Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wings Beat Flames, Yzerman Under Fire

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1 Saturday night at the Saddle Dome.

The defense showed up, played a dedicated 60 minutes and earned a tough win. It was a great way to end the road trip.

The game was actually a bit boring. I enjoyed the Hockey Night in Canada After Hours special more than the actual match. Steve Yzerman, general manager of Team Canada, was a guest on the show. He was talking about his preparation efforts in putting together Canada's roster for the upcoming Olympic Games in Vancouver. Yzerman has his work cut out and will have to be careful. He is sure to be thrown under the bus when Canada loses to a European team.

Yzerman said he was very pleased with Detroit's play Saturday. I am faithful he would rip the team if he didn't think they played well. I agree with Yzerman, they played much better Saturday. Defense was the difference. It's amazing what it can do.

Also, Flames forward Rene Bourque was showcased on After Hours. Bourque may be one of my favorite players in the league. He's a hard worker who never lets up. He's being rewarded this season. He was not drafted and played four great years at Wisconsin. If anyone remembers, he was the guy who almost died from taking a skate to the jugular while he was playing for Chicago last season. He spoke Saturday about his experience at the hospital after the incident.

"I remember before being put out for surgery, looking at all the doctors who seemed pretty shocked by the injury, and just hoping I would wake up the next morning," Bourque said.

That's intense. It's good to see a guy bounce back from such a freak, death-defying accident. I hope Yzerman considers Bourque for team Canada.

I watched a lot of hockey Saturday and there are a lot of issues I would like to address.

My next post will be a roundup of happenings around the league. It's the end of October - the first full month of NHL hockey. There have been many early surprises and letdowns around the league. What will we be discussing at the end of November?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Red Wings Lose To Oilers, 6-5 in SO

Yeah, I didn't see the game, at all. I was busy working and talking to a hypnotherapist, learning about myself. She didn't pick up on the one thing that was bothering me - missing the Wings game. Probably too simple. But she was awesome nonetheless. I'm apparently handling life quite well at the moment. No negative vibes. At least "nothing I can't handle." Far out, far out. I'm in a spiritual mood now.

I think the word you're looking for is... Anyway...

It is quite obvious Detroit forgot about playing defense tonight. I mean, really, who needs defense right?

Tod Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg both had goals. However, Edmonton scored five goals. That's not going to cut it.

Another shootout loss = awesome. Not.

The Wings are now 4-4-3. They are yet to be over .500 this season. Somehow they have 11 points, which really isn't that bad. OK, that sucks. But they can thank the NHL for the generous extra period point system, or it would be much worse. Technically speaking, the Red Wings are 4-7. Technically speaking of course.

My suggestion: Play some defense. I don't even need to see the game to know the D probably could have been better. Where is this "new emphasis on defense" the team was talking about? They're horrible - huge emphasis on horrible. Detroit has 41 goals against in 11 games. There is one team worse - the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are dead last with a 1-7-2 record, four points and 42 GA. Right now, Detroit sits tied for 22nd place. I... I don't know. No words.

Their western road trip record is now 1-1.

Next game is at Calgary. This could get ugly.

Prediction: Calgary 22, Detroit 5. Detroit gets 4,000 shots, Calgary gets 23.

BTW: Detroit out shot Edmonton 45-34 tonight. Surprise.

But hey, I can handle this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Red Wings Win 5-4 Tuesday Night

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 Tuesday night. The Wings are now 4-4-1.

I literally breathed a sigh of relief.

This will be a short post with a few positive points in Tuesday's game which I would like to highlight.

Jimmy Howard:

He was great. Not much else to say. Howard relieved Chris Osgood after the two weak Vancouver goals in the first. He was brilliant. The Wings needed some big saves and Howard gave them about six awesome stops. I'm surprised, why wouldn't I be? It took long enough for him to actually have a positive impact on this roster.

Pavel Datsyuk:

Datsyuk earned two huge goals. Both were timely in yesterday's game, and for him. Now, it's time for Henrik Zetterberg and Tod Bertuzzi to start scoring.

Mike Babcock:

Coach Babcock did a good job of getting the guys to play 60 minutes. The defense needs some work, but overall the group looked stellar. Babcock mixed the lines a bit and the team responded well. I was glad to see Justin Abdelkader back in the lineup.

Well, the Red Wings still have some issues to address. However, yesterday's win was huge no matter how messy it was. Hopefully the bounces start going their way.

For the most part, they played much better 60-minute hockey Tuesday. It was much easier to watch. I was pleased with what I saw, win or loose.

They can only get better... right?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Scuderi Hit

I realized what a big deal this was the other night. I was watching the Vancouver game and during the intermission the Canucks' telecasters started a huge argument with each other (pretty amusing) about this Rob Scuderi hit from Sunday night. One guy said it was too low and there is no place for it in the game. The other argued initial contact was on the thigh, therefore not too low and just a great hit.

Now, I went to checking school when I was in pee-wee. So naturally, I'm an expert on this. I specifically remember being taught the hip check. It was fun to do. We practiced getting down super low and then learning to stand up immediately after contact so your victim would spin over your back. It has wicked consequences if executed correctly. The key is to go low and let physics do the rest. The whole point of the hip check is to catch a guy in the mid section - basically between the knees and the stomach. If you hit the knees, you're a dirty bastard.

Now, for the last two days everyone has been an expert on the hip check. Everyone. So I'm pretty sure I've gotten a chance to hear it all from commentators, bloggers, etc.

When I immediately saw this hit, I thought "Wow, that was awesome." I didn't even think of calling it dirty. I'm going to stick to my hockey instinct and say it was a good hit. Yeah, maybe he could have stayed a bit higher. But there wasn't any real knee contact here. The thing is, Jason Chimera was owned. That's about it. So don't believe all the crazies calling this dirty.

