August 31, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Brad Stuart


Because nothing screams "cutting edge" quite like The Triple Deke, we'll be passing on the typical season preview for 2009-10. Instead, we will bring you this: a highly scientific forecast of each player's performance, which will be calculated by using an updated copy of a 13 year old video game -- Sega's NHL '97. Each statistical output will be treated as an irrefutable premonition, and anyone who challenges the accuracy of our system will be burned alive in front of their families.

*****

Brad Stuart | #23 | Defenseman


Strengths:


* Has a number of tools: skates well, hits well, passes well, and has a hard shot.
* Is the most consistently physical of the Wings' defenseman
* Hails from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. The only thing more bad ass than that is pulling a knife out of your chest and surviving.


Weaknesses:

* Abnormally large mouth can be a distraction during interviews.
* As would be the case with a former #3 pick on his fifth team, he can cancel out his talent by making plays so boneheaded that you want to rip your toe nails off.


NHL '97 Season Recap: 10 goals, 24 assists, 34 points

The last time we saw Brad Stuart, he was doing everything in his power to hand the Penguins the Stanley Cup in Game 7. It's a shame too, because his playoff run up to that point had been pretty stellar. While he was predominantly a stay-at-home defender during the regular year (2 goals, 13 assists), he stepped up his all-around play during the postseason with 3 goals and 6 assists in 23 games. When Rafalski and Lidstrom went down with injuries during the playoffs, he did his part to help take their place.

It's doubtful that his glaring fuck ups from that game are going to stick with him and carry over into the 2009-10 campaign. He seems to be pretty easy going; in his post-Game 7 comments, when talking about one of his giveaways he literally said the words, "My bad." Like he just bumped into a dude in the hallway or something.

His NHL '97 season was an improvement offensively as he saw his stats resemble what they were earlier in his career. Much of this had to do with the fact that Sega Babcock didn't seem to like Jason Williams manning the point on the 2nd power play after a tragic incident that unoriginal sports columnists now refer to as "Williamsgate", in which during a game against Columbus, Williams blind-sided teammate Niklas Kronwall with a steel folding chair, jumped into Ken Hitchcock's arms and sucked at his man-teat for 20 minutes until the two were separated with the aid of a fire hose. Babcock lost trust with Williams after this and replaced him with Stuart, who filled in quite well. (In a related story, "Williamsgate" caused Sega Holland to consume mass amounts of Tequila and spend all hours of the night trying to call the Vancouver Canucks to get Mikael Samuelsson back. However, the line was perpetually busy as the Canucks were trying to assemble the league's first 22 man roster composed entirely of defensemen.)

If this virtual projection tells us anything -- and Lord knows Sega has never lied to us before -- it tells us that Brad Stuart seems to play better when he isn't utilizing a human brain. He's versatile enough to be used in all game situations, but his play in all areas has room for improvement in comparison to last year as he contributed to an average defensive effort and shaky penalty kill.


August 30, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Johan Franzen

Because nothing screams "cutting edge" quite like The Triple Deke, we'll be passing on the typical season preview for 2009-10. Instead, we will bring you this: a highly scientific forecast of each player's performance, which will be calculated by using an updated copy of a 13 year old video game -- Sega's NHL '97. Each statistical output will be treated as an irrefutable premonition, and anyone who challenges the accuracy of our system will be burned alive in front of their families.

*****

Johan Franzen | #93 | Right Wing


Strengths:

* Combination of soft hands and size makes him extremely tough to check off the puck.
* Excels everywhere on the ice: in front of the net, on the boards, his own zone and in transition .
* Beat the Colorado Avalanche in the 2008 playoffs while playing 1-on-5. Blindfolded.

Weaknesses:

* Is 1/4th caveman.
* Doesn't know how to breathe through his nose.


NHL '97 Season Recap: 67 goals, 10 assists, 77 points

If you think Franzen's a beast in real life, you should see him in 16-bit form. His 8 assists might suggest that his already average playmaking skills are going to devolve, but when the opposition needs a chain saw to get the puck from you, passing is unnecessary. His team record 67 goals seemed just a tad high, but like I said, we won't be questioning this shit. Sega says it's going to happen. Johan Franzen is about to have a watershed goal-scoring season for the Detroit Red Wings.

