Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Geek's Stance on the Lockout 2012 Edition

So much has gone on over the last 2 months, and yet very little has actually happened.

I feel the need to come forward and at least voice my opinion on the subject of the current NHL labor dispute.  I just wish to put down my thoughts here at my cozy little home on the internet--mine which is the smallest of soapboxes--and assure everyone that I understand your frustration with this entire issue, whether we agree on the finer points or not.

"As far as the actual dispute goes, I still support the players. No matter what happens, I will always remember that THEY were the ones who were willing to move forward under the old CBA rules until the new one gets hammered out. Whether or not that would've been a good idea or not is irrelevant. The point is the players wanted to play, and the owners made the choice not to let them. I will not financially support a league that tries to fix greed with more greed."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cold War 2012 Has (unofficially) Begun

The dread for many has been mounting for a while now.  For some, it only really started setting in after all was said and done, with last year's Cup finals coming to a conclusion.  For the eternal optomists, it may not have set in...until now.  With little more than a day left before the expiration of the NHL's previous collective bargaining agreement, the NHL owners and the NHLPA are not meeting again to try to hash out a deal until next week, according to numerous professional sources.

Which means, as far as those not at the negotiating table are concerned, the NHL lockout of the 2012-2013 season has begun.

There was much cause for hope over the last few weeks, with the PA very sure that a deal could be reached and plenty of time left before the September 15th deadline.  Hopes started to sour, however, as soon as the owners--led by most NHL fanbase's Public Enemy #1, Gary Bettman--issued their initial proposal.  The terms were outrageous, even from a business standpoint: Massive slashes in pay across the board along with new restrictions that would restrict a player's freedom in almost every aspect and phase of their career.  Counter-offers were made, turned down, and new proposals were written up, only to meet the same fate, and now here we are, with the lockout all but official.

Some will blame the owners, with their plea to stake claim to a bigger piece of an already growing pie.  Revenues over the term of the last CBA have vastly improved, but that apparently is not enough.  Some will blame the Players' Association, believing that people paid such a substantial amount for their annual salaries should suck it up and take whatever the owners offer them, what is a couple-hundred thousand dollars to them anyway?

What is being missed, though, is the key concept that fueled the last lockout and changed the face of the NHL when it returned: Parity.

What has worked so well for the inner workings of the NHL and its franchises should be the foundation of these labor talks.  There needs to be equal treatment and equal consideration if these talk are ever to amount to anything beyond some children's squabble.  'I deserve more and this is why!' is countered with 'No, -I- deserve more and -this- is why!' when the point is simply this: both sides of this dispute are necessary to create a winning formula for a sporting league.  You have some of the finest business minds on one side of the table looking over at a group of some of the finest athletes on the planet at the other end.  Take either one of the components away and you do not have a lucrative product.

These two groups need to better learn how to share, because until they do, the fans are the ones who will suffer, and that is one group that is completely out of the control of the owners -or- the players.  If you lose the trust of the fans, TV's go to different channels, jerseys don't get bought, and seats don't get filled.  This lockout is bad business all around.

Take a seat close to the fire, comrades.  The Cold War is just beginning.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Frk Inks Entry-Level Deal

In what continues to be a stagnant summer for Detroit, the Red Wings have officially announced that Martin Frk, the Wings' 49th pick overall in the latest entry draft, has signed with Detroit to an entry-level contract.  Frk played last season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, where he logged 16 goals and 13 assists in 34 games.

An assessment of Frk shows that scouts feel his shooting ability is pro caliber, but many worry about primarily his skating and overall conditioning.  With the system Detroit has in place, Frk will no doubt get the proper care he needs to develop fully into a reliable NHL forward.  If he is able to bring his conditioning and skating up, paired with his already devastating shot, he could wind up becoming a star sniper in the Red Wings' future roster.

During what has an uneventful summer, Detroit fans have been divided, but many feel this offseason has been a huge disappointment as management has not been able to do what they feel is necessary to fill--any more than partially--the gaping holes left by retirement and otherwise departing players.  With the loss of Nick Lidstrom and Brad Stuart on the blueline, defense has been the key concern is Hockeytown, and many fear the best solutions have already been gobbled up by the competition.

Though the signing of Frk is a solid one, perhaps the locking up of prospects is the only thing Wings fans have to look forward to before the next season starts--whenever that may be...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quincey Gets Raise, Wings Evade Arbitration

Detroit did what they had to today to keep their blueline from crumbling any further.

Reports are coming in that Kyle Quincey and the Detroit Red Wings have agreed on a 2-year contract, paying Quincey $3.55 Million this coming season, and $4 Million in the next.  This currently makes Quincey the 2nd highest-paid defenceman on the Detroit roster, and unless something drastic happens between now and the start of the season, it will likely stay that way at the beginning of the 2012-2013 campaign.

As of now, only Niklas Kronwall ($4.75M) is paid more to patrol the blueline than Quincey, and Jonathan Ericsson ($3.25M) is right behind him.  The remainder of the Red Wings' defence core consists of Ian White ($2.875M), Jakub Kindl ($0.883M) and Brendan Smith ($0.875M).

Detroit still needs to find some way to plug the enormous hole left by the departure of Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and the defection of Brad Stuart to San Jose.  Quincey was by no means Top 4 defense caliber during his short tour at the tail end of last season, but perhaps being put through training camp and having time to properly work with his teammates will help him turn his game around.  Detroit has too many woes back at the blueline to foster 4 3rd-pairing D-men if some big help isn't acquired (and assuming a young/average player is brought in to fill out the roster).