If the NHL doesn't want guys to do this anymore, then make the hip check a penalty. Heck, tapping a guy's stick is a penalty now, so why not the hip check? Until it is an actual infraction of the rules, I don't see the need to whine about it.

Many players will argue the hip check is a cheap play to begin with. Well, perhaps it is. Scuderi is becoming quite famous for his own affinity with the technique. If he's a cheap player for doing this, then beat his a**. That's what fighting is for. But until the check is illegal, I don't see why he can't continue punishing opponents with it.

I guess I'm a stickler for the rules - for better or worse.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Toronto Maple Leafs: 0-7-1

Yep. It's October 26 and the Toronto Maple Leafs are still without a win. They are 0-7-1. They are a disgrace to hockey, Canada and everyone. Am I getting carried away? No.

Here are some stunning statistics:

Toronto hasn't won the Stanley cup since 1967. They haven't been to the finals since 1967. The last time they made the playoffs was 2004. The Maple Leafs haven't won their division since 2000 - the first time since 1963.

The past 20 years have been the most abysmal. They have made the playoffs 11 times since 1990, but failed to make the finals each time - even when favored highly.

The bad statistics go on... forever.

I'm watching the Leafs play Anaheim right now. The Anaheim commentators are talking about Toronto's media and how tough it is on the franchise. They mentioned Toronto and Florida are the only teams not to make the playoffs since the 2005 lockout. That's ridiculous.

Toronto is a storied franchise, no doubt. The organization boasts 13 Stanley Cups and 21 trips to the finals. I can't imagine this team missing another post season. But it looks as though it will happen. They need a miracle.

At the moment, I'd really enjoy seeing them beat Anaheim tonight.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Goodbye Howard, Thanks For Nothing

The moment I stop calling this a slump is the moment I start panicking. I've been advised by a devoted reader not to panic, not to start ripping the team and not to lose my head over the current crisis. I will listen to him. I've been listening for 22 years, more or less, and I'm still faithful his word is wiser than mine - sort of.

The Red Wings lost Saturday night. They lost to the Colorado Avalanche, 3-1. Detroit is now 3-4-2. They are one point ahead of Nashville - the last place team in the Central Division.

Saturday was disgusting. Plus, I was already heartbroken before the game. If you didn't see Michigan State lose to Iowa, then let me sum it up for you: MSU football is a joke.

The Red Wings are formulating their own joke. The Wings went up 1-0 in the second, and the rest was a joke. Did I mention joke?

I wasn't laughing. However, I'm not sure I can take it seriously. So many issues to address.

First: I would like to address the Filpulla and Leino line. Were they in the game? I mean, I saw their sweaters skating around, but I'm not sure who was wearing them.

Second: Jimmy Howard. Hey Jimmy, how about winning a game? He's 1-7 in his four seasons with Detroit. This is unacceptable. This guy is a giant let-down. Can he please come up with one big save? Sometimes it is unfair to blame the goalie - this I know. But Howard has shown me nothing. He may be the biggest joke ever to come through the organization. The best way for a goalie to prove himself is by pulling a team out of a slump by making a big play. Howard can't do this. Get rid of him. He has missed is chance. He's done. No good. Goodbye Jimmy Howard A.K.A. biggest bust since Dimitri Bykov - not because Bykov was a high draft pick or anything (He was 258th overall in 2001), but Detroit talked about him like he was some kind of diamond in the rough. Scouting at it's finest.

Third: The offense, the entire offense. Forty-nine shots is a real impressive stat, yes indeed. I wonder how many of those shots were actually decent? Colorado only needed 23 shots. This is getting so old. Everyone on Detroit needs to learn shooting the puck directly at the goalie every time isn't how to score. How about actually aiming? I watch a lot of hockey - I think I've made this clear. The Red Wings are the worst team I've seen when it comes to finishing. For instance, Todd Bertuzzi alone had about three gimme goals. Pavel Datsyuk puts on a ridiculous show, then he closes his eyes when it's time to shoot. Seriously, if you told me he did, I would believe you. I'm surprised the guy even hits the net. Has every player on this team been shooting on squirt goalies all summer? The 49 shots are a huge illusion. The score sheet might as well read 25. They had 25, or less, decent shots.

Fourth: The coaches. I'm questioning the coaches. I don't like the lineup. I don't even know why Patrick Eves is on this team - he looks like a child out there. Why sit Justin Abdelkader for that bum? Darren Helm suffers from being placed on a line with Kirk Maltby. The whole Eves, Maltby and Helm line probably didn't even have to play. They were pee-wee at best. Why even play Howard? Sure, if he wins he gets a confidence boost. However, the guy clearly has no ability to step his game up. Mike Babcock and friends need to forget about him. Give the other guy in Grand Rapids a try. Heck, give the Detroit Catholic Central goalie a go. It's really poor coaching. They are forcing this Howard issue. Is there something I don't know about him? Is he paying to play?

I guess I'm ripping the team now. Is it possible the entire team could be snake-bitten? Perhaps. They must address the issues above before moving on. One last note: If I see Jimmy Howard back in a Red Wings uniform before the team starts winning, I will be extremely disappointed.

Next game is Tuesday against Vancouver.

My prediction: Vancouver 6, Detroit 3.

In other news: The Los Angeles Kings won 5-3 over Phoenix Saturday night. I didn't watch it. I'm not surprised they won. As I said before, Phoenix is terrible. LA is hot. They are on fire. I doubt they can keep it up, but here's to hoping they will. The Kings also routed Columbus tonight, 6-2. I will dedicate another entry to LA. They are currently 8-4 and sit alone at the top of the Pacific Division with 16 points.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spare Me The Suspense

It's funny how Interpol lyrics seem to make their way into my post headlines. I would place a heavy emphasis on "me." This post is extremely selfish.

