September 30, 2009

Pointless Predictions for the 2009-10 NHL Season, part II

... Part I ...


This is worth posting for a second time.

One of my favorite videos ever. I can't really explain it. It's unintentionally funny and sort of depressing at the same time.


Take your pick between Colorado and Phoenix for worst in the West. I give the slight nod to Phoenix because Colorado's defensemen run a tad bit deeper, but then you're getting into "tallest midget" territory. There's really nothing interesting to say about this team which in a way feels like a damn shame. Who would've thought that after the wars of the late 90's that some Wings fans would consider Nashville a greater rival than the Avs?


They don't seem bad enough to be the third worst team in the conference, but they have a serious uphill climb to reach the playoffs with the forwards they have. They've got a good group of defensemen headed up by the Weber/Suter pairing, and if they can get lights-out goaltending to go with it they may yet sneak in. Never rule out the Egg Man, we always say.


I've decided that I like the lineup the Kings have, so I'm going to be a closet Kings fan this year. Well actually if I just told you then I guess it's not really a "closet" type of deal. But then again you all assume that I'm a raving homosexual and I've never officially come out of the closet, so I guess that's an example of being a closet-something while, at the same time, it's not really a closet thing. But if I'm a closet Kings fan while I'm in the closet and a non-closet Wings fan when I'm out of the closet, does that make me a gay out-of-the-closet Red Wings fan? Oh dear God I think I just heard the Earth stop rotating.


I'm thinking that they're going to be the 4th best team in the division again, which would make it extremely unlikely that the BJ's, Blues, Hawks and Wings all make the playoffs two straight years. But like so many other teams in the West, I wouldn't be surprised if they finish much higher. This conference is very, very deep (or evened out by the salary cap ... whatever).


Many people last year, including me, thought that the Stars were going to be good. They weren't. They had some injuries and stuff, but mainly it was the atrocious performance of Marty Turco. Just an awful person, really. So this year, they made some marginal changes to help their defense and penalty killing, lose Zubov to Europe, and return the same bunch that produced a terrible power play last year. I don't see how they're going to go anywhere but sideways. But if Turco miraculously gets his groove back and turns last year into a distant memory, then his story single-handedly warrants the ressurection of Unsolved Mysteries.


Look, if I put the Blues in the playoffs, then I've got 13 of 16 playoff teams from 2009 making it back in 2010, which just can't happen. Not that 12 out of 16 is that much better, but still.



Every single year -- every single year I think the Oilers are going to be better than they actually are. This year is no different. By me saying they will squeak into the playoffs probably means that they'll actually finish 13th. They've got a bunch of talented forwards who probably won't put up as many points as I think, a group of talented defensemen who probably aren't as deep as I think, and a goalie who is probably a lot more average than anyone thinks. I know this, and yet I can't help myself.


I admit that they're good, but am I the only one who wonders if the Flames might be a bit overrated?


I keep reading about how the Wild don't have enough offense, and I disagree. They aren't going to blow anyone out of the building, but I think they'll be good enough to make the playoffs at the very least. Havlat, Koivu, Bouchard, Brunette, Nolan, and Sykora are all proven offensive commodities, and they've got some depth guys with upside too. They've also got a great set of defenders and a superb goaltending tandem. With the shackles of the Lemaire system taken off, this could be exactly like the 2005-06 Detroit Pistons regular season, when Flip Saunders came in and a great defensive team added more of a scoring dimension to their game -- except this would involve a lot more white people.


This is the weakest Duck defense in some time, but they add Saku Koivu and Joffrey Lupul to a lineup that was dynamite on the power play last season and could really pump up their goal totals. Getzlaf, Neidermayer and Perry are going to pick up the elbowing slack in the absence of Pronger, and the momentum from their playoff run should all be enough to spark them to at least a 5 seed, if not a division crown.


Public perception, to me anyway, seems to suggest that the Blackhawks have actually gotten better as the last few months have gone by, without having played a single game. Maybe it's due to the growing excitement that the Wings are getting old at a couple of key positions and people are rushing to predict their ever-so-slight decline, while the Hawks are right behind them, ready to take the torch and run. I'm not seeing this. Martin Havlat was really fucking good for them last year and Hossa won't be duplicating his production because of shoulder surgery. Outside of that, they have a very good all-around team that should make the division race a little bit tighter this year, but not enough to take the division yet.


They might not have a true #1 defender, but 1 through 6 (or 7 or 8) they could boast a stronger blue line than anybody else in the league. They could have the most talented goalie in the league. They might even have the best set of identical twins in the league. In a very competitive Northwest Division, I think the Canucks and their all-around balance will win out. On the other hand, I did find this line from Babcock's Death Stare to be one of my favorites of the summer:

"I have this theory that every Vancouver Canuck is overrated."

Explore that theory, Kyle. It would surely make for a good read.


I give them credit for not blowing up the entire team after bowing out in the first round. They outplayed the Ducks for the most part but didn't have the extra gear that the Wings had to put them away. They weren't going to find that with a quick fix, so instead they dumped a couple salaries and traded for Dany Heatley to shake things up, which still leaves them with a very talented squad. But yet, just as it was funny that the Rangers got Gaborik (in a "don't really need to explain it" kind of way) the same goes for the Sharks getting Heatley. That by itself would make me weary of the Sharks finally having that breakthrough year, but once again they should rule the regular season.


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

Lidstrom - Rafalski
Kronwall - Stuart
Lebda - Ericsson


Look at that team. Not just the names themselves, but the tornado shape is creates as you go down the lines. It must be some kind of sign, right? Of course it is. The Red Wings are totally going to Bill Paxton their way through the West this season like a renegade F5.

Red Wings over Oilers
Flames over Sharks
Wild over Canucks
Blackhawks over Ducks

Red Wings over Flames
Blackhawks over Wild

Red Wings over Blackhawks


Red Wings over Bruins

September 29, 2009

Pointless Predictions for the 2009-10 NHL Season, part I

Some highlights from last year's predictions:

  • Said that Maxim Afinogenov would have a bounce back year (6-14-20 in 48 games).
  • Said the Bruins would "sneak" into the playoffs (#1 seed in the East).
  • Said the Stars would finish 2nd in the West.
  • Said the Sabres would make the conference finals.
  • Said the Blackhawks would miss the playoffs.
  • Said the Coyotes would make the playoffs.

I know that Coyotes thing probably made you stop reading already, but in 2010 I'm all money, baby. I swear on it. You can take this shit to the bank, or better yet your seedy Russian bookie because I'm basically going to spoil the future for you. (*Note: The Triple Deke is not responsible for the loss of your life savings, home, wife/husband/children and/or any personal possessions; all picks below are made with roughly 3% confidence, are loosely based on factual evidence and incorporate a large amount of "gut feeling", which right now is being severely affected by that chicken gordita ranch thing from Taco Bell.)

Today we have the predictions for the East, tomorrow we'll have the West.



The Islanders have 17 goalies on their roster. I looked it up. Unless the league allows them to use two in the net at once, they'll be competing for the #1 pick next year once again. Any hopes of John Tavares having a storybook rookie season that elevates the Isles toward playoff contention were ruined when he ended up on my fantasy team.


With Phil Kessel they have a guy who is first-line-caliber talent, and also rumored to be a huge douche bag. Brian Burke is also a douche bag, and assembles teams that fit his douche baggy image. But Kessel is a different kind of douche bag in that he's apparently a prima donna who doesn't work as hard as he should, while Burke's teams are a goon type of douchey that, while still douchey, are gritty and tough and don't douche well with Kessel's douchiness. I picture this ending like a lousy cartoon where the two dim-witted bad guys end up turning on each other while the good guys escape and save the day. I don't know exactly what I'm referring to but it sounded at least marginally familiar so I'm sticking with it.