The summer is drawing on, and as the halfway point of July has come and gone, Detroit's options are thin.  It seems as though the question has shifted from "What will they do?" to "What can they do...?"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

UFAs Gone Wild: Wings Weep as Suter, Parise land in Minnesota

It is a worrisome day for Wings fans.

After all the hype and nigh-certainty that the two biggest names on the UFA market were coming to Hockeytown for a run at the Cup, Detroit fans were shocked to hear that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have both signed with the Minnesota Wild, both landing 13-year, $98 Million contracts.

Isn't that cute?  They match...!

Detroit was desperately hoping to land Suter, arguably even more than Parise, as the void left by the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and departure of Brad Stuart have left the Wings' blueline dangerously thin.  Losing out on Parise means that the Wings are still lacking a high-offense forward to take over the spot that Jiri Hudler vacated when he signed with Calgary.

Thus far, the Red Wings have signed backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson, Swiss forward Damien Brunner, Nashville pest Jordin Tootoo, and Detroit returnee Mikael Samuelsson.  Many fans were baffled by some of these moves, excited about others, but most all agreed they were simply precursors to the big deals the Wings would ink with Suter and Parise.  Now, Detroit is still left short on the blueline, and the offense still has a huge question mark hovering over its head.

So now that plan A has failed, it's time to see what Ken Holland and the rest of the Red Wings' management have up their sleeves as a contingency plan..

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Helm Inks 4-Year Deal

Detroit finally made a move of note this offseason by securing speedster Darren Helm till 2016.  Helm signed a 4-year $8.5 Million contract, sources say, which gives him an average cap hit of $2.125 Million/year.  This is great news, as Helm is one of the best energy players on the team--something the Wings could've used much more of during the playoffs.

Helm's season was interrupted last year by injuries, including a sliced tendon in the series against Nashville that sidelined him for the rest of the year.  Surgery on the injured arm was successful, however, and Darren is expected to be ready for training camp and should be back to his old self in no time.

The Wings are now left with 2 RFAs (Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey) and 3 UFAs (Jiri Hudler, Tomas Holmstrom, and Ty Conklin) to consider.  Abdelkader will be signed without question, and likely Quincey will return as well with the current situation on D in Detroit.  Hudler, Holmstrom and Conklin are a different story.  It is feasable to assume that all 3 may not be back with the Red Wings next year for various reasons.  This would leave 2 forward spots and a number 2 or 3 goaltender position open for either youngin's, free agents or players brought in via trade.  One thing I believe is sure: While most of the core is intact, the secondary look of the Red Wings is going to be much different next season.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Geek Week: Beginning the Post-Lidstrom Era

Now that the hankie and Visine stocks among Red Wings Nation have started to recover, I thought I'd take a quick moment to recap some of the stories that have been taking place in the last week regarding Hockeytown since Nicklas Lidstrom's announced retirement.  The future begins now:

Wings Seek Entry-Level Contracts - Detroit signed a pair of prospects in the days surrounding Lidstrom's retirement.  Winger Teemu Pulkkinen and center Calle Jarnkrok were both inked to entry level contracts, but both will remain in Europe for further conditioning.  Meanwhile, two further prospects are likely to be signed soon.  Former Saint John Sea Dogs winger Tomas Jurco is waiting for the completion of a transfer agreement between the IIHF and the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation.  An indefinite extension has been granted to resolve the situation, and Detroit is expecting to sign the talented forward soon after the agreement is reached.

Nicastro Cleared, Wings Ready to Sign - The other prospect Detroit looks to bring into the fold, 2008 draft pick Max Nicastro, is finally getting a chance to prove himself in the AHL.  Nicastro, a defensive prospect, recently had legal charges that were filed against him dropped.  The Wings are eager to see what he can bring to the Griffins next season.

Emmerton Earns Best Rookie - As voted by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, Cory Emmerton was named the Red Wings' rookie of the year.  Cory still has lots of work to do to improve, but this should give him a good confidence boost going into next season.

A Moment for Bryan Rufenach - Finally, the Red Wings family was saddened to learn of the tragic death of one of its prospects.  Defenseman Bryan Rufenach, who split last season between Grand Rapids and Toledo, died in Grindelwald, Switzerland after being electrocuted by a power-line.  My personal condolences go out to Bryan's friends and family in the wake of their terrible loss.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thank You

Sometimes the simplest sights hold the most weight...

So much has been said of Nicklas Lidstrom in the last day since the stalwart Red Wings defenseman and team captain announced his retirement after 20 illustrious seasons.  There's the milestones, the accomplishments and accolades, and the legacy that he leaves behind--not to mention the honors yet to be bestowed on him in his life after hockey.  A first ballot Hall of Hame induction is inevitable, and the only question regarding the number 5 hanging from the rafters of the Joe next year is how much we all will tear up as we watch it ascend.

I am not going to talk about all these things, as it has all been said.  It has been said well and by many, and I feel my repeating much of that will do no further justice to it.  Instead, in honor of our beloved Number 5, I leave this note of thanks.  I feel my appreciation is the best thing for me to focus on as I still try to cope with the idea of a Detroit hockey club that does not sport the name 'Lidstrom' on the roster:

Mr. Lidstrom,

We have used the moniker 'The Perfect Human' to describe you for some time; and though you would humbly deny it, you are the closest thing I feel the modern hockey era has had to exemplify it.  You are class, you are poise, and you are non-stop heart and determination.  For two decades, you have given your mind, body, and soul for a single purpose: Bringing success to the place you helped rename 'Hockeytown'.