Seriously, I want to know right now. I have always had a lack of patience when it comes to... anything. Detroit Red Wings hockey is no exception to my low tolerance for unknown outcomes. I suppose I'm only human. Just look at me. Utterly human - on my bad days.

Detroit is 3-3-2. They are not 3-4-1 as I incorrectly stated in my last post. What will this team be in December? Why can't I seem to understand where the Wings are headed? I could probably say, with confidence, where about 15 teams are going to be in December. Right now, Detroit is not one of them. They are an enigma.

Well this is how it goes when a good team loses. It is extremely difficult to comprehend the current circumstances. I wonder what I will be writing about tomorrow. If Detroit wins tonight, I doubt I will be very satisfied. I need a five-game winning streak in order to sleep well.

Starting tonight.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kings Win In OT, Wings Lose In OT

The Los Angeles Kings beat the Dallas Stars 5-4 in overtime last night. The Detroit Red Wings fell to the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in overtime last night. The world has turned upside down. The Phoenix Coyotes and LA Kings rule. Detroit falls behind Columbus and Chicago. Someone pinch me.

I had plans to watch both games. However, my plans fell through due to work obligations - who needs it right? I did DVR the Wings game, and watched pieces of it late last night - mostly just fast forwarded to the goals and overtime.

Well that was horrible. The Wings lack intensity when they need it most- like the third period. It seems it is inevitable Detroit will lose whatever lead they have in the last 10 minutes of a game. Phoenix could have had two or three goals in the last five minutes. I can't believe the game even went to overtime.

Believe me, I know what it's like to watch a team lose leads game after game. Remember, I went to Michigan State during the John L. Smith years. From my experience, the tendency to blow leads late in games is usually due to poor coaching and lack of experience, but Detroit doesn't suffer from either. So what gives?

Maybe they're in a slump. Maybe I'm so used to seeing the Red Wings come out of the gate flying, and now I'm just shocked by their crawling out of it. I've seen Detroit have some huge slumps in recent years. However, it usually happens in December, January or February. Chris Osgood's overtime brain freeze is the ultimate sign of a slump. If anyone is thinking of blaming Osgood for the loss, get off it now. He was the only reason overtime even happened.

I am going to stick to the slump theory for now. I don't understand why this team should be 3-4-1. So, I'll call it a slump until they are 3-6-1, then I'll try to figure out what's going on. I don't have enough evidence to start pulling the team apart yet.

On the upside, I'm quite thankful I didn't have to see another shootout yesterday.

Before I move on to the Kings game, I want to make sure one thing is clear: The Phoenix Coyotes are an illusion. Detroit should not lose to Phoenix, ever.

As for the Kings, keep it up boys. Like I said, I didn't see the game last night, so I can't really comment on the specifics. This team is really fun to watch, so I wish I had. LA is a bunch of youngsters on a mission to make the playoffs. They are taking themselves very seriously this season. Honestly, you can just see it in their game faces.

The captain, Dustin Brown, is a great example of how a young captain should act. From what I can tell, Brown keeps his mouth shut, leads by example and is known to pull the guys together behind the scenes. I'm impressed. His leadership has been a factor. His behavior is contagious. The Kings are making a name for themselves. They just need to stay focused. They are tied for the most points - 12 - in the Pacific Division with a 6-4 record. If they continue to give themselves a fighting chance each game, I think the team will see 15 wins before 10 losses.

Weekend outlook

This Saturday, the Kings meet Phoenix in Glendale, Ariz. Also, Detroit and Colorado cross paths to showcase one of the deadest rivalries in hockey. Yes, the deadest, not deadliest. You see, the NHL loves to forget about rivalries and downplay them. I think Gary Bettman would prefer every team play each other equally. I mean, this subject should be part of an entirely different post about divisions, conferences and the overall theory behind the NHL's franchise placements. I'll think about it. It just pisses me off. My reasons and opinions will shock you.

My predictions for Saturday: LA 5, Phoenix 3. Detroit 6, Colorado 2 - Hat trick for Todd Bertuzzi.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Pacific: Is It An Ocean, Pond, Castle, Desert or Sky?

Who will rule the Pacific Division?

Tomorrow is a big game for the Kings. They face the Dallas Stars for the second time this week. LA defeated the Stars 4-1 in Dallas Monday. I attribute the win to the Kings' excellent traffic in front of Dallas goaltender Marty Turco. The Kings will need to do the same tomorrow night.

Right now, I'm watching the Ducks take their shot at the Stars in Anaheim. I hate Anaheim, so you can forget about me devoting much exclusive time to them in this blog. Plus, when it comes down to it, I live in LA, not Anaheim - there's a huge difference.

However, today is different. I'm trying to get a grasp on the Dallas Stars and this division, so I have to pay attention to the Ducks a bit.

Anaheim is still a solid team - not much has changed. They've been quite "mighty" ever since they dropped the title a few years back. However, they haven't won the Pacific Division title since 2007.

The San Jose Sharks have ruled the past two years, but not much in the post season. They'll probably win 50 games and lose in the semis, again.

You can forget about the Phoenix Coyotes - this team isn't as good as the record shows. Sure, they're 5-2, but soon enough they'll be 5-7 or something awful. I've watched them, I don't see it.

As for the Stars, if they want to be known as the owners of this division again, they'll have to keep up the winning road record. They're 2-0 on the road right now.

However, Marc Crawford and his young Stars haven't shown anything real special this season. Crawford's new to town, and he's coming back from a season of color-commentary for CBC. He's going to need to get it together and stop losing big to teams like LA if he doesn't want to lose his job. As we know, the Dallas organization is not afraid to fire coaches.

If the Stars lose today, they will be desperate tomorrow. The truth is, LA isn't a pushover this season, and Dallas found it out the hard way on Monday. You can expect they won't forget by tomorrow.

