Saturday, October 30, 2010

Preview: Let's Mix Things Up--Wings VS Preds

Detroit (5-2-1) VS Nashville (5-1-3)

Well, now we know who's sitting, and is it any great surprise he's already whining?

Sources have confirmed that Jiri Hudler will be the odd man out on Detroit's 3rd line, and he has already started voicing his displeasure with the decision. Let's take a look at the stats, shall we? Hudler is in the middle of his two linemates as far as performance goes: not as bad as Mike Modano on the +/-, and not as offensively stagnant as Dan Cleary. The problem is neither Cleary nor Modano have fussed about feeling undercut when it came to money, unlike a certain someone a couple years back...Hudler needs to remember that he was kept on upon his return from the KHL because it was believed he would bring back some offensive punch, but such has not been the case thus far, and I hate to say it hasn't surprised me in the least.

In his stead, Hudler will be replaced by Justin Abdelkader, a kid with a lot of heart and a roster spot to earn back. I expect the Predators are going to be a bit banged up after this matchup. Let's take a look at the Geek's Winning Formula for tonight:

1.) Stabilize Early - The Wings need a strong 1st period. After the game against Phoenix, we don't need to dig our own grave twice in a row. If Detroit just plays simple, smart hockey then we should be fine, the game should be plenty winnable.

2.) Depth Charges - I said in a previous post a while ago that I'd been concerned about the lack of success from the bottom 2 lines, and the troubles no the Red Wings' 3rd line are a prime example that all the holes have not been plugged yet. As mentioned, hopefully Abby will be able to ignite something and turn this thing around in our favor!

3.) The Advantage of History - It's corny and it's cliche', but I like the odds of games where history is against the opponent. The media makes sure that it's never kept silent, and the team can't completely shut it out. Hockey players are a superstitious bunch, many may not tell you that but that's because it'd be bad luck to do so. The Preds have been abyssmal in the Joe, and I'm hoping fate has a part in the Wings' play tonight so that Detroit can spoil what would be Nashville's first 4-0-0 road start in franchise history.

I may be around for the game, so you may see me on Twitter!

Enjoy the game, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red Wings!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Preview: Can We FINALLY Start the Season, For Real?

Detroit (5-1-1) VS Phoenix (2-3-3)

What the heck is hockey...?

Man, it's hard to remember when you only see your team play twice in eleven days, and it's supposedly the regular season.

Anyway, now that this farce is behind us, the Red Wings can look to try and build some momentum as they play host to the Phoenix Coyotes, a team we've seen plenty of in the last while. Already having played them once in the regular season this year after going 7 games with them in last year's playoffs, the Wings will have a chance to continue their success against the Coyotes. Helping in that effort tonight will be now-healthy Brad Stuart, who was suffering from an illness that kept him out of Wednesday practice. Early success could mean a lot to Detroit as they have at least 1-2 games in hand on most of the Western Conference, the only nice thing about the 2-week in-season holiday the Red Wings received.

Let's do a quick Geek's Winning Formula for tonight's affair:

1.) Make Use of the Rest - Can't be any complaining tonight about being tired, as the Wings have played something like 4 games in 2 weeks. I hope to see a full game's effort from everyone tonight so as to shake the rust off.

2.) Third Line Success - Coach Babcock has made it clear he's unhappy with the lack of production from the 3rd line, so I expect to see those shifts to be played hard. Guys like Justin Abdelkader are chomping at the bit to get out there and contribute, and if Babs thinks there's slack needing picked up, he won't waste time making a change.

3.) (IMPROMPTU) Stay Cool In Net - We literally just received the news over Twitter as I am writing this that it seems Jimmy Howard may be injured. Ansar Khan originally slated Howard to start tonight's match, but the Red Wings' official site has updated with news that G Joey MacDonald has been recalled to backup starting goalie Chris Osgood. The boys need to simply focus on the game and let whatever this is work itself out.

Well, not how I wanted to leave things while heading to work. Can't wait to hear how this plays out.

Wish for the best, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red Wings!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Outta My Way Teemu, I'm Back on Vacation!

You're seriously on the wrong team if you want to whine about getting hit, Mr. Selanne.