Thank you for your devotion and never giving up on this team, no matter how bleak things may have seemed at times.  You were blessed with a career that saw you in the playoffs every single season, a feat not many players can boast.  Through all the talk from the hockey world about the Red Wings' success coming to an end, there you were as staunch as ever on our blueline staying the course and proving the haters wrong.

Thank you for your great leadership.  Taking up the C of Steve Yzerman would make most men quake, but if there was one person to do it and do it well it was you.  You took that mantle, you bore that burden, and you were exemplary.  Your efforts made you the first European-born captain to ever raise the Stanley Cup, and there were none more fit to earn that honor.

As I conclude, it is sometimes difficult to keep the thoughts of people as accomplished as yourself grounded in reality, but that is the greatest thing about all you've managed to do: You have been real--with yourself, with us fans, and with the media--your entire career.  Fame and success has never gone to your head and you have quietly built yourself a legacy that I assure you will live on in Red Wings history.

Simply put, Mr. Lidstrom: Thank you for being you.  We will miss you.

All the best to you and yours,
Brad Butland

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What to Do with Hudler...?

I'm going to begin this little piece by saying that Jiri Hudler honestly did surprise me this past season.  Let it be known that I thought his stint in the KHL had wrecked his form beyond repair and that any strides forward he had made previously with Detroit had all been lost.

Then last year rolled around and we got a mostly decent 50-point producer who looked like he had begun to find himself again.  A perfect split between goals and assists with 25 each, had Happy Hudler finally gotten his groove back?  Perhaps he has, but we now find ourselves at a crossroads: Hudler's contract is up, and he is now an unrestricted free agent.  Now it is up to Kenny Holland and the Red wings brain trust to decide if it's worth pursuing an extension for Jiri or if it's time to move on and let Hudler test the waters of free agency.

On the one hand, as mentioned above, Hudler has made some improvements to his game and has relatively caught up to his old self.  His point production is back to where it was when he left and he's a more experienced forward now, yet he is still young at 28.  There could still be more room for Hudler to develop his game if he hangs around for a few more years, but if we do bring Hudler back, what do we pay him?  At $2.85 Million, Hudler had 50 points in last year's regular season, which equals roughly $57,000/point.  In comparison, Valterri Filppula--in what most would consider a breakout year--was paid $3 Million and tallied 66 points.  The average?  $45,000/point.  Many would say that we were forced to pay more for Hudler's services than we should have, and perhpas this is true, but let's look at Johan Franzen next.  In a very 'meh' season, Mule racked up 56 points with a $3.95 Million salary.  That averages out to about $70,000/point at almost the exact same output as Hudler.

In short: there -are- arguments on both sides as to whether or not Hudler is being paid too much or not.

If we do decide we're overpaying for Jiri and he walks, finding another team in the process, what is the Red Wings' plan moving forward?  Holland could either sit pat and simply move a prospect up to full-time roster duty, or Detroit could pursue a replacement during free agency.  Many rumours already abound with the idea of Detroit chasing Zach Parise out of New Jersey and into the Winged Wheel.  If Hudler walks, there's already a LW spot waiting for Parise when he lands in Hockeytown.  Suppose, however, that Tomas Holmstrom does retire this summer and Parise fills that spot.  Who else is out there that might fit in Detroit?  If you look at players comparable to Hudler in pay, then you get someone like a Niklas Hagman, who has never even breached 50 points.  If you're willing to pay a bit more, you get a Dustin Penner, who -has- had good seasons, but has dimmed in recent years.  Maybe with the right change of scenery, a player like Penner rekindles his scoring flame and plays at a level similar to what he's being paid to play at.

What do YOU think is the best route for Detroit in the case of Jiri Hudler?  Feel free to leave a comment explaining how you would pursue this issue with free agency little more than a month away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Riding The Rails and The Hometown Discount

With a two-hour train tide ahead of me, I find myself with an excellent opportunity to finally talk a bit about Nick Lidstrom's future in more depth.  To my shock and amazement, I should even be able to have this available to you, the reader, immediately.  It seems this rail service has a wi-fi connection I can actually gain access to, which has been a rarity during my stay in the UK.

With time going by quickly as the Conference finals have already begun, the question looms ever closer: Will Nicklas Lidstrom retire?  Some say yes and others say no, but the one thing that seems to be constant is the belief that Lidstrom is certainly -capable- of playing another season should he see fit to do so.  The problem is, what must the Wings do to make returning to the team look like the more appealing option, and what is Nick willing to do to help Detroit make this run more successful than the last four?

As far as the team goes, it all comes down to making the Red Wings look like a true Cup contender.  Making the playoffs is simply not good enough, just being there doesn't leave a player with much sense of satisfaction unless the big silver bowl is lifted over his head.  The Wings' management knows what the team lacked last season and has the money to rectify this.  I think an aggressive stance during free agency will help show Nick that we're not settling for the status quo anymore and that changes need to be made to win.  If Ken Holland and the gang don't show enough drive to improve, they may drive away our captain.

Keep in mind that Lidstrom has played through an entire generation of Detroit Red Wings hockey.  Almost all of the teammates he'd played the majority of his career with have come and gone, the last being Tomas Holmstrom, who I believe will retire this summer.  How strongly this will affect Lidstrom's decision to stay or go is immeasurable, but certainly important.  Detroit needs to make a strong case by going after key players this offseason if we are to see The Perfect Human play one more year.