The Pacific division is competitive, which isn't something we've seen, really, ever. So far it's the toughest division in the NHL this season. Maybe things will get back to normal and LA and Phoenix will suck again. But for now, the Kings and Coyotes are making the lives of the Stars, Ducks and Sharks more difficult than they probably expected.

For LA's sake, here's to hoping Dallas wins tonight. I'd rather the Kings play a team that isn't coming off a two-game losing streak.

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"Half the game is mental, the other half is being mental."

I'm wondering why I even care.

If you need to know why it's so important for me to have this blog, don't ask me. I'm just as perplexed and offended by a person's need to spill their useless opinions all over the Internet as the next guy. But if you must ask: In my case, the truth is I don't care if one or one million people read this. Yet, I wouldn't be doing this if I thought it was entirely pointless and for my own benefit. I just want to make sure I get all the crap in my head sorted out and into writing. It was Charles Bukowski who said, "These words I write keep me from total madness." I'm not saying I'm an insane, yet genius writer like Bukowski. But I do admit to having my very own bouts of madness - shouldn't we all? You could, if you must, call me the Bukowski of hockey blogging. But it would probably just piss off a bunch of pretentious, life-hating hipsters - let's consider it done.

I wouldn't say things like, "The Buffalo Sabres are the most pointless franchise in the history of hockey," if I didn't believe it. Think about it, it's true. But what if I don't feel like giving reasons? Does that make me insane? No, it just makes me lazy. You may think it's mental, but so is hockey.

The former Maple Leaf Jimmy McKenny said it best; "Half the game is mental, the other half is being mental." I like to think my blog is the same way. If hockey is mental, and writing is madness, then this blogger must be a complete nut job.

As I sit here and watch Boston try to cruise to victory over Nashville, I wonder why I care so much. Is it really because I have nothing better to do? Probably. However, I imagine we all have our own version of this blog sitting somewhere in our heads. Whether it's about hockey, football or sewing, it is there. I used to think it was pure vanity which drove someone to pour it out and publish it. Now, I know it's just madness, and we're all victim to it at a certain time.

This must be my time.

I promise the next post will be about hockey.

Monday, October 19, 2009

They're All Growsed-up and They're All Growsed-up... Maybe

The Los Angeles Kings ended a six-game out-and-back road trip with a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars tonight.

LA looked horrible in the first period. The boys were sluggish. I expected a nice routing from the Stars as soon as they took a one-goal lead in the first period. But the Kings battled back with two goals in the second. They placed traffic in front of Marty Turco and it payed off. Two of the Kings' four goals were from tipped shots. One was the result of a beautiful feed from behind the net which Anze Kopitar ripped top shelf, passed a screened Turco.

Dallas seemed to have Detroit syndrome - they were their own goaltender's worst enemy. Turco faced 32 shots. I don't think he saw half of them before the puck was either in his glove, in the corner or in the net. It's amazing the game wasn't 10-1.

Turco got some help from his three best friends too - the posts. I wish the NHL kept track of struck posts. This game - seriously I am not exaggerating - had more pucks hit posts than any other game I remember ever watching, ever. I mean, these were legitimate dingers. Every other play seemed to result in a nice, solid ping.

After watching today's game, I don't know what to think about this team. I wasn't impressed by the majority of their road trip - they went 3-3. However, ending on a high note like this is huge. It shows maturity in a team I didn't think had it. The Ryan Smyth, Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar line is looking awesome - each had a goal tonight. I'm just afraid LA doesn't have the depth to go 82 games.

In other news, the Red Wings face the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night at Phoenix. Detroit needs to win this game - obviously. Phoenix is off to a good start, but let's face it, it's still just Phoenix - just enjoy this ridiculousness. If Detroit starts frequently losing games to teams like the Coyotes, then we can start panicking.

My prediction: Detroit wins 4-2. Ville Leino and Todd Bertuzzi each notch one.

I have some more interesting, feature-like posts coming up. I know this one was kind of boring.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maxim Afinogenov Goal

I watched Maxim Afinogenov score an amazing goal last night. I figured it was worth blogging about. Not only was it skillfully impressive, it was also against his old team, in their building and at an extremely important time in the game.

The Buffalo Sabres were trailing to the Atlanta Thrashers 3-1 late in the game. The Sabres were desperate for life when finally they notched one with under four minutes to play in regulation. Buffalo had the momentum and it looked like they would make a push for overtime. However, just 17 seconds after Buffalo's Drew Stafford brought the score within one, Afinogenov did his thing. He skated around about 74 Buffalo players and ripped one top shelf past goaltender Patrick Lalime. It was epic. It deflated the Sabres and put an end to thoughts of overtime. When the video is available on YouTube, I will post it.

The crowd at HSBC Arena was stunned.

Afinogenov was drafted by Buffalo in 1997. At one point, he was the longest-serving player on the team. He had an injury-ridden career with Buffalo, but manged some solid production. He was supposed to be the franchise player. He was for nine seasons. But like all good players, Buffalo let him leave without argument.

It's great to see a guy get justice in a building which gave him so much crap. I bet he has a 25-goal season this year - which will be quite an impressive accomplishment in Atlanta.

What a great goal from a player who has moments which remind me of a young Sergei Fedorov.

No hockey today. Darn.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm Really Sarcastic and Bitter In This One

What a disgrace.

A friend of mine said he was going to the Red Wings game today and would wear his Patrick Roy jersey, "Just to start stuff." If he actually did end up wearing it, I blame this loss on him. I hope he got messed up by some Joe Louis idiots.

You know who you are.

I was hanging out at Santa Monica Beach today - the weather is amazing this weekend - when I started thinking about how the game would unfold. At that exact moment when my sensitive Michigan skin started to fry in the SoCal sun, my friend - the Roy lover himself - called me to tell me I would be missing Hockey Night in Canada, and then started to rub it in. He was wrong - I do get HNIC and I am watching it right now on Center Ice. Anyway, I rushed home to sit in front of the TV to watch Detroit control Colorado.