As the Red Wings endure their 2nd fall vacation early in this NHL regular season, the Anaheim Ducks seem less than sunny about one of their star players getting hit. Niklas Kronwall delivered a brutal--but very much legal--hit to the Finnish Flash which left him seeing Swedish stars. Selanne, along with basically all of the Anaheim organization is up in arms about the travesty of letting the hit go unpunished. What exactly they think the league could punish Kronner for is far beyond me. Any rational hockey fan, Wingnut or not, who looks at all the angles of this hit has to know it was clean. The hit was not lateral or blindside, so it is well within the guidelines of a legal hit. Kronwall also explained perfectly the reason why his feet left the ice after contact. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said that Kronwall "jumped" which is completely false. Kronwall explained that Selanne gave the look that he was going to finish his check heading toward the puck. Kronwall then braced and prepared to add extra thrust with his legs on impact so as to not be knocked over by the force of the hit. When Selanne then decided not to finish the check, all of Kronner's wound up energy had to go somewhere, and as he pushed toward Selanne, the forward motion mixed with the force of his collision brought him off the ice momentarily.

It's called physics, Randy. Learn some.

I also loved how the other complaint out of Anaheim was the supposed lop-sidedness of penalties--not just during the game on Saturday, but apparently every time the Ducks play in Detroit. Talk about comedic gold. How many times has that line passed by a Wings fan's lips about every other team in the league? I've done it a couple times, on extreme occasions where it might be warranted, but I think most of it is simply chalked up to the overall ineptitude of league officials. They all suck equally, we just see it more when it's hurting our team's chances of winning.

Speaking of winning, Detroit's been doing a decent job of it recently, and I have to say I'm happy with our start record-wise. I just hate that we're waiting another week and losing all our momentum again. I haven't looked too far ahead on the skid, but I bet we have a number of back-to-back games to make up for this later. Really looking forward to it. Honest.

At least everyone will be thinking of Kronwall.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wondering if Wings are as Bored as I am

No clever pic to go with this quick update, as my provider is doing maintenance.

I remember being frustrated when this happened last year, and guess what? I'm just as pissed off this season about it. Can someone give me a LEGITIMATE reason why the Wings have to go almost a week before their next game? Is this really necessary? You ask anyone around and 9 times out of 10 they will agree that a break this long is bad for ANY team, let alone a Detroit team that has been having problems sustaining momentum after wins. Who plans this schedule? Are there other teams that have a hiatus in the midst of their season also? Are their fanbases as cranky about this as I am? I would love to know, because I'm getting tired of this.

As a result, I'm going to be cautiously optimistic going into our next game. I'm not going to mention much about the next match--I'll leave that for the pre-game. The only silver lining that I can see t this is it gives our injured players more time to heal before man-games lost start to pile up. Franzen should be fine for Thursday, which is great news considering we need someone to help dictate the pace. Mule has the skillset to do just that.

I just hope the rest of the team is able to focus after another half-a-year between games...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Preview: Reeling Red Wings must Refocus in Arizona

Last time Detroit played Phoenix, they eliminated the Coyotes from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tonight, though not as momentous as the last game, is still pretty important.

The Wings are on their heels after only pulling 1 point from their last two games, and face the dreary thought of an early season winless streak if things don't improve in the desert.

Detroit (2-1-1) will look to start bringing in the W's again against the Coyotes (1-1-0), one of the few teams still only a pair of games into the season. From the sounds of the reports coming in, Detroit will be challenging the Desert Dogs short one forward, as Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader are both scratched for tonight's affair. Drew Miller will be matched on the second line, with Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves playing subs on the 3-line squad.

Let's look at The Geek's Winning Formula for tonight's matchup:

1.) Stay Fresh - Being short a player on your bench is not fun and will tire a team out that much faster. The Wings need to get on the ice, skate hard, do their jobs, then get back off the ice and let another group take over. Detroit can NOT afford to let Phoenix pin them in their own end, this will only end in tears, unnecessary icings, and--eventually--goals against.

2.) Keep it Clean - If Detroit can stay out of the penalty box and get lucky with some penalties on Phoenix's side, it's going to be much easier to keep the lines rested and get a more complete game from all the skaters. It's going to be bad enough playing down one roster spot, it's going to be inexcusable for the Wings to take sloppy penalties tonight.