The high point of his season came in an 11-2 victory over the Blues in St. Louis. After injuring T.J. Oshie in the first period and skating over his face repeatedly, Franzen scored a dumbfounding 6 goals in two periods to lead the Red Wings' attack. He then requested the 3rd period off so that he could take a well deserved nap.

The Mule also benefited from playing on Pavel Datsyuk's wing for the majority of the season, cashing in on about 30 one-timers. Most of the other goals were scored with his newest move: skating as fast as he could into the goalie and hoping the puck would go in. So watch out for that one this year.



August 26, 2009

Time wasting



If you are half the hockey nerd that I am and haven't visited the following sites, treat yourself to 14 straight hours not blinking. Here, briefly, are three of my favorites:




If you inexplicably obsess over line combos and pairings like I do, you may never look at another website again.

You can sort by individual player or team; even strength, shorthanded, or power play; or shifts by period. Curious about what two forwards Dan Cleary played with the most last season at 5-on-5? Zetterberg and Hossa. Which unit skated the most shifts together? Holmstrom/Datsyuk/Hossa. What defensive pair had the most short-handed ice time? Lidstrom and Lilja, 569 shifts. There's also a Line Production Tool on the sidebar. Interesting fact: the pairing of Lebda and Lilja had as many points (15) at even strength as Stuart and Kronwall.


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Like the line combo thing, any page that includes mass amounts of sortable categories is a winner in my book.

Florida Panthers all-time record in playoff overtime games: 2-3. Number of wins in Boston Bruins history on Saturdays: 665.

And I'm sure that you are about to wet yourself in anticipation of this: the Red Wings' record against the Blues at home between the years of 1981 and 1988 during the regular season ... 13-11-4 (outscoring St. Louis 108 to 91). Remarkable, I know.


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When God and Al Gore had sex and birthed the Internet, this was the creation that they had in mind. My god what a site.




Down the left hand side, you have every current NHL team plus some defunct ones. You can view a team's entire jersey history, with detailed descriptions of the most minute of changes from year to year. On the right hand side you can view the league's jerseys by year dating back to 1917.

The Wings have had pretty much the same jersey throughout their history, and yet, this site gives you 13 different alterations and tweeks since 1932. Hours of entertainment.

And: remember those old Lightning alternates? Probably my favorite jersey of all time. A hypnotizing mind-fuck piece of clothing.




August 18, 2009

More credible takes than mine


Kent of Matchsticks and Gasoline and Five Hole Fanatics fame was kind enough to share his observations of Mr. Tuzzi from this past season. His insight was appreciated and I have already sent him a dusty VHS copy of this game to show my gratitude. Because he: A) is not me, B) really knows his shit; and C) is above all not me, I blindly trust his words to be gospel and nothing less. Here are his brief thoughts on Bert:

"Sorry to tell you this, but I hated Bertuzzi. He was awful and probably the worst forward in the Flames top 9. Bad in his own end, prone to taking stupid penalties, admitted to taking it easy during the regular season so he would "have something in the tank" come play-offs (where he was, again, useless). Some of my thoughts on him during the year can be found:


In short: I couldn't wait for him to leave. The team will be better without him."


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After clicking around for a minute I also came across this, from Earl Sleek in the comments of a FHF post last summer (recall that Bertuzzi was a Duck during the 07-08 year) ...

Three things irked the hell out of me about Bertuzzi last year.

a) He had to be carried around by decent linemates, but was a drag on nearly all of them. An easy way to improve anybody's results (especially defensively) was to take Bert off their line. A possible exception was Ryan Carter, a sort of Pahlsson clone, who was a crazy enough backchecker that it seemed he could carry Bert's defensive load. But that was only a passable solution, not an ideal one.

b) As much as we'd love to see Bertuzzi effectively use his size to crash the net, he hardly ever attempted it. As a matter of fact, whenever Bertuzzi did take the initiative to put a shot on goal, my joke was that his "one shot per game quota" was used up. From that point on, he was passing.

c) When Selanne returned, at first Carlyle tried a Bert-Weight-Selanne second line, which on paper wouldn't have been that bad. However, it was horrid, because as soon as either non-Finn got the puck his first instinct was to give the puck straight to Selanne to "let him do the work". It was to the point where I wondered why the opposition didn't just put three guys on Selanne, because Bert and Weight were obviously looking to him for any offense."