What a pathetic way to lose. Blowing a two goal lead in the third is just tough to watch. Detroit owned Colorado for most of the game.

Here's what happened: Chris Osgood didn't see any of the goals. The Red Wings defense screened him every time. Great job guys. Maybe they should just start taking shots on their own net, they might as well if they're going to screen their own goalie like amateurs. It just makes the other team look so much better than they are. Colorado's goals were not even hard-earned. They were the result of stupid defenders falling for a trick coaches teach pee-wee players. But by the time pee-wees become midgets, most defensemen know to get out of the way and let their goalie have a chance at making a save. Apparently not the Detroit Red Wings D.

So, I had to watch the Wings lose in the most popular professional sports gimmick - a shootout. I love the shootout because it's like saying, "Hey, good game, now let's play this game and whoever wins this one actually wins that other one we spent an hour playing, even though that was totally unrelated and centered around team play, strategy, knowledge of the sport, toughness, stamina and coaching, good luck." Oh, but the fans love it. The fans also love fighting. I suggest at the end of the game we have a huge brawl. Whoever wins, gets the two points, no matter how many goals are on the board. The "fans" will love it. Or maybe we can just have a speed skating contest. The two fastest guys from each bench race, like at the All Star shenanigans, and then they just start wrestling and a UFC match breaks out and, well, you get my point. What a sick joke. I will never accept the shootout. I will never get over it.

I hate it with a passion. Come on people, if you are so into shootouts, seriously, stop watching hockey. Just stop now. You probably aren't even a real sports fan. Stop watching sports. Watch soccer. I'm not even knocking soccer. However, if you love soccer you have to admit how stupid the shootout is.

Trust me, if the Red Wings won in a shootout tonight, you could expect I would still be whining about it. Those of you who know me best know that's true.

Still, Detroit lost. I can't even be mad at the guys that much. I watched them play some really good hockey. Hank was great. Bert is making me proud. I'm embracing Williams with open arms. Filly and Leino are scary awesome so far. But, they lost.

I'm just too bitter to even write about it anymore.

BTW the Kings suck. Great job losing to Columbus today.

I'm out of here. Go Green.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Depth Wins Every Time

The Detroit Red Wings shut down the Los Angeles Kings in a 5-2 victory today at Joe Louis Arena.

Kirk Maltby scored a big goal late in the game to make it 4-2. What's even more surprising is Maltby's creation of the turn over that led to his goal. He already has two goals this season. What's going on? Why won't he just go away?

LA was beat by Detroit's depth. In the third period, Kings head coach Terry Murray was double-shifting Anze Kopitar in order to keep his team in the game. I don't think the Kings' third and fourth lines even saw the ice in the third. It was definitely a moral defeat for LA.

Detroit looked stellar in the second and third periods. I was especially pleased with Tod Bertuzzi and Ville Leino. These two saw a lot of ice time due to Pavel Datyuk's and Johan Franzen's absence from the lineup. They were strong on the puck and kept the Red Wings' fore-check flowing.

Detroit's play in their own end this evening was the best I've seen in a while. The Red Wings look much better on defense this season.

I've said it before, and this will be the last time I say it: Detroit is a better team this season. Much better than last season. It showed today. They should handle teams like LA without fault. They did.

LA is proving to be somewhat of a disappointment. I guess they have a lot of growing up to do. Tonight was the Kings' fourth game in a six game road trip across the country. Trips like this can spell disaster for a young team. They better wake up or they could easily lose the next two.

I'm not missing Johan Franzen at all right now. Bertuzzi, Valteri Filpula, Henrik Zetterberg, Kris Draper, Leino and yes, even Maltby, all looked great.

Nicklas Lidstrom scored his 1,000 point tonight. I think that makes him the fourth Red Wing ever to do that - score all 1,000 with Detroit. His latest protege, Jonathan Ericcson, earned another goal tonight. Ericcson could be the next best if he keeps improving like this each season.

Things are OK in Red Wings land. I don't see any need to worry right now. There is room for improvement, but the team is heading in the right direction. I challenge everyone to think of a team with more depth. You can't.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hockey, Hockey and More Hockey

At my apartment, hockey will probably be on TV as much as possible. Because it can be. Now that I have the Center Ice channels, nothing else matters. My roommate may regret allowing this.

Actually, I'm a bit scared myself.

Right now, I'm watching a replay of today's earlier game between Chicago and Edmonton. Yes, a replay. Now, I'm watching Nashville vs. Dallas. It never ends. I never even saw this much hockey in Michigan.

Tomorrow, the Los Angeles Kings play the Detroit Red Wings. The game is in Detroit, so I'll miss most of it live. I will try to rush home from work in order to catch the third period. No worries, I'll see the replay.

My hope for tomorrow's game is this: Detroit destroys LA.

I've seen both clubs play a few times. Detroit is a better team. LA has two lines, and Detroit is the type of team that can generate some third and fourth line goals if need be. The Red Wings need to contain LA's top guys and expose their lack of depth.

It's easier said than done. Let's face it, the Buffalo Sabres aren't exactly team Canada - another weird, funny video. I'm going to let last night's epic fail slide. If it happens again, then expect a giant entry about it.

My predictions for tomorrow: Detroit 4, LA 1. Valteri Filpula will have two goals. Anze Kopitar will notch a power play goal for LA. Brad May will literally kill Rob Scuderi with his hands - please don't hold me responsible for this.

Last season, LA was shunned by the Wings in each meeting. The Kings have won just three of their last 24 games with Detroit. Right now, the last place the Kings want to be is Detroit. The Red Wings are going to come home with a chip on their shoulders tomorrow night. LA is coming off a loss of their own at Madison Square Gardens. However, it's clear which team needs this game more. Detroit needs to win big in front of a frustrated Joe Louis crowd.