3.) Depth Charges - Guys, we need some secondary support here, stat!! The bottom half of Detroit's lineup really needs to step up and contribute in tonight's game, if only to help ease the pressure on the top half of the lineup. The whole squad needs to improve defensively, top to bottom, as many of our top guys--including my beloved Dats--are in the minus category. Let's see some stronger shifts defensively, boys!!

Alright, I have tonight off, so I'll be watching along at home. Should be entertaining!

See you on Twitter, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red Wings!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Preview: Mo Come Home, Wings Visit Dallas

It's okay Mike, you're on our side now!

All joking aside, tonight's matchup is going to be another game with at least someone bringing some emotional baggage to the ice. It's likely going to be difficult for Mike Modano to skate on Dallas ice for the first time and not be playing for the home team, but it's also something that he knew was coming and needed to prepare for.

Also, other veterans on the team probably have #18 in the back of their minds as Kirk Maltby's retirement continues to sink in. Watching the press conference, my only thought was how odd it seemed to see Malts having such a hard time to say something. Kirk never had a lack of things to say on the ice, and his absence could potentially weigh on some of his former teammates.

Through all of this, the Red Wings look to get back to their winning ways and keep getting points, having started strong (2-0-1) and taking an early lead in the division standings. Let's check The Geek's Winning Formula to see how they can do that:

1.) Drop the Baggage - This is such a key point. I know the Wings are professional players, but stepping on the ice knowing that a 16-year comrade on the roster is gone and not coming back can be haunting. Also, for Modano, I think the best cure for any jitters he might get coming back to the big D would be to get on the scoresheet early. In booth cases, the Wings cannot lose focus if they want the 2 points tonight.

2.) Tighten the Gaps - I watched video from the Colorado game, and there were some bad defensive botches on many of those goals. We need to get back to the smart play we saw in the first two games and keep opposing chances to a minimum. This team is too deep to be getting outshot, which we have been the last 2 games.

3.) Oz Needs to be Good - By the sounds of things, Ozzie is getting the nod. This is a perfect time for him to show whether or not his head is back in it: help the team get the W after a disappointing SO loss the game before. I like that Osgood and Howard are a tandem this early on, there's no excuses now. Both goalies are getting their starts, and both should keep rested enough to win consistently.

I'm afraid I'm going to miss this match due to work again. I need to switch to days...

Enjoy the game, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red Wings!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Preview: Detroit Looking for Snowball Effect, Host Avs

Lots to talk about today in Red Wings world, and surprisingly the Wings/Avs game is nowhere near the top of the list! Let's get a few things out of the way before pre-game:

First, word has been confirmed that longtime Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby will be announcing his retirement today. It has also come to light that he will be taking on a job as a scout for Detroit, some sources claiming he will be taking over Pat Verbeek's position.

Second, the news has gotten out that Kris Draper has been placed on injured reserve, and that Doug Janik will be filling in for a scratched Brian Rafalski. The word is that Raf needs a knee scope performed, which means we now have two top 6 defensemen on the mend.

And finally, as most everyone has heard, head coach Mike Babcock has signed a 4-year extension with the Wings, meaning that Babs isn't going anywhere for a good long time.

Now, onto the pre-game:

It's kind of sad that this former rivalry has died out so pathetically that the mentioning of the matchup barely makes anyone bat an eye anymore. I get that most of the players from the 97 brawl era have moved on, but these two teams were also the cream of the crop in that same time period: 5 of the 7 Stanley Cups between 1996 and 2002 went to Detroit or Colorado, the Wings taking 3 of those 5.

While the Wings have remained a dominant force, the Avs have seen some decline in the last few years, but are looking to make it back with the rest of the front-runners with prospects like Matt Duchene leading the way.

Detroit will be looking to help derail that notion tonight when the Avalanche come into the Joe. The Wings have a chance to go 3-0 to start the season, which would be leaps and bounds better than their start last year. How can they do it? Let's check The Geek's Winning Formula to find out:

1.) Minimize Time Defending - With both Kindl and Janik suiting up tonight, I really do not want to see a lot of Avs puck possession in our end. Even moreso than in Chicago, Colorado will be looking to overwork our defense, and the Wings need to keep the puck out of the defensive zone. Get the puck out fast, try to keep icings to a minimum, and trust Babs to make sure we don't get caught with third-tier D-Men against Colorado's first-tier forwards.