On Lidstrom's side, however, is another question: If Nick does decide to stay, how much does he sign for?  I feel the best option here is what's been commonly referred to as 'The Hometown Discount'.  Lidstrom made $6.2 Million last year, and I'm not contesting his deserving that amount for an instant.  I do think, though, that this number -must- come down next year.  If Lidstrom re-signs, if absolutely behooves him to help the team by offering up some of his contract dollars to help bring in bigger names to aid in what could possibly be his final run at the Stanley Cup.  I could easily see Nick comfortably signing anywhere from $3.5-$4.5 Million and giving Detroit more wiggle room to bring in a Ryan Suter or a Zach Parise, and reaping the rewards of his decision as he watches his team's potential grow.

Some don't agree with the idea of asking Nicklas Lidstrom to take a hometown discount.  I believe that we must move past the idea that to ask is an insult to him.  Lidstrom has earned his keep, again I am not disputing this, but this is about more than Lidstrom now.  The more money he takes at the contract table, the more he handcuffs his own team and makes it more difficult for them to improve as a whole.  Considering the fact that Lidstrom would only be returning if he felt Detroit had a legitimate chance to play for the Cup, it seems counter-productive to sign a similar contract to the one that just ended.

Perhaps you think I'm way off base, though.  What do you think? Should Nicklas Lidstrom take a 'Hometown Discount' and drop a couple million off his salary to help his team improve? Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thoughts From Abroad: More Off-season Reflection

Originally written May 3, 2012:

I'm currently 33,000 feet above the Atlantic as I write this. I'm going to the place where I first experienced a world that spanned continents rather than merely cities.  The excitement is such that I simply cannot sleep, despite the fact that our flight left Halifax at around 11:30PM and gets into London's Heathrow at just south of 9:00 in the morning.

As I shoot through the sky at nearly 500mph, I try to think of things to distract myself from the exhaustion that should be overtaking me.  If one thing can drive me to distraction, it is my Red Wings.

As the playoffs continue on without Detroit, the Wings, as it has already been painfully discussed, need to address a number of concerns that led to their quick post-season demise. Some of the thoughts I type here may echo my previous article, but again, I do what I must to stave off the thought of how tired I am while not being able to simply drift off.

Detroit's depth did not factor into their match-up with Nashville, and though there were key injuries, that is no excuse for the amount of no-shows who wore the winged wheel.  Changes to the bottom half of the lineup, both forwards and defensemen, would be welcomed.  A team's loyalty to a player can only extend as far as that playe is able to consistently contribute to the club.

As much as I hate how it will affect Nicklas Lidstrom's decision on retirement, I truly feel it is time for Tomas Holmstrom to call it a career.  Age has caught up with Homer and his ability to dominate in front of the opposition goaltender has drastically declined.  The perfect example came in the 1st round as Holmstrom was tossed aside like a cheap Swedish ragdoll by Pekka Rinne during play.  You can use Rinne's size as justification, but most goalies are picked to be big, and Homer is not getting any stronger.

Some players will also see the door, either by their own choosing or not.  Brad Stuart made his choice obvious by his terrible play in the playoffs, and some of the youngsters like Jakub Kindl and Jan Mursak are starting to feel the heat for not meeting expectations. With the projected cap increase and the potential exit of a number of last year's Wings, it could be a more interesting offseason than any of us imagined.  Jimmy Devellano went on radio basically stating that Detroit was looking to be aggressive this summer, and they really need to follow through with that plan of attack if they hope to make the necessary changes needed to compete at the top tier of the new, parity-obsessed NHL.  Whispers of Parise and Suter have already blown through the ranks of Red Wings Nation, but I'm willing to bet there are other names out there that Detroit has its eye on.

Until we know more about who is available for free agency, and who is hanging around opposed to leaving, it's hard to guess what direction next year's Red Wings will take, but we'll stil have fun playing armchair GM and analyzing what we think is the best course of action.

My flight will be touching down soon, and my thoughts are coming back to the present.  Next time, I'll be taking a look at a tactic that has been used to aid in Detroit's bid for success--and whether or not it should apply to the decision of a certain perect human.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Looking Ahead: Where do Wings Go from Here?

"Please Kenny bring shooter, we have good time."
It's that time if year again, but this year it has come painfully early.  The Detroit Red Wings have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, dropping their 1st Round series with the Nashville Predators.  It is the first time since 2006 VS the Edmonton Oilers that the Red Wings have exited the playoffs in the opening round.  This loss is exceptionally painful to deal with.  Detroit's play looked stagnant and uninspired, scoring only 9 goals over the course of the 5-game series, at some points barely making Pekka Rinne break a sweat.

There is, however, no single reason for Detroit's failure this postseason.  To me, it was mainly one part coaching, one part lack of team cohesion and one part inconsistency.  Injuries made life difficult for Mike Babcock and his attempts to find some line chemistry.  Many of those same injuries came at the worst possible time, giving guys on the mend little to no time to get back into form for the playoffs.  Team communication in the last stretch of the season and into the playoffs just  This is again something that gets affected by guys coming in and out of lineups from injury, but a general awareness of your teammates is hockey 101, and as The Geek, I have to give them a failing grade in that regard.

So, what does Detroit do from here?  With a long offseason to ponder options and potentially around $20 million to spend, my thought is that GM Ken Holland best get on the phone early and start finding out exactly what all those options are. Obviously a lot rides on that looming decision that comes every year now, I don't even have to name the guy and you know who I'm talking about.  Yes, Nick Lidstrom will make another choice whether to push ahead for another season or skate off into the sunset.  To be honest, if I were Nick, one of the first things I'd be telling Holland is that if I were coming back, I expect some big moves to upgrade this team.  If I knew Kenny was going to do the same thing he did at the deadline, I'd call it right then and there, it wouldn't be worth my time and another year of disappointment.