In putting this in the proper context, we have to acknowledge that Bertuzzi was given more ice time and relied upon more during the past two seasons than he will be in '09-'10. Still, those aren't exactly ringing endorsements. "Taking it easy" and "Not using his size effectively" doesn't sound like a guy who will add some grit and throw his weight around.

I've also heard the argument that it's not too big of a risk because it's one year at $1.5 (still a bit pricey in my mind but whatever). I agree that it's not a huge risk -- I just don't think it's a necessary risk, especially when we just took a slight gamble on Jason Williams, who possesses some similar tools and flaws. I'd rather they gamble with giving Leino, Eaves, Williams and Helm more of an opportunity than yank their minutes around.

(And, just throwing this out there, I could be more than wrong about this: Doesn't Babcock have enough responsibilities this year? He'll be trying to get the premier NHL team to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 3rd year in a row, and in between he'll only be coaching Team Canada in Vancouver, where it will be gold medal or bust. If he has to balance that with massaging egos in Detroit for a full season, I wouldn't be surprised if he snaps and stabs an assistant with a skate during an intermission at some point.)


Bertuzzi





I hope I'm entirely, 100 percent wrong about this.

Un fucking real


The Detroit Red Wings could be poised to welcome another former player back to town.

General manager Ken Holland confirmed Monday the club is negotiating with free-agent forward Todd Bertuzzi.

"We're talking to him," Holland said.

Holland declined further comment, but a league source said the club offered Bertuzzi a one-year deal worth $1.5 million for next season, and that there is a strong indication that a deal will get done this week.



Robert Lang's still out there. I'm sure Hasek is about due for another comeback. Maybe it's not too late to swing a deal for Kyle Calder.


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Assuming that this is inevitable, I'm going to start talking myself into this right now. I just don't know where to begin.

I don't care about the price tag in this situation. It's great that they replaced Hudler's would-be salary and point total with a couple of cheaper guys. But at what expense?

Bertuzzi is an injury/penalty prone 34 year old power forward who doesn't actually play a power forward game anymore. Whatever amount of "grit" that people want to believe he still has is fantasy; it's based on past reputation only. He avoids contact now and disappears from games. He's not a good enough all-around player to be taking away someone else's 1st or 2nd line minutes on this team, and he's not going to grind or hustle his way as a 3rd or 4th liner. He doesn't exactly shit Selke trophies, either.

I'll try this again:

Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom
Cleary - Filppula - Franzen ....


... I can't fucking do it. Why are they talking to this guy? Are they going to push Helm to the 4th line? Compromise Leino's worth by splitting up his minutes (not to mention piss him off)? Take Maltby out to the Ohio border and strand him in a corn field? Wait, I know: they'll stunt the development and chemistry of what their current lineup could provide by wasting their time with a signing like this.

August 17, 2009

Bertuzzi rumors bring God's existence into question


I've been out and about lately. Part of it is because I've been working like a maniac on my golf game (like you give a shit), and part of it is that I ran and hid in the woods when I started hearing this Todd Bertuzzi nonsense. This is bound to push me through one of those "What does it all mean?" fazes.

As usual, Malik is all over it, including a cut of a radio interview transcript in which Jim Devellano kinda wonders out loud for a while, and ultimately drops the "we hope to sign him within the next week" thing.

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And so I ask, would this make an ounce of sense to anyone? Contract details aside, this only seems to create an awkward log jam when you put it all down on paper. He would be like a bigger, uglier Jason Williams; a streaky 3rd line point-producer that doesn't do much else to affect a game, and who most Red Wing fans already loathe.

Neither he nor Williams would be top-6-ers, or at least I would hope. Assuming you'd split them up, one of them would be in hockey hell playing alongside Draper and Maltby (or Eaves) on the 4th line with the clash in styles, not to mention the limited ice time. The only spot that they'd fit together would be on a 3rd line, but the mere thought of that duo would be enough to inspire heroin abuse.

