf had a herniated disk, unveiling the mystery as to why he missed time during the Anaheim series. Draper had torn neck cartilage (I can't remember if we wrote it or not, but after we went to Game 1 against the Ducks and saw Drapes take the pregame skate with a turtleneck, we speculated to each other that he had some neck issue, and not a concussion like some people thought.) Cleary played with a "significant" groin injury that would've shelved him during the regular season, and Pav had a charley horse to go with his foot injury. I also read that Z was playing at about 70%. As of right now I have yet to see anything about Hossa, which is a surprise to me.
  • There are certain images -- good and bad -- as a Detroit sports fan that will stick with me forever: Sheed leaving Robert Horry open in Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals; Maggs' effortless follow-through on his homer that sent the Tigers to the World Series; Z fending off Crosby at the side of the net on "The Kill"; and a few others. After this series, there's a new one to add to my brain's photo album: Niklas Kronwall.


Just look at that. 100% devastation.
Nothing else has to be said.

  • I don't know what to think of Marian Hossa right now. I don't want to commit one way or another just yet, because there has to be a logical explanation for what happened to him. I want to know how a guy who doesn't appear in any post-postseason injury reports could suddenly lose his ability to drive through the neutral zone like a train and get a shot anytime he wanted one. There was almost none of that over the last month. Seriously -- how the fuck? How in the living fuck does this happen? Was it nerves? You can't honestly blame a lack of desire, right? He made an entire city hate him and risked his financial future by turning down gobs of money for a one year contract, and the reward for that was right in front of him. There has to be some sort of explanation for this. It's driving me insane.
  • The Wings' tendency this game was not to drive to the net, but instead peel off to the corner and gaze back at the slot and ignore any possible rebounds. Fleury was spectacular, but the Wings helped him out by not making him uncomfortable in the slightest.
  • The handshake line: I honestly care about it that much. To quote Datsyuk, I feel nothing right now. I feel empty. To conjure up any amount of disgust over a fucking post-series handshake would be a significant reach. Maybe the whole thing was a little rushed, maybe Crosby wasn't in a hurry to go through the line, and maybe I don't really give a shit.
  • Wings fans booing Crosby's injury: I'm making an assumption here, so it's going to come off as rather dick-ish: You couldn't convince me in a million years that if the same thing happened to Hossa at Mellon Arena that the fans wouldn't cheer their asses off. Not in a million years. I'm not justifying it, but I find the discussion of the "classlessness" of it all to be a little tiresome.

*****


I'm extremely proud of this team. I started this paragraph about 10 different ways, but that's all I keep coming back to. I don't know what else to add to it. I'm just amazed at how they played through all the injuries and picked each other up when they needed to. That's what's great about hockey players -- they just play through everything without making excuses. It's not just a Red Wings thing. I can't comprehend how they do it, but every year they do it, and it never stops being amazing.



June 13, 2009


Hey.


It's going to be a minute before you hear from us again.  We've got work, graduation parties, wedding things and minor league ballgames going on tomorrow.  So awesome that the hangover from this will collide with all of that.  We have thoughts about the game, obviously, but right now they're shattered and ringing around in our heads where our brains used to be.


We want to thank you all for reading and stuff this season.  Whether you're a frequent commenter, a lurker, a friend, a troll, or whatever -- you all seem like genuinely cool people.  Next year we should get some of the locals together and go to a game.  Except for you Osrt ... shame on you for not warning us of this incredible pain -- you're in India for God's sake, isn't that like a week into the future or something?  According to the "Chris Pronger Timezone Manifesto" (co-authored and illustrated by J.J. from Kansas), you should've been able to put a stop to this.


It's going to take a while to get over this loss.  Anyone who says the words, "but they won last year!" to us tomorrow will not make it to Sunday.  The gut reaction says that this is the lowest moment in our sports-watching lives.  That will be addressed, along with a laundry list of other things.


See you later.

Go Wings


June 12, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals, Game S.... Game Sev...... (deep breath) .... Game Seven pregame


Plenty of great reads this morning, none more superb than this.