Three things are needed, in my eyes, to get Detroit past the 2nd Round again: A big grinder to compliment Justin Abdelkader's line, someone more defensively responsible than Brad Stuart, and a certified get-it-done shooter.  By the hockey gods, do we need a sniper.  We have far too many play-makers who can get the play started, but no one who can consistently finish the rush with a puck in the back of the enemy net.

Zach Parise seems an obvious choice for that shooter role.  Let's compare him to our biggest shooter, Henrik Zetterberg:

Zetterberg - GP: 82/G: 22/A: 47/PTS: 69/PIMs: 47/SOG: 267/SHOT%: .082
Parise        - GP: 82/G: 31/A: 38/PTS: 69/PIMs: 32/SOG: 293/SHOT%: .106

That's a HUGE difference in success rate, and Parise doesn't even get penalized as much.  Detroit doesn't have a dedicated shooter like this and it showed how much that hurts them in the series against Nashville when nobody could seem to solve Pekka Rinne.

Ryan Suter is the name most everyone is bandying around for a defensive plug supposing Lidstrom does retire.  I say go for him anyway, Brad Stuart seems like he's making no attempt to hide the fact he wants out of Detroit.  Even without Stuart's gaffes, the Wings needs more solidity in their D-men out side of Lidstrom-Kronwall.  Ian White is serviceable but a second Brian Rafalski he is not.

As for grit, the question becomes: How far to the side of grit do you want to go?  You could always bring a guy like Zenon Konopka in to center Abdelkader's line.  The guy doesn't score, but he's no fun to play against and is willing to drop the gloves for his team.  Oh, and there's also the fact that the guy is a BEAST in the face-off dot.  Take a look at these numbers:

Pavel Datsyuk: FO% - 56.2
Paul Gaustad:  FO% - 57.3
Zenon Konopka: FO% 58.9

Now remember of course that I'm only throwing Konopka's name out there for the grit hole that needs filled, but isn't that an interesting bonus? This guy, although he takes far fewer draws than the other two mentioned above, wins as high a percentage of his draws as they do.  Detroit prides itself on puck possession, why not have a guy that can win the draw, or if not, knock a guy's block off?  I joke, of course, but the fact remains. If Konopka doesn't suit your fancy, there are many other options for grit that come with a more balanced grit-to-offense ratio.

All I know is Kenny H needs to do something significant this offseason, because this team is lacking in a few respects.  We can't keep Lidstrom around forever, much as we want to, and that window closes faster every year. It may even close this summer.  Until Nick speaks, though, we can only hope for the best and push for a deep playoff run next season.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Simple Message for Detroit's Game 5 Success

Here it is...

Everything WILL be alright.


Let's Go Red Wings!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Insanity Rules: Wings on Brink after Game 4 Loss

You know the adage, 'Don't beat a dead horse'...?

This applies to so many things in regards to tonight's game.

Detroit seemed to dominate the flow of play tonight, but Nashville's been eating their Lucky Charms and have somehow squeezed out another cheeky victory in which we were forced to witness brief--albeit gaping--defensive lapses by Detroit and stupid terrible luck at the worst possible times leading to chances and, in some cases, goals.  As if that weren't bad enough, the Hockey gods deemed it fitting to pull a fast one on the Wings, calling back what seemed like the 1st goal of the game, which would have given Nashville a 1-0 lead! The kicker: It was an 'Intent to blow' call!!

Hell hath frozen over!!

...for about a minute and a half, until Nashville came right back in and scored again, truly making it 1-0.  This is the kind of game we as Red Wings fans were forced to endure.  This is the kind of SERIES we have been forced to endure, as this has been happening since Game 1.  Individuals are under-committing, which is forcing us as a team to over-commit.  Look at the 2-1 goal.  Three (3) skaters follow one (1) Nashville player into the corner to create this chance.  At what point does that ever seem reasonable?

This under-commitment is bleeding into the offense as well.  The pressure from this team is unacceptable, and the piddly perimeter shots need to stop.  Get to the middle and screen the goalie.  The outside IS NOT WORKING, it hasn't worked in 4 games!  I can't recall all of the goals we've scored over the course of this series, but I guarantee you the ones that have gone in from the sides are not many.

Which gets us back to the dead horse.  At what point will Mike Babcock stop the posturing and admit that the game plan the Red Wings have been going with is not working?  The Predators have adapted to our style of play.  The Predators are not scared of us because they know what to expect and how to defend against it.  Insanity is defined by Einstein as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

Well, Einstein was a pretty damned smart guy and I think he may have been on to something after having watched this series from Game 1 to 4.

The horse is dead and beaten, the Mule is asleep, and the Jackasses are laughing at it all over a game of ping-pong somewhere, knowing they need one more win to knock off our boys.

It's adapt or die.  Your move, Babcock.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Puck Luck Keeps Tilting Nashville's Way, Wings Drop Game 3

The Hockey Gods can be a cruel bunch, and currently that reality is applying to the Red Wings' series against the Nashville Predators.  Detroit was denied a tying goal at the end of the 2nd period and, despite a continued push well into the 3rd, fell short in a 3-2 loss at Joe Louis Arena.  Nashville now leads this 1st round series 2 games to 1 and the Wings are now forced to once again find a way to win on the road to take this series and advance.