Pascal Leclaire has had one good season and is coming off major ankle surgery, so I don't picture him being the savior of anything, at least not this year. They could also struggle to find a consistent offense this year if the additions of Kovalev and Cheechoo are too streaky and fail to support the Spezza/Alfredsson tandem -- a tandem in which one guy is 37 and declining, and the other sounds like this.


Nowhere to go but up after last year's depressing, mullet-y season, although they won't stray too far from the bottom of the pack. I actually kind of like what they did over the summer and really wouldn't be surprised if they pose as playoff contenders for some part of the season, but ultimately they won't score enough outside of their top 4 or 5 guys.


This isn't an overly horrible team, despite the name "Atlanta Thrashers" weighing on the entire franchise. Defensively they could be righting the ship with Pavel Kubina joining Zack Bogosnian and Tobias Enstrom on the blueline. A full year of a healthy Kari Lehtonen in goal would obviously be huge. Offensively they won't have much of a problem as Ilya Kovalchuk -- probably my favorite non-Red Wing, although this might be something I have to look into -- will score about 120 goals as this is his contract year.


I'm really not sure. I think they could finish as high as 3rd or as low as 11th. While it's hard to bank on Marian Gaborik playing even 65-70 games, they've got enough talent to make things interesting when his inevitable absence occurs. I guess the bottom line is that I thought the sound of "Gaborik to the Rangers" was so hilariously ironic that I'm not confident enough to say they'll make the playoffs.


They're coming off a deep playoff run, so according to their history the Canes are due to miss the playoffs in 2010. That's just math, really.



My inexplicable crush on the Sabres permits me to overlook their defensive flaws, think MSU alum Ryan Miller will be healthier and better than he actually is, and leads me to believe they won't miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight season. They don't have the same caliber of top-level talent on their scoring lines that other teams do, but the first two or three lines are better than many. To actually make the playoffs though they're going to need for a lot of things to go right, like having Miller and their blue line hold up for the duration of the year.


Is it such a bold prediction that the Panthers will jump only two spots ahead of where they finished last year, with a good goalie duo, a new coach who they seem to be excited about (grasping for straws here), some promising young talent (really grasping), you have a bias toward former Spartan David Booth (not relevant), and you think Jay Bouwmeester is a bit overrated (100% hunch)? I won't insult you by backing this up with an argument, but I just have this feeling that after they trade their star defenseman and have all this talk about the team getting sold that they're going to surprise all 28 of their remaining un-alienable fans and push for their first playoff appearance in 10 years.


Chris Pronger. Ian Laperierre. Ray Emery. Scott Hartnell. Danny Brierre's salary. Even Flyers fans don't like the Philadelphia Flyers.


Aside from the awesome Zach Parise -- another non-Wing favorite -- there isn't a ton of offense to be excited about. The good news is that their defensive corps, which going into last season was suppose to be a weakness, is actually a pretty solid group who helped allow the 4th fewest goals in '08-09. By bringing back Jacques Lemaire the Devils not only guarantee that they'll be a tough out in the East but they also have me feeling a bit nostalgic. Despite the '95 Devils being one of my least favorite teams ever, I have to concede that anything that reminds me of the mid 90's nowadays makes me happy in comparison to my growing fear of adult life in the 2010's. Dear God somebody please turn on Darkwing Duck and help me find my pogs.


Deep defense and a blind hunch are the reasons for having the Habs so high. But will the ridiculous roster turnover be too much of an adjustment? This summer their front office looked like somebody playing a video game and seeing how many deals they could pull off. "Dude, I just traded Chris Higgins and three people I don't know to the Rangers for Scott Gomez."


"I don't know. Maybe because I can. That's why. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to sign Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri so that I have a first line that totals 11 feet in height."


Something about this team is just screaming "let down" to me, but I can't really back that up with anything, nor summon the balls to say that Montreal will win this division. They shed Phil Kessel's douchiness but also his team-leading 36 goals, which has to hurt. I guess I think that they just had so many things fall into the right place last year, and duplicating that would be tough. I'd put them lower but they're .... well, they have a lot of good players. Guess that would contradict or something. Oh and I change my mind, Tim Thomas is my favorite non-Wing.


The easy thing for an emotionally crippled Red Wings fan to say is that this team will experience the Cup hangover, struggle through the first few months and then make a joke about them moving to Kansas City after a four game losing streak, which then of course brings up the "empty seats at the Joe" thing, which then leads to the "who's fans suck more" slap fight that occurs every other day and turns the Internet into a terrible, horrifying black hole from which you can never escape. So let's not go there. The more difficult thing to admit is that they're actually a really good team that should challenge for the Cup again this season. Anything less than a return trip to the Finals would be a disappointment to them.


I struggled to settle on a #1 seed in this conference. What I'm ultimately thinking is that Ovechkin is so pissed about losing a Game 7 at home to the Penguins (hey now) that he's going to be playing this season on fire. Like literally in flames. Anything he does wouldn't surprise me -- posting 70 goals; kicking the goalie's head off like Shawn Michaels every time he scores; eating his own feces during one of those bizarre Russian interviews; having sex at center ice with Evgeni Malkin's parents... anything could happen. But aside from Ovie's accomplishments, this should be a slightly better team as the great young talent gets even better, and Mike Knuble brings them some of that late 90's Red Wing mojo.

Capitals over Sabres
Penguins over Panthers
Bruins over Flyers
Devils over Canadiens

Capitals over Devils
Bruins over Penguins

Bruins over Capitals

September 28, 2009

Preseason Game #8 -- Wings vs. Penguins


No recap from me this morning, busy weekend blah blah blah. On days when I don't see a game, I'm going to throw up a post like this where I completely lie I say real life prevented me from seeing a game, write down the score, tell a dick joke or two and then be on my way. My goal (if there is such as thing as having "goals" for a free blog that pays me nothing) is to have a recap post or one with at least a score on it for each game this year, for consistency's sake. It's all about consistency, man. Like having a season preview for Derek Meech and Kirk Maltby but not Nick Lidstrom. Con-sist-en-cy.


I was happy to read:

  • that Jimmy Howard had a good game. I'm having trouble picturing what that looked like, but whatever.
  • Rafalski had 4 assists.
  • Only two Pittsburgh power plays
  • No Max Talbot in this game.

Pointless Predictions on the upcoming NHL season later this week.

Next game: Wednesday, in Sweden, 1:00 PM Eastern time against Farfegnugen or some shit.

September 24, 2009

Lidstrom is player of the decade, Obvious Police reports

There are a little over three months left in this decade. Odds are that you're going to see 15 thousand more articles and TV shows just like this one by the Sporting News in the near future.

"Lidstrom is an anomaly—the first European-born player to win a Conn Smythe ( 2002) and the only one to captain a Stanley Cup champion ('08). But the Swedish defenseman's accomplishments cannot be trivialized. Twice in this decade—from 2001-03 and 2006-08—the 17-year veteran has three-peated as the winner of the Norris Trophy. In a word: ridiculous."

A quote from Stevie Y:

"Nick is your best player in training camp. He's your best player in preseason. He's your best player in the regular season. He's your best player in the playoffs. I'm not sure what else he could do."

