Red Wings Rollin’

The Kids keep going

Well, it’s been a while. Since we’ve seen this level of  play from the Wings, since I’ve posted anything, and since I thought Babcock and Abdlekader should go somewhere else. How bout we take a quick look at how things have changed and what’s been happening.

Rewind to the off season, July thru…pre-pre-season? Is that a thing. It is now. There was a lot of distaste in my heart surrounding my beloved Wings. No real moves were made, Cleary was re-signed, everyone was talking about bringing Alfie back, fans screaming for Mantha to make yet-again over committed roster. Looking at our line-up at that time, I thought things looked bleak. Our defense was best described as “meh” and our forwards looked like there would be scoring issues, with Babcock making the lines.

However, then, my negative outlook started to get more positive, as Babcock allowed youth to flourish. Giving faith and opportunity to the young forwards, desiring young defensemen like Oullet and Sproul make the lineup. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the defensemen he wanted, but there was still hope that Babcock stopped his hatred of anyone under 33 years of age.

Fast forward 10 games into the season…

The Red Wings defense and goaltending was performing better than anyone expected. Looking solid. The penalty kill on fire, and things back there looked very good, promising more than most die-hard fans could have hoped for. However good the defense played, we couldn’t score enough to win a game. It felt like every game we went into overtime. Our forwards looked like how it was feared, unable to score consistently. Datsyuk and Helm were in injury trouble, and Nyquist was our only shining star. Franzen peeked his head out for a second there somewhere, but then disappeared again, as he does. Tatar, Sheahan, and Jurco were struggling not just to score, but to even make a difference. Our power play was laughable, and no one knew what the heck they were doing out there in the slightest. Then, in the midst of it all, something broke.

Looking at it now, over my plate of crow, I think it was…this is hard to admit for me…Abdlekader…that started it all. He started playing well. Very, very well, actually, far better than I thought he could. Tatar found the net and didn’t stop. Sheahan seemed to wake up. Helm and Datsyuk got healthy again, eventually. Then the Wings power play snapped and figured out what they are doing, and are now one of the best teams in the NHL on the power play.

When Datsyuk and Helm came back, they started scoring and improving everyone around them. Weiss finally paid someone in an alley for a new groin, and he immediately started lighting the lamp. Now, with our lines forwards scoring, our defense holding on, the Wings are in the top 5 of the NHL. We have 3 potent scoring lines, like our Cup years. The fourth line is chipping in offensively and smother teams defensively, and Babcock is able to, and actually does, trust them to play in every situation of every game. Just like our Cup years. I’m not making predictions here. I’m simply here to say that I have been proven wrong by Babcock this year. And I’m loving it.

I credit Babcock’s change of heart when it comes to youth, and Datsyuk’s ability to keep his youth, for our successes. Not to mention the continued good play of our defense.

Look at these lines and tell me they are not drool-worthy

Nyquist-Zetterberg-Jurco

Tatar-Datsyuk-Helm

Franzen-Sheahan-Weiss

Miller-Glendening-Andersson

Cleary/Abdelkader

In conclusion: Gatoraide cures hangovers.

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Groins, Groins, and Toronto

anderssongoal

Andersson scored a goal! He’s doing the skate-of-fist-bumps

The Red Wings defeated Toronto pretty soundly last night, and there were some real high points to note. This “writer” is being cautious though. I think we’ve gotten back on the right path, but the ship is not righted yet. Alfie finally got in a game, got some action, and performed well. I’ve never really had a chance to watch Alfie play before. I’ve watched a LOT of teams play regularly, but never Ottawa. Let me tell you what, even given his reputation, I am amazed. His release is smoother than Datsyuk’s, and faster than Franzen’s, and beautiful. His slapshot is booming, an “absolute bomb” quoting Babcock (who used a correct, understand analogy for once). If this guy can stay healthy, wow. If Weiss can learn to deal with the fact that Alfie can control the puck and know that he has to share, that’s going to be a deadly combination. However, when he was out there with Dats and Z…magic happened.

Anyway, I’m going through a slight man-crush of Alfredsson, so we’ll move on. The power play looks different with my new man-love working the point. A significant upgrade over Brunner/Sammy/Quincy working the point (I’m not counting Kindl cuz he’s different). It’s smooth, with a lot of dangerous weapons out there. It showed against Toronto for sure, but it’s still preseason, and our PP has been crap for 2 years. However, this gives me lots of hope.

The real surprise this preseason to me has been the play of Glendening. This guys is deceptively good for a bottom 6 guy. He’s small but tough, good on the puck, good defensively, has a little bit of touch and skill with the puck, hard on the forecheck…just all around good. I think he’d actually be a good upgrade over Emmerton. It’s great, I’m impressed. I had no idea who this guy was, as most PTO’s go, and he came in and has been in several preseason games and been good, for what he is. We did get another decent look at another young guy in Jurco.