Pavel Datsyuk got Detroit's offense going, cutting into a 2-0 deficit with a FILTHY steal from Roman Josi.  Dats was able to bring the puck back around to the front and stuff the puck in the net past a napping Pekka Rinne for the Wings' 1st goal of the game.  Henrik Zetterberg also scored for Detroit, but what really hurt the Wings was the calling back of what seemed like a goal from Johan Franzen at the end of the 2nd.  After review, the clock has turned to 0.0 a moment before Franzen's shot crossed the goal line.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, Nashville did not win either of their 2 victories by skill.  Fortunate bounces in this series have been almost exclusive to the Predators.  Granted, a win is a win, but Detroit needs to play more consistently and apply more pressure on Nashville's skaters.  If we stop letting Nashville into our zone so easily, for instance, some of the bad bounces never have a chance to surface in the first place.

The penalties also need to stop.  Seriously.  The Wings' skaters need to try to minimize opportunities for the referees to call penalties, because it's obvious that they are going to be back-breaking all through this series.  We don't have to like that fact, but a fact it certainly is.

Game 4 goes on Tuesday, and if Babs drills one thing into the boys' heads, I hope it's go get bodies to the crease area and get in Rinne's face.  We've been too soft on him in regards to net presence, and it's showing.  He's made game-changing saves all series and it's burning us, we need to work for rebounds and accept the fact that garbage goals may be the difference in winning or losing this 1st round.

We'll see what happens, and I'll be there to rant about it, you can count on that.

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wings Lose 3-2 in Game 1, Weber Face-Mashing Kickstarter, Anyone?

When you look back at this gong-show of a Game 1 in the Red Wings' 1st Round matchup against the Nashville Predators, you quickly realize that it's hard to really break this game down...because it was broken from the get-go.  I'm not going to go into huge detail about the game itself, because the officiating was so terrible on both sides that it's difficult to get any real credible data from it.

What I do want to discuss is my pledge to donate to ANYONE promising a kickstarter to raise funds to have Shea Weber's face rammed into a solid pane of glass.  Because hey, if EVERYONE can do it for the low, low price of $2500.00, then why not!?

If you've not been keeping up with the news, Shea Weber escaped suspension for his ridiculously classless retaliatory attack on Henrik Zetterberg last night.  He was fined for the above-mentioned amount, and assessed a 2-minute minor at the end of the game.

Really? After the three-ring circus act that was NHL refs pretending to 'officiate' this game with the Rat in the building (Read: Gary Bettman), you ACTUALLY serve Weber a penalty at the END OF THE GAME? And a minor, no less.  That's just so cute...

If we take anything, ANYTHING, from this then I hope it's the bell ringing to awaken the sleeping giants that are the Playoff-Mode Red Wings.  If anything should get their switch flipped to get more aggressive, this should be it.

In other, related news, Darren Helm's return to the lineup was short lived.  After delivering a hit to Russian spy--I mean former KHL'er Alexander Radulov--both men fell to the ice and Radulov's skate blade just happened to be in the perfect spot to slice open Helm's arm.  He has been declared out for the remainder of the playoffs, but it was also confirmed that his surgery to repair the tendons in his arm was successful.

It absolutely behooves us to take over this series beginning with Game 2.  It's not because of any perceived threat from the Predators--of which there is none--, but simply because if the NHL won't mete out proper justice, then it falls to our boys to do it themselves.

Do it, Red Wings.  See you for Game 2.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Take a Break from Reading: Round 1 Preview VLOG!?

Ohh yes, that's right Wingnuts!  I told you before (read: threatened/warned/prophesied) that I might try to make a jump into the vlogging realm to spice things up here at the Geek, and I was crazy enough to do it!  Please be gentle with me, it's the first video of this kind I've ever actually shot and edited for Youtube, so I hope it's not too drab.

So, without further ado:

Ah yes...such a handsome thumbnail. Delicious.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wings' Reliance on Late-Game Surge Stings, Preds Push Past Detroit

The Red Wings are playing themselves out of any chance for 1st round home-ice advantage.

After an uninspired performance this evening against the Nashville Predators, the Red Wings now find themselves a point back of that very team after being beaten 4-1.  Now sitting in 5th in the West, Chicago is dangerously close to also pushing past Detroit to bump the Wings down to a depressing 6th seed.

Currently I'm waiting for the post-game to hear from coach Mike Babcock.  I'm truly hoping he doesn't say that he thought the Wings played well, despite the outcome, because they did not.  Defense was terrible tonight, and that has been an eerie consistency lately, healthy or not.  Offense was lacking, and far too saturated with fanciness and over-passing.  Babcock came right out and said that more shots needed to be taken, and it seems like the team did not respond to his cries.  SOG were 32-26 in favor of Nashville, and that is just too low a number against a team like the Predators and a goalie like Pekka Rinne.

This last stretch of the regular season has felt excruciatingly long, and it continues on Sunday against Florida.  All the Wings can do now is try to get their act together and call the witch doctor to put the hexes on Nashville and Chicago.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Healthier Wings Take on Jackets

Detroit (46-25-5) @ Columbus (24-45-7)

Gustav Nyquist is making the most of his opportunities.

As Detroit continues to heal, regulars are returning to the lineup.  Jonathan Ericsson and Johan Franzen are both set to come back to action tonight as the Red Wings battle the Columbus BlueJackets.  Even with the many returnees, however, the young man sometimes known by the nickname "Goose" has not been made the odd man out.  Jan Mursak will be a healthy scratch and Nyquist will remain up, supposedly starting on the 4th line where Mursak would have been.

The biggest injury concern now is goaltending.  Ty Conklin will be starting again tonight in Columbus, with Jordan Pearce sitting in as backup.  Jimmy Howard is feeling better, but coach Mike Babcock does not want to rush his return.  Originally Howard was to start Friday, but Babcock decided a home game against the Nashville Predators was not the ideal return date for Jimmah.  Joey MacDonald, meanwhile, is still lamed up with back issues.