And so for the next 24 hours the anguish is going to betray you.  Have a real productive day at work tomorrow.  Go ahead. Let me know how that goes for you.  Kiss the wife goodbye, or just put your lips on the nightstand and whisper to it. Whisper nice things to it, make promises and declarations.  It makes no difference.  You won’t remember a word you said anyway and if he or she tries to tell you later that you were literally kissing and speaking to a table you thought was your spouse? They’re lying.  Lying liars.

::::::::::


Excellent MacLeod, per usual:

Babcock also tried to revisit great Stanley Cup clinching games of the past with his players, but ran into a bit of a generation gap.

“I talked about the '72 Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup,” said Babcock. “Then I said to Helmer (Darren Helm), ‘What year were you born?’ He said, ‘'87.’ I said, ‘Okay.


::::::::::


The last thing we will link this season comes from Snapshots, found at the Globe and Mail -- and it's not pleasant.  Basically, Patrick Kane likes touching testicles.

Inquiring minds wanted to know why Detroit's incomparable defenceman Nick Lidstrom missed the final two games of the Western Conference final between the Red Wings and Chicago. The media spoke only of the ubiquitous "lower-body" injury. And when Lidstrom appeared tired and mistake-prone in the Final against Pittsburgh, questions were raised again about his fitness to play. Was it an ankle? A knee? Under the NHL's Orwellian injury disclosure policy, a postal-code approximation of the hurt was all that was given to the media.
 
Actually, Lidstrom had a damaged testicle from being pitch-forked by Chicago's Patrick Sharp in Game 3 of the Western final. He needed all the time between the cheap shot and Game One of the final to rehab the injury. As Paul Harvey used to say, "Now you know the rest of the story".

While it's considerate to Lidstrom that such an . . . er, intimate injury be hushed up, the cover-up damages the league's credibility in several ways. First, we now have a better understanding that Lidstrom was not tired or old or ready for retirement-- as suggested by more than one announcer or reporter. Second, the cover-up denied the opportunity to expose Sharp's disrespectful abuse of one of the league's superstars - a necessary discussion in lieu of the league's willful denial on head shots.


What can you even add to that.  I'm sure Kane's ball juggling will be fully addressed by the time we play the Hawks again.


::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


It still hasn't quite hit me.  And I fear that it won't until CBC shows the players in the tunnel waiting to come out, with the Joe absolutely losing it's shit, at which point my eyes will melt out of my skull.

The players will skate around and losen up, and Marc-Andre Fleury will try his damndest not to trip over anything.  Then Karen Newman will sing the national anthem, an octopi or three will hit the ice and we'll be ready to go.  It's the same routine as every game.  Yet it will be nothing like any other one before it.



I've wussed out on the Pointless Predictions this series.  Today, I'm saying screw it.

Red Wings 4-2 Penguins ............  and please, no Overtime.

Good luck to everyone.

June 11, 2009

Lord Stanley's Masterpiece Theatre, Part II


For Part I, click here.

***

Our next guest is taking a break from wishing death upon the Dan Cleary family to share his experience of Game 7 in 2003.  He's a Ducks fan, he's using the Internet and he's not a douche bag, so that must mean that he's Earl Sleek from Battle of California.  Sure as fuck isn't Adam Brady.

If you're wondering what horror potentially awaits us Wings fans tomorrow night, than continue reading at your own risk.

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


Wow, ain't this a nice square kick to the nuts.  To open the vaulty attic of my brain and unearth the painful memories of G7 2003.  The game where the impossible dream died, the unstoppable goalie got beaten but honored, and the days of regularly pinching yourself came to a jarring close.
 
For this Ducks fan, it was a real crash to earth, because I couldn't help feel that entire playoffs that we were somehow living through a real-life Disney movie -- a so-so team discovers itself late in the season and rides an unheralded goalie phenom to the franchise's first real taste of playoff success.  The Ducks had slaughtered their nemesis the Red Wings in a first-round sweep (why wouldn't you have me reminisce about that series?), ousted a top-seeded Stars team in round two, and flat-out humiliated the Wild in the conference finals, and J.S. Giguere was unbelievable throughout.
 