And according to MacLeod -- their All Decade Team:

Jagr - Sakic - Iginla

Lidstrom - Niedermayer


I didn't see this all decade team on the original Sporting News story, so apparently MacLeod gets "director's cuts" of all the world's hockey articles before they hit the Internet. He also says that Ken Holland is recognized as the executive of the decade, Babcock as the top coach, and the Red Wings as the top team. Not bad.

Their game of the 2000's was the Pens/Flyers five overtime game. Personally, I refuse to acknowledge anything that includes heavy doses of Keith Primeau as the "best" of anything, unless we're talking about who is the biggest chode.

I for one can't read or watch enough of the "____ of the decade" stuff, as it narrowly surpasses my raunchy infatuation with lists. It doesn't even matter what they're talking about. If they did a two hour long show covering the top 10 Golden Girls episodes of the 80's, I'd not only watch it but probably live blog it. (I like the one where Betty White acts naive.)

Now that I've embarrassed away our entire readership ... Red Wings team of the Decade? Seems as though it would be hard given the transition in eras midway through, with each being very successful.

September 23, 2009

Preseason Game #5 -- Wings @ Flyers



I didn't see, hear, refresh/update or pretend to know anything about this game tonight. From the looks of it, I'm glad I didn't. By "looks of it" I'm of course ignoring the meaningless score and referring to the pregame lineup I saw:

Ritola-Emmerton-Jason Williams




  • Ericsson and Newbury scored the Wings goals. Does it feel like we lose every game in which Ericsson scores, or do I think this way because he scored the lone goal in the losing game of the Stanl--

... Oh right, didn't happen.
  • I don't think the game was televised, but if I'm wrong and somebody caught a stream of it I'd love to hear some amateur analysis. I've only seen boring AP releases in which they claim that Newbury's goal came on a give-and-go with Kris Draper, which of course has to be a complete fabrication.
  • Something bothers the shit out of me about how we have to call him "Danny" Briere now. I don't know. "Dany" Heatley doesn't bother me. Nor does it for Bonaduce or DeVito. I think it's because I can't not think that it's short for Danielle when I look at him.
  • Pronger played 20 minutes, which is practically an off night compared to the absurd 26:04 he played in the preseason opener.
  • Next game: Friday, 7:30, vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

September 21, 2009

Preseason Game #4 -- Wings @ Rangers



I cut a class that I probably shouldn't have in order to watch the Wings lose a preseason game in which they dressed like two of their regulars, Dan Cloutier, a rhino, and I think Dave Coulier. It's not so bad though, I'm not on speaking terms with Michigan State at the moment anyway (long story short: they slept with my girlfriend.) So what was the best way to show them I'm not to be messed with? Start a torrid love affair with Lansing Community College, grab my ankles and hope that the Wings got out of MSG without any more groin mishaps.

  • It was an ugly, sloppy first period. Sloppy and wet; like a newspaper that got left out in the rain, and then you go to pick it up after 3 hours and you get all the ink and mud and paper clumps on your hands. That's what the first period was -- it was like having the bloody muddy ink clumps of Brad Stuart's turnover prone retard hands spread all over your living room walls.
  • Datsyuk was again brilliant. And after watching these last two games, I realize that I'm going to think about Datsyuk's thigh bruise/charley horse thing from the playoffs for the rest of my life. I'm not making excuses; I don't like playing the "they didn't earn it" card, or any other card aside from "we lost". But I'll always, always wonder "what if".
  • Dan Cloutier, the goalie guy, came in to relieve Daniel Larsson midway through the 2nd period. He was wearing a black helmet and black pads. To say he looked ridiculous would be an insult to Charlie Weis' mammoth frontal ass.
  • If you think that you were in disbelief that Dan Cloutier played a game for the Red Wings, was apparently right with you. Their goalie stats from the box score reveal that the Wings played the final half hour of the game without a goaltender.
  • Shots by period: 4-18 ... 16-4 ... 10-8
  • As a part of their plan to shore up their penalty kill with an infinite amount of practice, the Wings put the Rangers on the power play eight times, and allowed two goals.
  • Marian Gaborik made a really nice play on the Rangers' second goal, holding onto the puck forever, gliding around the net and finding Enver Lisin for a one-timer. Gaborik had the puck so long that my right eye pulled it's hamstring watching him.
  • Justin Abdelkader helped set up Kirk Maltby who in turn helped confuse the fuck out of all people watching this game as he notched a one-timer goal from the circle.
  • I thought Larsson hung in there pretty well after giving up the three goals. The first one resulted from a failed clear, the second one on the Gaborik setup, and the third occurred after Kindl choked on his own scrotum along the boards and turned the puck over. As for Cloutier, he wasn't really tested all that much, but in the end I was shocked that he didn't give up a single goal. To be honest, I was left feeling oddly disappointed.
  • Next game: Tomorrow, 7:00, @ Philadelphia Flyers

Excessive "Scissoring" leaves multiple Wings with groin issues

Ansar Khan:

"Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi and Jason Williams are dealing with nagging groin injuries, nothing serious. Zetterberg and Cleary stayed off the ice and hope to skate and play later this week. Bertuzzi and Williams practiced Monday but aren't ready to play."

Chris McCosky adds this ray of sunshine:

"Zetterberg's injury, by far, is the worst."



Tonight's lineup:

Johan Franzen – Pavel Datsyuk – Tomas Holmstrom
Ville Leino – Valtteri Filppula – Mattias Ritola
Johan Ryno – Cory Emmerton – Kirk Maltby
Kris Newbury – Justin Abdelkader – Tomas Tatar

Niklas Kronwall – Brad Stuart
Derek Meech – Jonathan Ericsson
Jakub Kindl – Andy Delmore

Daniel Larsson
Dan Cloutier

Dan Cloutier is going to be playing hockey for the Detroit Red Wings tonight. If I were to walk in on my parents having a three way with Wilt Chamberlain's corpse, it still wouldn't look as strange as the previous sentence.

September 19, 2009

Preseason Game #3 -- Wings vs. Sabres


After everything that happened today, I could give a damn about this recap. But I have made it a goal to have a recap post after each pre/regular/post season game this year. Even if I'm proverbially slapping the reader in the face with a half-assed effort like this.

* It was one of "those" Wings games: out-shoot them 43-20; dominate play and set tempo throughout; other goalie pulls out a win.

* Tomas Tatar looks like he knows what he's doing with the puck. He managed to draw a few ooo's and ahh's. We should all pay close attention to this little tot (I'm so fucking witty) wherever he ends up playing this year.


* Sorry. Inappropriate.

* What comes to mind when you think "Jimmy Howard" ........ Uncomfortable? Uneasy? Erratic? Rebounds? Chafing? Vomiting? Bleeding? Anal Bleeding?

* Jakub Kindl has been in the Wings organization since he was 6. It's been forever. I like the way that he was moving the puck on the power play. You can tell he worked on Gordon Bombay's egg passing drill over the summer.

* Random thought: do the Sabres make the playoffs? Good coach, goalie, pretty deep at forward. Thin D corps could hold them back, but Lindy Ruff missing 3 straight playoffs in the parity era would be surprising. (Note: last year I said Lindy Ruff missing 2 straight playoffs in the parity era would be surprising.)

* You know the overused "he's worth the price of admission" thing? That should be saved only for Pavel Datsyuk. He's worth the price of a ticket, gas money and parking to go downtown and watch an otherwise meaningless game. Nearly a whole decade of this and I still can't believe some of the stuff he tries. The most impressive thing to me was during the final minute when he made a diving, hooking reverse poke-check to steal the puck and hold it in at the blue line.

* Next game: First roadie of the year, Monday, 7:00, @ New York Rangers.