I will be watching this game tomorrow night - maybe more than once.

Stay tuned for a calming Johan Franzen post. Everyone, please take a deep breath and relax.

Quick, Not Pointless, Entry

I don't have much time to kill right now. Behind work, the band and any sort of "life" I'm trying to live, sits this blog. I want to jot down a few points and things to look forward to:

1. I just received the NHL Center Ice package for my birthday - very early gift from my parents and my sister. It's perfect. I cannot thank them enough. I will be watching the Red Wings this season.

2. LA plays Detroit tomorrow.

3. I have about 60 things I want to write about and have no time or organization. I need beat writers or something. Who wants to start a hockey magazine?

4. Johan Franzen. Don't worry, I will address this situation. I didn't want to give a boring report on it. I'm sure everyone has heard enough anyway. I'll give my analysis soon.

5. The Red Wings got blown out by the Buffalo Sabres yesterday. I watched it on Vs. I saw the last part of the second period and the entire third. It was abysmal. I will dive into this as well.

6. LA is about to lose to the Rangers. Marian Gaborik just scored an awesome goal - who is this guy? He's been amazing this year - six goals already?

For now, I have stuff to do.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Earning It

Hopefully you made it through my last post without vomiting all over my juvenile play on words - May before April. No apologies from this guy.

Now, as promised, prepare for a nice ripping of Los Angeles. Angelenos beware.

I didn't move to Los Angeles to let everyone know about the high number of people here who are completely out of touch with life. That is to be expected, and probably already well-known by most of my readers. But, as you may have guessed, I've been choking on the pretentious smog which lingers over this city. I guess I can forget catering to a local audience.

What does this have to do with hockey? A whole lot.

In fact, on my way to lunch the other day I heard an interesting LA Kings radio promo. (Click here for another ridiculous Kings commercial). The radio spot included members of the team like Jack Johnson, Rob Scuderi and Anze Kopitar explaining why they came to LA. Example: "I'm Jack Johnson, I didn't come to LA to hang out at the beach." Perhaps he is telling the truth.

But my Lord, hearing a professional sports commercial like this really gave me some culture shock. Why would a professional athlete ever have to explain why he came to the town? It just shows what a joke the Kings have been in recent years - and what the city expects from the residents. "We swear, we're here to work hard... among this giant playground of a city."

This place puts professional sporting events way down on the list of things to do. If the team isn't winning championships, forget about them. Angelenos don't go to Kings games to see hockey, they barely go to Lakers games to see basketball, they go to be seen. Since the Kings have been horrible, no one even wants to be seen at a game. Being from Detroit, I can't imagine thinking like that.

In LA, fans are earned only by winning. Forget fan loyalty - no one is even actually from this city to begin with. However, the Kings are trying to change this mentality. I've noticed the organization is trying to flip it. Instead of saying, "Hey, we're winning now, pay attention," now they're saying, "Hey, come out to the games, you could help us win, you can be the difference." (In the voice of coach Bombay).

This season, the Kings are off to their best start in the past 15 years. I don't know what attendance is like, or if it even matters.
But maybe the team's simple change of mentality is the difference. Maybe the Kings can clear up a bit of the snooty attitude in this city by just saying, "Guess what, we're bringing back good old-fashioned work ethic to LA, you can be a part of it, let's earn it together."

So far, with a 4-1 record, they're earning it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

May: A Move For April

Brad May was a Buffalo Sabres' first-round draft pick in 1990. He's been playing the role of enforcer for 18 years in the NHL. He has earned more than 2,000 penalty minutes and 143 fighting majors. He's had stints with Buffalo, Vancouver, Phoenix, Colorado, Toronto and Anaheim - where he was part of the 2007 Stanley Cup championship team.

Now, he's a Detroit Red Wing.

I was a bit shocked to hear about May's signing. I expected Detroit's next move to be on a veteran defenseman. With Chris Chelios's departure, I figured they'd look for a replacement.

After giving the May deal some thought, I'm pretty pleased with it. May represents a standard of toughness and leadership the offense hasn't seen since Dallas Drake - please watch that video and try not to laugh. Drake was arguably Detroit's missing link in last year's playoff gauntlet. May isn't Drake's replacement - he's an upgrade.

It's always smart to add an established enforcer to the roster. He's a tough guy who has earned respect on the ice and in the locker room.

The Wings definitely have a more physical roster this season. By adding May, Todd Bertuzzi and young grinder Patrick Eaves, Detroit is obviously prepping to be a bigger, tougher team. I couldn't be happier.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe Detroit's talent and skill will be their advantage during the regular season. However, it's never too early to start preparing for a grueling playoff run, and that means establishing physical presence.

Picking up May shows Detroit is always thinking about April.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Because I Understand This

When my Dad text me to tell about the Wings' home opener today, I started to feel really homesick. The thing is, even though I knew I would miss living in Hockeytown, I never knew when the feeling would set in. I should have guessed it would be on the night of the home opener.

What do I miss most about Red Wings hockey? Mickey Redmond. No doubt. I grew up listening to Mickey's old-school banter. Bingo-bango and "Katie bar the door." Who's Katie? It doesn't matter, Mickey knows what's up.

Tonight, as I scour for the Chicago vs. Detroit box score, I'm starting to feel more detached than ever. A phone call from my cousin, and suddenly it's all put in perspective: I never understood how special Hockeytown is until I left. It's the old cliche - you don't know what you have until you lose it. In this case, I moved.

Each time I craft a new post for this blog, I feel like a phony - where's my ethics? I don't live anywhere near Detroit. Who am I to have a Red Wings blog? Well, the answer is simple: I can't live without it. I moved out of Hockeytown, but it never moved out of me - it never will.