But then came the New Jersey Devils, the machine from the east, and Ducks' fans dreams were quickly dashed after two shutout losses in Jersey to open the series.  But the Ducks rallied back at home, edging the Devils slightly in G3 and G4, thanks to some heroics by Steve "Stumpy" Thomas.  The Devils took G5 in a scorefest, but then came G6.  I think G6 was the best hockey experience I've ever had (2007 included) -- the game where Scott Stevens murdered Paul Kariya in front of a hushed Anaheim crowd, but then returned to score a laser past Brodeur, and Anaheim erupted like it had never done before.  (TTD Note:  This was probably the coolest non-Wings moment ever.)  Nothing was going to stop the Ducks -- the Disney storyline was magically pulling through.
 
And those were two fantastic days of head-in-the-clouds unbridled optimism -- but then came G7, the splash of cold water that jolted us back to reality.  After a tense scoreless first, Mike Rupp (damn his soul) deflected a puck past Giguere, and the Devils would add two more later in the game to complete their third 3-0 win of the series.  Even late in the game, though, I was still stuck on the hope of a Disney ending ("Just you watch.  This is exactly how the game started in the movie.")  But the final horn was surreal and depressing -- old man Oates and Stumpy, each playing in their first cup finals, had to retire cupless.  That truly sucked.
 
Looking back a few seasons later, I do have a changed perspective on G7.  Had the Ducks won, there probably wouldn't have been any Brian Burke, Randy Carlyle, Scott Niedermayer, or Chris Pronger in the franchise's future -- so in that sense I've come to peace with the game's outcome.  But I still have a deep-seeded grudge for New Jersey.  Going into the series, I thought I really had it made -- I was actually a rare Ducks-and Devils fan, and everything that playoffs had been going my way.  But a G7 really makes you come to grips with your priorities, and now I hope the Devils rot in hell (heh).  Within those 60 minutes of G7, they plummeted from my second-favorite team to my thirtieth-favorite. 
 
So that's my perspective on one of the stinkiest days of my hockey-rooting life.  Thanks for asking, asshole.

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Don't mention it, Earl. 

Thanks again to our participants, and remember to tune in next year for Lord Stanley's Masterpiece Theatre.

Lord Stanley's Masterpiece Theatre: Part I


It hasn't really sunk in yet that our Wings will participate in a 7th Game in the Stanley Cup Finals tomorrow.  We've seen Game 7's in rounds 1, 2 and 3 in our lifetimes, but this is a whole new stratosphere of anxiety.  One fan base is going to feel happier than they seemingly ever have, and one is going to be utterly crushed beyond recognition.

To help paint a picture of what we can expect, a couple of guests were kind enough to share their perspectives of a Game 7 in a particular Cup Final:  The Ducks/Devils series of 2003.  First, the Ookies from Interchangeable Parts are here to share what it's like to reach the pinnacle of Eutopia.

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


Ahh, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final -- it's what separates us from the animals.  As Devils fans we've had the distinct, um, pleasure (?) of suffering through TWO of these things (in a span of three years!), so we're happy to share our experiences and lessons learned.
 
First, there was 2001.  We don't remember much of anything about 2001.  That was the only game in our entire shared history as Devils fans that we didn't agree on -- Pookie took the deluded, tortured tack and watched the whole game while Schnookie took the bitter quitter approach and stormed out of the room about halfway through.  What we could agree on was that life is too short to watch Ray effin' Bourque successfully turn a trick as a ring whore at your team's expense (and at the expense of your team's one-time 3-2 series lead), so as soon as the game ended we turned off the TV and headed out in search of pizza and Fat Tire beer.  We were living in Arizona at the time, and there is no better way to avoid NHL news than rattling around a New York-style pizza place in North Scottsdale in early June.  What we learned that day is that the best way to suffer through that kind of loss is in the desert.  Our advice if you're going to lose Game 7 is to do it in solitude: just you, your misery, the saguaros, and the huge, empty sky.
 