September 18, 2009

Preseason Game #2 -- Wings vs. Rangers



Work prevented me from watching what I gather was a rather shitty MSG feed of the Wings come-from-behind win tonight. Lord almighty, I don't think I'll be able to keep my pants dry until the Wings/Sabres game on FSD tomorrow.

But what we should really be celebrating is Malik's recovery from his seemingly incurable bout with dysentery or whatever he had. And he found an absolute gem today:

"Former Red Wings forward Yuri Butsayev's name has bounced around in the Russian press like nobody's business after being involved in a purported sex scandal in Finland, and the Edmonton Journal/'s Peter Adler posted the first real English-language account of the sordid tale. As Adler notes, the KHL's ridiculously close ties with the Russian government assured that Butsayev was eventually exonerated and released ...

... (Edmonton Journal) "According to allegations, later turned into police accusations, Butsayev was supposed to meet a local 25-year-old girl, invite her to a sumptuous dinner at the hotel his team was staying, at about 2 p.m. go for a walk with her to a nearby park, whence the young lady would emerge shortly afterwards, in tears, run to a hotel and report the rape. Butsayev would be arrested in his hotel shortly thereafter."


* Programming note: Five college classes have limited my free time, so I'm going to have to cut the Sega previews short somewhat. But I will try to fit in the most important ones before the start of the season. On the bright side, at least I'm not lost at sea somewhere.

September 17, 2009

Preseason Game #1 -- Wings vs. Flyers


It feels good to start off a post with a scoreboard again. And look -- it's bigger now. Large text for greater emphasis. And what the hell, why not some big ass capital letters too since it's 2009 and all. Kick this decade out in style. Oh, and how about the straight line underneath? Like that? Look at how straight that shit is. Nice and flat. Like a pancake. A blueberry one.


Ok, (cracks fingers) so first recap of the season. It's been a while .... Hmm, how do we do this again ..... let's see ....... just gonna take a second here and look up the last Wings game as a referenceOOHHHH TAP DANCING CHRIST ON A FORKLIFT---

New Triple Deke rule: 2008-09 never happened. None of us saw anything. We all hugged each other with our eyes closed as the season came to an apocalyptic end and we were lucky to make it out alive. Then, after all of the Nazi Penguins players and fans were all burned alive, Bob Rouse calmly picked up the Cup and put it back in a gigantic warehouse where we'll never see it again. And then I think we all had sex.

But anywho, being that the game wasn't on TV nor local radio, we were blessed to hear the soothing sounds of Philadelphia radio last night for the preseason opener. A combination of my own tardiness and other-worldly intervention limited my hockey enjoyment to roughly 45 seconds. During that time the Wings scored their 3rd and final goal to entertain the home crowd and annoy the douche baggy Philly announcers. Granted I think that judging 45 seconds worth of announcing is unfair, but since I've already started a sentence that's a complete lie, I'm going to continue to think that those guys were tools.


  • Kris has a good recap of what was heard at the Joe.

"Based on the play-by-play, it seemed like Ericsson, Draper, Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Kindl, and Delmore were the only Wings on the ice. I can't remember hearing anyone else's name called. It's also possible that they're the only players that the anouncers knew. It's a workable theory. They had a nice chuckle when Larsson took over in net because they didn't know who he was."

You know you suck at your job when opening up a computer to look over some names for five minutes is too difficult.

At one point I heard one of the guys call him "Justin Abdafdfiaadfedfdk." This is something that I've never understood; if I were on radio or TV, I would obsess over name pronunciation. There isn't anything more glaringly ridiculous as mispronouncing somebody's name on the air. Shit, Gary Thorne on NHL 10 says "Johan FRAAN-zen" and "Ville LINE-oh" and that guy did hockey games for like 30 years. I don't get this.

"Forwards Kris Draper, Jamie Tardif, and Jeremy Williams each scored to lift the Red Wings to a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena in the preseason opener for both teams.

Red Wings' starting goalie Jimmy Howard made six saves in a little over 30-minutes and his replacement, goaile prospect Daniel Larsson, stopped 12 shots.

James Van Riemsdyk scored for Philadelphia and goalie Ray Emery made 23 saves in two periods. Brian Boucher stopped eight shots.

The Red Wings held a 36-21 advantage in shots on goal."

Nobody died. Game #2 is at the Joe on Friday against the Rangers.

September 15, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Valtteri Filppula

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.


Valtteri Filppula | #51 | Center


* Fits the mold of a modern day Red Wing forward; an unselfish player with good instincts at both ends of the ice.

* Loaded with upside. Could turn into a premier playmaker if he puts everything together.

* Can whip up a really mean creme brule.


* Not a natural goal scorer and probably doesn't shoot as much as he should.

* Regularly consults these people for hair styling advice. Normally this would be a strength considering their expertise, but for fuck's sake look at the dude on the left.

NHL '97 Season Recap: 26 goals, 37 assists, 63 points

He has yet to have a breakout season in terms of points, but this very well could be it. He's gone from 7 to 17 to 28 assists during his first three NHL seasons. After losing a group of point-producers that I've been informed included Tomas Kopecky, Fil is going to be given more responsibilities to shore up the offensive depth behind our biggest guns. His grand total of 4 power play points figures to increase when given more time with the man advantage. That is, unless they play him at center ice out of fear that Jason Williams will soil himself at the blue line.

And after a very strong showing in the 2009 playoffs, I would have to consider myself a Filppula believer now. Of course I am late to this tea party as Michiganian women and men alike already lay befallen to his mesmerizing gaze, his flawlessly constructed face, and his ever-abundant man musk. While it took some convincing for me to change my tune, Fil's talents and hockey smarts haven't been lost on The Triple Deke's squadron of abbreviated readers (cmk, Osrt, J.J., RT, etc ..... you people probably don't even have real names .... you're just automated commenting bots that Google sends out to give their Blogger users a boost in morale .... oh Jesus where am I ...)

If Fil has a real life season as good as his Sega one, we will all no doubt be very pleased. During a game against Dallas he posted 4 assists and a goal, which earned him enough notoriety to be given a four page layout in the January edition of Penthouse. The demographic of men who haven't yet heard of Internet porn were initially put off by the added male genitalia in their magazine subscription, but soon quieted down when discovering that Filppula looks kind of like a hot woman after about four beers.

September 14, 2009

NHL 10 & the Annual Player Ratings Rant

The Sega season previews will return soon. In the meantime, we'll stay on the topic of video games as we take a gander at this link sent by reader Marc: the top eight players sorted by overall rating for the upcoming "NHL 10".

It's worth noting that there is nothing more cliche, petty or pointless than complaining about the seemingly arbitrary player ratings on a video game, especially in an age when you can edit the players on your own, and double especially when the game itself is supposedly so awesome that neither of us will have girlfriends by the end of 2009. Yet it's always the #1 topic with the release of each sports game, and after all these years it is still a great time-waster.

Now if you'll ignore the inexplicable tiger scratches through Datsyuk's face and notice the rating of one Johan Franzen. It's 83, which makes him equally good at hockey as Tomas Holmstrom. Here is a list of notable players who are an 83 or better:

Jason Blake
Andy McDonald
Petr Sykora
Mike Comrie
Brenden Witt
Something called a Zbynek Michalek
Jamie Langenbrunner
Mike Ribeiro
Mike Commodore.
R.J. Umberger
Joffrey Lupul
Ryan Malone
Steve Stamkos
Jay McKee. Jay fucking McKee.


Other highlights include:

* The three best skaters are Crosby (94), Malkin (93), and Iginla (93). Ovechkin is a 92.