I wasn’t as impressed with him. He’s pretty speedy, showed some flashes of creativity, but he’s still too small, too young, and doesn’t have NHL confidence, or near it yet. There are other, younger guys that, to me, have impressed further. Maybe I’m expecting too much from him, given all the hype though. I’ve been known to do that. But who makes such a stink and then goes so quietly around the ice?

More on the game last night. Wings started out flat, again. Someone (doubting it was Babcock, given the track record, see previous article) got the team fired up and on the same page, and game out just dominating in the second, laying the rubber to Bernier, who came up with some masterful saves. It was awesome. And we continued it into the 3rd and rest of the game. Ericsson got into a hugging match with Clarkson, and I’m not sure who out-loved the other in that one. Weiss went off after the 2nd period with a #TenderGroin (the Wing’s hastag of the presason), that is listed as “precautionary”. I’m sick of that, everyone on the team has a bad groin. Other hockey things happened too. It was good. Should’ve watched if you want to know what happened. I’m looking at you, Disciple.

How about this budding, potential rivalry between the Leafs and Detroit?! I was so excited just watching, listening to the preseason crowd that was as loud as some regular season crowds, dueling chants…wow. Toronto is close enough, that their fans can easily come on over to the Joe to get a piece of history and watch their much-improved team get schooled by the Wings. They are a rowdy bunch too. I, for one, welcome this. The only other teams we played on a regular basis were Chicago, who’s fans suck, and are too fair-weathery of fans to make the trip, and Columbus, who have 10 fans. Now we have true hockey fans close, and Original Six, and just awesome. I am very, very excited for this! YOU SHOULD BE TOO.

 

I was going to write other things, but now I’m not. Deal with it

Beartuzzi

Beartuzzi

 

Realizations – Coaches Edition

Babcock just chillin on the bench. Lookin' good doing it though

Babcock just chillin on the bench. Lookin’ good doing it though

Babcock. King of Analogies. The ones that don’t make sense that is. I think we need to start compiling a list eventually here. I mean, it’s just getting out of hand. Piano’s, pies, cakes, hats, banana’s, the things he’s used never ends, or makes sense when referring to hockey. It’s at least more imaginative than his nicknaming system. I mean…”Clears” instead of “Cleary”? That’s the same length. Just shorten that guy up and add a “y” or “s” to the end. Unless you’re super awesome and get “Pasha” or “Z” or “Kronner”.

We’ll get back to Babcock in a minute. Monday night, I had a fantastic night out with friends. First real time I got almost all my friends together and got stupid since I started my 3rd shift job in July. Being the hardcore person I am, I was of course decked out in Red Wings gear. I managed to run into some fellow hockey fans while I was out, but most were the typical “My team can do no wrong” type. However, I did meet one nice lady that shared my view of professional sports – Support the crap out of your team, but appreciate the fact that there are things they can, and do, do wrong. Our conversation was short, but enlightening. Who would’ve thought you could get that from a female Blackhawks fan? Blew my mind.

During this conversation, she of course brought up the preseason (therefore not as meaningful) spankings that Chicago has bestowed upon the Wings. She questioned the readiness of the team. We were not prepared. Babcock admitted this, fans admitted, this, players admitted this. I’ve heard this all before. In fact, I’ve heard it so many times the last 3 seasons, I can’t count the number of times. I’m sure we’re near 82 games of the last 3 regular seasons where the team has admitted that they were flat. Didn’t play 60 minutes of hockey. Or 50, or 40. In fact, it seems we’re lucky go get 30 minutes of good hockey a game. That is terrible. It’s switched all over the board. Can’t start the game well, can’t finish, lose it in the second, start of periods, ends of them.

We have motivation issues. Everyone knows Franzen has issues. Filppula never reached expectations but is so-far playing better than he ever did for Detroit now he’s somewhere else. Brunner took games off. Our top 6 has struggled hard the last 3 seasons with only Zetterberg and Datsyuk never taking a night off, and Helm when he’s there. Babcock keeps saying he doesn’t know why we weren’t ready to play.

Can we stop and think about this for a second. Arguably the best coach in the NHL, Mike Babcock, does not know why his team is flat. Unmotivated. I can understand if this is an occasional occurrence, but when it’s becoming a regular occurrence, but it’s not understandable anymore. Where are these issues coming from? What’s going on? Could it be Babcock’s distance from the team? He’s been detatched from the players for a while now. Letting players take time off for the birth of their child, then a month later, doing it again saying “He didn’t realize before he just wanted to go visit his wife”. Saying the press he hasn’t talked to his players that are injured, doesn’t know their status, just says “I didn’t see him in practice, so I guess he’s not ready”. List goes on. I’m not an NHL coach, so maybe that is the norm, but when I coached I had much more of an idea what’s going on with my players. He only has 23 players, and  he is their ultimate leader.