We moved back East in time for the 2003 playoff run, and scooped up some seats with a couple of our friends in the second-to-last row of Continental Airlines Arena for however many games the Devils were going to be willing to play for us.  We were both unemployed at the time, so the long postseason was literally the only commitment we had.  It should be noted that even though the Devils lost only one home game that entire Spring, we were still our usual founts of pessimism.  Hey, we were still smarting from 2001, and the first-round flameout against the Canes in 2002 -- what can we say?  Anyway, our approach to Game 7 against the Ducks not a happy one.  We'd driven an hour up the Garden State Parkway to watch Game 6 from Anaheim with friends, utterly confident of the Devils victory, and when they ended up losing that game (the final score was, we think, 570-1), the group of us spent several hours wallowing in our shared disgust before we finally made the long drive back home at some ungodly hour of the morning.  It still stands as one of the worst nights of our lives.  The fact that we were going to have to watch in person as our team blew another 3-2 SCF series lead was nauseating; we jumped straight past nervousness into despair for the inevitable.  The only reason we were willing to go to Game 7 at all was because, well, how many times in your life do you get the opportunity to actually attend that kind of game?
 
When game day rolled around, though, we left super-early for our 90-minute drive up the Turnpike to Exit 16W, and along the way spotted something neither of us had ever seen before: a roadkill duck.  An actual dead duck.  In the middle of the New Jersey Turnkpike.  Literally dead.  Literally a duck.  We might be ardent pessimists, but we also believe in signs.  Could it possibly be?  Dare we think it?  We tried hard to maintain our steely facades of detached negativity, but deep down we were wavering.  Hope, that bastard, was chipping away at our resolve.
 
The weird thing about attending a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 is that despite the enormity of it, despite the fact that people were showing up to tailgate in the Meadowlands parking lot at 8 in the morning, despite the proliferation of media trucks, despite the fact that WFAN's Mike and the Mad Dog actually deigned to broadcast from the arena, it's still just a hockey game.  It's the same routine, the same seats, the same season-ticket buddies, the same team on the ice.  It was surreal how foreign it all was, while also being so familiar.  When the hockey itself finally started, we settled into a sense of normalcy, right up until Mike Rupp -- Mike Rupp!!! -- scored the first goal.
 
Then we KNEW.
 
And for all our negativity, pessimism, and complaining about having to go to that game, one thing had never crossed our minds: that we could see THE DEVILS skating with the Cup that night.  As soon as the game was 1-0, though, it was clear that dead duck had been right.  Commence freaking out.
 
Here are the things we learned that night:
 
1. The Stanley Cup is impossibly shiny.  Oh, sure, everyone's seen it on a pedestal, either in the Hall of Fame or during a Fanfest-type publicity appearance, but when the Stanley Cup is actually in use, on the ice?  Damn.  It gleams so brightly that you can see the engraving from the second-to-last row of a building as cavernous as the old CAA.  
 
2. The TV broadcast of that game made it sound like the crowd noise was drowned out by the Bon Jovi blaring over the PA system after the final buzzer.  Don't be fooled.  We were shocked to discover they had even been playing music at the arena, because you couldn't hear a lick of it over the thunderous frenzy of that amazing crowd.  The floor was literally shaking.  It was bedlam.  The Devils timed the final five or so minutes of the game perfectly, first getting the 3-0 goal to ice the game, then taking a penalty with about three minutes left so Devils fans could do what they do best -- cheer a bad-ass penalty kill -- and then led us straight into that final exultant minute.  There is nothing like a Game 7 home crowd on the winning side of the equation.
 
3. We honestly couldn't imagine there was anyone in the world who wasn't as happy as we were that night... except for the family sitting behind us, who'd come all the way from Anaheim to watch their team lose.  It was the parents and their pre-adolescent son, whose heart was completely broken that night.  Hey kid, lessons learned.  It's the cycle of life.  We hope he grew up to be Earl Sleek.  Heh.
 
4. When we see our team win the Stanley Cup in person, our knees get wobbly and we sob with joy.  We're not ashamed to admit it.
 