I could go on and talk about how difficult it is for me to hear people at work get so passionate about Monday Night Football, yet have no clue what Hockey Night in Canada is, but I must stop before this post gets ridiculously emotional. It will regardless.

I think it's important for people to stay passionate about their teams. I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a city with so much passion. There are few constants in life, that goes without saying. I find it quite comforting to know hockey and the Detroit Red Wings are things I'll take to the grave.

Tonight, my cousin - who shares my passion - put it best: We're lucky to have a rich background in a sport with such an exclusive clientele. It doesn't matter if hockey is the least or most popular sport in the world. It will always be the most special to us.

I couldn't say it better myself.

It's a difficult sport to explain to anyone who didn't spend every Saturday morning of their childhood in a rink. I can explain offsides. I can explain icing. I'm sure I could get someone to understand how the mechanics of the game work. However, I could never get anyone new to the game to understand what an octopus has to do with hockey, why a pass can be called suicidal, why Slap Shot may be the best movie ever created, or why hanging someone's jock from the clock is the highlight of the game.

Hockey is more than a game - it's a lifestyle. It's fast, creative, tough and exclusive. When you lace up the skates and hit the ice without fear, you're part of the club.

The next time someone asks me why I choose to watch the Kings vs. Sharks in a regular season matchup instead of a MLB playoff game, I'll just look them in the eyes and say: "Because I understand this."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Curse of The Great One

Wayne GretzkyI'll be watching the Los Angeles Kings take on the San Jose Sharks on FS-W (HD) tonight. I considered starting a Kings blog. However, I really don't want to have two hockey blogs. So I decided this blog will contain a lot about the LA Kings. This is due to geographical convenience and to the fact I have always been a closet Kings fan - probably because I owned about 40 Kings t-shirts when I was a kid, thanks to my uncle who lived in LA. He gave me one every year for Christmas. If I lived in Boston, I would write about the Bruins - that would suck. Thank God I never had an uncle in Boston.

That being said, how will the Kings be this year? I'll be able to answer this question better in a few weeks - after I've seen them play a bit. Right now, I honestly have no clue. A good season for the Kings would only benefit me and the online sports betting community. I would love LA to have a decent hockey team. It would allow me to see some good competition here, and hopefully an awakened fan base. My dream for this season is a playoff series between Detroit and LA. Before I get too far ahead here, let me try to decide if a playoff series is even possible for LA.

Here in LA, I see Kings billboards with one-word phrases like "Passion," "Pride" and "Believe". My first question is, what have the Kings done since the Gretzky era? I don't think there has been much "passion." Let's go back in time, to the 1990s, when everyone had money and terrorism was still something that happened "over there". Oh, and when Wayne Gretzky wasn't known as the world's worst coach, but it's best hockey player.

In 1996, Gretzky was traded to the St. Louis Blues late in the season. It was truly an end of an era for not only LA, but also the entire NHL. Here's why:

On August 9, 1988, Canada suffered from the most horrific disaster in the nation's history - Gretzky was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the LA Kings. A native son was stolen. Even though no Canuck would ever admit it, this trade may have been the most important, most influential in NHL history. During his eight seasons in LA, Gretzky helped the Kings build an important, marketable franchise. They made the playoffs six times, and in 1993 they fell just three games short of winning the Stanley Cup. That was Gretzky's last trip to the finals.

Side note: Coincidentally, '93 was also the last time the NHL's most successful franchise, the Montreal Canadiens, won the Stanley Cup. Neither Gretzky, the NHL's most statistically successful player, nor the Canadiens' have been back to the finals since '93. For Gretzky, it was his last chance - his prime was passing. The Canadiens may have cursed themselves by defeating Gretzky in his last finals appearance. I like to call this The Curse of The Great One.

Gretzky won numerous individual awards while in LA. An all-star list of players followed him to SoCal. Angelenos became familiar with names like Kurri, Hrudey, McSorley, Robitaille and Duchesne. California grew into a hot bed for new hockey fans and amateur players. Gretzky did more for the game in California than anyone ever will. He didn't just build a team, he built a market. Moreover, when hockey was popular in LA, it was popular everywhere.

So, how have the franchise and market Gretzky built been since he left?

The franchise - terrible. The market - still thriving.

Although the California hockey market has continued to flourish thanks to Anaheim and San Jose, the Kings are all but forgotten. It's a dead franchise lurching in the shadows of it's two younger brothers - the Ducks and Sharks. LA is experiencing its own curse of The Great One.

In fact, the team has made the playoffs just four times since '93. They haven't played a series since 2002, and they haven't won one since 2000 - against Detroit. That is the one highlight of the last 15 seasons. The Kings have had seven coaches in the past 15 seasons. They've had a rotating roster of rejects and has-beens.

The best that could happen to the Kings would be another Gretzky figure. Someone like Alexander Ovechkin could save this team and this market. But what if there isn't anyone to do that?

This is where the Kings stand - without a savior and with little faith.

Here's what I see now: A team with a bunch of young guys who have something to prove. This may be the first year since the '90s the Kings have even the slightest chance at making the post season.

Who I like on the roster:

Anze Kopitar

Kopitar was drafted by LA in 2005. He's had 80 goals and a total of 126 points in 237 games. At 22, he stands 6-foot-3 and weighs more than 220 lbs. He's a big kid who can control the puck. I'd compare him to Johan Franzen. I expect Kopitar to mature a lot this season. This could be his breakout year.

Alexander Frolov

Frolov was supposed to represent a new direction for LA when he was a first-round draft pick back in 2000. He's held his own, but there is only so much one guy can do. Being a regular in the lineup since the 2002-03 season, Frolov has played with an assortment of guys. He's a talent to hold on to, and the Kings know it. If the team can build him a support system, he could very well be a 40-goal scorer.

