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!

Start of something awesome?

Helm gets the game winning shoot out goal. You didn't misread that, it happened.

Helm gets the game winning shoot out goal. You didn’t misread that, it happened.

Or is it just another “up” in a land of mountains and valleys? Yesterday, the wings managed to outplay Chicago and overcome deficits twice to win 5-4 in a shootout at JLA. Aside from nearly having a heart attack and passing out several times, the game was tremendously exciting. It was wide open at times, it was grinding at times and it was chippy at times. I laughed, they cried, and every passing car burst into flames. WINNER!

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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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Let’s just flush that one.

That’s basically what Captainberg said. I’d have to agree with him. This is a classic example of a game in which the team just wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Or most cylinders. Or really very many cylinders at all. Good chances were few and far between and coverage in our own end was just plain sloppy. This, indeed, is one to flush away with the rest of the rubbish.

Let’s be honest here, the Wings can’t keep giving up 40+ shots a game and expect to be competitive most nights, especially with the lineup they ice every night. There is a lot of talent in the lineup right now, but most of that talent have played very little in the NHL and are still learning. On most nights, the Wings ice a team that includes 8 players who played on the Griffins Calder Cup run last summer. Half of them were meant to be in Grand Rapids all to most of this year. Injuries are a given in every season, but the amount that this team has had to contend with on a nightly basis to its top personnel is pretty unreal. Guys like Sheahan, Jurco, Glendening and Mrazek weren’t exactly counted on as regular contributors but have had to step up because of consistent injuries. This isn’t including guys like Emmerton, Eaves and Tootoo who were all waived and have been brought back up at some point. Then you have the likes of Oullet, Almquist and Marchenko who have all seen time with the big club.

On top of all of this is the fact that Jimmy Howard has apparently hurt himself again and his status moving forward is very much in doubt. Preliminary news is that he tweaked his knee, the same one he hurt in December, and is day-to-day. Although thought to be a minor injury, there’s just no telling at this point. And with Gustavsson’s status still in doubt, it appears as if Mrazek will get a few games in.

Having injuries is one thing, but it seems like every game we lose someone and get someone back, this makes for quite the problematic situation. There’s just no consistency with linemates and the lack of consistency and chemistry has shown itself time and time again. At some point, we will get our players back and, hopefully, we will have some good luck with health. Until then, the guys in the lineup will just have to suck it up and push the pace. Too cute with the puck and an unwillingness to put as much rubber at the net has given this team a consistent lack of real threat. This needs to change if this team is to make a real push to the playoffs.

Gameday Update: HELMER

Ok, so the wings will be getting a healthy body back tonight for the game against St. Louis. Although, not exactly the best team to get a recently injured player back against.

HelmDarren Helm will be making his season deb….wait, he’s already played this year? Oh, right. Just his first in 18 games. That’s right. It just seems like he’s still been out all this time. All kidding aside, he’s been pretty good this year with 11 points in 16 games, including 7 goals that all seemed to come in the same week. He’s currently slated to play on a line with Tatar and Miller. SPEED KILLS.

Other injury updates: Ericsson should be back on Wednesday against Chicago. Franzen is skating but still has no timetable for his return. Datsyuk and Alfredsson didn’t skate and Gustavsson still isn’t quite ready so Mrazek will back up Howard tonight.

LINES!

Nyquist-Zetterberg-Abdelkader

Jurco-Sheahan-Bertuzzi

Tatar-Helm-Miller

Cleary-Glendening-Eaves

 

Niklas Kronwall-Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Petr Mrazek

 

It’s Bigger Than Any One of Us

The kid is just so fun to watch

The kid is just so fun to watch

There are moments all throughout sports that really bring us sports fans together as a community. Whether its a spectacular play that fans of both sides can do nothing but admire or simply a conversation between two sports fans that make you realize that we are a community. One thing that I’ve always held to, and it’s the cool thing about sports, is it’s bigger than just my team or my favorite player or my favorite moment. Nothing else in the world can bridge a cultural/political/economic gap quite like sports can. In  the 2012 Olympics North Korea and South Korea played each other in Ping Pong (withhold laughter, please) and shook hands after the match. Something you wouldn’t see normally, they did out of respect for the game. You see national teams in soccer play one another despite political tension between the countries and these matches can be used as a bridge of sorts. During World War I, on Christmas Day, Allied and German soldiers put aside their differences and their weapons to play soccer and laugh and drink together. While the next thing I will mention may seem to pale in comparison to the above, it’s no less important to the individuals involved. On Saturday night, Tomas Tatar scored the eventual game winning goal during the third period against the LA Kings. It was a goal like so many other of his very important goals this year; it came at a critical time and he just seemed to be at the right place at the right time. Immediately, though, you knew this goal was different.

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