* Lidstrom (91) is not the highest rating Red Wing for the first time in years. Pronger is higher than him at 92.

* Mike Green = 84 .... Not saying he should be higher, but 84 is surprisingly low considering that he puts up video game numbers for a defensman. That coupled with Ovechkin ranked T-4th with Datsyuk as the best player (and this doesn't include goalies) probably won't sit well with Washington gamers.

* Defensemen that Robyn Regehr is better than: Brian Rafalski, Andrei Markov, Mike Green, Shea Webber, Mark Streit, Jay Bouwmeester, equal to Dan Boyle, and better than Duncan Keith by a staggering 4 whole points.

* Most shocking of all: Daniel Sedin is a point higher than brother Henrik -- the first recorded instance we've seen that suggests they aren't the same exact person.

September 11, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Henrik Zetterberg

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.


Henrik Zetterberg | #40 | Center


* Dynamic offensive threat who can set up teammates or play a sniper's role. Always looks in control and can weave through traffic as well as anyone.

* One of the premier two-way players of the last decade. Remarkably puts up points while shutting down the opposition's top line.

* Emma Andersson.


* His back is a little iffy.

* I honestly can't say anything bad about this guy. The thought of it physically pains me.

NHL '97 Season Recap: 54 goals, 79 assists, 133 points

Last season I foolishly predicted that Z would have the best regular season since Sergei's absurd 1994 campaign (56 goals, 64 assists, 120 points, Selke trophy, League MVP, began courtship of 4 year old Ann Kournikova). I did this despite knowing that he'd probably be (occasionally) bumped down to 2nd line duty and have a good portion of shots taken away because of Marian Hossa. I guess after the impressive 2008 playoff performance, I just had a feeling it would carry over and lead to something huge.

Perhaps I should have saved that feeling for this season. Maybe he has maxed out his offensive potential already (career high 92 points in 2007-08), but if he's going to break through the 100 point barrier, what better time than now. You'd be hard pressed to find another hockey player -- or athlete for that matter with as much competitive drive as Henrik Zetterberg. After staying clamped to Crosby's jock for seven games only to watch him skate the Cup in his house, he's going to be drunk with motivation to get it back.

With even more of the spotlight on him, Z absolutely killed the Sega competition in 2009-10. Despite injuring his neck and missing 12 games after an unfortunate motorboating accident with his fiance Emma, he posted 133 points in just 70 games for the Wings -- nearly a 2-points-per-game clip. There literally wasn't a single thing that he didn't win: He won the Hart, the Selke, the Pearson, the Hobey Baker, the Pulitzer, the lottery, and most impressively the Crag.

I was wrong about last year. But my friends I have seen Henrik Zetterberg's future through my 16-bit lens, and it looks promising.

September 10, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Darren Helm

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.


Darren Helm | #43 | Center


* Work ethic is second to none. He is the last player on the ice that you'd expect to take a shift off.

* Trains with the Looney Toons roadrunner in the offseason.

* Has a site named in his honor. The guy is so awesome that he has yet to record a regular season goal and people are naming their shit after him.


* Ceiling might not be that high in terms of point production.

* Needs to get meaner. At the current moment he looks just too fucking adorable.

NHL '97 Season Recap: 14 goals, 17 assists, 31 points

How strange is this whole Darren Helm thing? He has one point in his 23-game NHL career, and this is a player who certain people are already proclaiming will be "Wing-for-life"? Shit yeah, he's a Wing for life. It's obvious, isn't it? For us who have watched every game of his career so far, it probably makes you a little limp to picture Darren Helm in another uniform.

Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks hockey ties into every aspect of life (this is a complete lie), but if I were, I would've already started a bizarre religion in commemoration of His name. I would demand that the rotation of the Earth be slowed so that each day would be extended to 43 hours. I would force everyone to name their children "Darren" (even the girls, who would have testicles taped to their bodies and little blonde Helm mustaches drawn on their faces). We would shave ourselves completely hairless, spend our days eating smoked brie and speak exclusively in Haiku in front of a 40 foot mural of Helm doing something amazing like solving a Rubix cube with his feet.

To put it simply: there is no limit to the man's greatness. He is impossible not to like. All you can ask of these guys is that they give a max effort, and Helm manages to go beyond that in every single shift. He can look totally gassed and still be trying to finish a check somewhere on the ice, like his brain hasn't been programmed to let himself rest.

And perhaps more so than any other Wing, this guy was made to be a video game character with his combination of speed and physicality. He's not very big but he makes damn sure to get everything out of that 6'0" 180 lb body with each stride. His Sega stats weren't extraordinary, but with Commissioner Kocur mandating that Helm's entrance music be accompanied by smoke and pyrotechnics every time he took the ice, he managed to not be on the ice for a single goal against all season long and finished with a whopping +67 rating.

With that said, I am now going to write a letter to Darren Helm's parents to thank them for having sex that one time.

September 8, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Andreas Lilja & Derek Meech

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.


Andreas Lilja | #3 | Defenseman
Derek Meech | #14 | Defenseman


* Lilja: Good size, good penalty killer. Sticks up for his teammates and sports a wicked playoff beard.

* Meech: Versatile enough to play either defense or wing if necessary. Once prompted me to use the phrase "pulled his nuts out" to describe his confident, aggressive play.


* Lilja: Doesn't have an offensive game. Fair or not (mostly "not"), I will remember him as one of the biggest goats in Red Wing history. But then again I'm kind of an asshole.

* Meech: Tendency to jump in the play will sometimes leave him out of position. After the "nut-pulling-out" thing in 2008, he hasn't had too many impressive moments.

NHL '97 Season Recap:

* Lilja: 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points. Meech: 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points.

-- We now cut to a tornado shelter in Derek Meech's back yard --

  • Lilja: (inaudible mumbling) "mmm! mmmmm!!"
  • Meech: "Quit squirming. You're gonna tip the table over."
  • Meech: "Alright alright, you big oaf, sit still for a moment. Let me take this off." (removes blindfold, tape from Lilja's mouth.)
  • Lilja: "AAADHAF;DKJ! Why did you ..... where are ..... what is going on? Meech??
  • Meech: "Yes it is I, Andreas. I have brought you here to my lair, chained your woolly body to a large wooden table, and stocked up enough rations for us to survive down here for months. Nobody knows where we are and I have covered my tracks so well that no one will ever find us until the day that we resurface. If that day ever comes, muwahahahahaha..."
  • Lilja: "What in the hell are you talking about? What is all of this?"
  • Meech: "I have taken you captive and locked us both in an old storm shelter. My master plan is foolproof: since I keep hearing nasty rumors about how I am going to be traded, I am determined to find a cure for your relentless headaches and win over the admiration of Ken Holland and Red Wing fans everywhere. It is then that I will be secured a roster spot in Detroit and treated to a lucrative cash reward."
  • Lilja: "So your first step in curing the headaches was to knock me unconscious?"
  • Meech: "Yes. But in my defense, you thwarted my original plan by not following the long trail of candy corn I laid out for you."
  • Lilja: "You are so ignorant. Nothing is going to make these headaches subside except for time and rest. You are wasting your time and mine. And seriously, candy corn? I was more likely to follow a trail of dicks. Nobody eats that shit anymore."
  • Meech: "SILENCE!"
  • (awkward silence)
  • Meech: ".....There is no use in resisting, Andreas. No one can hear your cries for help and those chains are strong enough to restrain a rogue elephant. It is now time for me to operate."
  • Lilja: "What? Operate on what?"
  • (Meech retrieves 9th grade First Aid notebook)
  • Meech: "Now let's see ...... ahhh, here we go. Test #1: I'll need to rotate you 180 degrees so that your head is below your heart, then cut into your forehead and suck out the blood."
  • Lilja: "I really don't want you to do that."
  • Meech: "I know right? This is so exciting. But I seem to have misplaced my knife ..... sit tight, I'm gonna go up to the kitchen real quick.
  • (Meech exits)
  • (Mikael Samuelsson enters)
  • Lilja: "Sammy?? Oh my god, I don't believe it! What incredible luck. Unchain me man, Derek Meech is trying to cut my head open."
  • Samuelsson: "WHERE AM I."
  • Lilja: "Sam we don't have much time, Meech is going to be back any second and probably kill us both when he sees me trying to escape. Put down the candy and hurry up."
  • Lilja: "What?"
  • Lilja: "Well, I don't really know them personally Sam but they wear different numbers, so maybe--"
  • Lilja: "Look man, we can get out your flash cards and I'll explain everything later but you have got to get me out of here immediately,"
  • Lilja: "I think it's like a whale jumping out of some ice, or whatever."
  • Samuelsson: "HIGHLY NONSENSICAL."
  • (Samuelsson begins to unchain Lilja)
  • (Derek Meech re-enters)
  • Meech: "HEY! What the fu.... Sam? What are you doing here?"
  • Meech: (Stabs Samuelsson in the chest)
  • Samuelsson: "OW."
  • Lilja: "God, I have the worst fucking headache."
  • (studio audience laughs)