Tonight's game will pull Detroit even with the rest of their division rivals at 77 games.  Currently sitting 4th in the West, a win will increase Detroit's point total to 99, 3 ahead of Nashville and 6 ahead of Chicago.  Meanwhile the Blues, who have been on a tear, will see their lead on the division title drop to 6 points.  Sitting at a cushy 105 points with 5 games to go in the season, however, St. Louis will have to all but fall apart for the Wings to overtake them.

Enjoy the game tonight, Wingnuts!

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hobbled Wings Hold Court with Kings

Detroit (44-22-3) @ Los Angeles (32-25-12)

Games are becoming increasingly critical.  With the St. Louis Blues pulling away in the Central division race, the Red Wings need to find some heroes to keep pace while injuries to many of the Detroit studs get healthy again. The Wings will thankfully see Jimmy Howard return tonight, and Joey MacDonald will hopefully get to settle back into the number two spot after doing all he could to keep the Wings on the winning side of the scoreboard.

Detroit broke the Kings' hearts a few games back, managing a win by getting 4 of their season-low 15 shots past Jonathan Quick in a home victory that some might say they didn't deserve and were lucky to walk away with.

Something tells me that the Wings will need a much more concerted effort tonight at the Staples Center if they hope to secure another precious two points this evening.  With the tear that St. Louis is on, Detroit will need the W to help prevent the Blues from all but running away with the division.

Should be a good match, and I'll be ranting about it later on Twitter, I'm sure.

Let's Go Red Wings!!

(P.S.: Anyone on Facebook should check out my page and give it a like, I'm trying to grow it and hopefully expand my influence, perhaps even moving to Youtube for some editorial-like vids about Wings stuff.  You can find it at: )

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Red Wings Regroup at Home, Host Canucks

Detroit (41-18-2) VS Vancouver (38-16-6)

So. Obviously the long homestand didn't do anything to help the Wings' play on the road...

Detroit returns to the Joe, after an uninspired showing in Chicago, to play host to the Canucks who are coming into this game thinking themselves Streak-Breakers.  Players have been quoted as saying that they HOPED Detroit's streak would still be alive by the time they got into town.

You know what I say? I say we make them regret wishing for it.

Kyle Quincey will suit up tonight for his new-old team as he returns to the Red Wings lineup, being paired, it seems, with Ericsson.  Have fun with that.

Coach Babcock was quoted as saying that the lines could be very jumbled tonight to try and stoke the fire under the boys with Datsyuk out, recovering from knee surgery.

I will most likely be missing the first part of the game, busying myself with drinking wine and inhaling many pieces of cheese.  I'm told I need to dress up for this.  I'm also told my Wings jersey does not qualify as 'dressing up' in this instance.

Till later, then! I'll be trolling Twitter once I get back.

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Road Game, WHAT!? Wings-Hawks Mini-Preview

Detroit (41-17-2) @ Chicago (32-21-7)

The Wings play in Chicago tonight, with Jimmy Howard back in net! While Jimmah gets to make a return, though, Detroit will be without Pavel Datsyuk for at least 2 weeks due to knee surgery.  The Hawks will be without Toews.

With the game about to start, I'ma leave it with one important message:

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wings Look to Keep Streak Alive, Host Sharks

Detroit (40-17-2) VS San Jose (31-18-7)

If there is a game left this season that Detroit needs to dominate, it's this one.

There are many important factors to the hosting of the San Jose Sharks this afternoon at the Joe Louis Arena.  One: the West is tight, and points are getting more and more valuable with every game.  The Wings still hold one of the higher games played totals, so W's are precious.  Two: A chance to break the multi-season consecutive home win record is on the line today.  More history could be made before suppertime.  Three: Detroit needs to stomp on the Sharks and send a message that NO team "has their number", and that these Wings will run with anyone come playoff time.

That's all that needs saying.  20 minutes to puck drop, Wings, you know what you need to do.  Let's go out and do it.

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Detroit Begins Defense of Streak, Host Predators

Detroit (39-17-2) VS Nashville (33-18-6)

Now that the Red Wings have set the record, it's time to see how long we can extend it.  Detroit will face Nashville this evening, in a game where a win means their home winning streak will be increased to 22 games!

Henrik Zetterberg, who had been pegged to miss tonight's game, is now a game-time decision.

Bit of a quick one today, but that doesn't mean Detroit can take their foot off the gas, we need to keep piling up the points!!  I hope to catch most of the game after work.

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wings Find Favor with Hockey Gods, Defeat Dallas 3-1

The Red Wings have claimed a piece of NHL history all for their own.

Detroit successfully defended JLA ice against the Dallas Stars and won their 21st consecutive home game--the most of any NHL team all-time--by a score of 3-1.  Brad Stuart scored the game-winning goal and Joey MacDonald came ever so close to earning a shutout in the victory.

Sadly, I was not able to watch the game, but my heart was with the Wings and I knew that Detroit had the talent to go out and win this game.

They did, and now they have the longest home winning streak ever in the NHL.

Now it's time to move on and continue trying to improve the regular season record to compete for playoff positioning.

It's been a great run, boys.  If it keeps going, that's great.  If it doesn't, the record is still all ours.

Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Will History be Kind or Cruel? Wings Attempt Record VS Stars

Detroit (38-17-2) VS Dallas (28-24-3)

No, this is not for the Cup, but this could still be a pretty special night.

