Thursday, April 15, 2010

Willy too Wonky, Abdelkader Gets the Nod

In a rush of brilliance, the Detroit Red Wings have opted to bench forward Jason Williams and have called Justin Abdelkader to action in his place. At this time, it is the only confirmed roster change the Wings will make before Game 2 against the Phoenix Coyotes, and I say it's a good one.

I understand Detroit is not a hitting-type of team, I get that. I also understand that a team plays best when they stick to their style of play. But there is a major difference between changing a gameplan and just plain sticking up for yourself. Anyone who has followed me for the last little while, do you remember the game against the Flyers a couple weeks ago? What'd I say? Teams are going to notice that Detroit allows themselves to be bullied and it disrupts our rhythm. You think Phoenix caught on? Well, hopefully with the move to add Abs to the lineup, our gritty #8 will get in the Coyotes' face and help give the Wings the spunk they so noticeably lacked in Game 1.

I also like this change because (surprise!) I can't stand Jason Williams. Now before you go and say I'm just whipping him because I can, let me say that 1.) I like to do it, and 2.) I have numbers to back up my bitching. We're paying Wet Willy a Mil and a half to pad our offense, ya? Well, let's look at his final regular season stats:

J Williams, 44 GP/6G/9A/15PTS, +/-(-7), 3PPG/3PPA/6PPP
Wild Willy translates out to a 0.34 point-per-game player, and many of his games were with a healthy lineup since he was scratched during the worst of the injuries.

Now, let's look at his counterpart who was brought in for the same amount of cash: Todd Bertuzzi.

T Bertuzzi, 82GP/18G/26A/44PTS, +/-(-7), 4PPG/7PPA/11PPP
Yes, I know Bert played more games, but his average still comes out to 0.53 points-per-game. While Willy Wonka is spending 2/3 of his time sitting in his stick blade, Bertuzzi is cashing at least a point every other game.

In summary, you can look at this two ways, either Jason Williams is overpaid for what he is [actually] capable of, or we could have spent that one-and-a-half million getting someone else who could produce as many points and be a role player in this lineup, so we wouldn't NEED to go to guys like Abdelkader to provide a spark.

I'm curious to see how Abs introduces himself in the Playoffs to Mr. Doan, personally. Hope you enjoy it as much as I will.

The Case for Challenges and Further Video Review

Yeah, I bet a lot of you saw this coming, too. That's right, I slept on it, and I'm still mad as hell about what happened last night. Don't get me wrong, I feel the Coyotes earned their victory last night. I'm not taking that away from them, but there is one thing that irks me above all from yesterday's game: the missed high-sticking call on Nick Lidstrom.

Now, from what I'm reading in the press today, it turns out it wasn't so much a missed call as it was a blown call. Lidstrom was interviewed after the game and it appears as though the referees saw the play, but blamed teammate Val Filppula for Nick's torn lip. Even Lidstrom wasn't about to hold his chagrin at this ridiculous mishandling of the situation: "They said it was Fil's stick. Fil wasn't even close. He (the referee) would have been better off telling me he missed it."

Because of his gaff, the Wings were denied what would have been a 1:20 long 5 on 3, which could have resulted in a tying goal. I know Detroit's PP units were crap last night, but I have a feeling they would have cashed in with Phoenix two men down. This all leads me to my point: Why in the hell is video review not used in cases like this? It's not like they didn't have time, Lids had to get his face stitched back together anyway. If there's a stoppage in play for any reason, does it not make sense that if either team feels there's a discrepancy during or just previous to that stoppage, the tapes can be checked?? What, should Nick have said to the refs, "Yeah, Fiddler hit me in the chops with his stick AND I THINK IT HAS AN ILLEGAL CURVE, BTW." Yeah, sounds stupid doesn't it? But the officials would have had to check the stick.

Could we not implement a system that is more accurate, something akin to the NFL? Those officials take their job seriously, because they're allowed to review plays and make decisions based on what the video shows them. Would it be so bad to allow each hockey club a single challenge privilege each game? Challenge something either called or not called, have it looked at, if it needs called it's called and if not, assess the challenging team a Delay of Game penalty. At least then if the referees blow a call or completely miss something, the coach has one chance to go, "UH-UH, look at that shit again!" and keep his team from getting the shaft like the Wings did last night.

Again, all props to Phoenix for playing hard and getting the goals they did, but we were owed a 5 on 3 and were cheated. Any fan of any team who had this happen to their guy would say the same thing. That call basically cost Detroit Game 1. Yes I know, there were other factors to get them in the hole they were in, but those are things they didn't do. This is something they didn't get and should have that could have turned the tide and it makes me sick to think we're seeing this after the first damn game of the first damn round.

And people wonder why we're so protective of our Wings...