Sunday, April 11, 2010

Razor Burn Never Felt so Good

And it begins, Wingnuts. We're playoff bound and regular season hairiness can check itself at the door!! New season, new beard.

It's about to get hairy over the next few months. Enjoy the ride, Wingnuts. We'll see you again on Wednesday.

Blackhawks Down, Red Wings Go Back Up to 5th

What a great day for Red Wings fans. Not only did we beat down the Chicago Blackhawks, but with the win Detroit clinched 5th seed in the Western Conference and guaranteed a matchup with Phoenix in the 1st round. There was also that little bonus of guaranteeing Chicago gets stuck with 2nd seed. Happy, happy day indeed Wingnuts.

The Red Wings played an average game for the first two periods, not great, but also not horrible. I do have to strongly comment on the errant passing and throwing away of the puck. That has to stop...immediately. Detroit threw way too many pucks away both in the neutral zone and in the defensive end. Sloppy plays also cost the Wings a lot of scoring chances, which is attested by the SOG totals (29-21 in favor of Chicago). The Wings were stifled offensively and were lucky to get the goals they did to win this hockey game.

But enough with that negativity, let's recap The Geek's Winning Formula!

1.) Win the Mirror Match - Detroit honestly failed in this department, and it damn near killed them. Chicago converted on the PP. We did not. This happens too often to the Red Wings and I will not come off my soapbox until Detroit finally fixes this!! As the Hawks showed us, you can't ALWAYS rely on your PK units to keep you out of the hole, you need to cash in on the opportunities given you, because you may not get any more! Chicago fixed one of their problems, but thankfully for us, luck was on the Wings' side today.

2.) Playoff Mode: On - As far as this goes, I would give the last period and OT the thumbs up, but the first two periods...well, can we say communication breakdown? So many stray passes, giveaways. We only garnered 12 shots after 40 minutes!! Come on!! A lot of control was given to the Hawks as well by Detroit easing up again on the physical side through the first two periods. The Red Wings visibly stepped this up once the 3rd started, exemplified by Brad Stuart's absolute manhandling of Patrick Kane near the end of regulation. That, my friends, was a thing of beauty. The Wings were able to keep the intensity in overtime and eventually caught the Hawks off guard as Stewie snuck in from the line and fed a wide open net what it so desperately wanted: black, vulcanized rubber.

3.) Play Hard, but Play Smart - Again, first two thirds of this game? Fail. But a pass to the boys from period 3 onward, and luckily the Blackhawks weren't able to take this game away from us early. Most of that credit goes to (who else?) Jimmy Howard, but also a couple of critical defensive plays, one by Danny Cleary and the other by Andreas Lilja, kept Chicago's scoring to a minimum in a game they probably should have run away with. The wings were notedly (and frighteningly) prone to penalties today, something that had better be a one-time deal, because pulling that in the post-season? Good way to get an early start to fishin'.

I could try to omit it and hope you didn't catch on, but I sadly didn't play the fortune-teller very well today either. Though Darren Helm did play a great game, Brad Stuart ended up being the real hero of the game, winning it in OT for the Red Wings and clinching that 5th spot for our boys in red.

Now: the playoffs. Yes, we're finally here! Round 1 gives us the Phoenix Coyotes, a team we've faced before in the post-season, but not for some time. We'll be back on TDG to preview the matchup (likely tomorrow) and give insight on what to expect from the desert dogs as the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin!

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

Season Finale: Wings @ Blackhawks

"I'm just being patient out there and having fun." - Goaltender Jimmy Howard

Detroit (43-24-14) @ Chicago (52-22-7)

Good to know that Jimmy is taking everything in stride. I wish I could be as calm as him coming into today's game, but it's hard knowing that our positioning in the playoffs will be determined by our last game of the season! A win today against the Chicago Blackhawks will clinch 5th seed for the Red Wings and ensure that they will play Phoenix in the first round. Anything less and it starts to get a little dicey...

So for the last time this regular season, let's calculate The Geek's Winning Formula!

1.) Win the Mirror Match - You may not like hearing this (trust me, I don't like saying it), but Chicago and Detroit are looking very similar right now: both on hot streaks, high offense, getting help from a hot young goaltender, solid PK units, PP units's kind of disturbing how identically these two teams are playing. This means, however, that it is critical for the Wings to fix their problems today. The first team to correct their mistakes is going to win this hockey game. The way Chicago has been playing, if Detroit goes behind the eight-ball today, we're in for a long and tiresome uphill climb.

2.) Playoff Mode: On - This needs to happen now. I don't know if the Wings felt they were already in playoff mode, but the inconsistency they still show says to me there is lots of ground left yet to cover. If ever Detroit needed to put on a playoff performance, it's today. You can also bet that Chicago is going to throw everything they have at us this afternoon, as a win for the Blackhawks clinches 1st seed in the West for them. Wouldn't it be fun to spoil that party in their rink?

3.) Play Hard, but Play Smart - It's gonna be real easy for Detroit to stand on the gas, but the Wings need to forget that this is Chicago and focus on the "this team is vying for 1st seed" part. If we turn to a full attack style, the Hawks are gonna burn the Red Wings, Chicago has too much offensive talent to not take advantage of a defensive lapse on our part. Strong offense on top of strong defense is what we need today, a balanced, calculated attack. Look for chances without giving chances away, control the neutral zone, and get early pressure on Niemi/Huet (I figure it will be Niemi). Minimize the chance of falling behind and Detroit maximizes the chance of keeping control of the game's rhythm.

Well, since I only started last game, I only have a chance to go .500 on the year, but I'm counting on our energy lines today, so I'm gonna go with Darren "The Flash" Helm to save the day today! Show 'em what speed really is, Helmer!

Enjoy this last regular season game, Wingnuts!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!