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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Post Game and….Waivers!?

Hai guys! You watch the game last night? That was fun, right? The funny thing, and it’s definitely attributed to how this season has gone, is how Wings fans reacted to winning our 2nd straight home game for only the second or third time this year. Who are we, the Islanders? Hell, they’ve done that more often this season than the Wings have. But that’s really not the point. The Wings have put together some solid efforts in three of their last four home games. The lone calamity came against St. Louis in an effort that many players agreed to just “flush”. We’ll talk about that a bit before I have to leave again (busy life), and talk about the Wings’ waiver transaction today that I’m sure most will be happy with.

The Wings won in a really good effort against a good but sliding Montreal team. They’ve now lost three in a row and are just three points up on Detroit for third in the division. If the Wings can win against Florida on Sunday and have a good showing against Philadelphia on Tuesday, it’ll go a long way to making up lost ground. Add to that the fact that we should be getting Franzen back for the game against Florida and possibly Andersson back in the next week and hopefully Datsyuk soon, and we could get rolling soon. Weiss is due back for the first game after the Olympic break so the Wings may finally get the roster they wanted to go with all season. Anyway, the game: Zetterberg, Nyquist, Kronwall and Sheahan all tallied goals. Sheahan’s was especially impressive. Everyone in the building voided their bowels upon seeing it. It was disgusting. I’ve been getting more and more impressed with Glendening’s game. He’s not going to score much, that’s a certainty, but he honestly reminds me of a combination of Draper and Maltby, but still without the offensive acumen. He’s got really good speed and has been getting especially efficient at getting under players’ skin without playing dirty. He’s got an edge to his game and he plays a fast, hard hitting game, but nothing dirty. I’m really loving it. He just needs to work on face-offs and he’ll be good to go.

Ok, and now the moment you’ve all been waiting for……THE WAIVER TRANSACTION!

If you’re reading this you probably already know but LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT.  The Wings have placed forward Mikael Samuelsson on waivers this afternoon to make room for Johan Franzen. Samuelsson has been a healthy scratch for basically the whole year after losing his spot to Tomas Tatar around the 10th game. It’s been pretty telling, for some time, that Detroit has been calling up young guys to keep Samuelsson off the ice. The curious thing, now that they need a roster space, is they’ve opted to keep Jurco up for as long as they can and waive Samuelsson, who won’t offer anything in terms of cap relief. Because he signed a 35+ contract and the new CBA is weird about waiving players, his cap relief will only be $100 thousand so it doesn’t do anything to help our eventual cap issue, which we will have when Weiss comes off LTIR at the end of February. At any rate, I’m sure there was a joyful chorus from Wings Nation when the tweets started coming out that Detroit had waived Sammy. It was a long time coming and I hope he does get claimed, which will mean his entire cap hit comes off the books. I doubt that’ll happen, though.

Happy Saturday, guys. Enjoy your weekend and as always, GO WINGS!

Gameday: Chicago And The State of Things

Babcockchillin

I know that the collective of Wings fans probably woke up and rolled their eyes this morning realizing that Chicago comes to town tonight. Almost giving up and saying “here we go again”. Let’s all just be honest here, this game has the potential to be a very ugly game. But, realistically, every game has the potential to be a very ugly game. Anyone remember back in February of 09 when Detroit went to Nashville? Detroit was still a very good team and Nashville was meh, Detroit lost 8-0. I was there. It was awful. Anyway, a very good, very fast and very potent Chicago team comes to Motown and face a Red Wings team still trying to find their way through a maze of injuries and ineptitude.

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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.

Indecision 2013

Comedy Central maaaaay sue us, but whatever, it’s not an election year. Hey, did you guys see what Cowboy posted the other day? Pretty good stuff, right? Except for his nonsensical fancy for Sammy over Beardtuzzi. I’m going to offer my rebuttal to Cowboys post about who stays and who goes. I think he’s pretty right on about a lot of it, but I have a few changes I’d like to see vs what i think will actually happen.

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And Here We Are

The Red Wings’ season ended on Wednesday, and now it’s Sunday. Lots of thoughts were flying around my head. Picture 100 wicked witches from the Wizard of Oz riding around on brooms in your head, only they have lasers….that’s kind of what it was like. I should probably go to the hospital. Anyway, I’ve had to take the time to compose my thoughts on the end, as well as reflect back on the season as a whole and now I think I’m ready to do that. So grab some low fat, organic something and enjoy what you’re about to read.

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