After all the cheering was over, after the Devils and their Cup left the ice, after literally every single other fan had left the arena, we were forced out by an usher.  We'd wanted to soak up every last drop of the Game 7 victory, to keep in reserve for all the bad games that lie ahead in our future.  No matter how awful it gets, no matter how crappy the Devils are, or how vile their losses, nothing can ever take that game away from us.  We then drove into the City with our friends to celebrate in our low-key style, with burgers at Pookie's favorite haunt from her NYU days.  There is no better way to avoid NHL news than rattling around a diner in the East Village at 2 a.m. in early June.  Our advice if you're going to win a Game 7 is to do it with friends: just you, your euphoria, your best buddies, and whatever sky you've got over your head.
 
Ultimately, by the time the stakes are as high as Stanley Cup Finals: Game 7, the notion of sports fandom being "fun" has long since been abandoned.  It's about the very highest highs or the very lowest lows.  We've been to both extremes, and, our rooting interests in the 2009 SCF aside (we think we're officially ambivalent), we want to say on a basic human level -- sports fan to sports fan -- good luck, Wings fans.  And remember, if you see any roadkill penguins on your way to wherever you're watching the game, take it as a VERY good sign.


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Tune in later for Part II

June 10, 2009

That Damn Breakaway


Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6
Penguins 2-1 Red Wings
**********

(Exasperated sigh)

Uh, yeah ...........

Yep.  Definitely don't want to do this.

  • From the sounds of it, you would've thought that Mike Milbury had $50,000 and both of his knees betting on Hossa to get a goal.  During the 2nd intermission his mouth was foaming while trying to convey how badly Hos was mailing this one in.  And he wasn't even close to acknowledging what could be the case -- that he's hurt.  There's simply no way that he isn't.  In 100 years you couldn't convince either one of us that a guy would turn down a jillion dollars for a shot at the Cup, and then with the trophy in the building he decided to just say "meh" and let his teammates take care of it, as Milbury said in so many words.  We haven't seen him bull his way to the net in forever -- it's highly improbable that it's because he just doesn't feel like it.
  • How sick was Fleury in that 3rd period?  Regardless of how the series plays out, that breakaway denial will be etched in the soul of every Red Wings fan for eternity.  Time stood completely still.  Datsyuk provided the buttery-soft feed and Cleary probably tried to get a little too fancy for his own good by going to the backhand, and then Fleury was in terrific position to make the save.  God, if only he buried that over the right shoulder.  If only.  Dammit.
  • Zetterberg continues to amaze.  His post shot was one of three total heartbreakers:  the others being the breakaway, and Franzen partially whiffing on the puck at the top of the crease with 15 seconds to play.  
  • Kris Draper scored the Wings only goal.  Kris Draper.
  • The refs didn't steal this one from the Wings.  Calm down.  The officiating hasn't been great, since, like, ever.  No sense hanging ourselves now.  The Wings didn't put themselves in enough positions to draw penalties in this game, period.  And the only two they did draw were pretty flukey anyway.  (By the way, have you ever wanted anybody to bleed as badly as Drapes on that high stick?  We were half hoping that he'd stand up and look like a wrestler after a chair shot to the face.)
  • Had a penalty shot been called in the final seconds after that pile-up in the crease, there would be no city of Pittsburgh right now.  It would be nothing but ashes and rubble.
  • This team has a far different beat to it than any other Wing squad in this modern, dynastic era.  It feels too over-simplified to call them out and say "they weren't hungry enough".  It just seems like there's something else there; like they're a little too composed, or something.  When they didn't come out on fire in the 1st period, it felt like they were trying to play smart before taking any chances, and that they were really concentrating on the defensive end.  But, like a few times before this, they turned it on a little too late -- and it makes you question why they didn't play that way to begin with.  Even during the first two periods when they were playing cautious, they were still committing bad turnovers here and there.  Too many blind backhanders from the corners, not enough quick transitions.
  • Fucking Mikael Samuelsson.  That no-show on Kennedy's goal was atrocious, inexcusable and probably punishable by law.  That was more gut wrenching than if you were to literally stab somebody in the stomach with a steak knife and do one complete twist.
  • Needless to say, no more singing bananas.  And for the record, this was the first time that the "no pants" trick didn't work.  Tried it with about six minutes to go.  But dammit was it ever close.
  • Datsyuk looked great aside from an egregious turnover that nearly gift-wrapped a goal.  It's infinitely important that he has a significant impact on Game 7.  Hossa's running out of steam, Franzen scoring touch might be starting to fade, and Hudler died sometime during the conference finals.  Game 7 has to be all about Hank, Pav, Nick, and Ozzie.   