With Meech in prison and Lilja mistakenly left in the storm shelter to die a slow and miserable death, the two combined for zero points in the 2009-10 Sega season. Brett Lebda and Jonathan Ericsson stayed healthy throughout the year and played the majority of the 3rd pairing minutes. Mikael Samuelsson recovered from his stab wound in time for the playoffs but retired soon after to write a memoir.

September 4, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Niklas Kronwall

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.


Niklas Kronwall | #55 | Defenseman


* Very skilled, offensive-defenseman who can keep an eye on his own zone. A good skater and a superb passer from the back end.

* Looks like Brent's brother Jeff.

* Hits like a train out in the open ice. Skating with your head down while Kronner's playing is about as smart as bending over in front of Mike Green with assless chaps.


* You worry about his health. Last season was the first time he cracked the 70 game mark (finished with 80) in his big league career.

* Will have the occasional brain cramp in the defensive zone.

* Wakes up screaming every night thinking about "The Crossbar".

NHL '97 Season Recap: 18 goals, 52 assists, 70 points

This picture will never leave my brain for as long as I live. I don't fully know why or what the significance is, and I don't want to take too long figuring it out. It's just one of those things that sits with you. And if that's how I'm feeling about it, I don't want to know what goes through Kronner's mind on a daily basis.

I mean, not only did he look that distraught, but the dude rang a shot flush off the crossbar that would've tied the Seventh Game of the Finals moments earlier. How nut-wrenching is that? That has to mess with a guy's head. I bet it's like a Pavlov's dog situation -- every time the oven timer goes off or a kid rings a bell on his bike he thinks of the *ping* from The Crossbar and immediately starts peeing on people (For the record I'm definitely talking about Nik Kronwall here and not about something that happened to me last Sunday at a family reunion).

So while none of us should worry about his motivation level this season, you may be worrying whether or not his defensive play returns to form. In 2007-'08 he was solid, as he was on the ice for only 25 goals against at 5-on-5, but that number skyrocketed to 62 in 2008-'09, which was most on the team. He did play more games last season than the year before but that is still a noticeable climb. And, he didn't have to play against top competition like Lidstrom and Rafalski did.

So how did he correct that for 2010?

Kronwall's Sega season was a sublime combination of intelligent offensive play, commitment to defense, and staggering physicality that forced the league to adopt 26 different rule changes in order to limit the number of on-ice incidents. Following Gary Bettmen's firing after he was discovered to be a humanoid from the planet Jupiter, new Sega Commissioner Joe Kocur enacted a new rule that teams cannot hide behind one another in their own zone for an entire game without being turned into an NBA franchise. It was all a part of Kocur's new "De-pussifying The NHL" campaign that saw the dismissal of around 90 players and coaches as well as everyone from the San Jose Sharks. Teams around the league complained of bias when Kocur named Kronwall his deputy commissioner, but those voices were subdued when threats of "swirlies" were made public.

Kronwall put up impressive assist totals for the second year in a row and limited his mistakes around his own net, which helped the Wings correct their defensive miscues from the previous year. Overall, his only significant gaff was going a little too hard on Anze Kopitar.

September 3, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Kirk Maltby

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


Kirk Maltby | #18 | Left Wing


* Fuck off.


* Used to be able to contribute somewhat offensively, but now all of his scoring is done purely by mistake.

* Isn't much of an agitator anymore. (And the Crosby thing is nothing to brag about. Anyone who is bothered by excessive hat throwing isn't worthy of mention in this category.)

* Good penalty killer, but much of that ice time is given to other players now.

Strengths, 2nd try:

* Really good at not having any strengths.

NHL '97 Season Recap: 2 goals, 0 assists, 2 points

Honestly I feel bad about saying this stuff. After all, I sort of defended Maltby a couple of weeks ago by saying that the team should either cut ties with him or keep playing him rather than leave him hanging. I think I said he earned it, or something, I don't really know. It was probably wrong and a cop-out to say something negative about Todd Bertuzzi again. The lesson here is that you should really never listen to anything I say when I put on the "serious voice" and the moment that I start babbling about an actual opinion is when you should go back to On The Wings.

Fact is, Maltby has one goal in his last fifty playoff games. I know it's not part of his responsibilities but good lord. There is no way that he can hold down a regular spot in the lineup anymore (this is me contradicting myself from that previous comment/changing my mind). He's been a mainstay on the Wings roster as one of "The Five Horsemen", an embarrassingly retarded nickname I just made up to describe the players who have won the Wings' last four Cups, but he's clearly knocking on the door to retirement *

His '97 Sega season was less than less than extraordinary. Oddly enough the only two goals he recorded were in the same game against the Bruins, but the celebration was cut short however as goalie Tim Thomas was so humiliated that he immediately traded himself to the Avalanche. Maltby spent the rest of the season rotating in and out of the lineup with Patrick Eaves and having Hot 'n Ready pizzas crammed down his throat up in the press box.

* Does he retire though, after this year? It's the final year of his contract. Let's say hypothetically that the Wings don't bring back two out of the three of Bertuzzi/Williams/Eaves for 2010-'11, but Abdelkader is re-signed and given a full time spot. We'll also say that they bring Homer back for one last hurrah before his body turns to sawdust, and obviously re-sign Helm. Not taking any future free agents into consideration, that leaves you with a lineup of:

Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom

Cleary - Filppula - Franzen
Leino - Helm - (Bert/Will/Eaves)
____ - Draper - Abdelkader

It would seem to me, in my very un-expert opinion, that a number of things would have to fall correctly for Maltby to still have a career in Detroit after this year. Helm is due for a raise, but then with Lidstrom and Homer likely to take paycuts and the other one year deals coming off the books, there could be some wiggle room to make a free agent splash. The only way I see Maltby re-signing is if they're so up against the cap that only a league-minimum type of deal is all they're willing to spend.

But as for the retirement thing: Let's say the Wings don't bring him back; he's only 36 right now and is in good shape, he's still a decent skater, and....... oh right -- nothing after that. Forgot. Age/shape-wise he doesn't seem done, but judging by anytime that he's an annoyed healthy scratch, I can't picture him taking a role as a bit player on another team or as a minor leaguer. Maybe that's completely off the mark, I don't know. Just curious.