Maybe it’s his hands off coaching style. What hands off coaching style? He stated many times at how these guys are professionals and should know what is expected of them, he doesn’t need to tell them. He does. That’s why he’s one of the highest paid coaches ever. He relied on his veterans to coach the team so much, I’m not sure what he’s done. We’ve all seen him call a time out and then have the players run the huddle while he stands back.

It is the job of the head coach of a professional NHL team to instruct his players on what to do, what is expected of them, and most importantly, get them motivated and prepared for game day. That is the sole purpose of their job. Motivated and prepared for game day. Motivate. Why do the Wings constantly come out flat and unmotivated? It can be reasoned (but not proven) that Babcock is not performing his job well enough.

From my elitist, spoiled Red Wings fan, outside point of view, I think Babcock has lost control of his team. He needs to get involved, lay down the ban-hammer, and earn the respect of his players back. They have clearly lost respect for him. I do think Babcock is one of the best coaches in the world today, but I think he has gotten complacent. How long will we let his trend continue? In my lowly opinion, for the good of the Red Wings, if we continue to play flat on a semi-consistent basis…we need a change behind the bench.

I hope I put these thoughts together semi-coherently and in a way that makes this a viable argument instead of just a ranting. It is 5:30am. I welcome your thoughts and discussion here and on Twitter @motownmayhem13

Oh, Disciple has a pretty beard. Ask him to show you sometime.

Motown Decision 2013

Beat up Nyquist

This is definitely my own picture. But seriously. Stop beating up on my boy, Holland. let him play

BAM!

It’s that time of year again! What time of year, you ask? Well, if you followed @motownmayhem13 or @kpharkins on the twittweeter Twitter, you’d know it’s not Taco day, cuz Disciple doesn’t like it when we’re a little married.

 

NO, it’s preseason. And that means it’s Decision time. Roster decisions must be made, line-ups set, salary caps met, and hip flexors…flexed, properly. It’s no news to anyone that we have too many forwards signed, and we’re over the cap. Yawn, that is so old news, I swear if I read one more article about it, I may puke. So here you will be forced to read my opinions about what main stream media won’t speculate on, because…they’re mainstream and can’t.

 

Lots of kids are coming up, and veterans signed, and it’s created some interesting situations. I’m going to take salary (semi) out of this part here. First let’s look at the 1000 signed forwards we have now.

BULLET POINTS

  • Datsyuk
  • Zetterberg
  • Abdlekader
  • Franzen
  • Weiss
  • Alfredsson
  • Bertuzzi
  • Cleary
  • Samuelsson
  • Andersson
  • Emmerton
  • Tatar
  • Miller
  • Eaves
  • Tootoo
  • Nyquist
  • Helm

Those are the “NHL Ready” players we have to major league contracts. We can carry 14. Here is my top 14 that (in a perfect world, injuries aside at this point) I would put on my team.

A) Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Abdelkader (I hate Abby)

B) Alfie, Weiss, Franzen

C) Nyquist, Helm, Tatar

D) Eaves, Andersson, Samuelsson

E) Miller, Cleary

Here is why

A) Duh. Except Abdlekader. I still don’t believe he’s top 6 material. But he’s another center to help with injuries.

B) “Franzen coasts” duh. Get over it. 25 goals is still good, and I think we’d have traded him by this point if we got any good offers for him.

C) Young, promising forwards, good speed, hands, vision. Nice mix of skill and checking here. Perfect for developing players

D) Eaves and Miller are the same player. Eaves has one of the sickest wristers on the team, and has shown when you give him top minutes he produces. Babcock hates him, but I’m a big fan of Eaves. Lots of heart, but Eaves/Miller are interchangeable, I just prefer Eave’s offensive upside. Sammy is my surprise make here. I like him. I see the upside here, very good for helping out top line injuries, PP, and mixed minutes. Andersson is sexy

E) Eaves/Miller already discussed. I’d take Cleary again because he’s an “anywhere” player, but he doesn’t make the top 12. A good fill piece.

Bertuzzi has hockey left in him, but not here. We can’t hold back young players anymore. Tootoo is a FANTASTIC energy player, but he just doesn’t fit here. ‘Nuff said (I forgot Emmerton here. Caught it proof-reading. ‘Nuff said again ((That means he’s forgettable)))

So there is that. Bored yet? I am. here the fun begins. This is my prediction of what will ACTUALLY happen due to salary, injuries, ect.