You'd also have to choose whether you'd want to squeeze out Maltby or Eaves, and I'm sure neither of those two wanted to compete for significant ice time this year. Ol' Maltz can get a bit ornery when he sits for any length of time, and I'm sure Eaves would think that he could've signed elsewhere for a guaranteed spot instead of having to take a backseat. Perhaps you really don't give a damn whether Maltby is happy or not, but personally, I say you either cut ties with the guy or you play him. He's been around long enough and contributed enough to the franchise that you don't leave him hanging like that.

All of this adds up to one answer in my mind: there's nowhere to put him to make this work. I tried writing out some lines and they all made me want to throw up on the keyboard. I'm really not prepared to go through that nausea feeling 100 times next season. I stuck behind Kenny on the Williams signing because I firmly believe that it isn't worthy of burning the village down, like some of you out there seemed to think. It works, but you can only have so many "Williamses" out there. One, to be exact. I like what we've got right now,

Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom
Leino - Filppula - Franzen
Cleary - Helm - Williams
Maltby - Draper - Eaves

and I don't see a need to stain it with Todd Bertuzzi.


August 13, 2009

This happened in real life


"Man who groped Minnie Mouse at Disney World guilty of battery"



"Disney employee Brittney Duncan McGoldrick told the Orange County Sheriff’s Office she was dressed as Minnie Mouse at the Toon Town Character greet room at the Magic Kingdom when Moyer grabbed her inappropriately.

Duncan McGoldrick said Moyer hugged her, grabbed her breasts and buttocks then pulled her into his lap, according to an arrest affidavit.

As part of the sentence, Moyer has to write a letter of apology to McGoldrick. He also is under supervised probation for 180 days, must complete 50 hours of community service within four months, pay $1,000 in court costs and submit to a mental evaluation with treatment, if necessary."


And, this from the comments:

"This is the craziest thing I ever heard. Everyone knows Daisy Duck is WAY hotter than Minnie Mouse. That "chick" doesn't wear pants!"


I don't even know what to add to this.


August 9, 2009

Patrick Kane clearly not satisfied with his current income

"Reports: Blackhawks F Kane arrested


Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, the top overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, was arrested early Sunday morning in Buffalo, N.Y., and charged with theft of services, criminal mischief and robbery in the second degree after an incident with a cab driver, according to multiple media reports.

Kane
Kane

The 20-year-old Kane and his cousin, James M. Kane, 21, were taken into police custody at about 5 a.m. ET after allegedly punching the driver and taking the $15 in fare they had given him after he said he didn't have 20 cents in change, a police report says.

The driver said his glasses were broken as he was hit in the face and head and grabbed by the throat, according to the report.

WIVB-TV in Buffalo reported that an attorney for Kane, a Buffalo native, has entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf in a city court."

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Oh, that's rich.

August 6, 2009

Samuelsson replaced by equally turnover-at-the-blueline-prone Jason Williams


The people are loving it!



"Williams is an underachieving gripe and I’m disappointed no Siberian KHL team took him off our hands. I’m wishing Holland hadn’t made him that offer. “In Kenny We Trust” doesn’t work for me on this one."
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"I'm also curious to see how long Williams makes it before he starts whining. I'm a much bigger fan of the Eaves deal."
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"Nope. Don’t like it. Don’t like him inevitably playing on the point and I don’t like the way he bitched when he was benched the last time. Was never fond of Jason Williams, but my opinion definitely doesn’t count."
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Depressing comment from a Thrashers fan at A2Y:

"All I know is that after watching him play in Atlanta last year for half a season he was one of the least inspiring players on the team. And once he was traded for a 6th round pick the team got better."
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So what we've got here is a guy who posted 47 points last season (29 in 39 games for the Blue Jackets), can't be making anymore than a little over $1 million (terms have yet to be released), and won't be required to play on the top two lines ... but mentally is such a question mark that 95% of Wings fans out there are hating this deal? To be a 3rd liner with 50-point potential and negate that somehow is quite an accomplishment. Alas, this is the Jason Williams story.

My thought, at least initially, is to wait and see. It will be two and a half years since his last Red Wings game at the start of Opening Night. That's a long time in hockey years, and there's a possiblity for change.