Time permitting:  more tomorrow.  Hell, we've got two full days.


June 9, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6 pregame


This is the fifth day in our lives that we've woken up (not next to each other) knowing the Wings could win the Stanley Cup by night's end. They've yet to disappoint, winning the previous four times. (--EDIT-- insane error that nobody caught: Game 5 of last year's finals. Wow. End edit--)

What was so shocking about Game 6 of the Anaheim series was, simply, that the Wings didn't win. That's just what they do in that situation. They were 13-0 in Game 6's when up 3 games to 2. 11 of those 13 were road games. You could probably throw in a cliche about smelling blood at this point, and it would be accurate. They just never seem to fail.

But throw Game 6's aside for a moment, and think back to what the four Cup-clinching wins looked like.



In '97 there was no force on this planet that was going to prevent the Wings from winning that game. Ron Hextall and Garth Snow's shoulder pads could've been occupying the crease at the same time, and McCarty still scores that goal. If one of the alien spacecrafts from Independence Day was about to strike down upon Joe Louis Arena, Doug Brown would've sacrificed his life to blow it up. Nothing was keeping them from the Cup -- certainly not the Legion of Doom line.

You knew that they would win that game like you know Subway is always going to be out of the type of bread you want (would it kill them to have the monterey cheddar available just one fucking time?). It isn't sad or pathetic at all to say that, for die-hard Wing fans, this was one of the happiest days of your life.



Game 4 of the 1998 Stanley Cup was played with an equal amount of certainty. And if you weren't convinced of that through the first two periods, you were when Vladdy stood up in the crowd and the bench gave him a standing ovation in the 3rd. Words can't really describe that moment, and needless to say, the Wings weren't losing that game. There was a better chance that Yzerman would turn on the Wings by chopping Ozzie over the head with an axe.



The 2002 Carolina Hurricanes were like the worst team to ever make the Finals. On paper, at least. On the ice they were a tough team to dominate, let alone win against because of their disgusting, defensive system. It looked ugly, but it worked about as well as it could, and the Canes got everything they could out of their players that year. Game 1 was a shot to the nuts -- an OT loss that we don't care to remember; Game 2 was incredibly tense, and wasn't decided until a late one-timer by Nick Lidstrom; Game 3 was a Triple Overtime barn-burner, and one of the greatest Red Wings games in their history (as well as the night that the "no pants" superstition was born); Game 4 was the Wings' best game of the series and a 3-0 win.

Game 5 was a one-goal game late in the 3rd when Shanny hit every Wing fan's favorite empty netter to seal the Cup. He tackled Yzerman in celebration and inspired people to do the same in their living rooms. Now, this was five games -- but in no way was it easy. In fact we should thank God everyday that that series isn't still going on.


Last year was certainly a test. Games 1 and 2 feel like they were a part of an entirely different series. And then Games 3 through 6 took about 10 years off our respective lives.

That picture signifies how close the latter half of this series was. The confidence level going into Game 6 was ..... confusing. Nobody had a functioning brain after Game 5 but the Wings put to bed what could've been a sports travesty by finishing that series in Pittsburgh.


*****

The Pens are going to give everything they have, and that much should be obvious. As tough as it was to put them away last year it's going to be even worse this time around. Losing two Stanley Cups on their home ice is a sickening feeling that they don't want to experience.

Because of this, it's imperative that the Wings get a good start tonight. It has to happen. Any let up at all and their will be a seventh game Friday night.


No links or quotes today. No injuries to report. Just hang on to your ass and hope for a win.