Helm starts LTIR, saving a decision on who gets cut later. Because, why not procrastinate. I mean “give other players time to grab a piece of their pie/cake/cheese/whatever.”

We keep Emmerton because he’s a center, and Helm is hurt. Because Franzen didn’t actually play well as a center last year. And Miller definitely can’t do that. Or put Abby where he belongs on the 4th line center position. So we definitely need that guy because he’s a center.

Tootoo gets traded (How, I don’t know. Holland hasn’t figured out how to successfully trade players away since…I don’t even remember). Somehow we get rid of him.

Eaves get’s waived, picked up by the likes of Winnipeg, Florida, or Phoenix.

If Tootoo/Eaves isn’t able to be unloaded, Nyquist will start in Grand Rapids, which is a huge mistake. Why did Clearygate have to happen? Sigh. I’ve been up all night working, so I’m cutting this discussion short.

 

Those are my predictions as to what is going to happen with this logjam of stuff. However Babcock hasn’t had the best player management history the last couple seasons, and Holland is an amazing GM, but will go with Babcock’s recommendations.

Speaking of Babcock…how many pie/cheese/cake analogies are we going to get out of him? Why can’t you just say “earn” or something? Or stick to normal person analogies? Or come up with something new? We all know the way to get minutes in your lineup. It does involve grabbing something, but it’s not cheese. I’m looking at you, Abdelkader. It’s time to let go.

 

[Something clever and witty about Disciple]

 

It’s a Mental Game

3-1 series count in favor of the Red Wings. This is not something I expected…and anyone that seriously thought this would happen is lying or needs a CAT scan. This is awesome, and deserved. But how did this happen? Game 4 was the best game this series. Every game has been better than the last by anyone’s standards. Chicago has thrown everything at the Wings from sticks, pucks, kitchen sinks, cheap shots, and fists, and the Wings bulled through it. Mentally tough, using experience mixed with youth to find a way to overcome it all. During the first 10 minutes of Game 4 I was worried. Chicago seemed to dominate the Wings. Then we kicked it in and things went back and forth in a roller coaster I’m sure my neighbors hated me for. But after all the give aways and mistakes, Jimmy Howard stayed strong and kept us in it. And then the dam broke. Toews learned in the 2nd period that you shouldn’t publicly complain about officiating, because they will watch you like…a hawk…sorry. The refs gave him no slack after he got fed up and lost his cool and was called for 3 consecutive penalties. And the Red Wings capitalized on #2…and the wheels fell off for Chicago. Big E laid out Bickell shortly after the goal. Toews landed in the box again, and Chicago looked liked a high school team throwing a temper tantrum. This lasted well into the 3rd, with Chicago mounting pressure well towards the end, last 7 min or so. Crawford was pulled and Chicago couldn’t even get through the neutral zone with the extra skater and we buried the empty net. Game. Chicago has veteran leaders but they aren’t being vetran leaders. They are facing adversity for the first time this year and are showing the metal fortitude of a 4 year old in the cereal aisle (apple cinnamon cheerioes ftw). Detroit is taking late hits, slashes, chips, and everything, putting their heads down and playing hockey. That’s the difference in this game, and I hope Chicago doesn’t get their heads back till next season. Oh…Jimmy Howard…elite.

Facing the Unknown

*Jun 08 - 00:05*

Chris Pronger. What a D-Bag.

I’m sitting here, watching YouTube clips. Pronger’s not even in them. But somehow he came to mind. And his douchery. Who steals the game puck, cuz you lost a game? Come on.

Anyways, I apologize for what I’m about to put you through. This article is gonna be a mash up of a few things, hopefully we’ll live, laugh, love, learn, and loiter. (That’s the five L’s to go with the five W’s of writing). Now, onto the article [insert good horse name here, I’m taking suggestions]!

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Better or Worse…Mayhem is here

Alright everyone. We’re back, we’re real. We took an accidental sabbatical and left everyone hanging. But if the NHL can do it, so can we! The ridiculous lockout is over, thank the hockey gods (Gordie be praised, Probie didn’t require a blood sacrifice).

Lockout over, and the Disciple and I are ready. Lots of stuff to look forward to this year! New possible star in Brunner, development (hopefully) of budding prospects like Mursak and Nyquist. Seeing if Abdelkader still has his sucking skills in place, on and off the ice. We can expect to see the line-blender Babcock loves so much on overdrive with only half the games to do it in too.

The end of an era has past. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Wings will be without the likes of Yzerman or Lidstrom. It scares me, saddens me, and excites me. Let’s hope Babcock doesn’t sit the youngins too much, we need our next inhuman player. Welcome back, hockey. You’ve been missed. -WingsCowboy