2.) Nothing Fancy - To help the defense, it'll be critical for the Wings forwards to stop trying to make cute plays with a high risk/reward factor. The talent on this team is good enough to make magic out of basic fundamental plays. I didn't like how often we started turning the puck over in Chicago, and Flip's GWG was a fluke, no matter how you slice it.

3.) Play on the Fatigue Factor - We were able to pull off consecutive games for two wins, but Colorado lost their game last night and are likely tired and frustrated at their early season misfortunes. Detroit should try to press that to their advantage--agitate the Avs and run them hard, try to force some bad penalties and get some quality time on the PP. We need to work our man-up units anyway, as they've been less than stellar so far this year.

Unfortunately I won't be getting home for this game before work, so I expect everyone to cheer twice as hard in my absence!

Go get 'em, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red Wings!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Flip Trips Blackhawks on Red Carpet in Wings Win

Now that was some fine party-crashing!!

The Red Wings came into the United Center and brought the raucous crowd down to earth with a 3-2 victory over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The game has only just recently ended, thanks to the longest, most drawn-out banner raising ceremony in the history of mankind (puck-drop wasn't until around 9PM EST or later). The Wings, however, were apparently fine with waiting patiently to spoil the festivities. Valtteri Filppula netted two goals, including the game-winner in the third period, to help push the Wings past the Cup-drunk champs.

A couple of key players were in the spotlight tonight: Jakub Kindl made his first start of the season, replacing injured Jonathan Ericsson. Also, Chris Osgood got the nod in net--a move many were ready to chastise coach Mike Babcock for making.

Let's take a closer look at tonight's match by breaking down The Geek's Winning Formula from earlier:

1.) Hold Onto the Energy - Would I pass the Wings on this test? ...Yes, but not with flying colors like last night. The Wings showed spurts of intensity, but there were times when it was sorely lacking. I know it's hard to play two nights in a row, but that doesn't excuse going easy on the boards and losing puck battles that players would normally have no right losing. One spot where Detroit picked up the pace well was on the penalty kill. It was rough to see the Wings down a man so often tonight, but considering the frequency I feel we got proof of a very effective PK corps.

2.) Plug That Hole - Defensive gap? I didn't really see one. Jakub Kindl, in my mind, played admirably in his season debut, and really...would Ericsson have done any better? If Kindl can keep playing like this, improving all the while, I'd like to see him overtake Big Rig for the 6th spot on the blueline. Maybe it would help drive the Big E to improve his OWN game. The rest of the team also played quite well defensively, so that was a big help to keep Kindl's confidence high.

3.) Keep the Ship Afloat - Ozzie...did you read my last post before the game? Seriously, despite the score, I think that was one of the best games Chris Osgood's had in a while. Chris played a solid game while keeping mistakes to a BARE minimum (that turnover behind the net was scary...!). This is more like the Osgood that we love and, more importantly, want to see more of. Any sort of effective tandem between Osgood and Jimmy Howard is a very good thing.

Overall, here is my final grade for the Wings in this contest:

Team Offense - B+: One was pretty, one was lucky, and one was flat out ridiculous. I'm pretty sure Flip jedi'd that last goal past Marty Turco, as he got no power on the release at all. They can't all be beauties, they just have to go in.

Team Defense - A-: While most of the game was played defensively sound by the Red Wings, one area concerned me tonight: turnovers. Too many times I found that our boys were not paying close enough attention to where the Hawks were set up, and errant passes started coming in bunches as the game wore on. Chicago got far too many opportunities for scoring chances, and it showed based on how many bad penalties Detroit took tonight. The saving grace here was the PK--the penalty killing units ran some great damage control.

Team Intensity - B+: Don't want to dive too deeply into this again, but like I said: I know it's hard to play consecutive nights, but you can't play soft tonight just because you played yesterday. The Wings did a decent job of staving that trap off, much more so than the team of last season would have.

Overall, I thought it was an awesome party.

The next tilt will be with the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Till then, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Preview: Wings Look to Help Blackhawks Botch Banner Night

Detroit will look to ride a wave of momentum into the Windy City and put the hurt on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Jakub Kindl will get an early start to the season due to Jonathan Ericsson's back spasms and Chris Osgood will start what many may feel needs to be a road to redemption after the disappointing performance from the veteran netminder last year.