Detroit, with 20 consecutive home wins under it's belt, a mark that ties the all-time NHL record, will try to take sole possession of the record when they play host this evening to the Dallas Stars.  Even though the Wings are trying not to think about the milestone, the match tonight is no less important as the last, with the playoff race for positioning is still as tight as it ever was.

For Mike Babcock and the Red Wings, it's another game and another chance for 2 valuable points.  To some, it may seem odd to not use the chance at breaking an NHL record as motivation, but Detroit didn't tie the record by going into each game and thinking, 'Hey, this gets us one game closer to tying the record!'.  The boys have simply kept the mentality of 'We do what we do.', nothing more, nothing less.

When it's all said and done tonight, may the history books show that the hockey gods had at least one more smile to shine down on this amazing run.

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wings Go For 20 VS Philly: Game Preview

Detroit (37-17-2) VS Philadelphia (31-17-7)

For fans who enjoy milestones, it's nail-chewing time.

The Red Wings will defend home ice tonight against the Flyers for a chance to tie the all-time consecutive home wins record with their 20th straight home victory.  The task will certainly have its challenges, but I believe that, if Detroit plays their game, if they go out and simply do what they do, then Hockeytown will share in another piece of NHL history.

As if tying the record weren't enough, though, one must take into consideration the depth into which the season has gone.  A win tonight would add another huge 2 points to the Wings' total in a Western Conference that has been neck-and-neck for a while.  You mustn't forget that Detroit has played 56 games coming into tonight's match, tied for the most games played by any Western team currently in a playoff spot so far this season.  With division and conference rivals having games in hand, we need to keep piling up the W's until they pull even in GP.

For tonight's match, Joey MacDonald will likely get another start, as this game is far too important to trust Ty Conklin with.  Jo-Mac has been pretty solid over his last 3 starts, so he's got my vote to back up Jimmah when he returns, and hopefully can hold his ground this evening against the Flyers.

One thing that needs to change soon, however, is the low-scoring.  The Wings have been cutting these games way too fine, the last game against Anaheim was a great example.  We can't keep going to OT and the shootout for wins, because sooner or later, that puck-luck is gonna run out.  Early pressure, lots of shots on net, and hopefully--with a goal or two early on--we can watch Detroit build a lead that they can cushion as the game progresses.  It's been my experience as a Wings fan that this team is not good at defending a lead, so I prefer the boys simply keep playing like they don't have one.  Keep the gas pedal down all night on Philly and run them ragged.

We'll see what happens though, and we'll see how the history books remember this game.

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Game Preview: Wings VS Ducks

Detroit (36-17-2) VS Anaheim (21-24-8)

Gotta get back on the go, here!

The Wings have a chance tonight to tie the 3rd longest home win streak in NHL history, but will have to do it without All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard when the Wings host the Anaheim Ducks.  Detroit can, with a victory this evening, stretch their home winning streak to 19 games.  They will be facing an Anaheim team that was not enjoyed the Joe Louis Arena atmosphere in a very long time.

It behooves the Wings to come out of the gate early in this one.  A quick start with a goal or two early in the 1st period would really help set the tone the Wings may need to cash in a W tonight.  With no Jimmah between the pipes, chances are Joey MacDonald will get the call to shut the door on the Ducks.  Ty Conklin, who was brought in to be the number 2 goalie has been nothing -but- number 2, his save percentage being the worst among goalies appearing in at least 10 games, as quoted by Yahoo! Sports.

Some of the guys really need to step up over the next few games and make a statement.  First among them, in my mind, is Henrik Zetterberg.  Hank notched a goal in Detroit's latest win over Edmonton, but it's not something he's done much of this season.  Danny Cleary and Drew Miller (11G respectively) have more goals than Z (10G) coming into this match. This is not ever supposed to happen. Ever.  We need a concerted effort and a solid mindset to not underestimate an Anaheim team that may be playing more for pride now than a playoff spot, and what a feather in their plucky cap it'd be to sabotage the Wings' hopes of moving toward the record for consecutive home wins.

I'll be keeping an eye on the game till I get home from work.  You may see me on Twitter when that happens, but I hope you enjoy the game regardless!

Let's Go Red Wings!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Recipe for better success

Damn well trade Conklin, he's goddamned useless, end of story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wings Wallow Against Inspired Isles, Lose 5-1

Man oh man, I just can't figure this out.

Is it because the boys write off games against this team?  Is it the underdog complex winning the day game in and game out?  Whatever it is, the Red Wings apparently need to just STOP playing the New York Islanders.

With Pavel Datsyuk out due to a lower body injury, and Ty Conklin, well...being Ty Conklin, Detroit staggered to an embarrassing 5-1 loss in what should have been an easier-than-average tilt.  Instead, we helped the Isles move all the way up to...second-to-worst team in the East.

Good job, boys.  We don't need those gimmie wins, right? Right...?

I didn't get to watch the game, but I don't need to have seen it to know that even without Dats in the lineup, there is plenty of firepower on this team to get more than 1 puck past Evgeni Nabokov.  Was that the reason for this latest bed-soiling against the Isles? Just a case of Nabby haunting us, showing us what we COULD have had instead of Conklin?  Maybe so, but we've got what we've got, and what we've got should be beating NYI into the ice 8 days out of 7.

Thanks to the poor effort last night, Detroit drops out of top spot in the Central, and the Blues have now claimed it.  I know we usually talk out not caring about topping the Division/Conference, but the way we've been playing at home, the Wings may want to make sure that, come season's end, their name is one of the top 3 in the West. Dropping games like last night is just going to make that more difficult.