September 2, 2009

Red Wings Season Preview: Tomas Holmstrom

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.


Tomas Holmstrom | #96 | Right Wing


* Exudes a toughness that is uncommon even to most hockey players.
* Ultimate team player and one of the greatest "ugly goal" scorers in NHL history.
* Annoying as fuck to the opposition's goaltender.

* Not a great 5-on-5 performer, and is not exactly a smooth skater.
* A bit of a health risk. Style of play has taken multiple years off his career.
* Is progressively turning into a chipmunk.
* His head will fall off is you ask him to conjugate a verb.

NHL '97 Season Recap: 21 goals, 56 assists, 77 points

I'm almost getting a little emotional doing this preview. Which by the way does NOT mean that I'm tearing up. I'm a man. 'Getting emotional' can simply mean that my insides get tingly when I begin to twirl my hair and reflect upon Tomas Holmstrom's industrious career (ugh, just thinking about that last sentence made my pants all hot..... ) But I'm not crying so you can save the comments, you 'mos.

Homer, you see, is a favorite of mine. How can he not be to a Wings fan? He's given every ounce of everything throughout his 12 years in Detroit. He epitomizes what hockey is and throws ridiculous stereotypes back in the crusty xenophobic faces of guys like Don Cherry. When I contemplate who my Five Favorite Wings of All Time are, I run with the assumption that Homer has to be one of those players (I also break into a terrified sweat thinking that crafting the order of such a list would take three weeks of pouring over empirical data while being secluded in a damp, poorly lit cave). He has sacrificed multiple future years of hockey by playing the way he has, and as rabid Red Wing followers with misplaced life priorities, we should regularly genuflect before a lifesize cutout of his rugged silhouette. I wish I could've gone to that damn Hockeyfest thing at the Joe last weekend just so I could get the chance to say something incredibly predictable and corny like "thank you for all you've done" and shake his.....well, his hand. His hand is what I would shake. {The Triple Deke: uncomfortably balancing the line between fandom and aberrant homosexuality since 2008.}

It was an inexplicable, rejuvenating (Sega) season for Homer in the points department. He added a whole new dimension to his game by not only being a crease-crashing nuisance, but by turning himself into a viable playmaking winger. His transformation was a league-wide success story that captivated millions and aggravated tens of millions more. But who cares about that second group of assholes. When asked about how this change took place, Homer cited a commitment to extra practice and secret workout sessions with former Wing Igor Larionov's daughter, Alyonka:

"Vee had the sex," he said.

"Igur vas rel busy during summertime, so, he send the daughter to help instead. The sexing relly helped clear da web cobs in the brain area. And da rest, as dey say, vas mystery."

When asked to comment on their relationship, Alyonka claimed that she had never met Holmstrom in her life and would be filing a lawsuit for slander. After Holmstrom was notified of this, he put out a press release that simply read "Oops" and included a crayon drawing of a sad-eyed puppy.

Regardless of his soon-to-be-real-life legal trouble, Holmstrom certainly opened many eyes in 2009-'10 with his play on the Sega ice. His banner season will hopefully prove to be a rebirth that keeps him in red and white for a few more years.

The Roundtable: Deke Day

It is Day #3 of the most preposterously epic roundtable discussion in the history of circular communication practices. Days #1 and #2 took place at the Nobel Prize-winning homes of Christy Hammond and George James Malik respectively, and now the festivities have crash landed here as I was mistakenly included in a group email and nobody had the heart to tell me to go away.

The Question:

Take a break, for just a moment, from being a blindly arrogant, elitist, scumbag, Jew-hater of a Wings fan: How worried are you about the team running out of gas again at the end of the year? I've wondered this aloud a few times this summer. If the Wings are to win the 2010 Stanley Cup, it would be a monumental achievement: It would be their 4th consecutive year in the Conference Finals, 3rd in the Cup Finals; and this will be an Olympic year to boot. They've played 68 postseason games since 2007 -- almost a 4th full season sandwiched between the previous three. They certainly have the talent to do it, as you could once again make a case that the Wings boast the deepest forward and defensive units. So is this a legitimate concern, or no?


If it was not an Olympic year, I would not really be concerned. I think all those postseason games of late have affected their play in the regular season (seems to be more of a grind), but they always pick it up in the playoffs, as they should. With the Olympic break, games are closer together (a lot of games every other night) and our team will not get a break in February since so many will be at the Olympics. If guys are fighting injuries at that point and don’t have time to recuperate, I would be worried that the season may have been too taxing on our guys. But I also could see how a successful showing at the Olympics might boost one of our players. In 2002, we had Yzerman and Shanahan win the gold while Hull and Chelios took home the silver. What happened later that year? More silver in the form of the Stanley Cup. Obviously that didn't quite pan out in 2006, but it tells me that winning the Cup can definitely still happen even with the Olympics.


Kris from Snipe Snipe, Dangle Dangle:

This is one of those questions that fans of other teams would love to be agonizing over. Fatigue is definitely a concern in my mind, but I don’t think it’s going to be the deciding factor. I would argue that the Wings running out of gas in the Finals this year had as much, if not more, to do with their injury situation as anything else. The fact that it’s an Olympic year isn’t a huge issue in my mind either. 1998 and 2002 were Olympic years too, and I think we all know how those campaigns turned out. Babcock does a pretty good job managing ice time and spreading minutes out. Last season, Zetterberg and Datsyuk both averaged less than 20 minutes per game, and were ranked well behind other star forwards in that category (32nd and 46th respectively, according to Even Lidstrom ranked 14th among defensemen in ice time. Since the Wings have so much depth, they don’t need to ride their top guys as much as other teams do. The only way I see fatigue playing a huge role is if the secondary scoring isn’t able to make up for the points the team lost in the off-season and Babcock is forced to increase ice time for the big names to compensate.


Rob from The Production Line:

I spent last night in a Springfield, Illinois bar drinking pints with a Blackhawks season ticket holder. About a half hour before they turned the lights on and kicked us all out with the ceremonial "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here" notice, I realized something - this guy was incredibly OPTIMISTIC. He was looking forward to the NEXT BIG RUN. This struck me as a foreign emotion. By nature I'm a pessimistic hockey fan. I imagine most Wings fans are, especially when it comes to the postseason, so part of me wants to just say..."oh, playoffs? nervous? ...yes and yes" ...and then call it a day. That said, this question about running out of gas is especially timely. The ONE THING that would have assuaged this fear for me...if that were even possible...would have been smart offseason maneuvering. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the words "fresh legs" and "inspired hockey" don't seem to fit the major acquisition we yanked in to close out our Free Agency Non-Bonanza. I would have been happier if we'd stayed put than if we'd brought in Bertuzzi because I don't think he makes us stronger in the final playoff tilts. I think he'll wear down. I think he'll be a pain in the ass in the locker room. I like our chances better with young, hungry guys coming in from Grand Rapids more than I do with BIG ODD TODD sulking away minutes on the third line. Those are Gator-Minutes, damnit!

Bottom line - We ran out of gas last year. We didn't do anything to address that concern in the offseason. Why SOULDN'T I be nervous? Can I get a scotch over here?