The Wings will have to wait for the start of the game until after the Blackhawks raise their first Stanley Cup banner since 1961. After that, though, Detroit will have a chance to ruin the celebratory evening for their division rivals.

So without further ado, here's The Geek's Winning Formula for tonight's game:

1.) Hold Onto the Energy - Detroit put an absolute clinic against Anaheim last night, and that intensity needs to carry into tonight's match as well. Everyone knows it's no fun playing back-to-back games, so the Red Wings need to keep themselves highly motivated this evening.

2.) Plug That Hole - Jakub Kindl needs to prove himself early by having a solid game tonight. Likely the Blackhawks will look to exhaust our top defensive lines if only to get Kindl on the ice as much as possible, trying to exploit his inexperience in the wake of the Ericsson injury.

3.) Keep the Ship Afloat - The biggest factor to this game in my mind is #30. Chris Osgood needs to make another one of his fairytale-like comebacks this season if he wants to see much time on the ice--and if he wants to keep his job in Motown. I've been a huge Ozzie supporter in years past, but after the events of last season I think Chris needs to prove he's over this latest hump and ready to get back to his winning ways.

Hour and a quarter till puck-drop, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Red Wings Pluck Ducks in Detroit Home Opener

Want Pavel Datsyuk's advice? Say no to thugs. The deceptive Detroit forward dodged and deked his way through the worst of the assault led by the Anaheim Ducks--including standing up to and bringing down the oh-so-manly Corey Perry in a tussle between the two--to help the Red Wings cruise to a 4-0 victory over one of the ugliest (in so many ways) teams in the league.

I was fortunate enough to get out of work early for this game, only missing a little bit of the first period. A huge thank you goes out to @uclajenn for helping get me setup part-way into the game when I was raging over trying to find a TV stream!! Everybody be sure to give her a follow on Twitter when you get the chance, she's a real sweetheart and a passionate Wingnut.

As for what I saw in this game, well...let me say that I simply could not stop grinning. This team is going to be scary--very, very scary.

I know it's only the first game, but look at how much we have to take away from this. The play I saw from this Red Wings squad tonight was the stuff of champions past. I really believe this team is as deep as it's been in years, maybe even more so than the '08 Cup team. These lines are ridiculous! Hank and Pav on the top line, Franzen and Bertuzzi leading the 2nd line convoy, a 3rd line center named MIKE MODANO? Are you kidding me?? This team is so deep they'll need to hand out life preservers before every game so people don't drown!!

And just look at the results: Modano scores in his first game as a Wing, we already see production from the top line, and defensively we put on a great show. Most importantly (to me), however, is the fact that this team went out tonight and showed 29 other teams that they are taking guff from Pav takes on Corey Perry and takes the win--however slight, Jimmah then shows Perry where he made Crosby kiss his equipment, and the Wings just all-around dealt with AND dished back the physicality. We dominated puck control, neutralized the opposition's physical game and were a defensive bulwark.

You know what this means, guys...? Detroit played a complete game. From start to finish. Full 60 minutes of hockey. I haven't seen THAT in years.

And that has to be the biggest reason why I'm excited this year.

Tomorrow night we go into Chicago to watch the half-banner go up for the full no wait, sorry, the FULL banner go up for the HALF-team that won it last year, and I think we have the kind of team this year that can start carrying momentum from game to game, so if I were you Blackhawks, I would be mighty worried about the showdown a little less than a day away.

Final Grade
Team Offense - A+: Got the job done and saw production across the roster.
Team Defense - A+: Shutout for Howard and kept the Ducks to less than half of the Wings shot total.
Team Intensity - A+++: It's been a long long time since I've seen the Wings this revved up, and it looks so, so good.

A better opener couldn't be asked for.

We'll see you tomorrow night Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!

New Season Starts Tonight for Red Wings

We waited all summer for this moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's finally here.

The Red Wings 2010-2011 season starts TONIGHT!!!

...and I have to work! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!??

Yeah, so I'm going to miss the opener due to work, so you can imagine how pissed of I am right now. I'm not going to get too deep into things tonight, as it's the first game, but here's what I DO have to say: Nothing I say, nothing anyone else says, can summarize this feeling every year of starting the hunt for Stanley anew. Boys, go out there and start this season strong, and I'll be with you in spirit with my Wings shirt on at the office!!

For the first of many times this season Wingnuts: Let's Go Red Wings!!!