June 7, 2009

50 Hours


How gaffloshing happy are you about Game 5?

And be honest -- did you just Google "gaffloshing" just to see if it's a real word?  No unearthly idea what I'm saying right now.  I'm still on like Cloud 67 from last night.  With Datsyuk's return, I've been walking around all day feeling like Charlie after he finds the last golden ticket, except I don't look like a transvestite.


We're just over two full days away.  Whether they won or lost last night, Sunday to Tuesday would still feel like weeks.  And at the end of this 50 hour tunnel, we'll all crawl out of our makeshift homes under our nearest freeway overpass, huddle together outside of a Radio Shack window to watch the game like the jobless vermin that we all are, beg the passing strangers for spare Slim Jim money, and hopefully watch our team hoist the Cup.  Then we'll retreat back to our cardboard mansions and sleep like babies.


***

I've probably linked this video two dozen times on this blog.  I don't care.  If you watch it four times a day like I do, it can prevent cancer.  Hopefully there will be a fifth one to add to that collection two days from now.

(P.S: I'm quitting life if there's a 7th Game.)


God that felt good


Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5
Red Wings 5-0 Penguins
**********


Wings are 11-1 at the Joe in these playoffs.  They haven't lost a home playoff game in regualtion since Game 5 of the '08 Conference Finals.  The last two home losses were triple overtime marathons.  This could mean nothing, or could mean that having the last change is a big deal, and teams nealy have to kill themselves in order to beat the Wings in Detroit.  

Zetterberg is still picking the splinters out of his taint after coming over the boards so many times during Games 3 and 4.  So he has to love coasting out to the faceoff dot against Crosby, as opposed to chasing him down from the bench at full speed.  And he drove Crosby to the brink of homicide tonight, to the point where the finalist for the Mark Messier's Penis Award slashed and punched Z until right around his bedtime, which was apparently the 14:08 mark of the 3rd Period.  Matt had one of the better lines I've read in some time in regards to Z's perofrmance:  "Zetterberg looked like a man freed from wrongful imprisonment."

Hard to top that one.  I'll just say that he's our MVP.  He has been the heart, the soul, the legs, the hair, the beard, and everything else.  Other thoughts ...


  • Datsyuk wasn't at full speed, but still had a great impact on the game with his passing.  He had two assists, but more importantly was probably the mental boost it gave to his teammates.  He played 17:38, but Babcock held him off the PK unit.
  • Hossa had an assist and led the team with 8 hits.
  • So much for the guys losing their composure in Game 4 -- they looked liked 18 guys on one page tonight.  I'm sure it was discreetly handled by a 45 second speech from Lidstrom, followed by one of those team-unity videos that your job shows you like once every six months.
  • The entire defense was superb all game, aside from those pesky first five minutes.  After that they swallowed up everything in sight and continually deflected shots, to the point where deep into the 3rd period you realized that Ozzie didn't really have to do much of anything all night.
  • Pav's return allowed the reuniting of the Goldilocks and Two Bears line, which did quite a job on Malkin (minus-1, 3 penalties).
  • Dan Cleary is a preposterous +18 in the playoffs.  The Pens had the momentum from the start of the game to the middle of the period when things evened up a bit, but after his goal it was all Detroit. 
  • Kunitz is still a Duck as far as I'm concerned.
  • Hypothetical question:  Should the Wings win Game 6 or 7, does Malkin win the Conn Smythe?  Not "do you think he SHOULD win it", but do you think they'll give it to him.  They're really slobbing over the "most points since Gretzky in '93" thing, and it wouldn't shock me if he won it.  He's got 11 more points than any Wing (Zetterberg: 24), but with all those points, he's only a plus-2.  That stands out to me.  Z leads the Wings in points, wipes out the opposition's top line, and had the team on his back in the absence of Datsyuk, so he would have my imaginary vote.  You know, just because of those reasons -- not because of a bias or anything.

::::::::::


Holy shit.  One more win away.  No jobs to get in the way either -- Triple Deke HQ will be packed Tuesday night in hopes of a Stanley orgy.  This never, ever gets old.

Go Wings.