Chris from Motown Wings:

Like you guys mention, it's no secret that this team has played ALOT of hockey over the past three years. Add to it the fact that we have a good number of guys competing for Olympic team spots at orientation camps, and the idea of a restful and relaxing off-season quickly goes up in smoke. But these guys are professionals, and they train at such an exceptionally high level in order to prepare for situations like this, so I don't think that fatigue will be too much of a concern should (when) we make a deep playoff run this year. That said, if we learned anything from this last postseason, it's that the injury bug can bite anyone at anytime, and that is a cause of concern for me. You can be the best conditioned athelete in the league, but when you are griniding against the best in the world on a nightly basis over 82 games, you're going to have to play through some pain. How much pain these guys can handle is something only they know, but it's a fact of life that a poorly timed injury can cost a team come playoff time and the Wings need to be prepared for that possibility.

The only other potential "fatigue" issue that I could see coming into play for the Wings this year is the mental fatigue of the 82 game season. It was obvious that the team took some nights off and just went through the motions during a few games last season, and even Babcock noted that it's not always the best tactic to push a team as hard as possible over such a long stretch. But it's going to be an incredibly tight division this year, and if the Wings don't bring their "A" game on a regular basis, it could cost them as the playoffs near.


Kyle from Babcock's Death Stare:

It's definitely a legitimate concern -- if you look at the past three seasons you can probably count on one hand the number of fans who weren't banging their head against a wall come the February meltdown. It's expected. But overall, I'm not too worried about running out of gas in the playoffs. We have not lost all that much from the team that won the Cup in 2008. The parts we lost are replaceable, and I think Holland has done as good of a job as he could given the rough hand he was dealt by every unrestricted free agent bolting in the first few days of free agency. On top of that, Hudler pulls some shenanigans and all the players without baggage had been picked up by other teams.

We've got a handful of young players who know the system and know their role who will add in some enthusiasm and new blood, then we've got a couple semi-new faces, all who have something to prove. This team has all the motivation they could ever need. On the bright side, everyone's writing them off before the season's even started, and Detroit seems to perform their best when they can comfortably dominate in the background.


Animal Drew from Nightmare on Helm Street:

My advice to you would be stick to sarcasm and stay away from statistics. Seriously though, the 67 post-season games since 2007 is a bit of an eye opener. During last year’s ridiculously frustrating regular season, I would find myself wondering why Babcock didn’t crack the whip on the team when they were playing well below their capability. I came to the conclusion that Babcock did this because he knew that doing so would probably be the worst thing to do to a tired and unmotivated team. Instead he let the mediocre play slide, kept encouraging the guys and let the team drift into 2nd place in the West, basically on talent alone. Babcock knew that Detroit had the extra gear, and that they would turn it on in the post-season. I don’t believe this year’s play-off stretch ended with them running out of gas so much as it was running into injury problems. Of course, the more games you play, the more chance there is of someone getting hurt. So to make a long story short (too late), I believe the fatigue/injury concern is indeed a legitimate one, but we should find comfort in the fact that we have an excellent coach who knows how to make a tired and battered team win.


Jessica from Bingo Bango:

Leave it to the Triple Deke to ask the one question that may leave me rocking back and forth uncontrollably in the fetal position….and hockey season hasn’t even started yet, so thanks. Do I think it is a legitimate concern, absolutely. I think to a degree it was an issue last season especially mid way through the cup finals. However a number of factors will affect their fatigue. How much will the Olympics ware on all the potential Red Wing Olympians, will they run into another 8th seed sent straight from hockey hell by a little mysterious black magic, and will the desire to piss in Bettman’s cereal once again outweigh the sleepy feelings they’re sure to have? It’s hard to say. The fatigue, exhaustion, and even perhaps complacency will creep in at times. But this isn’t the Colorado Avalanche, it’s a team of Champions and with a little old fashion Babcockian ass kicking they should get over these humps. But please, remember the season hasn’t started so if I change my answer 30 more times before they inevitably, once again, reach the Cup Finals, you understand.


The Chief from Abel to Yzerman:

I just don't buy that anymore. These guys are better conditioned than any generation of hockey player in the history of hockey players, plus they have a motivation different than any other team's. At some point this summer I'm betting that nearly every one of the Wings took their infant child by the hand, led them to the kitchen, gave them a crunchy and delicious Klondike bar, sat them down on the edge of the counter and said, "You know, we should have won three straight motherfucking Stanley Cups."

2007 lingered with this team. I think it still hurts, actually, but it's receding. But last year is going to stay with them. It's going to be a dull pain that never really fades until resolution next June. If last year was a Stanley Cup Hangover, this season will be the year of the Game 7 Blue Balls. Not only did they lose their Cup to an inferior team and a league agenda, they lost their Dynasty in the eyes of most "objective" fans and media.

Fatigue won't be a factor because that's going to be an angry room starting in Sweden against the Bitter Bitch Brittle Blues and continuing through the Finals against Boston next June.


Matt from On the Wings:

It's definitely a concern and I completely agree: it would be a monumental achievement if they win the 2010 Cup. Making it any distance into the playoffs is going to involve very careful handling of the team's top players during the regular season and increased reliance on the bottom side of the roster. Fortunately, the very fact that the Wings are in this position means they have experience in pacing the big guns as well as getting the best out of the smaller ones. This will be a bigger challenge than the years before due to the Olympics, obviously, but that experience should help. The motivation to win following the embarrassment of Game 7 will help, too. One other thing to remember: this team took hits in the skill department this summer, but not as much in the heart department. That'll come in handy when the legs start burning.


And now, George has the floor:

First of all, I like the Jews, like them quite a bit, but I am most definitely arrogant and elitist.

Second, I have absolutely, positively no concerns whatsoever about the team running out of physical gas if they play another 100-plus-game season. The Wings' dedication to maintaining the levels of physical fitness and mental and physical stamina necessary to play at the highest levels of professional hockey is just...It's borderline psychopathic.

Between Igor Larionov, Steve Yzerman, and Chris Chelios, the Red Wings--under the tutelage of John Wharton, a trainer who had his players utilizing individualized off-season training plans and monitoring their nutrition when the rest of the NHL's players were starting to swear off cigarettes--have learned to embrace the 24/7/365.25 dedication to remaining in elite physical shape that the rest of the NHL has slowly but surely picked up upon over the past decade.

The endless stories about Steve Yzerman pushing himself in the weight room after games, Chris Chelios's bike rides in the sauna and legendary summer workouts with T.R. Goodman, Kris Draper matching his "Chuck Norris" nickname's bushy red beard with an insane amount of dedication to pursuing innovative methods of pushing his body to its extreme limits, Igor Larionov's near-religious pursuit of perfect physical form, and Pavel Datsyuk's willingness to do the kind of punishing weightlifting that make even his own teammates shake their heads and wonder how the hell he does that after a game and makes it to practice the next day...

When you set those kinds of examples, your teammates have no choice but to follow your lead, and the Red Wings do just that. Especially as they're a bit smaller and older than the rest of the NHL's teams, they've got to make up for those differentials by being stronger and having more endurance than their opponents, and they accomplish that feat in a seemingly effortless manner.

I was worried about the Wings running out of physical gas after their 07 Conference Finals appearance, but their level of intensity cranked up a notch, and while they battled a mental "hangover" after winning the Cup, they endured a nastier playoff grind to fall one game short of defending their title, so I fully expect them to come out for this season both mentally recharged and physically ready to play from September to June.


As for me: I do have some concern. I worry about Hank's back, Homer's knees, Franzen's everything and Lidstrom's ball bag. But I'd be worrying about that anyway, whether they were coming off yet another deep playoff run or a 1st round exit. I think the optimistic outlook is the right one; these guys are in absurd shape and have enough heart to make up for any fatigue.

Tomorrow, Day #4: Bingo Bango