Matt Greene

When Greene was acquired from Edmonton in 2008, LA had big plans to make him a leader on the blue line. He was quickly given the "A." He's a solid defenseman with more experience than most of his teammates. He's big and physical, something LA fans will love to see. He's a native of Grand Ledge, Mich. His mom actually taught me at Michigan State University. She was one of my Journalism professors. She's happy he's in LA and not Edmonton.

Ryan Smyth

This is an exciting step for LA. Smyth will be a great veteran addition to this roster. He joins former Oilers teammates Greene and Jarret Stoll. These three were all members of the notorious Edmonton underdogs in 2006. Smyth and friends bring some much-needed energy and leadership to the franchise. I'm really hoping things work out for him this season.

Dustin Brown

Brown was named captain last season. I don't know much about him. I've never really paid much attention to his play. He was a first-round pick for LA back in 2003. If the boys want him as their captain, he must show a lot of leadership. He has a lot to learn, and Smyth will be the guy to teach him.

These five guys will be the impact players. They will be the difference. The pacific division is no slouch. Taking on Anaheim and San Jose will be task number one.

Side note: I didn't mention Michal Handzus because I'm still not sure if this guy is for real. Is he a grinder or does he score goals? Either way, he'll have to show some leadership on this young team.

Well, there's a mini breakdown of the key players. The team lacks a lot on defense. Also, is Jonathan Quick really the answer for goal tending? I think this season is his time to prove it. Quick will get more goal support this season, but not much more help in front of him. He somehow managed a winning record last season. I expect he will again this year. I wouldn't consider him a key player because it would be unfair. He's young and without any help.

Can Head Coach Terry Murray and the boys make the post season? Honestly, I think it all depends on how they play against their in-state rivals. If they can prove to be good enough to beat the Sharks and Ducks, then I think we'll see a Kings' playoff series.

Maybe this season the Kings can take a step closer to shedding The Great One's curse.

Tonight, LA battles the Sharks - prove it now.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Hockey Season

Jonathan Ericcson and Ville Leino: these boys must read my blog. They should keep it up if they want to make me look like some sort of Red Wings Nostradamus. This must be what's called "tooting your own horn."

I didn't see the game. I doubt most of my friends in Detroit did. I saw small pieces of the season openers last night. I'm still not used to hockey being played in the late afternoon.

If you didn't see or read about it already, Ericcson and Leino both had goals in the Wings' loss to the Blues today. Leino on the power play? That's right. This guy is going to turn heads.

Unfortunately for Detroit, it looks like Paul Kariya, someone who is used to turning heads (Maybe not his own: 2003 finals, Scott Stevens, always a favorite), did some reading too.

Kariya seems to have been the difference in today's game. He notched two goals, one on the power play, and the game winner. Looks like he'll be back in shape this season. I think we'll see an all-around better Blues team this year.

Oh, and Andy McDonald had a point. I'm just sayin'...

Kirk Maltby picked up his one goal and one assist for the season. He should have spread those out more. Well, at least Babcock could theoretically sit him for the rest of the year and not worry about losing any sort of production. Wait, he could do that anyway. So he scored a short-handed goal. Big deal. He should have at least five of those each year due to the unbelievable amount of minutes he gets on the penalty kill. Is this his come-back-to-mediocrity season?

Those of you who know me well know how I feel about Maltby. Those of you who do not (probably one of the maybe 2.5 people who read this) will learn. I'll say it now, just to get it out of the way: Take any player from the Grand Rapids Griffins and put him in Maltby's spot. Any player who is not a goalie. I'll give Kirk the benefit of the doubt and say he's better at his position than a goalie would be. But, other than that, he's awful - worse than any AHL player. Yeah, now I'm saying anyone in the entire AHL. Don't even start with the "He's a good penalty killer and veteran leader..." crap. Because it's just crap.

I didn't intend to devote so much of this post to Maltby. Moving forward.

I don't feel comfortable talking about games I didn't watch. Don't expect me to bullshit about box scores a lot.

One of today's game stats I do want to comment on is shots on goal. I see the Red Wings lost another game in which they out-shot the other team. How many times have we seen this happen? What's going wrong here? I'll answer this question in the coming weeks after I see the team play. It's getting really old.

One thing you can take away from today's game (and this post), is an early hint about how difficult it will be to win in the central division this season. Thank God this isn't baseball.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009-10 Season Begins

Tonight, the 2009-10 season officially beigins. There are four games. The Red Wings open tomorrow night against St. Louis - in Sweden of course. This gives Detroit an even bigger edge in the season opener. I'm surprised to see the Blues won three out of their past six meetings with Detroit.

Anyway, I'm keeping this post short. I'm excited about the season starting. I'm still worried I won't see the Wings on TV a lot - the price you must pay when you live so far.

I'll leave you with this short story involving the St. Louis Blues (sort of).

If you remember playing EA Sports NHL '94 (and '95, '96, '97) for the SNES counsel, then you remember what happened every time the St. Louis Blues scored at home. That damn "Oh when the Saints go marching..." song always played. So annoying. Well, I played those games until my thumbs went numb when I was a kid (and I still would if I had them). So much, in fact, that I had pretty much every team's song memorized. I knew what happened when Chicago scored, when Quebec scored, etc. I could mute the TV and still hear the tune in my head. I'm probably a dummer person for this.

One day at school (4th grade?) we were listening to songs and such in class. Honestly, I don't remember what the hell we were doing. However, I remember enough to know how stupid I felt.

My teacher was asking us about certain songs or something, and "Oh when the Saints..." was playing. (I looked up some history and lyrics - the second

"Does anyone know what this is from?," teacher said.

"NHL '94!" young David said.


Well, everyone laughed. I was scolded for being a wise-ass. But, I was being serious. And until I just Googled it, I really had no fricking clue what that song is really from.

And then I found five dollars.