We can never forget that Holland really, truly knows what he's doing. I would highly doubt that he'd make a commitment to Williams without discussing the terms on which he left in 2007, and what needs to be done differently this time before signing on the dotted line. Ken's an intelligent guy -- he's not going to make a half assed signing just because he's running out of options. He's going to make the most of those options by exploring them to the fullest. And the fact that he's risking giving Williams another shot after he butted heads with Babcock has to mean something.

Plus -- clubhouse chemistry issues aside -- the addition of a "depth" scorer isn't a bad thing. The Wings lost a boatload of depth scoring this offseason with Hudler and Samuelsson, so there aren't as many forwards whom you'd consider locks for good-to-great point production. Now Williams and the word "lock" don't really mesh, but it's a decent bet given his career totals. Since we're relying on Filppula to take the next step (not a guarantee) and Leino to fill a huge void for a full season (really not a guarantee), I can't hate the Jason Williams deal.




August 4, 2009

Red Wings sign somebody we won't pretend to know


You may have noticed that we haven't said much about Jiri Hudler. We made our peace with his significant raise, and now he'd dead to us. For two years, at least.

Now, we have Patrick Eaves to talk about.


By most if not all accounts, this appears to be a very good signing.



The Red Wings have signed free agent right wing Patrick Eaves to a one-year contract.

In accordance with team policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A former first round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2003, Eaves has played in 242 career games with the Senators and the Carolina Hurricanes.

He scored 20 goals in just 58 games in 2005-06, his rookie season in the NHL. Eaves followed his impressive debut with career-highs in assists (18) and points (32) in 2006-07.

Patrick Eaves' uncle Murray played for the Red Wings' organization in the late-80s. He amassed 207 points in two seasons at Adirondack.
On February 11, 2008, Eaves was dealt with Joe Corvo to the Hurricanes in exchange for Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore. In 85 games with Carolina over the past two seasons, Eaves posted seven goals and 12 assists.

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"Eaves' salary is $500,000 ... which makes this a marvelous signing for the Wings. He's just 25 and has a lot of skill. I'm sure Eaves was looking for an opportunity to prove himself, wanted just a one-year minimum deal to get himself a bigger contract next season. For the Wings, they get skill and potential at a price that couldn't be lower."

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Hockeytown Static with a nice video find.

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Animal Drew mentions the most important thing of all:

"And guess what? He shoots right."

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Christy mentions the actual most important thing (that pesky cap number) at Winging It:

"My gut reaction was...really? That's our big summer signing? Obviously I knew we couldn't afford a big name, but I wasn't sold on this signing. That is until I learned it was for $500,000. It's funny how a salary number can completely alter one's opinion on the deal. There is definitely upside with Eaves and it's a risk I'd be happy to take for close to the league minimum. Plus, it should still give us room to sign one more forward to fill out the roster."

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For whatever reason, the little scouting reports at Sportsnet.ca are highly addicting. Sifting through multiple teams can consume a couple hours before you know it. Here's Eaves' player profile:


(click to enlarge)

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Lastly, the summer MVP of Red Wings blogging weighs in, and is a big fan of this move:

"I actually really love the idea of Eaves as a Red Wing — I think this is a system for him. He’s very similar to what Dan Cleary was before he came a Red Wing. A first round pick that hasn’t entirely panned out (Cleary never scored 20 goals though) but has stuck in the NHL as an energy guy. Eaves will be right up there with Helm, Draper, and Lebda for fastest skater on the team, he has that kind of speed. He’s not incredibly skilled but like Cleary, he’s got a great wrist shot and his hands aren’t made of stone. He’ll probably end up on the 3rd or 4th line this year, but if he shows any signs of life offensively, I could see him being kept long-term and eventually moved into a 2nd/3rd line swingman. But I’m getting ahead of myself here."

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And now let us aesthetically please ourselves with some lineup contemplation:


Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom
Cleary - Filppula - Franzen
Leino - Helm - Eaves
Maltby - Draper - Abdelkader


If Mr. Eaves is as mobile as advertised, the 3rd line could look like the human embodiment of lightning.

Good work, Kenny.